Marketing

Marketing

Barry Harris MBE, a senior advisor to Proelium Law LLP and a widely experienced businessman, shares a series of blogs offering practical commercial advice.

Historically Marketing has been pushing messages to convince prospects to take action. The overwhelming influence of the internet is about engaging them in conversation and leading them to the point of taking action. Marketing is now about participation and connection.

There is a significant amount of material available about Marketing. This Blog is an attempt to avoid cliched catchphrases, and provide some “outside of the box” thinking about Marketing.

WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES OF MARKETING?
  • Marketing is more than just advertising.
  • PR is for more than just a mainstream media audience.
  • You are what you publish.
  • Nobody likes spin; people prefer the real thing.
  • User experience and participation are stronger than propaganda.
  • Instead of causing one-way interruption, Online Marketing is about delivering content at just the precise moment that it is needed.
  • Marketers must change their thinking from the mainstream of Marketing to the masses, to a strategy of targeting vast numbers of underserved audiences on the internet.
  • PR is not about the boss seeing the company on TV, It’s about your target buyers seeing your business on the web;
  • Marketing is not about winning awards, it’s about the company winning business.
  • The internet has made PR public again.
  • Great online content is needed to drive prospects into the purchasing process.
  • Blogs, online video, eBooks, news releases and other forms of online content engage directly with potential customers in a way they will appreciate.
  • Marketing and PR have blurred

Targeting the safe middle market is not necessarily a safe marketing strategy. Today, it is about Social Selling.

THE SOCIAL SELLING MANIFESTO

Social Selling is about building relationships, not just pipelines. Above all treat people with respect, just as you would your friends and family members.

Use social technologies to facilitate real human interaction, not avoid it. Remember Social Media connects you with people not faceless targets or records in a database.

Share your expertise without expecting anything in return. Help first and sell later. Giving builds trust. Be clear upfront that you sell something for a living.

Sell value – sell something that enriches lives and customers will find you.

A one-way stream of messages is not selling it’s yelling!

Respect people’s boundaries. Be human; admit when you have messed up and do what is necessary to make it right.

Tell the truth, connect with others for the greater good not just for your benefit.

ADVERTISING

Adverts are useful; they can entertain and attract attention. Conveying too much information can confuse the target audience and weaken the message. It is better to inform customers about one thing that is important to them, rather than everything that is important about the product or service. One advert – One message, adverts do not work well on their own and need to be a part of a campaign that features different information in different adverts, and may reach more customers, as those who overlook one advert might respond positively to a different advert for the same product or service.

BLOGGING IS MAINSTREAM

Blogs are a conventional transport for companies to get their ideas into the marketplace. Readers of Blogs view the information shared as one of the few forms of authentic communication. Advertising is often tainted by the viewer’s skepticism, and announcements by CEO’s out of touch with reality.  An excellent Blog commands attention.

Try using bloggers, online news site, eBooks, public speakers, and consultants that reach the targeted audience your company requires.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES AND MARKETING

Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are phenomenally popular. The numbers reached are in the multi-millions, while those figures are impressive what does this mean to Marketing? Consider the reach of influential people on social networking sites, rethink the notions about who can best spread ideas and tell stories. Many involved in Marketing want to be quoted in an important publication or have their products or services mentioned on TV. These media hits are the holy grail of marketers (and who would not want to be on the BBC), but is that the best thing for your business? Consider who has the power to reach your target audience, Bloggers using Social Media or mainstream media?

A Marketer might be tempted to create a page on lots of Social Networking sites; this might be necessary, or useful since each one appeals to different users. The top Social Networking sites are often viewed as directly competing with one another, but the fact is that each site occupies a slightly different niche.

