A common query came up again on a recent course for the proposal team of an asset management company: “So how do we make sure our proposal content is first-class?”
This would be my “wish list”:
- A house style guide for proposals, written in an entertaining and accessible way, giving all contributors pointers on how to develop good content
- Training for all contributors. I said “all”. Not just the proposal team. Training serves two purposes – it helps people to improve their content, and also takes away some of the ‘fear factor’ they face when working on proposals.
- Great pre-written proposal content. Write it once, to the highest standards; keep it up to date; make sure everyone who needs it has access to the material, using a professional tool (Pragmatech, for example)
- Clear briefing of all contributors. Make sure they have appropriate detail on the context for this proposal, the themes you’re trying to put across, the messages you’d like them to cover in this particular answer, the expected length of the answer you’d like back. (Ideally, make sure that – if they’re contributing lots of content – they’re involved in the strategy and storyboarding sessions!). And give them plenty of time and advance notice!
- Professional editing by the proposal centre. You’ll never ensure absolute consistency of voice throughout the document if you’re collating information written by individuals with different writing styles and abilities. That’s where great proposal writers come in.