The first step in creating your next proposal is not writing; it’s gathering materials. Writing a proposal is like building a house, and it’s time to collect some “bricks.”
1. Look at your previous proposal(s) for this job and accompanying feedback, if any. Also pull other past proposals, even if they seem unrelated.
Do those old proposals feel complete? What inspires you about these previous attempts, whether they resulted in a contract or not? Well-written proposals highlight the power and heart of your business, so revisiting them can be a great way to move your mind into the best creative space.
Think about how you felt, if you can, after a really strong job interview: You left that room or video call feeling that even if you weren’t “hired,” the decision makers got an accurate picture of who you are and what you can do. The best proposals will give you that same feeling about your company. If old proposals don’t make you proud and energized, resolve to make this one stronger and more authentic than ever.
2. Examine your online presence, including your blog and social media.
Information you’ve placed in your digital properties should underscore your strengths and also explore your differentiators. (Not everyone is your customer, and explaining your competitive landscape – presenting the strengths of your competition as well as your own – can build trust.) You should see some overlap between your website content and your proposals. The website audience and proposal audience may be different, but many core messages should be duplicated across multiple platforms even if the “voice” changes slightly. If your online information is not repeating your core messages and/or is not worth harvesting for your next proposal, make a note. Plan to revisit your online marketing strategy and refresh your copy ASAP.
3. Read the RFP carefully.
Whether writing a proposal or a grant application, follow instructions. It’s that simple.
And even if this proposal will be created through a committee or by a freelancer, take a moment to consider WHY you want to win this bid. Why is this company your customer? What makes your business equipped to handle this assignment or grow into it? Let your answers shape your approach to winning this bid.