A Best Practices article to help keep you out of trouble when you are writing your business proposal.
I received a packet of information recently in the mail. The introductory letter started off like this:
How Not to Copy a Proposal Example
We know that you sometimes need temporary office help at WildWing Press. Did you know that you can hire a construction worker for just a day or two to handle the extra work? Our temporary service is here to give you help when you need it. We've enclosed a list of our available services and prices, as well as some interesting information about some of our staff. After you've had a chance to read through our offerings, we're sure that you'll call Hard@Work Temps to learn how we can make your life easier.
As a business owner, after one quick glance at the contents, I file packets like this in my recycle bin. Why? Because I can tell right away that this is only a copy that is going out to thousands of other business owners. For one thing, I have multiple business licenses, so I got multiple copies, which shows the sender isn't very clued in to the ways organizations are structured. But even if I hadn't received several copies of the same information, I could tell that the sender has substituted only a few words - my last name, the word "office," and the name of my company - because he forgot to change the font so all the text would match. The sender clearly hasn't bothered to check that I am a 'Ms.' not a 'Mr.' And most telling of all, the sender forgot to take out the word 'construction,' and why would my publishing company need a construction worker? Does Hard@Work even employ construction workers, or is this a copy of another company's proposal, or a proposal example that Hard@Work found somewhere on the internet? The whole thing smacks of sloppiness and laziness. Why would I trust the sender to be any less sloppy and lazy when he does work for me?
It's not hard to recognize that the person who created this proposal was not a writer but a copier. I have no doubt that Hard@Work Temps is sending the same package to thousands of other companies. As a matter of fact, I'm sure I'll discover exactly that when I get together with local business owners at our next networking meeting. Did the sender forget that business owners are real people who share information and communicate with each other? With the proliferation of business networking websites, and all the email and instant messaging that goes on these days, it's easy for us to compare notes. The sender of copied information like this could quickly find himself classified as a spammer in the business community.
Do you think that receiving this packet inspired me to use the services of Hard@Work Temps? No way. Receiving this sort of information makes me think that if the company is this careless in sending out proposals, they'll probably be that careless in all their business dealings. Copying is hardly professional behavior, and I don't want my business to be associated with amateurs.
I'm a professional writer and editor, and of course I re-use formats, proposal examples and basic information where it's appropriate, but I start from scratch when I write and I always proofread carefully to make sure that everything I send out represents me and is intended for my specific client. Copying someone else's proposal would be like copying someone else's homework - it's not ethical and it's certainly not professional, and some telltale sign is bound to be left - mismatched writing styles, the wrong word, a name that doesn't belong. Also, remember what I said about networking and email? You never know when proposals are going to be passed around, or even posted on some website or bulletin board for everyone to read. If your proposal is an obvious copy, wouldn't you be embarrassed? Some institutions even use software that compares wording among documents to try to prevent plagiarism - how would you like to fail that sort of test? You'd hardly come out looking like a professional.
Proposal Kit is designed around the best practices in the industry, and one of those is that copying samples and proposal examples is not recommended. Any professional business owner or proposal writer will tell you the same thing.
Proposal Kit gives you all the tools you need to create good proposals and other business documents. The editable proposal templates are full of suggestions and proposal examples for you to follow. The sample PDF proposal examples are not editable, but they provide you with great ideas of how to create your own proposal. Use them for inspiration. Take those ideas and do what the sample writers did - use Proposal Kit's templates to generate your own unique proposal, writing your own words and highlighting your individual skills and strengths.
Proposal Kit gives you a big head start, but you need to do the work of creating a document that represents you and is designed for your specific audience. It won't be wasted effort. A copied proposal or proposal example just won't cut it when your proposal is not the only one on the client's desk, and if you're going to send out a proposal, you want to land the contract or secure the loan, don't you? Isn't that the whole point? If you are absolutely in love with a proposal example, you can copy and paste the text from the PDF file, but you run all the risks I mentioned above.
Proposal Kit does allow you to create an editable version of all of the samples included and have them tagged with your name and contact information. If you use this feature make an effort to reword the text in your own style consistently and make sure it accurately reflects your company.
The competition's tough out there. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Use Proposal Kit's features to create your own personalized proposal. Then at the next networking meeting, instead of laughing about the latest crummy copy they all received, your clients and potential customers will be raving about your fantastic proposal.