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10 Tips for Better Writing Better RFP Responses

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Hello folks!  Upon returning from the Mirren Conference in NYC this week, I thought I’d share tips on improving your responses to proposals.  This article was inspired by a session which was presented by Lisa Colantuono of AAR, a search consulting firm specializing in the advertising industry.  The session focused on ad agencies, but I’ve pulled out some advice that applies to any business, and added some of my own as well.

1.  Double and triple check you have spelled the client’s name(s) correctly, throughout!  Have someone else edit and check your work whenever possible.

2.  Keep the proposal in the SAME ORDER as the RFP asks.  This makes is much easier for the evaluator, and gives an impression of cooperativeness.

3.  Don’t include (or at least minimize the presence of) your “patented process” – evidently, all firms think they have a unique patented process, but they’re all the same.  Clients don’t really care about the process as long as it gets results.

4. Include detailed case studies in the PISRR format: Problem, Insight you provided, Solution, Results, Relevance. Too often, companies focus just on their more prestigious clients, which are totally irrelevant to the project at hand.  A photo/logo with each case is nice as well.

5. Pretend the reader has ADD.  Short copy and bullet points are preferred.  Try to include white space to make it breathe.

6.  Offer insights at the category or industry level, not just client-specific insights.  Show you understand their industry by including a little research, or interesting facts in the “sidebars” of the proposal.

7.  If you include “extra stuff” not requested, try to fit it into ONE page – and show your philosophy, personality, people, and culture.

8.  To present credentials of a team, a chart is a good idea.   Put the clients you’ve worked with down the left, and the scope (or years of experience) across the top.  Include the year(s) the work was completed as well.  You might also consider category groupings instead of specific clients.  Regardless, the chart can give a quick visual of your experience and strengths.

9. Focus the introductory letter mainly on your results, not on your history or your process.

10.  Relevant work experience from previous firms CAN be included as long as the employee which did that work (assuming they had key role in it) is to be included on the team.

Got any RFP tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you!

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About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm, MBA is founder and CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a marketing research and strategy firm with bases in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. With over 25 years' experience in all facets of marketing strategy, she is a business consultant, trainer and speaker who loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win."