Posts Tagged ‘positioning’

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?