A few months ago, a prospective client approached me with a problem:
“We should be winning more of the proposals that we submit.”
This prospect–the Portland office of a national organization–routinely submits proposals to local governments, K12 institutions and higher-ed organizations for multi-million-dollar projects.
After meeting with them, I agreed—they should be winning more projects! They have a great story. They just weren’t telling it very well.
What’s challenging about this case is that the usual elements I’m working with (website, visual identity, copy and other marketing communications elements) are managed at the corporate level and we can’t touch them.So we had to focus on what we could influence: the proposals themselves.
This wasn’t so much a design job, though. We needed to do more than review the proposals and make them look more approachable. We needed to dig into the content–the words and the voice–and make them stronger. In order to do that in a meaningful way, we needed to truly understand what’s important to their customers, and craft our proposals to speak directly from that place of understanding.
Although this challenge doesn’t involve the visual aspects of branding, I invented a way to apply my branding process in order to address it.
We convened a team from the client’s local office and held two workshops to drill into the areas that (we think) are most important to their clients. And now we’re interviewing their clients as a means to confirm or negate our ideas. In the end, we’ll have a key messaging platform (among several other deliverables) to keep our team focused on what matters most to their prospects.
and the results…
Even though we’re less than halfway through the interview process, we’ve gathered valuable information that we’ve already integrated as we responded to recent RFPs. Since initiating the branding process, we’ve won four of six proposals submitted—that’s 66 percent! I can’t wait to see what happens once our work is complete!
what does it mean for you?
A comprehensive branding process has value far beyond the visual identity most people associate with it. Identifying what makes you special, relating it to your customers’ interests and values, and being able to convey all of it succinctly creates a major advantage in a noisy market. If you’re not winning the business you deserve, a branding and messaging tune-up might be just what you need. Let’s talk.