The following are some ideas to get the most out of Social Networking sites for Marketing:

  • Target a Specific Audience – Create a page that reaches an audience relevant to your organisation. It is usually better to target a small niche market.
  • Be a Thought Leader – Provide valuable and interesting It is better to show expertise at solving a problem than to babble about a product or service.
  • Be Authentic and Transparent -Do not impersonate others, be original.
  • Create Lots of Links – Link to your sites and blog, and those of others in the same market sector, and network.
  • Encourage People to Contact You – It is the most compelling call to action, make it easy to be contacted, and be sure to follow up personally.
  • Participate – Create groups and participate in online discussions. Become an online leader.
  • Make it Easy to find You – Tag your page and add it to subject directories. Encourage others to bookmark the page.
  • Experiment – Sites are always trying new things, and that makes them great if it’s not working, tweak it or remove it. There is no such thing as a Social Networking expert – we are all learning all of the time.
START A MOVEMENT

An interesting aspect of Social Media is that people talk about you and the company, its products, and services. Much of this discussion takes place outside of your influence. However, it is possible to be creative and guide the conversation. This strategy is to bet on the continuing omnipresence of the internet, and popularity of Social Media. Social Media takes that pervasiveness further, and, what is certain is that Marketing on the internet will continue to evolve – success comes with experimentation. The trick to benefiting from Social Media and Online Marketing is to participate in it.

The internet provides a fantastic opportunity to reach niche buyers directly with targeted messages at a fraction of the costs of the past where there were two significant choices: buy expensive advertising or get third-party ink from the media.

The internet is different. Instead of one-way interruption, Marketing on the web and via Social Media is about bringing useful and insightful content at the precise moment that a buyer requires. The internet has changed the rules. Today, companies and organisations communicate directly to the purchaser. The internet makes public relations public again. Blogs, online video, press releases and other forms of online content allow communications directly to the customer.

The main ways to generate attention, awareness and activity in the marketing landscape of today are:

  • The profile can be raised by purchasing TV commercials, magazine adverts, trade show floor space, and through direct mailing.
  • Knowledge can be related through editorial gatekeepers at Radio and TV companies, Magazines, and Trade Journals.
  • A Sales team can generate attention one person at a time, calling, emailing, meeting leads.
  • Awareness can be earned online by creating something interesting and publishing online for little or no cost.

Opportunities can develop very slowly; it may be years from the time a new lead is made until it grows into business. Waiting to initiate a Marketing effort may be too late to help get through a downturn. Do it now!

Propel your enterprise to a thought leadership position through Online Marketing and Social Media without a huge budget. It will drive sales:

  • If a boy meets a girl and tells her how much she is loved, how beautiful she is, and how he can’t live without her – that’s Sales Promotion;
  • If a boy meets a girl and immediately impresses upon her how wonderful he is – that’s Advertising;
  • But if the girl seeks him out because of what she has heard about him – that’s Marketing!

“Marketing involves all types of activity. It is about making your company and its products and services as visible as possible. Do it, and have a plan!”

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

PROELIUM LAW WEEKLY PICINTSUM

The Proelium Law weekly picture intelligence summaries (PICINTSUMS) for the use of our clients, colleagues and contacts are now released. Focusing on Iraq/Syria, Libya and Afghanistan/Pakistan these reports will be updated weekly on a Wednesday.

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Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Your country needs you

Your country needs you

Barry ET Harris MBE, Proelium Law Senior Advisor and UK Army veteran, shares thoughts on how to successfully transition from the military to civilian life.

Must serving your country mean serving only while in the Armed Forces?

Having completed your service in the Armed Forces and having transitioned to becoming a civilian, your country still needs you. You could take your leadership skills into politics and make decisions for this country which are above political expediency and personal gain.

The United Kingdom has a long tradition of Armed Forces personnel who have gone on to lead in the political world successfully.  Local MP’s and mayors, the UK has always benefitted from the leadership and moral courage of her Veterans to guide the country safely through the calms as well as the storms.

Veterans are people with moral courage, and who still have the capacity to notice and say out loud “That’s not right!” and do something about it.

Veterans should come forward for local government, or for parliament. Run for school boards, county commissions or city councils. All political parties have regional offices that need strong leadership and integrity. Veterans should run for office; don’t hesitate. Be yourself. Bring your courage to bear on the government of the United Kingdom, our towns and schools. Your country needs you still.

Veterans know how to inspire people in a difficult circumstance.

