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Proposal Design – Step-By-Step

Proposal design is critical. First impressions undoubtedly last – and you have a fantastic opportunity to make the first impression your readers get of your proposals so impactful that, even as they begin to read, you can put them in a more positive frame of mind than they will bring to reading another proposal with a less attractive, less professional appearance. Before You Start – Is the Layout Mandated? If your business proposal is being written in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) then the layout may be mandated. If the client has requested a particular layout then respect this request – unless you have prior permission to depart from their mandate. To see how to handle this issue check out the module: “What about Client Specified Layouts?”. Which Proposal Elements Need Design? If the layout is not mandated then you have ‘carte blanche’ to create a proposal design that makes a business proposal stand out from the crowd. The Winning proposal structure tells you what design elements you are going to have to consider when you begin the work of creating an attractive presentational layout for your proposal. In making a business proposal maximally attractive you’ll need to design: A title page for your proposal Table of contents A title page for each section and for each appendix in your proposal Fonts for all of these title pages Fonts & styles for the different headings within your proposal Fonts for the body text of each section A style for the headers & footers Let’s take each of these elements and examine the best way to handle them... read more

‘Unmarketing’ by Scott Stratten

Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. There’s a very good reason that some of the the marketing ideas Scott Stratten has presented in his book ‘Unmarketing’ were picked up by people like FastCompany and the Wall Street Journal – because they are entertaining, fresh and most of them will work for most people! According to Scott, ‘Unmarketing’ is something quite different to conventional or traditional marketing – he defines ‘Unmarketing’ as ‘the ability to engage with your market’.  According to him “if you believe business is built on relationships” you should “make building them your business” – and that’s the focus of his book. I love what I describe as ‘bathroom books’ (enough to have written the ‘Bathroom Business Bible’ a few years back).  A bathroom book is one where the information is presented in bite-sized chunks that are quick and easy to digest – ‘single sitting strategies’ as I called them in my offering. Unmarketing is just like that: it has 56 short chapters – covering just about every possible aspect of the challenge facing anyone whose responsibility it is to engage with clients.  Appropriately it spends a lot of time talking about the role of Social Marketing in a modern marketing mix (Scott is a Twitter guru who makes not too shabby use of LinkedIn and FaceBook too). Each of the 56 chapters are focused sharply on a single topic, get quickly to the point, and present examples of where the idea presented in the chapter has been applied successfully.  More importantly most of the chapters also present you with the ‘how to’ actions so you can put the theory... read more

Writing A Business Proposal

Faced with writing a business proposal – and dreading it? Don’t worry! I’m going to share my best tips for writing business proposals, and highlight some great articles and tools that will make your proposals unbeatable. I’ve been writing proposals for more than 20 years; I’ve written dozens of articles on the topic, and even a bestselling book. Take my FREE Business Proposal Writing Course (below) and we’ll start by looking at how to analyze a request for proposal or request for information to determine the client’s REAL requirements. After that I’ll walk you, step by step, through a great way of turning that RFP analysis it into a compelling solution to your client’s requirement – the solution the client would design if they could. You’ll start to beat your competition before you write a single word – because I’m also going to show you how to design a proposal strategy that sets your proposal up to win long before you even power up your PC. We’ll even delve into analyzing the psychology of your prospects to ensure that you use language that will positively influence them. After that preparation we’ll take on the critical next step – we’ll start writing yourWinning proposal. You and I will first walk through creating a proposal outline – one of the secrets of a great proposal is a great outline. Once you have your outline I’ll show you how to write the entire proposal content quickly and easily. There’s lots more here on the art of business proposal writing – by the time we’re finished working together you’ll never ever again dread... read more


Are you guilty of ‘celebrating’ your failures more than your successes? Too many of us are – and it holds us back from achieving what we are truly capable of. With most people successes are all too frequently taken for granted – discarded almost as soon as they are achieved.  “Sure, I did win that, but what about…”.  Failures, on the other hand, tend to get much more focused attention, post mortem analysis and attention.  Don’t get me wrong – it is important to look at failures to see what went wrong, what lessons can be learned from them, and what we can do to avoid the same failures in the future. The problem is that all too often we dwell morbidly upon the detail of our failures, working them through our minds over and over again, beating ourselves up for allowing them to happen – instead of looking at what we can learn from them to avoid a recurrence. Earl Nightingale said that “you become what you think about most”.  By continually priming your mind with details of your failures you program your ‘Reticular Activating System’ (RAS) to seek out opportunities for more of the same – more opportunties to fall on your face.  Too much time focused upon your failures rather than your successes has the opposite effect to that you desire– programming your brain to seek out more opportunity for failure. Just about every day you achieve something positive, however small.  The trick is to identify that success and celebrate it.  It’s not enough to take these small steps forward, you must congratulate yourself on your progress and... read more

The Business Proposal Template – Design & Layout

Use a business proposal template and save yourself lots of time in making your business proposal look just as professional as it now reads. As looking at your proposal’s design and layout is one of the later stages in writing a business proposal I’m assuming that you’ve gone through the process of analyzing your client requirements and developing a Winning solution. If not, it’d be well worth the time to review those modules – click here to find modules on all you should do before you begin to write. Also, I’m assuming you’ve completed the process of outlining your proposal and writing the body content, right? Again, if not, I recommend you take the time to check out these key modules. If you’ve done all that then let’s not delay – let’s look at anything we can do to make your proposal’s design & layout as professional as possible. Business Proposal Format – a Winning Structure (Click) A successful business proposal template begins with a compelling framework – a structure for your proposal that sells your ideas and solutions. This section introduces the Winning proposal framework – a structure that will maximize the success of every proposal you write in future. This logical six-section structure provides a start point for all proposals – one which will not only make all your future proposal writing much quicker, but will also engage your readers right from page one to the end of your proposal. Proposal Design – Step-by-Step (Click) First impressions undoubtedly last – and you have a fantastic opportunity to make the first impression your readers get of your proposals so impactful that, even... read more


This is the second in a series of posts on how you can get started writing that business book you’ve always wanted to write – without putting your life or career on hold. For an overview of the process of how to write a book you should read through the first post before continuing to read about this first step in the process. Spend some time putting this first step in place today and you could go to bed tonight with your book already started. In the first post we laid out the content of the 7 posts that will guide you in creating your book.  Step 1 is about getting you started on building your book’s content as soon as possible – without burning up a huge amount of your valuable time.  Step 1: Set up Step 1 consists of 5 simple actions: Set up a ‘war room’. When preparing major proposals I always suggest that writers set up a semi-permanent space in their offices to serve as ‘project central’. Do the same for your book. This can be as simple as a corner of a bedroom or office with a decent amount of wall space.  It should ideally be close to your PC and the area where you’d expect you’ll do any book planning or writing. It should also ideally be somewhere that you’ll come across it every day – without having to go out of your way.  This is critical: one of the keys to success with this approach is consistency – and I find that passing through my war room area daily helps keep the project planted firmly... read more

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