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Getting Back to the Basics of Writing a Proposal
Getting Back to the Basics of Writing a Proposal
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Getting Back to the Basics of Writing a Proposal

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Writing a good proposal is a lot like writing a college essay. It may be a more complicated process requiring a dedicated team and hours of work, but there are still simple, basic concepts we learned …

Writing a good proposal is a lot like writing a college essay. It may be a more complicated process requiring a dedicated team and hours of work, but there are still simple, basic concepts we learned back in school that can substantially improve your chances of winning. Here we outline a few of them.

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  • 1. Getting Back to the Basics of Writing a ProposalWriting a good proposal is a lot like writing a college essay. It may be a more complicatedprocess requiring a dedicated team and hours of work, but there are still simple, basic conceptswe learned back in school that can substantially improve your chances of winning. Here weoutline a few of them.1. Read the DirectionsBecause this is the most important one, we’ll say it again: Read the Directions. Teachers toldyou this all through elementary, middle, high school, and college, and it still holds merit. Thereis nothing worse than losing a bid because your team did not include something outlined in theRFP.2. Plan AheadHaving a good strategy for the proposal can only increase your chances for success. Researcheverything you can that will make your proposal better; background information on the client,any recent news articles on the client, and anything in the directions of the RFP that seemunclear. The planning should begin even before the RFP comes out.3. Back Up SubstantiationsThis one is so obvious that it’s the most basic idea to forget. It’s effortless to fall into the trap ofrepeating that your company can do what the proposal is asking for, but never actuallyexplaining how. Before you start writing, sit down and think about what the project is, whetheror not your company can do it, and how you plan to do it. If you can’t come up with a plan thenyou probably should find a bid for a project you can do.4. Include What’s Relevant; No More, No LessIt’s so easy to get caught up in the “fluffy” parts of writing; little anecdotes, grandiose soundingwords, a plethora of adjectives. See, we just did it right there. But adding too much informationthat is irrelevant to the RFP does more harm than good. As human beings we have thetendency to assume more is best; if you’re not sure that your content has value, you might justtack on as much information as possible and assume it will end up sounding good. This is aterrible habit and you should stop right now. It’s time for us to get back to the point where wewrite as much as we need to get a point across and get rid of the fluff. If you can’t come up withvaluable content, reassess your strategy.
  • 2. 5. Keep a Thesaurus HandyHow many times have you read something about thought to yourself, “Geez, they’ve used thesame word at least 15 times!” There are few things more obnoxious than reading an essay thatuses words like “important” or “good” over and over. Keeping a thesaurus (orwww.thesaurus.com) handy will only make your writing better because you have the resourceto liven up every paragraph. The best -tip we have comes from a high school English teacher:highlight the first word of every sentence in a paragraph and make sure the same word is neverused more than once. Trust us; it will make your proposal infinitely more enjoyable to read.6. A Good Proposal Writer is Always Trying to Be BetterThis one is self-explanatory. There is no such thing as a perfect proposal writer, but you shouldalways be working to fine tune your craft. The more you write and hone your skills, the betteryou will be, period.Want more tips to improve your proposal writing skills? Check out these great resources:http://www.onvia.com/b2g-resources/article/government-proposal-writing-workshopshttp://www.proposalwriter.com/http://www.proposalcafe.com

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