Matt Handal reminds us that proposal design (that is, the actual layout of your proposal document) could be compared to how you dress for a job interview. You won’t get the job just because you dress just right — but you certainly can blow the opportunity by dressing inappropriately. “The job of the design is to ‘get out of the way,'” he writes.
With that context, here are his three golden rules.
Every proposal design must:
- Looks Professional
- Easy To Read
- Highlights Key Information
Some people (stupid people), will not hire you because your look isn’t “professional” enough for them. And I know firms have been “dinged” because their cover depicted a conceptual design the audience didn’t like.
So, when it comes to designing a proposal you need to focus on getting out of your own way. You want it to look professional, be easy to read, and highlight the key information.
He outlines the strategies to achieve these goals in this Helpeverybodyeveryday.com blog post. The key here, however, is this shouldn’t be a big sweat. You need to think about design and remember the basics, but not pour your heart and soul into the process — because the most important elements in proposal success remain (a) the suitability of even bothering to respond to the RFP in the first place, (b) your understanding and relationships with the RFP proposer; (c) your technical compliance with the RFP conditions (especially important for public sector responses) and (d); the actual substance of your proposal.