How To Make Your Benefits and Discriminators Stand Out
How to Make Your Benefits and Discriminators Stand OutMike Parkinson, PPF.APMP, 24 Hour CompanyEvaluators and decision makers have fractured attention spans. Your readers want to quicklyunderstand your solution and know why they should choose you. Your goal is to make it as easyas possible for evaluators and decision makers to do their job. (I’m sure you can see theadvantages of making your audience happy, right?) Most evaluators are not eager to pour overevery word of your proposal. They would rather be home, at a baseball game, watching TV, oralmost anywhere else doing something else. In fact, most proposals are not read; they arescored or skimmed.Here is an easy, effective trick to highlight your benefits and discriminators AND make it easyfor your future client to choose you: use icons and symbols. Icons and symbols also break upthe monotony of page after page of text.An icon is defined as a representational graphic element that is visually analogous with anaction, concept, or entity. A symbol is a representational graphic element that has a learnedmeaning or accepted connotation for an action, concept, or entity.You can use any image to represent any action, concept, or entity as long as it is logicallyrelevant. Use your insight into your target audience to establish relevancy. (Stylistically, you canmake your icons and symbols as high-end or simple as needed for your audience.)With this in mind, be sure to choose imagery that is logicallyrelevant to “benefits” and “discriminators” while beingcongruent with your company, your client, or the subjectmatter. (For example, use a lock for IT security and a safe forfinancial security. Whatever you choose, make sure youricons and symbols remain consistent throughout yourproposal.)
I highly recommend labeling your icons and symbols directly to avoid confusion (as shown inthe symbols below). Labeling ensures clarity and clarity helps ensure success.If you are page constrained, another approach is to eliminate labeling and simply use legendsearly in your proposal—in context—to communicate whether your content is a benefit ordiscriminator. The following is an example of a discriminator symbol used without a legend.In the end, it is your decision whether or not to use labels or legends; however, apply yourunderstanding of your future client to determine the right approach. Your goal is to make it aseasy as possible for the evaluators and decision makers to choose you.Mike Parkinson, PPF.APMP, is an internationally recognized visual communications expert andaward-winning author. He is a partner at 24 Hour Company specializing in bid-winning proposalgraphics. His Billion Dollar Graphics and Get My Graphic websites share tools and best practiceswith proposal professionals. Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-533-7209.