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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Bid Adieu to Bad Proposal Habits

Posted By Anya Zadrozny, Thursday, June 13, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Bid Adieu to Bad Proposal Habits

Kayte Hamilton’s session Bid Adieu to Bad Proposal Habits focused on the current trends in proposal writing. As the co-chair of the QRCA Qually Award (which is an award given to the researcher that submits the best proposal to a set RFP) Kayte has had the unique experience of peaking behind the curtain and checking out what today’s proposals look like. With that knowledge along with interviews she conducted with fellow researchers, she took attendees through ways they could update and refresh their proposal writing, content and presentation to win more business.

Before we get to the meaty slide – here are two tips to remember before you start creating your proposal.

  1. View your proposal as the first expression of your company and brand identity. Make sure your brand personality and style shine through.
  2. When you receive an RFP, ask questions to the potential client about the target audience, budget, timing to return proposal, etc. Worst case – you don’t get a response, best case – you form a connection with the potential client and stand out from the crowd.
  3. Get feedback. Set reminders when you send in proposals to send a follow-up e-mail in a week to check the status of the proposal. Set another Email reminder to get feedback on why you did or did not get the job. Remember to use that proposal feedback to update your next proposal.

Here are five main trends from Kayte’s presentation that are helpful for you to know, and research further, as you go forth and submit proposals.

  • Brevity
    • The trending length of your proposal should be around 8 pages or slides. That’s 1 cover + 7 supporting pages and it should be sent in PDF format.
    • Be aware and find a balance between articulation and over-explanation.
    • As moderators we are great at mirroring and use it to our advantage, however - mirroring is not helpful here – don’t waste space copying proposal wording or creating a long run up to your design – the clients know what they asked. Answer the question, don’t pose it again.
    • The KISS method – aka keep it simple stupid – is the best way to present your ideas. Clients are often opening proposals on their phones or checking out proposals during small breaks during the day. Present them with something they are not going to dread or be intimidated to read.
  • Design
    • Your proposal should be presented in a visually appealing way, it should add to the streamlined, clean feeling of the content.
    • How do you get to design? After digesting the RFP, start with an outline of what you want to cover, then get into the heavy, meaty writing, then edit and trim that brain dump to get the executive summary level of the content, and finally add that text into your design.
    • Don’t have a proposal template? Piggyback off of your report template, or search for free proposal designs in Google with a few keywords and go from there. Don’t discount hiring a professional here. This is often the first impression of your brand.
    • Terrified of going from word to PPT? Try turning your word page from portrait to landscape and give that a try.
  • Multi-Phase Research
    • This is more of a research trend than a proposal style trend – but Kayte found that multi-phase research is in! If this isn’t something you are already doing, she suggested a few ways to implement multi-phase research, without it being a giant undertaking.
      • Integrate the pre-research you are already doing as the first phase into your proposal.
      • Utilize the same respondents or a select few respondents from part one into part 2 to save on recruiting costs. For example, a mobile board to focus groups.
  • Collaboration
    • We are facilitators, we juggle various stakeholders and agendas. Why not officially involve these stakeholders in your research phases? From a debrief session at the end, to a mini working session or co-creation session between phase 1 and phase 2 or a facilitated findings co-creation exercise before report writing - getting stakeholder involvement and awareness during the whole research process can be time-saving and beneficial.
    • Adding research phases where your client can observe the participant in the real world was also suggested.
  • Social
    • Using Social media is trending.
    • Monitoring and scanning online reviews, videos, comments and forums to assess the topic.
    • Using social media research as the first phase or pre-research information as pre-research and a dose of reality.
    • Check what awareness there is from your client of their customers opinions of their brand via their social media presence.

QRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Anya Zadrozny


Twitter: @Anyazmedia


Tags:  proposals  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene 

Permalink | Comments (1)

Comments on this post...

Kayte Hamilton, InsightsNow, Inc. says...
Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2019
I couldn't have asked for a better reporter. THANK YOU for this review :)
Permalink to this Comment }

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