Discrimination in the 21st century

Recently the UK government has stated that it is considering making positive discrimination legal to try increase the number of female senior executives and board members in our large businesses. And then last night I read an article that stated that in the USA it is becoming common in job adverts to state that only currently employed people to apply for the job.

I worked for all of my corporate life in a very male dominated environment – engineering. I was lucky that I was never accused of getting a new job/ promotion because I was female. I DID however get asked to undertake additional roles because of my sex, but they were things I was happy to do as long as they didn’t interfere with the delivery of my day job. I was also always given the opportunity to say no with no penalty.

Want to write better proposals? Read more newspapers!

Making it easier for proposal evaluators to say yes to yours means making yours easy to read and easy to follow.

It means grabbing their attention and keeping it.  It means understanding how people like to read and take in information.  And it means writing in a way that engages and holds your reader’s interest.  With proposals, just as with newspapers or magazines, your readers are just like you – and the more you read of publications that are designed specifically to sell themselves to you, the more you can improve your own proposal writing by recognising and adopting similar attraction and retention techniques.

So to see expert examples of this on a daily basis, just read more newspapers!  No matter if it’s a broadsheet or a tabloid, read, learn and admire how editors and compositors present information to hook you in and keep you engaged.  And never underestimate reader (customer) loyalty: any newsagent will tell you how rarely people change their choice of daily paper……..

So – let’s examine how those papers do it.  Look at the front page.  Nothing is left to chance.  All aspects of positioning and layout are designed with you, the reader, in mind.  What catches your eye?  Headlines!  Sub-headings!  A photo here!  A quote over there!  An attractive page, strong headlines to draw you in and now you want to know more.  Now check your proposal cover – how does it compare?

Back to the newspaper….Knowing what their readers want, every article should give you the who/what/where/when/why in those first essential paragraphs, so that if those first parts are all you have the time OR INCLINATION to read (you are the decision-maker here), you’ve got the drift (it’s called the Management Summary!).  Then you might read on for more detail – or not.  If you do, look at how the detail expands towards the end.  Their sub-editors cut from the bottom up so all good journalists learn to put the key facts and revelations near the top, but give enough background detail that can fill a page if needed.

Knowing how well you as a reader respond to the key summary info being near the top, giving you the gist of the story, do you provide that courtesy to your proposal evaluators and put summary paragraphs at the top of other sections such as the Solution Overview, capturing the key elements?  If not, why not?

Back to the newspaper…. Open the paper out.  Instinctively we look at the right-hand page first.  It’s why journalists want their stories there and why columnists want their columns there.  It’s why advertising costs more there!  Stories on the left-hand page need to work harder to stand out.  Do your proposals maximise the “right-hand page” focus?

“Put down that knife and step away from the laptop”, When “bid rage” strikes

“Good afternoon”, says the Bid Portal. “Submitting your proposal is just a few clicks away!  With our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide, your 125 sections and sub-sections will be with us momentarily!”
Oh no, not only is this portal LYING to you, it’s also using bad grammar.  And you’ve only just started.
“Please follow these simple verification checks.  Enter your supplier code and password.  Thank you.  Now enter your submission code and password. Thank you. Now enter your bid code and password. Thank you.  There is no record of you on the supplier list. Goodbye.”

“Can’t care, don’t care” – How to avoid the “Just send it” moment in your bids

This post is by Sharon Pink

No matter how important this bid is to your business….

No matter how high the value….

No matter how well you know you can deliver to that client…..

….. there comes a point in the development cycle when you just stop caring.

You’ve spent so much time on the research, the planning, the writing and the proofing, so many days staring at the same paragraphs, that you actually can’t see the words objectively any more.  The deadline is looming and, despite your rational mind knowing there are probably lots of things that need correcting and improving, you find yourself saying “Look, just send it”.