Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Writing business propsoals with unique selling points

I recently reviewed Can I Change Your Mind? The Craft and Art of Persuasive Writing by Lindsay Camp - a book that's as enjoyable as it is useful.

One of the things that Camp mentions is that in marketing messages there is always the hunt for a unique selling point or USP. Yet, there might not always be one. You can have a perfectly good product, that works well, is efficient and has a good price - but your competition may have something very similar.

It's the same in proposals. We look for that competitive edge  and differentiators to create win themes in our proposal. But sometimes we can put pressure on ourselves to come up with something completely unique that actually...might not be so unique. Perhaps you aren't the only organisation that has a 24-hour UK call centre or a 10-year guarantee or providing shocking-pink high-visibility vests for construction workers (USPs aren't always going to get you more business by themselves).

Camp talks instead about a "competitive promise" - factors that will help change the client's mind. Start off with your single strongest claim and tell the story of why it matters - what difference will it make to them.

Don't dismiss USPs if you have them, but it's worth thinking as well about what are the combinations of factors - that may including "softer" or people related factors that would make clients choose you rather than the competition when you write your business proposal.