This year’s Presidential campaign season has already been full of surprises and twists, and it’s bound to get even more intense as the months roll on. It’s very early, yet candidates are trying their hardest to prove that they’re the best, most experienced, most appropriate leaders for the nation – and, regardless of your political affiliations or personal investments in the outcome of the election, you have to be impressed with the tactics they use to promote themselves.
While the analogy isn’t obvious at first glance, this process of political positioning has a lot to teach us about the best way to structure and write a proposal in a professional environment. Think about your goals as a proposal writer: you’re competing against a group of peers, you have to convince the reviewer that you’re the most authoritative and valuable candidate, and you only get a finite amount of space to pack in all of your persuasive arguments.
Let’s dig into the specifics of how political tactics can help you shape better proposals:
Have a Slogan
Politics and marketing have a lot in common. Perhaps most importantly, you need to be able to communicate large amounts of meaning in a targeted, effective way. This is best demonstrated by the political slogan, a short snippet of text designed to “stick” in a voter’s mind and accurately, concisely sum up the entirety of a candidate’s political platform. For politicians, this might be a value statement or a snappy rebuttal to an opponent’s vision for the future of the country.
For you, this is an opening statement or summary page, where you’ll boil down your main points to only those that are most relevant. If you’re successful here, your arguments are going to “stick” in your readers’ minds, and long after they’ve given the proposals a once-over, yours is the one that’s going to come to mind first. It also serves as an effective summary page: since it’s rare that companies will review entire proposals multiple times over, your summary statements are the best tool that you have to earn bonus points during further reviews.
Create a Plan
There’s something to be said for the value of rational appeal, and there’s no greater rational appeal than a point-by-point plan. For politicians, this means turning a general statement like “improve education” into a series of realistic, actionable items (which is often easier said than done). This must be grounded and convincing, or else nobody will find the plan persuasive.
Proposal writing is no different, except that you have different general statements to flesh out, and you’ll be in complete control of how you eventually execute the steps to get there. For example, you might have a statement like, “We’ll help you to increase your marketing ROI,” but that doesn’t say much unless you have a well-researched, well-documented plan on how you’re going to pull that off. It’s important to back up your plans with research and insights; otherwise, your plan steps will seem as hollow or unimpressive as your general statements. Be specific here!
Ask for Help
It’s almost impossible to create and manage a political campaign on your own. Most modern political candidates have entire teams of people behind the scenes, posting on their behalf on social media, answering press inquiries, scheduling events, and getting them ready for significant turns. The politician may be a visionary for the campaign, but the grunt work is done by, well, grunts.
As a proposal writer, you may have access to your own team, but sometimes even that isn’t enough to get your proposal written in time (or in a proper format). That’s why tools like iQuoteXpress exist – too help you get your proposals written faster and easier without sacrificing the quality of your finished piece. Think of your proposal writing software as a campaign manager, helping you keep everything in order.
Prove That You’re More Than Just Empty Promises
One of the biggest problems politicians face in the modern era is earning voter trust. All of their plans may sound good, and their rhetoric may be persuasive, but what does that actually mean? It doesn’t matter that you have a four-year plan to improve healthcare coverage if, when you get into office, you immediately abandon that plan. Accordingly, politicians are forced to prove that they’re more than just empty promises.
You’ve guessed it already: you do too. Most proposal submitters will talk a big game, so to differentiate yourself, you have to prove that you can back up those words. Some of the most effective ways to do this are through case studies and former client testimonials; show that you’ve done it before! Otherwise, you can show off measurable metrics and your company history (including team member expertise) to close the deal.
To many voters, all candidates look alike. The frontrunners are the ones who’ve managed to stand out from the crowd. In this year’s election, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders – candidates on both sides of the aisle – have emerged as major contenders because of their unconventional approaches (and, in the former’s case, debatable aptitude). This isn’t to say that standing out instantly makes you a better candidate, but it does get you more attention – and attention is always the first step. Put this to good use in your proposal writing endeavors by including a unique format or position. Break away from the norm!
If you can use these tactics effectively for your proposal, you’ll have a far better chance at standing out among the crowd. Remember, one of the most important elements to successful integration is subtlety: if a voter suspects a politician of being subversive or manipulative, the politician will lose his/her vote. Similarly, if you try too hard to manipulate your readers, your proposal will come off as sales-y and impersonal. Instead, strive to incorporate these means of persuasion without losing the human approachability of your voice.