Proposal graphics

Under the Pump with Bid Deadlines? Don’t Sacrifice Proposal Graphics

It’s a busy time of year in the proposals game in Australia, with many contracts that are up for renewal or set to change hands on July 1 going out to tender now. Even when you’re working to tight deadlines, it’s important not to sacrifice the quality of presentation for the sake of just “getting it done”. According to research conducted by 3M, and cited by bid graphics specialists 24 hour Company (USA), quality proposal graphics increase the likelihood of winning by 43%.

So how do you improve presentation and create graphics when you’re under-resourced and overstretched?

The good news is that there are plenty of free or low-cost DIY tools available which mean you don’t have to be (or employ) a graphic designer to get great-looking proposal graphics.

  • The simplest and easiest way to get started is by using the Smart Art tools available in PowerPoint, which will have you creating simple charts and diagrams in no time. If you are going to use Smart Art, use the PowerPoint version, not the Microsoft Word one. The PowerPoint version seems to have more functionality and options.
  • A step-up option is to explore the range of free or low-cost infographic creation tools available. Sarah James of Creative Bloq graphic design has a number of suggestions including  Vizualize, Easel.ly and Piktochart - http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-2131971
  • Finally, if you’d like more design polish, go for customisable design templates  like those that can be found at www.getmygraphic.com (designed by 24 Hour Company, who specialise in graphic design for bids and proposals) or http://www.poweredtemplate.com/powerpoint-diagrams-charts/index.html

Visuals make process information much easier to understand, and have the added benefit of making information seem more concrete and solid and not something that you just made up out of your head.

At the very minimum, any time you’re talking about a process, methodology or sequence of steps, turn this into a diagram. Smart Art makes this easy and won’t take a lot of your time.

Happy DIY designing!

The Power Of Graphics For Page-Limited Submissions

This week, I’m coming to the end of a strategically significant bid process, working with a large team on a submission that has been in the making for a very long time. I will miss this delightful, talented and committed group of people very much when we hit “send” on the proposal next week. This is a consortium submission from incumbent suppliers pitching to retain a complex range of services worth tens of millions of dollars, and where dozens of people’s jobs are on the line.

Notwithstanding the bid’s complexity, the RFT response templates are — as always, it seems, these days — highly limited in what they will let us include. In one case, we have a total of three pages to cover our expertise, experience, and understanding of the service delivery need. Getting this message across within such tight word limits is extremely difficult, and we have used graphics extensively in this proposal to help overcome our space challenges.

Unfortunately lack of space in RFT responses is a trend that isn't going anywhere.  (Check out my blog post "Why Buyers Are Asking For Short Proposals").

Last year I ran a short program in conjunction with Colleen Jolly of 24 Hour Company in the USA on International Best Practice in Proposal Graphics.  Today, Colleen shared a link to an article written by Mike Parkinson — her colleague and the author of Billion Dollar Graphics — on the topic of Using Graphics in Page-Limited Proposals.

It seems Mike’s clients over in the USA are feeling the same pain as my team and I are feeling here. Mike says “RFPs often ask for the sun, moon, and stars in 10 pages. The challenge we face is when, where, and how do we add graphics to a 10-page proposal (that should be 40 pages to effectively answer the RFP)?”

If you’ve wondered about this yourself, check out Mike’s article where he discusses the reasons why graphics are easier to understand than text alone; why they get the point across more quickly than words; and how graphics reduce perceptions of risk.