The hardest part of proposal writing is not getting the words on paper, it’s figuring out what you need to say to persuade the customer. When you recycle the words, you submit something to your new customer that is persuasive to someone else. That’s not a good approach to winning. Instead, we recommend two things that when combined create a much better way to accelerate your proposal efforts.
- Use Content Planning to define what needs to be written. Content Planning is an iterative methodology we developed to provide instructions to proposals writers regarding what needs to be written. It enables you to describe the context and goals for the writing, as well as specifying the contents. The iterative process ensures that nothing gets overlooked or left out. Content Planning is how you make sure that what gets written reflects what you know about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment. Instead of starting from a blank page, or even an outline, the author starts with a complete set of instructions that they can convert to a narrative draft much more quickly.
- Use recipes instead of recycling narratives. The proposal recipe format we created provides authors with the questions that need to be addressed on a topic, along with suggestions for strategies and approaches. They lead the author through the choices that need to be made so that what gets on paper reflects this particular customer and set of circumstances. They provide inspiration for the author and help them finish more quickly.
When you combine the two, you start the proposal from a shell document that identifies everything that needs go into the proposal. It provides instructions. And it asks questions. It can ask the author about what matters to the customer and then instruct them to position the offering so it delivers it. It can ask which tradeoffs make sense in these circumstances. Or ask the author to explain how an issue will be handled in their circumstances. It can also deliver descriptions, facts, or details the author will need to put the proposal into the right context.
But the best part is that you can save a copy of the Content Plan and safely recycle it instead of the narrative draft. If the outline of a proposal or section will be the same, you can recycle the whole thing. But even if the outline changes, you can quickly copy and paste the instructions and line items from the old Content Plan into a new one. If the context of the new bid is different, you can quickly adjust the instructions. And do it before the narrative is written.
You can build a recipe library or even a Content Plan library. You can quickly review several Content Plans on similar subjects and mix and match instructions and line items to create something new based on what’s relevant to the new bid. Try doing that with several narrative documents.
The most important result is that you accelerate and inspire, without running the risk that the customer will get something that’s in the wrong context. You ensure that your authors prepare content that is optimized to win every single time.
Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY
Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.