Veterans have what it takes to bring together a team of diverse individuals, which is necessary not just for reintegrating Veterans, but also for rebuilding a sense of common purpose and capacity to solve our problems in British society. Veterans have a leading role to play in bridging the civil-military divide by showing civilian community new ways to address domestic concerns.

Veterans may face an uphill battle with the transition from the Armed Forces, trying to replicate life in the Armed Forces. It hurts a little, but the pain will not be there too long. You cannot relive the past and Britain needs you, and you can still put others in front of your own needs. You can teach loyalty, commitment and resolve to take on anything. You can make a significant difference in the lives of others.

Education focuses on science, maths, language, literature and the arts, but it is not complete without moral courage. Moral courage is the willingness to defend your beliefs — and that willingness depends on your knowing why you embrace your ideas. Veterans can help all around them to explore and apply the concepts of citizenship, commitment, courage, integrity, patriotism and sacrifice.

While the transition to Civvy Street brings new challenges, on the whole the British public welcomes Veterans. As a Veteran, your country needs your experience, intellect, and character. Although no longer in uniform you still have a role in providing security and continued health of our nation. No matter what you choose to do next, you will continue to make a difference. The opportunity for leadership is yours.

There is no doubt that veterans will join ranks with business leaders, volunteers, and the public servants of the UK’s communities. As a Veteran, you have made a mark in the Armed Forces, and you represent the strength of the United Kingdom. As Veterans, you will set the example for the next generations to follow.

Veterans have a continued duty to our country. Your country needs your talent, your leadership, your experience. The United Kingdom needs your leadership as we continue our transition into the 21st century.This Land of Hope and Glory is not a land of yobs and drunks, Veterans through example, leadership, and moral courage can make it a land that can make everybody proud. If you think that the Britain you once knew no longer exists, step forward and make that change.

Winston Churchill possessed profuse courage. The most distinctive and significant kind of courage is moral courage, the quality of not only about being brave, or simply knowing what one ought to do, but acting upon what one knows to be right. Veterans have that strength of character borne out of service in the Armed Forces to combine bravery with the willingness to sacrifice personal interests; that produces real moral courage.

It is the things that a Veteran has experienced in life that is going to make an impact on someone else.  At the very least, you can make someone’s day better. You will have the satisfaction of having the courage to do the right thing and setting an example all around you.

“The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve, those who have served, and their families are treated fairly.”  The Armed Forces Covenant annual report 2016.

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

PROELIUM LAW WEEKLY PICINTSUM

The Proelium Law weekly picture intelligence summaries (PICINTSUMS) for the use of our clients, colleagues and contacts are now released. Focusing on Iraq/Syria, Libya and Afghanistan/Pakistan these reports will be updated weekly on a Wednesday.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Companies that a veteran should never work for

Companies that a veteran should never work for

Barry ET Harris MBE, Proelium Law Senior Advisor and UK Army veteran, shares thoughts on how to successfully transition from the military to civilian life.

Not all companies like to hire veterans coming out of the Armed Forces. That is probably the most politically incorrect thing that I can say, but it is an uncomfortable reality that must be faced by service leavers.

With all the talk about employing veterans in the media these days it would easy to assume that veterans have enough support, the fact is most veterans still face a challenge when it comes to gaining employment.

A search of many major companies will reveal their HR seem to have “formal” military recruiting propaganda articulating how much they want to employ service leavers. But the reality is that when given a choice between a fresh university graduate, or military veteran who spent many years defending the United Kingdom they will often choose the graduate.

Some HR managers will openly state that “I do not want any military CV’s – they never work out well.” There can be a stigma attached to service leavers.

However, veterans as candidates are better prepared for corporate life, often far exceeding the abilities of those coming out of university. They have received incredible training, not just physical, but in all kinds of leadership, soft skills, technical, and academic.  So why can some HR managers be veteran shy?

  • They can be intimidated by someone who could well have more training and responsibility as a leader than they have;
  • They maybe nervous and unsure of how they will integrate a veteran into their company “team”.
  • Many HR managers have little understanding of the Armed Forces, university and academic backgrounds are easier to relate to, so their choices are guided by their comfort zone.

However, when the HR manager or executives of the company are themselves veterans, or the businesses are in the defence and security industries, the situation is more welcoming to veterans.

Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and get on the job ladder somehow. This can mean accepting a job where your background might not be so welcome. There is always something to be gleaned from every working experience, no matter what the job situation. Every job provides the opportunity to find out what works for you; all jobs are stepping stones. Veterans are expert at accruing experience and regenerating it as valuable expertise. On your career path through Civvy Street you may have to consider some jobs, possibly your first job, as a stepping stone across the obstacle of unemployment and towards where you want to be in life. If you have had to take an interim post until you find your ideal job, then learn from the experience and make the job pay:

  • Observe your colleagues, what makes them happy and what does not;
  • Try to walk a mile in your line manager’s shoes;
  • Know the people you work with – it is more important than calculated networking;
  • When you finally cross the bridge and move on, do not destroy it behind you;
  • Investigate the aspects of the job that made you happy.

No matter how desperate you are to be employed or how difficult your current situation, there are some companies where a veteran is better off not working. The dream job may not be obvious to you straight away so treat your career as a series of stepping stones with each step enhancing your skills and experience. Also be open and seize career-making opportunities as they occur rather than sticking rigidly to a mapped-out career plan.

The salary is good; the position seems irresistible, you might think that it’s worth accepting employment in a bad company but be careful as it could set you back and jeopardise future success. How do you know which companies to avoid? The following might help, but remember, all businesses have the tools to make changes:

  • High Turnover of personnel – for example, key positions are consistently advertised. No company should be continually seeking to fill critical management or leadership roles, and if they are, then they have fallen into a hire-and-fire cycle. High turnover of personnel can indicate either that the senior leadership is struggling, or the company culture is negative which makes retention nearly impossible. Companies with high turnover will be unlikely to deliver on their promises. If you are interviewed for a job, ask, why did the last post holder leave?
  • Culture clash – actual employees speak poorly of the company, there is a lack of focus on an authentic employee experience. A positive company culture is essential, a negative company culture may not seem like a bad choice, but it is. Even if a company’s negative culture is not publicly known, it can have an effect on your career. Positive company cultures drive financial performance and create a happy and productive workforce. Therefore, a negative culture can do the exact opposite. Avoid companies who talk a lot about their culture but will not allow you speak to existing employees. Be wary of businesses that evade questions about culture.
  • Superficially looks good – they have a great website, an excellent corporate image, great marketing collateral and publicity. However, the day-to-day operations are drab. Inside might tell another story. Carry out some due diligence before you apply to a company (time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted), look inside its offices, get a sense of the reality of office life and see if it is a workplace where you would like to spend 40+ hours a week.
  • Top-heavy business – beware of too many chiefs and not enough Indians! Lots of executives brainstorming, and not enough employees executing. The key drivers of employee satisfaction include culture, values, career opportunities, and trust of the senior leadership. How much emphasis is placed on non-executive employees? All team members are essential, and you should see that reflected in employee reviews of the company, also in their hiring practices.
  • Continuous promises – Unfulfilled corporate expectations, employees report a lack of trust in the CEO, an inability to live up to brand promises. In this era of transparency, enterprises are aware that they must attract the best talent with full, robust and competitive packages. So, promises are made on the job, the compensation package, the culture and the brand. The problem with promises is they can be broken. Beware of businesses that make promise after promise yet fail to deliver. A company is only as good as its brand promise and the trust of its employees. Without these two factors, it is likely to fail.
  • Stagnation – Lack of learning and training opportunities, fails to promote mentorship, and offers little more than the role for which you have applied. Beware of the stagnant company because it places little to no emphasis on helping you meet your long-term career goals. While this type of business may work for some service leavers looking for a very particular type of job, for many veterans it is a dead-end. Remember, to stagnate is a verb that means, “to cease developing; become inactive or dull”. This is not what a service leaver needs.
  • Aimless – No clear strategy for the future, employees do not know long-term goals, senior leadership fails to communicate adequately. Beware of companies that lack a clear direction. It is these businesses that unavoidably hit significant challenges and inevitably fail. All companies should be frank about their financial standing, their direction, and should have a willingness to discuss problems. If the interviewers are unable to discuss the direction and strategy of the business, it may be that the enterprise lacks a plan for growth and that the foundation may be insecure. No matter how promising a company might look to the media or how much hype surrounds its latest product, if the value proposition and forecast are unclear, the company does not have a winning strategy.

