by Daniel Brown
A picture is worth a thousand words—a cliché that is never more vital for a winning proposal. Most RFPs have page count constraints; some government evaluators are “skimmers” and need to grasp the message quickly; and, often, highly complex concepts need to be effectively communicated. In addition, your proposals need to make a well-designed, distinctive impact. Like grooming for a job interview, a powerful and well-tailored presentation matters.
Not having a clear plan for graphics development is the most common pitfall in proposals. They are often created ad hoc by multiple writers while they are drafting text, creating a disjointed approach.
At the start of the proposal process when developing an outline, identify the graphics and estimate the size of the graphic for the page count. Use your real estate wisely! Planning gives you control over the flow of information and, and will ultimately save time during the final proposal preparation. A good rule of images thumb is at least one graphic for every two pages.
Storyboard each table, illustration, chart, or image, if needed. Specify the color schemes, fonts, and special characters or attributes to create continuity. Don’t forget action captions! Most important, ensure that your graphics tell the story you want them to. Evaluators tend to look at the graphic on the page first—before delving into the text. Make them count!
Red Team your graphics separately from the text of the proposal. Prepare a stand-alone package for a different group of Red Teamers who will evaluate “’the story” against your proposal themes and discriminators without reference to the text. Are your key messages coming through? Are they easy to grasp, consistent, and meaningful? When you read a Table of Exhibits, do they directly address the proposal requirements (RFP Section L) and evaluation factors (RFP Section M)?
This storytelling should have continuity, be relevant, and most important, convince evaluators why you should be awarded the contract. If done well, these elements will flow seamlessly throughout your proposal, enhancing the text and never distracting from it.
To learn more about proposal graphics or for assistance in developing them for your proposals, call Daniel Brown at 240-438-2064 or email him at Daniel@sidjaffe.com.