A proposal is a written plan on how to resolve a problem or issue. Understanding how to write a proposal effectively is a huge asset as many businesses use proposals as a part of bidding for a contract so that the organization has a better understanding of that potential contractor’s approach to solving the relevant problem or objective.
As such, the art of proposal writing is a key skill in the world of copywriting and marketing, particularly in business to business marketing.
In this article we will cover the 3 steps for how to write a proposal effectively so that you can get the business you’re vying for every time and leave your competition in the dust.
How to Write a Proposal
Step 1 – Know Your Audience
First, like with virtually every other form of copywriting, knowing your audience is the first step in writing a proposal. Knowing who you’re turning your proposal into will affect how you approach writing said proposal from the first word.
For instance, are you conveying your plan to someone who is familiar with the business and the problem you’re targeting? Depending on how familiar they are with these details, you should write much more technically and specifically.
Conversely, if you’re writing the proposal for say the owner of the company who has little to no concept of how to solve the problem at hand, you might not go into quite as much technical detail and instead put the focus more on creating the assurance that the problem will be solved. In this case you might write a bit more generally on the process itself.
Additionally, if someone isn’t especially versed in the topic at hand, you may need to provide more background information.
More than their familiarity of the topic, think about what the target audience expects and focus your proposal accordingly.
Again, are they looking for more in depth detail in this proposal or more of an assurance that the problem will be solved? While this won’t shape the actual solution, tailoring your proposal with this in mind can be the difference between a green or a red light for you.
Step 2 – Define the Problem
You can’t solve the problem unless you demonstrate that you are fully aware and familiar with what the specific problem is. This is essential in how to write a proposal as if you don’t demonstrate a comfortable and familiar knowledge of the main objective from the start of your proposal, you’ll lose credibility with your audience immediately.
In stating the problem, you can mention:
- What the issue is specifically, how it may have come to be, and the negative effects it is having.
- (And building on that…) Why it’s imperative that an effective solution be enacted.
- Any previous attempts to resolve the problem by others and why they failed.
The last point paves the road nicely for the final step.
Step 3 – Define Your Solution
Of course the most important aspect of how to write a proposal is in defining the solution. Your solution should be clear and concise so that your audience can understand it.
Again, this is shaped by the audience you’re writing for, so your solution may be written more or less elaborately or technically depending on whom it’s for.
Regardless of your audience, don’t use needlessly technical language. Be direct as this will substantially improve the odds that your audience understands your specific solution.
Part of your solution should be the positive tangible result which the organization can expect once your plan has finished. It’s not simply about stopping the problem but creating a positive result out of the problem by way of your solution.
So a quarterly loss of XXX will be converted into a quarterly projected gain of XXX through your solution.
You can also make use of clearly defined steps as a part of your proposed solution which lead to the benefits. This helps to make the process of your proposed solution as simple to interpret as possible.
Then, when your audience reads your proposal, it will only be your specific solution which can derail you and not a failure to communicate on your end.
This will put you leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors who may also be turning in proposals of their own.