More proposal graphics. More proposal graphics. I hear it all the time from “marketing experts,” contemporaries, and Principals. Put more graphics in your proposals.
I even heard it from a client once. Here’s the story.
A Grain of Salt For Proposal Graphics
We had a debrief with a water authority on the west coast. This was a “long shot” proposal. Our experience wasn’t exactly on point. But I thought we had a shot because they provided the exact scoring formula, including how the price would weigh in. I figured, knowing the competitor’s rates, I could put a competitive price together that might make up for our lack of on-point experience.
Boy, was I wrong. In the overall proposal scoring, we ranked very low. The client cited our lack of images and the amount of text as the reason we lost. They gave examples of how other firms loaded up on the graphics.
Really? Let’s test that. I had the scoring criteria and all the scoring results. So, I had my assistant run the numbers.
What would we have scored if we took price out of the equation? It turns out we would have come in a very close second, if not for the price.
My approach would have worked, but I was “out priced.” More graphics would not have helped at all. In fact, the technical proposal did better than I expected.
That’s Not It
I think we can all agree that graphics are good to put in your proposals. I’m certainly not going to argue that. But why do you put graphics in a proposal?
You might think graphics illustrate a concept visually and make it easier to comprehend. Well, that’s true. But it’s not the reason for the graphic.
You might think a logo reinforces your brand in the mind of the client. Sure, but that’s not the reason either.
You might think a photo shows how awesome that project your firm contributed to was. And it may, but that’s still not it.
The Real Purpose
The purpose of any graphic in a proposal is to get the evaluator to read the text on the page. Your message is in the text. Your message is what’s going to sway things in your favor.
I don’t care if you are doing proposals for Frank Gehry. I don’t even care if you are doing a proposal for graphic design.
The letters and numbers in your proposal will make or break you. (Click Here To Tweet That)
A graphic needs to get the proposal evaluator to look at the words. That’s its job. If it doesn’t do that job, it has failed.
Key Takeaway: Put graphics in your proposal to get the reader to your message.