Business Proposal Writing in Nine Words or Less
Are You Overlooking Business Proposals?
Writing business proposals is a popular and effective business development strategy that is nevertheless overlooked by many business owners and managers. Technical writing expertise is often required for business proposal writing, and it is certainly possible that the lack of these specialized capabilities contributes to a reduced usage of proposals. But whether this is the case or not, proposal writing should be fully understood by companies of all sizes. This is especially true of businesses that are not currently emphasizing proposals as a business development tool. Here are four pertinent and concise (none are more than nine words) statements about proposal writing:
- Effective business proposals can revive a business.
- Government agencies and companies routinely request proposals.
- Unsolicited business proposals are misunderstood and under-utilized.
- Successful proposals can be as short as one page.
Each of these comments will be evaluated below in more detail. Please remember that an effective process for using proposals can involve specialized and technical writing — there are likely to be potential problems to anticipate and avoid as any company attempts to include business proposals in their strategic efforts to increase sales and revenue. The quote shown below (from James Michener) is one of my favorite reminders that good business writing can always become better writing.
I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.— James Michener
Do You Need to Revive Your Business?
The first proposal writing observation is captured in seven words — "Effective business proposals can revive a business."
When a struggling company is evaluating methods to turn things around, an immediate emphasis on proposals should be considered. While no stone should be left unturned in desperate business circumstances, business proposal writing deserves priority attention because of a solid history of producing positive and timely results. Business proposals can involve a need for some technical and specialized writing capabilities, and the inclusion of proposal experts is one solution that can remove such potential obstacles. Because effective proposals can lead to immediate business, this sales development tool can serve as a key strategy for reviving businesses during a vulnerable period.
Who Uses Business Proposals to Award Contracts?
"Government agencies and companies routinely request proposals" is another seven-word statement that reflects both good news and bad news about this topic.
Starting with the good news, there are regularly thousands of companies and government agencies publicly announcing that they are actively looking for candidates to do business with on an immediate basis. The bad news is that there are usually very specific requirements for qualifying and submitting proposals, and businesses might need some expert help to participate successfully in any business development opportunities involving proposal submission.
However, the current economic climate is proving to be challenging for almost all companies, and many businesses are struggling to remain solvent and profitable. It seems only prudent in such an environment that a company wanting to increase their sales and improve their bottom line would start by communicating with prospective customers that have spent both time and money to openly announce their immediate product and service needs via a request for proposal (RFP) process.
Easy-to-read is hard to write.— Pam Zollman
Avoiding Mistakes in Business Writing
Do You Use Unsolicited Business Proposals?
The third comment is "Unsolicited business proposals are misunderstood and under-utilized."
The best-known variation of a proposal is generally considered to be one that is requested formally by a Request for Proposal (RFP). In a direct contrast, an unsolicited proposal is produced and submitted without such a formal RFP solicitation process. There are many situations in which either unsolicited or informally solicited proposals can lead to successful business opportunities. This approach (using unsolicited proposals) is one that smaller companies should especially consider for a number of reasons. For example, unsolicited and informal proposals will almost always involve less direct competition from other prospective suppliers of similar goods and services.
How Long Should a Proposal Be?
Here are nine words to remember — ”Successful proposals can be as short as one page" is a final concise point about business proposal writing.
While most formal proposal processes will require submissions of varying length that can range upward to hundreds of pages, there are multiple situations in which a one-page proposal will work just fine. As appealing as the shorter version might be, the challenge is to know how and when to choose this route. One viable possibility is when a company is pursuing an unsolicited proposal, and a one-page submission can prove to be an ideal attention-getter if done properly. A practical source of more information about this unique proposal method is this book — “The One-Page Proposal: How to Get Your Business Pitch onto One Persuasive Page” by Patrick G. Riley.
The Value of Specialized Business Writing Is Often Misunderstood
Some small businesses have actually decreased their use of activities like business proposal writing because of a belief that it is not important enough to justify the effort. The increasing visibility of companies through internet exposure has shifted much attention regarding business writing to concepts such as blogs, online articles, specialized internet publishing sites and company websites.
Internet business writing success involves a shifting group of parameters. Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques have long been discussed as a vital part of any written content on the internet. SEO strategies have come and gone during the past 10 years in part because search engines such as Google have constantly changed how their algorithms find and define high quality content. This point cannot be overlooked because in practical terms business writing published on the internet is ineffective if the search engine results do not include it.
The standards for what constitutes successful business writing are evolving on a daily basis. Perhaps an analogy to advertising campaigns is appropriate. Marketing strategies and advertising content are regularly updated to keep them fresh and as contemporary as possible. When any information is conveyed by a business writer, aren't there usually significant promotional goals?
As exemplified by several images included in this Hub, the most effective image often includes words that reinforce the primary message of the written content. Textual images are starting to play a bigger role in the impact that business writing has throughout the internet and beyond. It's about time that this happened since we have long been aware of the common sense conveyed by these seven words — "A picture is worth a thousand words.”
The value of carefully selected textual images becomes almost priceless in any situation that strictly limits the number of characters or words but also allows one or more images — for example, Twitter’s traditional quota of 140 characters or less that also permits attachment of an image. In such circumstances, always be prepared to choose your words carefully — but be even more careful with image selection.
More Examples in Nine Words or Less?
The extensive benefits of business proposals do not end with the four statements described above — here are four more examples:
- Successful proposals usually lead to immediate business.
- Business proposals are cost-effective marketing tools.
- Proposal writing is often the best business development strategy.
- Collaboration is an important ingredient in successful business proposals.
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.— Mark Twain
Is Business Writing Less Important or More Important in 2017 and Beyond?
I scratch my head in dismay whenever I see various organizations and individuals paying freelance business writers less and less for writing assignments. Typical examples include $5 to $10 for press releases and other short pieces. Is it any wonder when an "important" press release does not achieve the desired impact after choosing the "lowest bid" to produce it?
Writing business proposals can also suffer from the over-zealous attempt to win critical business development contracts with minimal cash outlays. In the ultra-competitive business environment prevalent in 2017, are you really more likely to succeed by choosing the low bid for business writing projects?
© 2015 Stephen Bush