Tips for Writing a Business ProposalBusiness today means fierce competition, aggressive marketing and strategic alliances....
3. Error Free:Your proposal will be competing with proposals prepared by professional writers, graphicdesigners and deskto...
9. Write for Global Audiences:Emerging technologies, immigration policies and agreements like NAFTA have produced aglobal ...
Start with the big picture and drill down as you go along.2. Make a Good Argument and Counter Possible Obstacles: A great ...
8. Always Keep the Reader in Mind: A proposal is a marketing tool, and as such,        remember Marketing 101: Stress bene...
•   Project Approach - in this section, you need to provide some explanation about how            you are going to approac...
When writing a proposal, always remember that you are trying to provide a prospective clientwith the confidence that you k...
•   Act as devices to influence a target group;   •   Act as follow-ups for specific target groups;   •   Can supply valua...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Tips+for+writing+a+business+proposal

900 views
859 views

Published on

Published in: Education, Technology
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
900
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
23
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Tips+for+writing+a+business+proposal

  1. 1. Tips for Writing a Business ProposalBusiness today means fierce competition, aggressive marketing and strategic alliances. The extentto which a business succeeds or fails often depends upon that businesss ability to be awardedcontracts or to attract other businesses into Joint Ventures or Strategic Alliances. To accomplisheither one usually requires two key items: good ideas and the ability to present those good ideasin a superbly developed business proposal.Business proposals are developed for one of two possible reasons.(1) A business entity has called for tenders or has invited you to submit a RFP (Request forProposal). In this case, your goal is to be "short listed," meaning that you will be one of the threeor four bidders who is awarded an interview. Your proposal must stand among possibly dozens ofsubmissions.(2) You have an idea, concept or project that you want to propose to someone with the goal ofgaining support, funding or an alliance. In this case, there is no competitive bidding process.However, your proposal must make a favourable impression and must explain all aspects of yourproposed concept clearly and quickly. A document that is vaguely written, difficult to understandor that presents more questions than answers will likely be discarded promptly.The following eleven tips are guidelines that should help you achieve your goal: 1. Clarity. Before you begin to write the proposal, summarize the concept in 2-3 sentences, then, show it to a lay person and check for understanding. If they dont grasp the basic idea, rewrite until they do. Until you can do this, you are not ready to start writing the proposal. How many times have you received a document that you had to read over and over before you comprehended the meaning? When this happens, it may be because your comprehension skills are under- developed, but its more likely that the writer substituted clarity of thought and good document structure with sloppy thinking, wordy, rambling explanations, vague descriptions and heavy reliance on buzzwords and jargon. Its worth saying once again: If you cant summarize it in 2-3 sentences, you are not ready to start writing.2. Strive to communicate, not to impress.If you have a good idea and you communicate that idea clearly and effectively, the recipients willbe impressed. If you try to baffle them with your brilliance, youll lose ground. Page 1 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  2. 2. 3. Error Free:Your proposal will be competing with proposals prepared by professional writers, graphicdesigners and desktop publishers. You may not have those resources at your disposal, but you canbe fastidious about checking for typing, spelling and grammatical errors. Spell checkers can onlygo so far; the rest is up to you. Ask someone else to check your document for errors before yousubmit it, or wait a few days before rereading it. If you have worked on a document intensely,you will "learn" to interpret errors as being correct. It takes a fresh eye to spot the typos.4. Print and Bind:Print your document on good quality, heavy- bond paper, using either a laser printer or a good-quality bubble jet. Take it to an office service for backing and binding. For less than $10, you canproduce a nicely done, professionally presented package.5. Layout:When laying out your document, format it so the body of the text appears in the right two-thirdsof the page. The one-third of the page to the left contains titles and white space. The white spaceto the left allows the reader to make notes. This sounds like a trivial matter, but it elicits positivereactions from recipients.6. Visual Elements:Include visual elements sporadically throughout your document. Logos, clip art, graphs, charts,tables and other elements greatly enhance the visual appeal of your document and make it easierfor many people to read and comprehend. Pages of pure text are tiring to the eye and a challengeto the attention span. Additionally, many people are visually oriented, meaning the preferredmethod of learning is through imagery and not text.7. Title Page.Begin with a Title Page that includes images (graphics, pictures, etc.), the name of the proposalrecipient, the name of the project, your company name and address, the date, and your copyrightsymbol.8. Be Politically Correct.Whether you support political correctness or whether you dont, the issue here is to avoidoffending the people who will receive your proposal document. Avoid any language that can beconstrued as offensive to any group of people - including women, men, persons with disabilities,persons belonging to visible minorities, senior citizens, and so on. If youre not certain of correctterminology, consult with someone knowledgeable before submitting your proposal. Page 2 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  3. 