Writing proposals – evaluating your audience

Writing a proposal is something you’ll be called on to do many times in your consulting career. Once you’re established your proposal goal, you need to consider your audience.

The audience for your proposal is the organization that called for the proposal. It’s important to consider the needs and requirements established in the request for proposals. You should also consider the size, structure, industry and environment of the organization.

But don’t stop there. Dig deeper:

  • Who’s going to read the proposal? Will someone screen the proposals and then submit a shortlist to another party?
  • Will one person make a decision or will several?
  • Who are these decision makers? What backgrounds, jobs, roles and interests do they have?
  • Can you curry favour by playing to the interests of those decision makers?
  • Will you have a chance to present your proposal to the audience, or must your document standalone?

Always take time to understand your audience. You’ll need a lengthy, formal proposal if you’re replying to a request from a Fortune 500 company that will put your materials before a committee. You can be a bit more footlose if your proposal is going to the owner of a one-person start-up business.

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