Seven Cardinal Rules of Proposal GraphicsAnother tool of proposal persuasion is graphics. Graphics will always prevail over text. Quite simply, they are infinitely more effective at presenting the marketing and sales message. You wouldn’t even fathom not using graphics when you put together a marketing or sales brochure. Yet, people routinely underuse graphics in proposals.

It is important to define that for proposal purposes, graphics or visuals are not just pretty graphs and flowcharts or photos. Instead, they are all the visual elements that break up the monotony of the text. A visual could be a figure, a text or a focus box, or a nicely rendered table.

You need to remember seven cardinal rules about proposal graphics.

  1. Place a visual on at least every other page, but a graphic on every page is even better. If someone were to leaf through your proposal, he or she should be able to get your story just from the visuals.
  2. Keep your graphics simple and uncluttered. Busy graphics lack the intended impact. Ruthlessly edit the extra text out after you are done designing the graphic.
  3. Maintain vertical (portrait) orientation of the graphic. If you have a busy chart and are inclined to present it in a landscape mode, think about the evaluators who have many proposals to read, and will have to crank their neck attempting to read the graphic. Most likely, they won’t bother and will keep leafing through the proposal while missing important messages. Try and see first if your artist can lay out the graphic in portrait format. You might be surprised by how much a graphic artist can do.
  4. Design your graphic so it can stand alone, independent of text. “Stand alone” means not just the graphic by itself, but the graphic and its action caption. You should not require a page of text to explain each graphic, nor should you provide a lengthy explanation. An evaluator should be able to analyze the graphic and get even more information and data from it than from the text. A great proposal graphic replaces text.
  5. Provide action captions that answer four key questions:

    • What is on the graphic?
    • What is it doing?
    • What is it doing better than the competition?
    • What is the benefit to the customer?
      If you simply answer these questions and edit your statements down to a single sentence, you will be able to write a powerful action caption.
  6. Make your graphic understandable in less than 10 seconds. It might take longer than 10 seconds to digest all the rich data and layers of messaging in the graphic, but your primary message should be clear to the reviewer at a single glance. Evaluators often scan a proposal before delving into it and reading it in detail. You need to have them get your message quickly so they put your proposal in a “must read more closely” pile of proposals that are undergoing evaluation.
  7. Follow traditional logic of the flow and direction to avoid confusing the evaluator.
    • Left to right
    • Top to bottom
    • Clockwise

To develop great graphics for your proposals, you have a couple of options: Conceptualize and develop your own graphics from scratch, or tap into a wonderful resource, Here, you can purchase graphics that you can modify in Microsoft PowerPoint and insert into your proposals, or simply derive inspiration and create your own.

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