3. 9. Write for Global Audiences:Emerging technologies, immigration policies and agreements like NAFTA have produced aglobal marketplace. Documents nowadays should be written with the understanding that they maybe evaluated by persons living in other countries or by persons for whom English is a secondlanguage. Even if you are submitting your proposal to a local business, they may well have jointventures with international companies, and these companies may be asked to peruse yourdocument. Unless your proposal is local to a specific geographic area, avoid references thatwould not be understood by persons living in other areas (or explain these references if you mustuse them). Also, avoid the use of slang or expressions from pop culture. When persons from othercultures study the English language, they are taught to speak formal, correct English. They areoften unfamiliar with the use of slang terms.10. Jargon Free:Every industry has its own particular "language" - words, terms and expressions that are commonto that industry but foreign to people from other industries. Avoid the use of jargon, or if youmust use it, explain it. For example, expressions like "branding," "turnkey solution," "E-commerce" are not necessarily understood by everyone who is doing business. Also rememberthat your proposal may go to a committee that is comprised of people from various walks of life.Make sure they understand what you are talking about.11. Technology.What was just said about jargon goes double for technology. If your proposed project involvesthe use of technologies, be very careful with your explanation. The persons reading the documentmay have little or no technological background. Therefore, in the body of the proposal, itsusually recommended that you explain your technology in terms of what it will do - i.e. "A database that members can use to search for information about your products." There is a place fordetailed information about the technology that you are proposing - and that spot is the appendix.In many cases, a non-technically oriented business will engage a technology consultant to reviewyour proposed technology. This person can use the detailed explanations that you include in theappendix while other readers will be able understand the proposal itself.Keep these guidelines in mind and you will be off to a good start with your next businessproposal Some more Tips for Creating a Great Business Proposal: 1. Write Clearly and Succinctly: There is a tendency in business writing generally, and in business proposals specifically, to try and show how smart you are by using excess verbiage, jargon, and run-on sentences. Dont do it. Be succinct. Make your point and move on. Remember: When people begin reading the proposal, they have little or no idea what you are proposing, so you have to walk them through the process. You do so by starting at the beginning and clearly, simply, and logically moving forward by making your points one at a time. Page 3 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  4. 4. Start with the big picture and drill down as you go along.2. Make a Good Argument and Counter Possible Obstacles: A great proposal is, essentially, a sales brochure, disguised. In it, you put your best foot forward, put your company in the best light, and make yourself irresistible to the reader. How do you do that? The best way is to marshal the top facts and arguments in your favor. Have a theme and reinforce it again and again. Take the reader down a path that leads but to one conclusion — that hiring you makes the most sense for them.3. You also have to put yourself in the readers position, think of what counter arguments they may be considering, and deal with those potential obstacles honestly. That makes you trustworthy.4. Show your Personality: Far too often, business proposals are devoid of life, as if the person writing it is some Robot, programmed to say nothing, be boring, and not offend. I say, let your personality come through. Of course this is business and you have to follow some business conventions, but as you do, also let the reader see who you are. Share your enthusiasm for your business, their business, the idea, something.5. Use Graphics Intelligently: Dont make the mistake of bogging down a perfectly fine proposal with excess graphics. Yes, of course you need graphics; they can clarify an idea, and liven up a proposal and allow readers to focus on something other than words. Thats smart. Just dont get carried away. Whether you use a program like Publisher or PowerPoint, just be sure that the graphics reinforce the sale rather than distracting from the point.6. Dont Oversell: Avoid hyperbole. As soon as you cross the line from understandable pride to obnoxious overstatement, you lose credibility. Once readers think youre not shooting straight with them, they may question the truthfulness of everything in your proposal—all that they read so far, and all that is still to come. You avoid this unenviable fate by staying on the safe side of overstatement.7. Avoid Boilerplate Language and Catch Typos: Another sure way to lose readers is to have them think that your proposal is a cut-and-paste job, consisting of boilerplate data and text. Certainly you can reuse persuasive information from elsewhere, but try to keep it to a minimum and dont make it obvious. Your proposal should read as if it were created especially for this particular client or customer. And while youre personalizing the proposal, triple-check for typos. If it is clear that you didnt give the proposal your best effort, why would your readers think you would give their project your best effort? Page 4 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  5. 