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Proposal processes can vary greatly based on several factors, especially the client’s industry and the type of project being developed. The pre-RFP period can be as brief as a couple of months or as long as a couple of years. Experienced firms have tuned their instruments often enough to develop and implement comprehensive and effective capture plans for each opportunity. If you take the typical steps on these capture plans, you are missing opportunities to go beyond them—by increasing the number of direct and indirect touches among professionals, brands, clients, and contacts throughout the life of the pursuit. As stated in Shipley Associates’ Capture Guide, “customers decide whom they would prefer to buy from before proposals are submitted” 40% to 80% of the time.
Here is where integrating social media into capture plans can inject some needed new blood into the same old processes. By socializing proposal efforts, you can increase the ways in which you position yourself. At the end of each cycle, you’ll find that capture plans and social media programs would have benefitted from each other.
The SWOT Aftereffect
After conducting a SWOT analysis, use social media to reinforce strengths and counter weaknesses. A client might not associate your company with a service that will play a vital role in an upcoming opportunity. Document, promote, and align efforts taken through social media, including publishing technical papers, presenting at key conferences, and highlighting related experiences.
By socializing proposal efforts, you can increase the ways in which you position yourself. At the end of each cycle, you’ll find that capture plans and social media programs would have benefitted from each other.
The New Kids on the Block
Craft a plan to raise the profile of younger practitioners or recent key hires who may not be as well known to the client. By maintaining a steady cadence of posts, you can increase the possibilities of these professionals being perceived as experts and thought leaders. When the client finally evaluates the organizational chart and individuals included, hopefully they will not find unknown faces and names.
The Homeowners Association Angle
Projects go beyond firms and clients, as multiple stakeholders will be affected by the planning, development, completion, and post-completion phases. The implications are not only to individuals but also to groups of people. Acknowledge these stakeholders by sharing real-world examples of how your company’s involvement in projects has positively affected communities; demonstrate your commitment to the ultimate goals for each project. For example, we do not remediate a brownfield to be on time and within budget but rather to allow for the construction of a multiple-use facility that will be enjoyed by hundreds of families.
Besides the purely technical requirements, topics such as safety, quality, project management, and subcontractor management processes are usually part of RFPs. The challenge throughout capture plans is to identify, in advance, if any of these are specific areas of concern to the client for the project at hand. Use knowledge of what is keeping your clients up at night and tell a compelling story about the value your internal processes bring to stakeholders. When defining your social media content streams, don’t overlook advances and innovations your company has implemented related to these topics.
Neal Schaffer, considered an expert on social media, said “social media replaces nothing but compliments everything.” Complimenting capture plans with a social media program through a network of posts, likes, and shares by the firm and all the professionals involved will allow a comprehensive positioning campaign to enhance your proposal pursuits.