Proposal Best Practices: Use Visuals to Tell Your Story and Increase Your Win Rate

We spoke with Mike Parkinson of 24 Hour Company and Billion Dollar Graphics about the opportunity you have to maximize the potential of your proposal with images and graphics.

Use Proposal Visuals to Grab the Attention of Your Audience

Think about your audience. When your evaluators and reviewers are reading each proposal that comes across their desk, they are spread thin. Even the most engaged reviewer's mind will wander when they read pages and pages of text, no matter how compelling. They know what's coming— more long pages of text... and they're not excited.

Images are important to include in a proposal because they focus your reader on the core elements of your story. Done right— and when fully supported by the text— they communicate the narrative you are ultimately trying to convey, but they do it as concisely as possible and in a much more engaging manner. They break up the pages of text and visuals used in proposals are 38% more likely to be remembered by reviewers.

Your audience of reviewers will appreciate the clarity and brevity that the image adds to the story. The likelihood is also that they will better understand your narrative as they continue to read because people remember images better than text. Too often, when we try to communicate our thoughts, we forget to take ourselves out of the content. Consequently, we lose our audience.

Make it clear to your reviewers why they should care about your proposal. Images give you another opportunity to tell your story, make your proposal different and more memorable than your competition. If your solution is innovative, then make everything about your proposal communicate innovation. Your graphics are a perfect opportunity to do that. Use sleek features to communicate your information in a way the reviewers haven't seen before. Make the value of your bid clear with graphics that break up the sea of required text dictated by the RFP.

Creating the Image

When you create your image or graphic, proposal best practices dictate that you need to consider clarity, compliance and quality. If you are looking for ideas, search the Internet for inspiration. Find something that works and make it your own. Avoid duplicating what you see exactly due to potential copyright issues. Additionally, we don’t want our proposal to look like someone else’s. A memorable or unique graphic helps differentiate your solution from your competitors.

You need to stake out your goal for your images. Everything in your proposal should aim to win you the bid—and that means it should convey both the information and the narrative of your solution and your brand. Same goes for your graphics. You need to use them to convey key or difficult concepts that are worth hammering home, as well as breaking up the text. Make sure your graphics speak directly to the story arc of your proposal and relates to the surrounding text.

Now everyone can create information graphics—or infographics—that convey key information at a glance. You can do more without needing an in-house graphic designer. Tools like Build-a-Graphic empower non-designers and designers alike to quickly and easily convert text into professional proposal graphics.

Refining the Image

When it comes to refining your image within a proposal, turn to your proposal team. Make sure your image follows proposal best practices by matching with any outlined requirements in the RFP. The RFP could outline where the tag description should be located or require that your graphic is ADA compliant. This is also a scenario where you should consider your audience. If your audience is older, consider the need for larger text, for example.

Consider your audience. For example, make sure your graphic doesn't depend upon color alone to communicate information due to color blindness. Think through and accommodate technical barriers. For electronic proposals, screen resolution can be an issue. Perhaps you use a larger and higher resolution monitor whereas the reviewer may have a much smaller screen. These factors can be more difficult to control, but consider testing your images out in different, common resolutions, operating systems and printers to make sure there is no way for your proposal to be misread.

Managing the Image

Properly managing the graphics you have designed or chosen will be critical as the proposal process continues toward the deadline. If you don't have the ability to confer with your team on an image as requirements change or the proposal changes direction, you could run into issues that arise later in the process. You might have spent money on an expensive designer, but are you able to make last minute changes with them? Make sure that whatever tool, software or agency you use enables you to have the full control you will need as the proposal process continues.

Many content management or library software products don't enable you to simultaneously review and comment on an image. They don't allow you to later access that file, alter it or collaborate on the way it integrates into the text. Privia allows you to collaborate, annotate, and comment on an image both synchronously and asynchronously. In real time mode, you can discuss with team members—even those geographically separated—about what you need out of an image, as well as what you think should change. Then, save the original image (as well as the final proposal image) for later use.

The Right Visuals Separate You From the Stack

Make the most out of your image process to create a proposal that communicates your solution clearly and sets itself apart from the rest of the stack. This requires investing into the graphic development process. However, there are tools to make this investment easy and produce the highest quality graphics meant to help you tell your story, as well as software to help you manage and collaborate on your images as the proposal process continues toward the deadline. Not all tools are created equal so when evaluating content management systems be sure to ask if the platform has the ability to store image files, among the other requirements your organization may have. 

Ready to learn more about how to improve your proposal management process, from visuals to sign off? Download our free white paper below.

Free Whitepaper: Ways to Upend the Proposal Management Status Quo