An Ottawa-based startup, ReDock, believes that proposal writing processes can be enhanced through artificial intelligence learning processes. It is an interesting concept — seeking out the key concepts and “winning strategies” and then adapting them to future proposals, building on language formats and styles that are more likely to elicit the desired responses from potential clients.
The company doesn’t put a pricetag on its services (at least publicly), suggesting that this tool will be at budget levels beyond most small businesses. However, you can certainly read the relevant blog and resources, including this entry: 5 Secret Writing Tactics Winning Companies Don’t Want You To Know:
- Think about what it will take to win before you start writing, and what content you need to achieve the highest evaluation score.
- Research the client’s website, find out what their Core Values, Mission, Vision and Priority Statements are, then find a way to weave your client’s primary messages (via keywords) into your own content.
- Meet with Sales to obtain client-specific information. Comb your internal CRM to identify client pain-points. Make sure to address them in your proposal via your own services, value-adds, differentiators, etc.
- Constantly ask yourself ‘so what?’ and ‘why does this matter?’ and ‘what is the benefit to the client’ with each piece of content you are crafting. If you can’t answer those questions (from your client’s perspective) then you aren’t using the right content or your message won’t get across.
- Be bold without being abrasive. Use confident language. Avoid ‘soft’ words that don’t really mean anything, like the words ‘some’, ‘can’, ‘might’ – client’s see right through these messages.
Here are some examples, showing the distinction between bad, good and truly effective proposal writing wording:
“Some benefits of our solution could include…” – Bad
See Point 4 above – So what? The word “some” makes it looks like the solution has only one or two possible benefits. The word “could’ is off-putting because it means that a client might or might not be able to take advantage of only some of the benefits.
“What follows are the benefits of our solution…” – Good
See Point 4 above – Why does this matter? In this message we are being too generic. It reads as if we are listing all of the benefits, but maybe they don’t all matter. Don’t make the client read through an exhaustive list of generic benefits. Focus on what does matter, what will get their attention.
“Our solution benefits you the client because it delivers XYZ, which maps directly to your needs for ABC. We do this by delivering on XXX which helps you realize XXX lightning fast…” – Best
See Point 4 above – What is the benefit to the client? This message hits it on the head. It’s customized to this one client so it answers the ‘so what’ and the ‘why does this matter’ questions because it delivers the specific benefits that the client needs to see. We don’t say the solution “can” or “might” solve a business need, we say that the solution DOES and then we show them how. See the difference?
Although the ideas here aren’t specific to the AEC industry and there are several services and consultants who specialize in AEC proposal documentation and preparation, I think there are good arguments for anyone in marketing in this industry to give special attention to enhancing and improving both the efficiency and quality of proposal writing and decision-making. From a marketing effectiveness perspective, better proposals may be the ’80’ of the 80/20 balance in importance and relevance.