In this issue: 10 Marketing Must-Haves, Adobe Design Tip, Inspiration, Educate Yourself, Build Web Traffic, Investing in Solar, Craftsmanship

10 Marketing File Must-Haves for Effective Proposal Development

One of the most common concerns we hear from our clients who submit competitive proposals is about the stress of trying to meet deadlines.  Many factors can lead to last-minute deadline crunches – non-responsive team members, unorganized materials, lack of appropriate staff, overwhelming workload, etc. – but you can take some time-saving steps in advance of your next proposal deadline.  In this installment of the Tips & Tricks for Smarter Marketing newsletter, we’re going to talk about the 10 most important boilerplate materials you should have in your marketing files BEFORE the next RFP comes in the door.
 

1. Resumes of Key Personnel

Most RFP submittals require resumes of your proposed team members.  You want those resumes to be uniform in appearance and contain the most commonly requested information.  Create a master file of resumes with a company-branded version for each employee.  Include a brief bio, list of relevant projects, education, years of experience, special training and certifications, roles/responsibilities and references.

2. Project Profile Sheets

Next to fee, relevant project experience is often one of the heaviest-weighted areas when evaluating a firm for a potential project.  Prepare these examples in advance by creating individual project profile sheets for any job you may want to highlight.  Include a project description, size, cost, start and completion dates, names of staff members involved, names of other firms involved, and the owner’s name and contact information, at a minimum.  You may also want to include any comments about change orders, warranty items, unique project features, sustainable elements or problem resolutions that occurred during the project.  You won’t always need all of this information, but it is nice to store it in a central location for those times when you do need it.

3. Firm Profile/History

Every organization should have a brief overview describing their firm.  This information can be used in more locations than just proposals.  It is beneficial for your website, brochures, advertisements, recruiting events, trade shows and anywhere else you want to teach people about who you are and what you do.  Consider including a history on your firm, project types, service offerings, office locations, your mission and/or vision statement and any differentiators that set you apart from your competition.

4. The "Controls" - Cost, Schedule and Quality

Clients frequently want to know how you are going to build a quality project on-time and within budget.  Keep individual write-ups on cost, schedule and quality control.  Cost control should talk about how you develop accurate estimates, steps you take to stay on budget, value engineering procedures and in-house reporting and tracking measures.  Schedule control should talk about scheduling software you use, the types of schedules you maintain, project personnel responsible for monitoring the schedule, what happens in the event of schedule creep and how you get back on track and how you address weather delays.  Even though you may maintain a lengthy quality control manual or program, for proposal purposes you should have an abbreviated version that covers things like document control, ensuring project specifications are followed, how you address project elements that do not meet quality standards, who holds responsibility for quality management on the project and how you keep the owner informed of any elements related to quality.

5. Litigation History

Many RFPs will ask for a description of your previous or pending litigation history, usually within the past five years.  Keep records of litigation involving your firm, including the project involved, firms involved, item(s) of dispute and status of the case.


6. Safety

This question is frequently asked of general contractors, but they are not the only team members active on project job sites.  Anyone involved with a construction project should be prepared to describe how they keep themselves, their team members, owners and the public safe.  Your firm may have a multi-page safety plan on file.  For proposals, you should also have an abbreviated version discussing basic safety measures and procedures.

7. Sustainability/LEED

Sustainable design and construction practices have been a growing project requirement over the years and will only continue to become more important.  Save information on your LEED project experience, LEED Accredited Professionals within your organization and sustainable practices you incorporate into your projects.

8. Financial Documents and Revenue Information

Owners want to make sure the consultants and contractors they work with are financially stable organizations that will be there for the life of their project.  To evaluate this stability, they will frequently ask for financial and revenue information.  Proposals may ask for your firm’s financial statements, generally going back over the last three years.  You should also have annual revenue statistics on hand going back at least five years, if applicable.

9. Project Management, Communication & Partnering

In this day and age of integrated project delivery and design-build delivery methods, owners want to know the organizations they hire are effective team players with good communication practices.  Be prepared to provide information on your project management philosophies, basic communication procedures and methods for maintaining partnering relationships throughout the design and construction process.

10. Quotes and Call-Outs

Inserting quotes and call-outs throughout your proposal make it more interesting to read while strengthening the overall content.  Maintain a file of quotes from satisfied clients, copies of letters of recommendation, lists of awards, placements in rankings and directories, exemplary safety statistics and any other information that you can insert throughout the proposal that showcases why you are the best choice for their project.
 
Having these basic materials on file will save you a lot of time when facing upcoming proposal deadlines, as well as ensure better quality materials.  If you have success in creating these files, move on to creating additional boilerplate materials on subjects like project lists, current workload statements, conflict resolution, self-performed work, community outreach, warranty periods and any other subjects relevant to your business.  You can even create boilerplate for things like cover letters and project approaches, although these should always be customized to fit each project.  If you don’t have the time or staff availability to pull together these pieces in-house, consider bringing in a specialist to help. 

- Amo Creative Solutions, LLC staff have been creating successful competitive proposal responses - including boilerplate materials - for the last 14 years.  Contact us and we can help you create the materials necessary for a dynamic submittal that sets you apart from the competition.
ADOBE DESIGN TIP:

Presentation Mode Using Adobe InDesign CS5 -
Press Shift-W to switch into the new Presentation mode. This will hide the user interface and center and fit your document into the screen. Any extra screen area will be colored black. Press G to change the background to grey, press W to change it to white, and press B to change it back to black.
(courtesy of Layers Magazine)

INSPIRATION:

TED is a non-profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.  On Ted.com, they feature the best talks and performances from TED conferences and their partners - for free.  The site holds over 1,400 Ted Talks, with more added each week.  You can browse their catalog of videos according to language, subject, length or rating.  You can even search by speaker if you have a personal favorite.  There are over 1,300 speakers featured on the site.  Each TED Talk is under 18 minutes in length and can be freely shared and reposted.

EDUCATE YOURSELF:

Education budgets within your organization still tight?  Consider visiting Coursera.org.  It offers 390 courses from 83 learning partners, all of which are skilled professors from top universities.  Class subjects range from business to engineering to art and everything in-between.  Visit their site here. 

BUILD WEB TRAFFIC:

Blogging and Microblogging - To immediately increase website traffic from search engines, consider adding a blog or microblog to your website.  This provides an opportunity to regularly add new content and increase social interaction, both of which can improve SEO efforts, as search engines pay attention to the frequency of updates and the rate of social citations when determining the ranking of website pages.

INVESTING IN SOLAR:

Mosaic is an online service that lets individuals fund solar projects.  Located in Oakland, CA, it is managed by a team of entrepreneurs, coders and finance experts dedicated to clean energy.  They specialize in connecting investors to high quality solar projects and have been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune and Forbes.  Visit their website to see if what they offer is a good fit for you.

CRAFTSMANSHIP:

BDDW is a small, American furniture company located in New York.  They specialize in quality solid wood furniture, traditionally joined, in select domestic hardwoods.  Their site also features the unique products of other local East Coast designers.  Visit their website to see all of their exclusive offerings.
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