This past May I attended the Bid & Proposal Con 2012 in Dallas, TX. Jayme Sokolow (President, The Development Source, Inc.) gave an interesting presentation entitled, "How to Make Your Ideas Stick in a Proposal.” He based his presentation on Chip and Dan Heath’s book , Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The basic premise of his presentation was how to "help proposal managers understand why sticky ideas appeal to the cognitive strategies reviewers use to evaluate proposals” The main points of his presentation were:
- Great ideas are made, not born.
- Great ideas stick; they are understood, remembered, and change their audience’s opinions or behaviors.
- All great ideas have six characteristics in common:· Principle 1: Simplicity · Principle 2: Unexpectedness· Principle 3: Concreteness· Principle 4: Credibility· Principle 5: Emotions· Principle 6: Stories.
These six characteristics can help capture and proposal professionals (like us!) craft our message in a way that will not only resonate with the evaluators but also "stick” in their minds.
Principle 1: Simplicity. This means "finding the core of the idea.”
Principle 2: Unexpectedness. The first problem of communications is getting people’s attention.The most basic way to get someone’s attention is to break a pattern by surprise and/or interest.
Principle 3: Concreteness. Concrete language helps people understand new concepts and helps us construct higher, more abstract insights on the building blocks of our existing knowledge and perceptions.
Principle 4: Credibility. Ideas become more credible when they involve compelling details and convincing statistics.
Principle 5: Emotions. People remember and understand better when they care. We can make people care about our ideas by creating empathy and by encouraging them to take off their Analytical Hats. Four strategies for making people care are:
- Use association
- Appeal to self-interest
- Appeal to identity
- Arouse fear or disgust (not recommended in proposals).
Principle 6: Stories. Stories are powerful because they provide simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act).· A credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. A good story makes people act. These are the kinds of stories you can tell in response to an RFP:
- Who I Am Stories. How does your company earn trust and respect?
- Teaching Stories. What lessons have your company’s experiences taught you?
- Vision Stories. What is your vision for the future?
- Values-in-Action Stories. What actions of your company typify its values?
- I-Know-What-You Are-Thinking Stories. What stories did you tell that will dispel objections about your company?
Develop sticky proposal ideas in the same way win themes are developed. In fact, they may be the same statements. Use a logical process to brainstorm sticky ideas, and ask if these statements address at least one of the six principles.
So....how are you going to use these principles in your next proposal to made your ideas stick?