5. 8. Always Keep the Reader in Mind: A proposal is a marketing tool, and as such, remember Marketing 101: Stress benefits, benefits, benefits. Finally, while price is important and must be discussed, do so only after you have wowed readers with your crisp writing, powerful arguments, supporting graphics, and a plethora of potential benefits. Then you can go in for the sale.Request for Proposal (RPF)Heres the situation: a potential client asks you for a proposal for services or products in responseto a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ), but where do you start? If you havenever written a business proposal before, this can be a daunting task. However, by using a logicaldocument format, you can develop a quality proposal that will maximise the chances of it beingaccepted. Then youll discover that you can repeat the same formula for any subsequentproposals.Usually, a RFP specially in the case of Tenders, has a given format in which the proposal has tobe written. In which case you need to simply put in all the facts in the sequence and manner inwhich it is required.In case, there is no formal document structure requested by your client - so it is for you to decideon the form of the proposal.In this case, the following points should be considered to help you design a good proposalYour AimBefore you start writing any proposal, you must consider your aim - to make a sale of your goodsand or services. Two of the major issues considered by your client in deciding whether to acceptyour proposal are whether, in their opinion, you understand their business needs; and that you candeliver what you promise. You must continually refer to these two fundamental questions whenyou write your proposal. Referring back to these issues also helps you with developing thecontent of your proposal.Proposal ContentsAny business proposal should contain the following areas: • Scope of Work - this requires you to provide an overview of your services or products that will meet their business needs. The clients needs are obtained from a Brief that may range from a formal written document through to a verbal conversation. You need to provide the client with the confidence that you understand their business needs and demonstrate how your products or services meet them. Page 5 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  6. 6. • Project Approach - in this section, you need to provide some explanation about how you are going to approach the work. This builds more confidence for your client, as they read what you are doing (Scope of Work), along with evidence that you have actually thought about and planned the work. • Past Experience - you should provide details of previous engagements in which you have delivered similar products or services. It is also helpful to include personal references, should the client wish to verify them. The purpose of this is to give the client some measure of how mature and experienced you are in delivering the services or products you are offering. • Project Team - you should always detail the specific people you intend to use during the engagement, along with their background, skills and experience. It is also useful to include a resumé or CV for each person. You should also mention who will be the main point of contact in your organisation for this project. • Timeline and Milestones - this section should illustrate the tasks or products to be provided, each with a corresponding planned delivery date. For larger engagements, milestones can be used to serve as control checkpoints for the client or payment points for you (further discussed below). The timeline can be presented in tabular form, or if more complex, you can use a Gantt chart. • Progress Reports and Meetings - to foster good communications and to maintain a healthy relationship with the client, you should suggest the forms and frequency of progress reports and meetings. Examples of this could include providing weekly email updates, formal written reports, or monthly face-to-face meetings. • Resources and Materials Provided by the Client - if you need the client to provide you with any facilities or resources for your use or access, you need to state them here. Examples could be provision of a computer workstation or access to their computer systems whilst you are working on their site, or access to the clients key staff at certain points of the engagement. • Assumptions - if there are any other assumptions that you have made in preparing your proposal, you should include them here. The point of this is to minimise any misunderstandings you may have with the client after they give you the approval to proceed with the engagement. For example, you will not be happy if your client asks for a task that you assumed was outside the scope of the project, but never stated. • Cost and Payment Schedule - the cost of your proposal can be expressed either in a lump sum or on a time and materials basis. You will need to provide visibility of your hourly rates if you are charging on a time and materials basis. If it is appropriate, or if the client desires, you can suggest to be paid according to certain project deliverables that are stated in the Timelines and Milestones section. In this case, you can align the relevant Milestones against appropriate payment amounts. If the engagement is on a time and materials basis, then you can align payments with deliverables or request that payments be made periodically such as fortnightly or monthly. • Terms of Agreement - if you have any contract terms that you wish to apply to the agreement, they should be included here. These could include anything from ownership of IP through to payment terms. You can use the services of a lawyer to help you develop these terms if required.The above areas are the recommended minimum contents of any business proposal in response toa Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ). Used systematically, this can guidecan help you to develop and refine the format of your proposals. It allows you to breakdown thetask of proposal writing into relevant sections, allowing you to focus on the all-importanttechnical content. Page 6 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  7. 