While the Super Bowl was forgettable, some of the commercials were excellent examples of telling a story that evokes emotion in two minutes or less. Apple’s iPad Air commercial features a passionate voice-over from Robin Williams’s performance in Dead Poets Society. In 90 seconds, Apple took us on a tour around the world, illustrating how the iPad is instrumental in the creative process. Budweiser’s commercial featured a parade they threw for returning Army officer Lt. Chuck Nadd in his hometown; their commercial didn’t have much to do with beer, but it did give viewers a good feeling about Budweiser as a company. In a wildly patriotic commercial, Bob Dylan made a poignant case as to why “We have the best people.” In two minutes, Dylan took us on a tour of Detroit’s rich automobile history and showcased Chrysler employees’ pride, dedication, and unwavering commitment to excellence in building cars. Whether or not you will buy a Chrysler as a result, it was still a superb example of storytelling that we can take and apply to proposal writing.
These commercials are able to tell a complete story in 60-120 seconds. They are able to entertain, touch, and make us emotionally react, but most importantly, they are memorable. Proposals, on the other hand, are often boring, and the poor evaluators are stuck reading a stack of these uninspired documents. The next time you are writing or editing your proposal and you are struggling to stay awake, imagine what it would be like to evaluate it after reading 10 others just like it. Wouldn’t it be great if your proposals were more memorable?
Storytelling is a great way to make your proposals stand out, so it’s no surprise modern marketing makes good use of storytelling. For most of human history the majority of people couldn’t read, so storytelling has always been natural. Stories were there to entertain, teach, and maintain history in the form of legends and myths.
Proposal format doesn’t lend itself to storytelling well, but there are a dozen different types of proposal stories one could tell to liven them up. For example, if you are an incumbent, you could introduce “horror” stories; bring up something that could fail to scare the customer into selecting you, then recover by showing how you are the best to mitigate such problems. In this type of story, you show in detail that if that problem were to arise, how the work would breakdown, all the knowledge would be lost, all the projects would fall apart, and how selecting anyone but you would be a risky proposition. Or for types of proposals that deal with health, safety, or security, try the drama and tension genre—the story in the beginning with the outcome towards the end, using your solution.
There are many creative ways to tell a good story in the proposal, but not everyone is naturally a good storyteller. There is an art and a craft to telling stories. In our course Writing Persuasive Federal Proposals (http://ostglobalsolutions.com/training/classroom-training/proposal-writing-workshop.htm) (coming up on Tuesday-Wednesday of next week, Feb. 25-26), we teach you how to do this. We also show you how to outline the sections to get the most points with the evaluators, structure a persuasive argument, learn speed writing (to develop your sections in half the time), and apply other advanced persuasion techniques to make your proposal stand out.
Telling good stories in proposals makes your offer more persuasive. More persuasive proposals make you stand out and help the evaluator digest complex, technical content more easily. In the end, proposals may be boring but yours can be the exception. And this may just make that winning difference.
OST Global Solutions, Inc.
…Because There is No Second Place in Proposals! TM