Many companies are committed to employing Veterans, and that is encouraging, but we also owe veterans more than just a job. Veterans deserve the assurance of a successful transition to Civvy Street and the aspiration of not just full-time employment, but of a fulfilling career. They deserve a job with a purpose that paves a path for advancement and future opportunities.

“At the heart of a successful transition is a transition of identity; an emotional shift from being part of the Armed Forces to having a future as an individual in the civilian world.”

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

PROELIUM LAW WEEKLY PICINTSUM

The Proelium Law weekly picture intelligence summaries (PICINTSUMS) for the use of our clients, colleagues and contacts are now released. Focusing on Iraq/Syria, Libya and Afghanistan/Pakistan these reports will be updated weekly on a Wednesday.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

A must read to fund your future

A must read to fund your future

Barry ET Harris MBE, Proelium Law Senior Advisor and UK Army veteran, shares thoughts on how to successfully transition from the military to civilian life.

Serving Armed Forces personnel are reasonably financially secure, the nature of military life being such that while serving one does not experience the same financial challenges as civilians. Money can require less day-to-day management, especially for single personnel. However, Service Leavers in the transition from an Armed Forces career to civilian life can find themselves lacking Financial Awareness; some, particularly younger Service Leavers, can be financially naïve. Many Armed Forces personnel leave with no experience of planning and managing their finances, and an unrealistic idea of the costs of everyday civilian life. These factors, which sometimes work in combination, mean that some Service Leavers often find themselves in financial difficulties.

Many join the Armed Forces from the family home. While serving, accommodation is provided, and the (subsidised) rent, as well as all associated costs, deducted from pay at source. Most can regard their pay as disposable income and budgeting is minimal. The consequence is that many Service Leavers have little experience of planning or managing their finances, and little idea of the cost of civilian housing, utilities and other expenses. This can lead to real difficulties for some Service Leavers, which could be avoided if more were done to prepare Veterans for this aspect of Civvy Street.

“As a squaddie, you don’t need to worry about your money. You’re getting three meals a day, no rent or anything. So, when I first got paid [after I left], I was just going out and getting drunk. The hardest thing was budgeting my money.”

However, the Armed Forces do an excellent job preparing Veterans to start  businesses of their own and run them effectively. Veterans have learnt a lot of skills vital to being a successful entrepreneur, such as:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Discipline
  • Perseverance
  • Dedication
  • Preparation
  • Adaptability.

Many entrepreneurs have limited success or fail because they lack these skills. But life in the Armed Forces does not provide a sound basis in Commercial Awareness. Veterans transiting into Civvy Street know very little about business fundamentals, such as:

  • Business Finance
  • Accounting
  • Commercial Law
  • Corporate Tax
  • Contract Law
  • Business Development, Sales, and Marketing
  • Equity/Debt Funding.

The good news is that all of this can be learned. It is probably harder to be a business expert and learn leadership than the other way around.

Commercial awareness is important to help understand how a company works and what makes it perform to its optimum.

Financial awareness is an essential component of life in Civvy Street.  It goes hand in hand with commercial awareness, and understanding it will carry the Service Leaver in transition. Whether it is for your personal life or starting a business:

  • Understand the financial consequences of running an enterprise
  • Get to grips with accounting fundamentals
  • Know what makes a profit
  • Manage cash
  • Be prepared to use a financial budget as part of your planning
  • Learn how to evaluate opportunities financially
  • Establish measures for the performance of your personal and business finances.

“I used to live like a King for two weeks and a Pauper for two weeks—we’d go out spending everything, then run out of money. But we would always still have a roof over our head and meals provided, so it didn’t matter.”

Some Service personnel are less interested in financial issues before resettlement. The point of discharge is an expensive moment for the Service Leaver, as landlords require deposit payments and many utility providers require upfront fees or deposits too. The cost of living in the civilian world is higher, and looking for work can take longer than anticipated. Sometimes there are costs for further training.