7. When writing a proposal, always remember that you are trying to provide a prospective clientwith the confidence that you know your products and services, and are experienced in deliveringthem. Writing your proposals using this format will help you to develop quality proposals andmaximise the chances of them being accepted. BrochuresA brochure or pamphlet is a leaflet advertisement. Brochures may advertise locations, events,hotels, products, services, etc. They are usually succinct in language and eye-catching in design.Direct mail and trade shows are common ways to distribute brochures to introduce a product orservice. In hotels and other places that tourists frequently visit, brochure racks or stands maysuggest visits to amusement parks and other points of interest. The two most common brochurestyles are single sheet, and booklet (folded leaflets) forms.The most common types of single-sheet brochures are the bi-fold (a single sheet printed on bothsides and folded into halves) and the tri-fold (the same, but folded into thirds). A bi-fold brochureresults in four panels (two panels on each side), while a tri-fold results in six panels (three panelson each side).Other folder arrangements are possible: the accordion or "Z-fold" method, the "C-fold" method,etc. Larger sheets, such as those with detailed maps or expansive photo spreads, are folded intofour, five, or six panels.Booklet brochures are made of multiple sheets most often saddle stitched (stapled on the creasededge) or "perfect bound" like a paperback book, and result in eight panels or more.Brochures are often printed using four color process on thick gloss paper to give an initialimpression of quality. Businesses may turn out small quantities of brochures on a computerprinter or on a digital printer, but offset printing turns out higher quantities for less cost.Compared with a flyer or a handbill, a brochure usually uses higher-quality paper, more color,and is folded.Qualities of Well-Designed BrochuresA good brochure can contribute to a marketing programme, but it is not a keystone of a totalmarketing effort. It can be powerful and effective as an adjunct to a marketing plan. Inconjunction with other marketing tools, brochures: • Disseminate knowledge on a specific area; • Are principal bases for communication; • Are motivators to arouse interest; • Are tangible, with staying power; • Can add to anything you say about your firm and capabilities; • Describe a firm’s capabilities, facilities, expertise, or point of view , all in best light; Page 7 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon
  8. 8. • Act as devices to influence a target group; • Act as follow-ups for specific target groups; • Can supply valuable information and benefits of product • give visual dimension to a firm • give legitimacy to a new facility or service. Brochures can also be effectively used as supplements in oral presentations, they: • give a detailed explanation of ideas highlighted in oral presentations; • are devices to direct listeners to specific segments at intervals; • are follow-ups for the listeners in an oral presentation.A Few Tips… • Clarify the objective. • Have a plan before you start to write the brochure. • Know before hand you your audience is to be. • Limit the brochure to a single purpose – a service or a facility. • Demonstrate what you do and how you do it differently. • Get the reader’s attention by giving an important point or explaining an unusual concept. • Select appropriate graphs and charts to give an overall idea. • Content must be correct, well-organised and up-to-date, but do not overwhelm with too many details. • Use dot or bullet points because these points often get interspersed amongst short traditional paragraphs. They will communicate maximum information in minimal space and make your message easy and quicker to read. • Use a catchy heading and sub-headings to highlight particular aspects of your message to attract the reader’s attention. • Use simple language that is understood by everyone. Avoid Jargon, clichés, ambiguous words and long winding phrases. • The tone should be intelligent, competent, friendly, persuasive and inviting. • Do not use`I’, because you should be promoting your company as a team and not as a person. Use the collective first person i.e. refer to `us’, `we’, `our’ etc to make people realize your whole organization has the same goals. • Use persuasive language to persuade people towards a certain action. Use `action verbs’ to motivate your reader to do something. Some action verbs are: `try us’, `contact us’, `take action now!’. `do not miss it!’ etc. etc. • Some adjectives also useful in describing your product or services are: `the best’, ` outstanding’ modern, accountable, professional, dynamic, flexible, tailor-made, progressive, efficient, effective, competent, eminent etc. etc.. Page 8 of 8 Zarina Bazliel, Soft Skills Lab 1, Class of 2013, IBS Gurgaon

×