Add a Creative Flair to Your Company’s RFP Responses

Adding creativity will make your company’s RFP responses unique and will help you win more business. Your proposal submission must resonate in your prospect’s mind, so that when the evaluation committee reviews all of the submissions and considers making the award, they are convinced of your company’s ability to do the job.

Many companies rely on boilerplate materials when putting together their RFP responses. They cut and paste from previous proposals, but most winning proposals are customized to the client’s situation, the specific scope and their unique needs. Rather than using boilerplate and generic information, customize the reasons for choosing your company creatively, completely and specifically.

The information you include in your response needs to be “sold” to your prospect based on solutions, features and benefits that distinguish your company from other competitors. Your company’s response must speak directly to the prospect’s needs and provide an appropriate level of relevant detail that proves you understand the prospect’s needs and you know how to serve them. Frame your company’s credentials and expertise into something the prospect wants to know about and present it in a creative, appealing package.

Your Creative Resources Can Help Achieve This Tall Order

You will need to educate your proposal teams and upper management on the value-add of “upfront creative thinking” as part of the process of developing a proposal response. When creating the RFP response (front and back cover, lead section pages, tabs, letterhead, etc), invest the time and creative resources necessary to produce a response that is worthy of your company’s brand and matches the brand messaging and look-and-feel of your other collateral materials.

Infuse a Bit of Creativity and Innovation

Brainstorm in order to come up with some interesting ideas and examples that have real potential to influence decision makers. Review the RFP for key phrases, then, play to them in your response language. Evaluate the prospect to learn their interests and hot buttons. This shows the value-add of what your creative team brings to the table on behalf of the overall proposal team to push the envelope for ideas. All of this leads the proposal team to trust you more since you’re seen to be working hard to help them innovate.

Use creativity throughout your proposal to make it look more professional and set it apart from the other submissions.

  • Use “smart” eye-catching graphics.
    People look first and read second. Make your claims substantial, quantifiable and demonstrable. Take the work out of reading your proposal by including “smart” graphics to illustrate your key points. Small, easy-to-understand diagrams (like the kind used in USA Today) are best. Large charts or diagrams throughout a proposal can slow down the flow of the document. Bigger charts and diagrams work better in the appendix area.
  • Use color to increase the reader’s interest.
    Color enhances retention, and improves comprehension. In fact, results show the following impact from color:

    • Increases comprehension up to 73%
    • Increases retention and recall 55% to 78%
    • Increases motivation up to 80%
    • Sells products and ideas 55% to 85% more effectively
  • Be certain that every visual element has a specific purpose in the explanation and a valid reason for being included.
    This applies to, but is not limited to, images, icons, symbols, shapes, colors, fonts, line weight, placement and size. All aesthetic decisions should have a reason for being incorporated that contributes to your proposal’s primary objectives. Good visuals help evaluators picture your text and good pictures promote improved comprehension and persuasion. Design relevant icons and symbols to support your win themes and you will help evaluators better understand the essence of your proposal.
  • Use summary paragraphs, sidebars or pull-out boxes to explain your benefits and advantages.
    Devise a creative approach to highlight your features, benefits and discriminators (that may otherwise be lost in a sea of words). Use your graphic approach consistently throughout the proposal to emphasize and highlight the most salient points.

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This is the fifth in a 6-part series that we’ll publish this year on proposal production. You can learn more from the four-previously published articles:

  1. An Opportunity Often Overlooked: Proposal Support
  2. If Your Creative Team Isn’t Supporting Your Company’s Proposals, You and Your Company are Missing an Opportunity
  3. Your Company’s Brand: A Valuable Asset in RFP Responses
  4. Designing a Reader Friendly RFP Response

Need the assistance of temporary staff to support your proposal design? Our sister company, Proposal Development Consultants, are experts in this space.

Looking to review your process for improvement opportunities? Ceil and other team members at Cella are experienced and interested in supporting your goals. Let us know if we can help.

Cella Consultant Ceil Wloczewski is a communications veteran in the IT services industry. Managing annual budgets averaging $12+ million and local and virtual teams of 100+ for two Fortune 150 companies. Ceil’s primary focus is marketing collateral, branding, Web/interactive and proposal support. Since 1990, Ceil has actively contributed to companies’ growth and success. She transformed an in-house communications department into an award-winning, industry-lauded in-house agency and key strategic partner in sales and new business development, customer retention, staff recruitment and training. Most recently, her focus is helping public and privately owned companies with their re-branding, brand re-fresh and brand integration initiatives. In addition, she is advising companies on the inclusion of marketing and branding in the RFP life cycle from pre-RFP marketing through post-award communications.

One thought on “Add a Creative Flair to Your Company’s RFP Responses

  1. Ceil, good ideas, stemming for your significant background working on some of the largest IT RFPs in the history of the biz.
    It bears emphasizing that part of that “educate proposal teams and upper management” should include setting expectations regarding the time and resources that will be required — especially if you’re the creative side of the team, it’s important to know how much time there is to respond. Often, a proposal manager has dragged their feet in getting the ball rolling, or the client has set a challenging deadline.
    Thanks.