“Financial awareness and management are particular issues Service Leavers struggle with; they have had everything provided for them and can spend any money they earn but then tell them they need to pay rent, council tax and need to budget and they find it difficult.”

Without some financial planning, it is easy to disappear into debt under the waves of financial demands, typically with knock-on consequences for family or relationships.

“The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation to ensure that those who serve, those who have served, and their families are treated fairly.” The Armed Forces Covenant annual report 2016.

Need advice?

If you’d like further information, or to discuss working with us, you can get in touch via our Contact Us page

Read our latest news & articles

PROELIUM LAW WEEKLY PICINTSUM

The Proelium Law weekly picture intelligence summaries (PICINTSUMS) for the use of our clients, colleagues and contacts are now released. Focusing on Iraq/Syria, Libya and Afghanistan/Pakistan these reports will be updated weekly on a Wednesday.

read more

Proelium Law LLP

Proelium Law LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales No.OC411568.

Proelium Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No. 629608 (www.sra.org.uk)

VAT Registration No. 242 4002 59.

© www.proeliumlaw.com

Web Design by Tim Mitchell Design | Web Consultancy by John Griffin, Up Marketing Co

Proposals

Proposals

Barry Harris MBE, a senior advisor to Proelium Law LLP and a widely experienced businessman, shares a series of blogs offering practical commercial advice.

The ability to express clearly and more efficiently on paper is an essential skill to proposal writing. It is through the medium of proposal writing that ideas, products, and services are conveyed to potential customers, the senior management team, and colleagues.

Managers will frequently need to make a case for what should be done, or for a product or service to be sold – a manager will have to persuade customers, senior management, or colleagues and make recommendations. A proposal may be an internal communication to management and team, or a proposal to sell products and services to a client. To achieve this, the manager needs considerable self-belief and absolute faith in the product or service being offered. Above all, the effectiveness of the proposal will depend upon the care with which it has been prepared.

Preparation

Preparation and research are vital, the author(s) of a proposal must consider what should be covered and why, also how the target reader will react. Then it is possible to state the positive case for the proposal stressing the benefits without underestimating costs, and anticipating objections.

What problems are you proposing to solve?

It is important to think of the questions the target(s) of the proposal is likely to raise and answer them in advance. The most likely questions are as follows:

  • What:
    • is the proposal?
    • will be the benefit?
    • will it cost?
    • are the facts, figures, forecasts and assumptions of the proposal based upon?
    • are the alternatives?
  • Why:
    • should it change what is being used or done now?
    • is this proposal or solution better than alternatives?
  • How:
    • is the change to be made?
    • are the risks to be overcome?
    • have alternatives been researched?
    • is affected by the change?
  • Who:
    • will be affected by the change or new product?
    • is likely to have the strongest views for or against the change and why?
    • will implement the proposal?
  • When:
    • should this be done?

Three things are required to make the case:

  1. Demonstrate that the proposal is based on a thorough analysis of the facts, the needs of the target (customer) of the proposal and that alternatives were properly evaluated before a conclusion was reached. If assumptions have been made on the proposal, it is important to demonstrate that they are reasonable by relevant experience and justifiable projections, which allow for the unexpected. Remember that a proposal is only as strong as its weakest assumption!
  2. List the benefits. Wherever possible express benefits in financial terms. Abstract benefits such as customer satisfaction, or employee morale are difficult to sell. Do not provide loose figures; financial justifications will not withstand examination.
  3. Reveal costs, do not try to disguise them in any way. Be realistic; a proposal will be destroyed if costs are underestimated or wrong.

Presentation

Proposals can be in two parts – a written proposal and an oral presentation. The quality of both will tip the balance in favour or to the contrary.

