Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Services for proposal development

Big companies have large strategic teams to help them develop high-quality proposals with all the bells and whistles.

But what about smaller companies, you know your product and what services you can offer, but you sometimes need help putting the sales message together or creating a powerful document.

So where do you go if you don't have a dedicated graphic designer, or need a proposal professional?

Well, the first stop for resources and training should be Learn to Write Proposals, of course! And with our new and much improved website on the way, you will find everything you are looking for to improve you knowledge and develop your words into winning proposals.

But what about developing graphics? Here are two great resources, depending on your circumstances and location.

1 - BizGraphics On Demand
Outside the UK or if your budget doesn't stretch to hiring someone. It's a searchable library of businesss graphics you can edit in PowerPoint and import into other programmes. Simple

2 -
Use a simple briefing form and design quotes will broker quotes for you from graphic designers registered with the site. What makes this one different, is that they'll try and find ones local for you. That's a great USP for this kind of service.So if you've had a bad experience working with frelancers in India and want that face-to-face working relationship give it a try.

There's no specific section for proposal graphics, but there is one for business report design.

Oh, and they also do the same for web design too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Are your proposals fit for purpose?

I hope not.

"Fit for purpose" is a dreadful phrase that screams mediocrity and belies a complete lack of aspiration.

It says "just get the job done, don't try and do more than you have to".

"Fit for purpose" is the war cry of those who don't want to do better.

It's OK to not want something over-engineered, but why not request and engineer the best possible within your constraints?

When you write a proposal, do you use "fit for purpose" as a winning strategy? Or indeed as one of your win themes?

When trying to win work we need to try our best, to excel, to rise far above "fit for purpose".

Everyone can produce a product "fit for purpose". What can you do to add something extra?

Yes, there is a financial cost to doing more than the bare minimum. But how many successful businesses are surviving because they aim to be fit for a King, not just fit for purpose.

If you compete only on price, remember that one day, someone will start doing the same "fit for purpose" thing you do for less.

Go beyond the minimum and demonstrate the value of being better.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book review: Mike Parkinson, Do-it-Yourself Billion Dollar Business Graphics

3 Fast and Easy Steps to Turn Your Text and Ideas Into Graphics That Sell

Every once in a while you come across something that influences the way you work. Something that gives you not just the theory but provides you with the methods to do something in a better way. It's even rarer to find something that gives you the kind of visual ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Well, that's what Mike Parkinson has done here. You could say that being a book about graphics that the visual ideas of course should be there, but that's missing the point. Let me explain.

This book is not about pictures. It's about effective communication and how to increase the effectiveness of communication. Once you realise that, this book will influence and improve the way you produce your proposals.

I should point out as well, that this is not specifically a guide for professional graphic designers, though I think that there are many graphic designers out there who would benefit from reading it. It's for anyone who wants to improve written communications and that means everyone who writes proposals. Don't think that because "you do the words and the graphics guy does the graphics" that this isn't for you. It is.

The first section of the book is about the power of graphics and after fours years studying fine arts and over 20 years experience developing effective graphics Parkinson knows what he is saying. Reading this, you know that the book is based not just on experience and intuition, but solid research and empirical evidence.

Next, Parkinson explains the lifecycle of a graphic and how the two elements of a graphic, (surface or cognitive and subsurface or emotional)are connected. It's why a successful graphic works on multiple levels,communicating hard information, yet in a way we find appealing. So how do you know what is appealing and what information to communicate? We need to move from the abstract and into the practical and fortunately Parkinson has a method for us to follow. This is the key for how even the most visually illiterate wordsmith can think about creating high quality briefs for a graphic artist or select the most appropriate library graphics.

There are three steps to the method, each with their own process.

The first step, the P.A.Q.S. process is about ensuring that you have the information to do what is required:

    * Primary Objective: what's the required action after the graphic has been viewed?
    * Audience: who are they and what do they want?
    * Questions: What does the audience need to know from looking at this graphic?
    * Subject Matter: What you need to know to answer the questions!

There's more too it that that of course, which is why each part of the process is covered in detail with lots of examples.

Step two covers how to conceptualise graphics and Parkinson describes four different methods for conceptualising graphics. Never again will you be stuck for inspiration or wonder "I have no idea how to describe this". He also looks at some design techniques - how to present graphics well.

The third step is about rendering your graphics. There are more tips and rules and pages of every graphic type you can possibly imagine for you to learn from.

There's a fun little quiz at the end, plus a glossary and a link to a virtual CD of free examples of business graphics which makes this one of the most comprehensive resources of its type. It's also easy to understand and implement ideas that will improve your proposals.

All in all this book is excellent value and delivers more than expected. If you thought that graphics were a black art only accessible to artistic Photoshop gurus, then DIY Billion Dollar Business Graphics will open your eyes to a whole new world of effective communication.

Buy DIY Billion Dollar Business Graphics at Billion Dollar Graphics