By: Jonathan Neal
Staff Writer, Memo to Members
A nugget of knowledge is revealed! Welcome, one and all, to Dan Voss’ Amethyst Venue: “How to Write a Winning Proposal”!
During the February procession, the veteran proposal specialist discussed the ins and outs of writing major proposals—a valuable skill for upcoming and veteran technical communicators alike. The topics included types of proposals, how to plan your proposal, how to sell your product or service, and much more. Here are a few of the amethysts that miners garnered from Dan’s venue.
1. Know the different types of proposals! These include government, commercial, domestic and international, internal (within your company), external (outside your company), as well as award, scholarship, and job applications. The first step is to determine which type of proposal you are going to write, then look for examples online.
2. Know your audience! Always remember to focus on your customers’ needs and expectations. Follow the format of the request for proposal (RFP), meet all of its requirements, and remember the customer value propositions (CVPs): quality, cost, schedule, and risk.
3. Know your competition! Before you begin writing your proposal, gather publically available information about your competition to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Preparing a proposal costs money, so it can be wise to consider a “no-bid” decision when the situation is not in your favor. If you do have the upper hand, then you can go for the win!
4. Know your product/service! The key is to assess the situation objectively to determine whether you can meet the customers’ needs and expectations. Get an independent 3rd party assessment of your product/service to gauge its value for suppliers, manufacturers, and end users—this is the “value chain”. With this newfound knowledge, you can leverage your strengths, shield your weaknesses, exploit your competition’s weaknesses, and create a truly winning proposal!
5. Don’t forget to have fun, and have faith in your abilities! After all, “the good guys always win.”
Dan Voss, host of the Amethyst Venue, discusses customer value propositions (CVPs) and their role in proposal writing.