When making an oral presentation to the target audience:

  • Do not repeat the facts in the written proposal. Use the opportunity to propagate the main points of the proposal, leaving out the detail.
  • Do not assume that the target audience has read the written proposal or understood it. While presenting, and this can also include demonstrating the proposed product or system, avoid referring to the written proposal, this can switch audience attention. Use visual aids, but do not overdo them, it is possible to be too slick! The audience must be convinced by the presenter, not the visual aids.
  • Ensure that the opening to the presentation captures the attention of the attendees. They must be immediately interested in the presentation. Begin by outlining the plan, its benefits and costs.
  • Bring out the disadvantages and the alternatives so as not to be suspected of concealing information.
  • Avoid being drawn into detail. Be succinct and to the point.
  • An emphatic summary is imperative. It should convey with complete clarity the proposed solution, product, or system.

The effectiveness of the presentation will be dependent on how well it is prepared.

Written Proposal 

What should the proposal be?

  • Organised to guide the reader: Purpose Statement, Problem Statement, Solution Statement, Plan-Costs-Schedules, Recommendations, Conclusions
  • Persuasive
  • Organised
  • Researched

The proposal should start with a declaration, as an introduction, which will summarise the subject and objectives of the proposal. It is included to give the target reader an accurate, understanding what the proposal will cover and what the reader can gain from reading it. Using this outline will provide a strong method of connecting to the target reader from the start.

The fundamental rules of proposal writing are to give the written proposal a logical structure – four volumes such as:

  • Technical – what is being offered or proposed, with an outline description as an executive summary, and a detailed description as the meat of the volume;
  • Program Management – (how the product, service, or system will be delivered and implemented, including timings), include in this volume risks and risk management;
  • Logistics and Support – How the product, system, or service is proposed to be delivered, and over what period. How it is to be supported through its lifetime (this may depend on the customer’s support philosophy). Include in this volume, details, on training, technical manuals, support, and obsolescence.
  • Commercial – This volume will contain the financial cost, the price to the customer, details of milestone payments, terms and conditions. A commercial profile of the company, history, structure, qualifications, pen pictures of key personalities, and past performance in delivering similar projects and services.

It is probable that a written proposal will be authored by four different managers, one per volume. As the proposal manager, ensure that all understand the rules for Corporate Image, language, font, numbering, and style.

Each volume will have a:

  • Beginning – An introduction explaining the volume, its terms of reference, any sources of information, and assumptions which are used.
  • Middle – This area contains the assembled facts. Analysis of the requirement should lead logically to the conclusions and recommended solution in the final section. A common weakness in proposals is that this build up of information does not lead logically to the conclusion, which is the product, service, solution, or system being offered.

Summarize facts. Identify alternatives, set out pros and cons of each one, but be clear about which is favoured. At this point, a compliance matrix can be a useful table to allow the target reader to compare the requirement against what is being offered and alternatives.

Typically, this section of the proposal can start by describing the current situation; it can list problems or weaknesses, and even suggest why they have occurred.

  • End – The final section sets out the recommended product, service, solution or system if there are options state how each of them will help achieve the stated aim or requirement of the target customer.

It should also list the benefits and costs, although not the financial cost which should be exclusive to the Commercial Volume.  It should include the costs of ownership, and implementing what the proposal recommends.

  • Summary – It is helpful to provide a summary to each volume. It concentrates the target readers mind and can be a useful agenda in presenting and discussing the proposal.

Plain Words

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone” – Confucius

The following precepts are useful to follow, in conveying your proposal without ambiguity:

  • Do not use more words than are necessary to convey the information; more words are likely to obscure meaning and tire the Avoid superfluous adjectives and adverbs, especially phrases where single words would serve;
  • Use familiar words rather than the far-fetched to the express the meaning equally well; familiar words are more likely to be understood.
  • Use words with a precise meaning rather than those that are vague; they will provide clarity and make the meaning clear.

Red Team

Before issuing the proposal to the customer, always practise a policy of “Second Eyes”.

Create a Red Team made up of individuals to read, spell check, grammar check, content check each volume, and suggest changes. The  Red Team is an independent group, not the authors of the proposal, that challenges the proposal author(s) to improve the effectiveness of the proposal. A Red Team is useful in organisations with strong cultures and fixed ways of approaching problems, which may overlook the more obvious flaws in a proposal.

The proposal is about setting out the idea in clear thinking, delivering a complex information set logically, in a structured fashion, by which the target reader will quickly assimilate it and be drawn to the recommended product, service, solution, or system being proposed.

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