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Proposal development and marketing teams share the same goal within an organization: increase revenue by crafting a compelling narrative that converts prospects into actual clients. Despite this synergy, proposal and marketing teams are often separate departments within an organization with different corporate objectives. This can occur even when a proposal department is a subdivision of the marketing department.
As a result of this separation, problems may sometimes arise. For instance, marketing might design a Microsoft Word proposal template that does not facilitate proposal writing and editing. A proposal team might create a custom cover for a proposal that does not fully align with company messaging. Here is how to work collaboratively with marketing to develop more robust marketing and proposal materials, and ultimately win the business.
Get to Know Your Marketing Department
Proposals are a function of marketing as well as sales and business development. Schedule a meeting with your marketing team to identify your common objectives and brainstorm ways to collaborate across boundaries to achieve those objectives. Ask to be included in marketing meetings and included on marketing department bulletins, especially those focusing on company messaging and branding.
Include Marketing in Your Capture Management Strategy for Each Proposal
Ask marketing to designate a subject-matter expert to participate in capture management and proposal strategy meetings, as well as color reviews. A function of marketing is to gather information on key verticals and market segments. Marketing is also the best source of information for branding and company messaging. Including marketing in your capture management process allows you to take advantage of the wealth of information available on each client’s market segment and what types of proposal themes will resonate with that segment. You will also ensure your proposal messaging fully aligns with your company’s overall branding and messaging strategy. All of these things can directly improve your conversion rates.
Ask for Access to Boilerplate and Graphic Sources
We’ve all been there: You need an image showing off what the company does for a proposal, and it isn’t in your proposal database. Alternately, you have decided a brochure you saw last week on the company website is essential and now you can’t find it there. You can prevent both issues and remain consistent with company branding strategies by requesting access to marketing’s databases, including graphics, strategic content for websites, brochures and social media, as well as actual copies of sales collateral such as print brochures. Offer to share your boilerplate and graphics databases with your marketing team in return.
Collaborate on Template Development
Proposals are both a graphical and a written demonstration of how your solution meets and exceeds your clients’ requirements. Create effective, functional templates for covers material, proposal pages, and proposal graphics by working together with marketing to create and periodically update these materials. Ask for marketing’s input and assistance when developing proposal templates, including Word document templates, the letterhead and format for cover letters, and the fonts and colors used in proposal graphics. Offer to share your resources to assist marketing in creating and updating these and other key marketing materials.
Follow Brand Guidelines
A seamless, consistent marketing message is essential to a company’s success. Meticulously follow company brand guidelines, including logo placement, Pantone colors, fonts and images when creating proposal templates, graphics, and when writing proposals. If you do have to deviate from approved company branding and brand messaging, ask for and follow marketing’s guidance. Remember, a proposal is marketing collateral the same as a website, social media page banner, brochure or company advertisement.
Identify Operational Synergies
Both marketing and proposal departments often use different software, hardware, and systems to create and publish content. Streamline operations by identifying which tools each department uses that complement or support each other. For instance, rather than spending hours trying to remove the background from a stock photo, marketing may be able to do that in minutes with Adobe Photoshop. Rather than marketing having to wait hours or days for a color mockup for a potential brochure from the corporate print center, proposal development may be able to print something in minutes.
By working together, proposal and marketing teams can create strong, consistent company messaging that reaches its target audience, resulting in higher marketing conversion and proposal win rates. This collaboration increases the overall value of proposals by improving a company’s overall marketing strategy and increasing market share.
To learn more about how marketing and proposal teams can work more closely with each other, register now for APMP’s Digital Marketing Conference, happening online May 20, 2021.
Cristina M. Miller, CP APMP, is a freelance editor and proposal strategist typically found with a cup of coffee in one hand and a dog-eared RFP in the other. She manages bids for mid-to-large sized businesses and lives in New England with her husband, son and two (former) rescue dogs.