Ensuring High Quality Business Proposal Production - Look Professional and Win More Work

Writing a proposal involves a lot more than just simply putting the words together...you have to make sure that your proposal document looks professional and that it gets to the client on time. You could have the best proposal in the world, but if it's submitted after the deadline it is extremely likely that it won't even be considered - especially in public sector procurement.

So what's involved in producing a proposal? It's just a question of printing it out and sending it off isn't it? Sometimes yes - but there may be other things to consider. Here's a quick list of all the things that you have to consider:

The proposal - the finished document is obviously the first thing you need in place. Make sure that this is the finished document - any red team review should have already been completed on draft versions.

Proof Reading - neglecting proof-reading is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It takes very little time to do properly, though is often the first thing to go when time is running short. Yet if it isn't done correctly, one simple mistake in the wrong place can destroy all possibility of actual being awarded a contract.

Printing - Printing can often take longer than you expect. Always make sure that you have plenty of toner or printer ink. Allow extra time if you are printing in colour and check beforehand to see how many copies you need - and allow extra time. It's also a good idea to have a backup in case things go wrong - find a local print shop where you can get documents printed. In fact, if they can produce higher quality documents on their equipment, think about outsourcing your document production to them.

Binding - make sure you have the equipment and consumables in stock. Don't always use the cheapest binding option. A great looking document sends an immediate message to the buyer about your quality and values.

Packaging - Make sure you have big enough envelopes. Did the client provide and envelope or label that you must include on the tender. Always check the tender documentation to verify the address where the document should be sent - it may be different than the address that you usually use for this client
Getting It There - Always allow time for delivery and get proof of postage. If the proposal is completed a day early, send it a day early. Don't leave it until the last minute. If using a courier service then make sure that they are reputable.

Think about how long these are going to take in your organisation and plan for them. Ensure that your deadline for completing the proposal takes into consideration the time that these activities will take. Always allow time for contingencies - something will go wrong!!

Plan your document production as part of your bid management process. Use the Bid Development Plan in the Learn to Write Proposals Bid Management Toolkit. This will help you plan the entire document creation and production process and avoid the last minute rush.

Online Video Marketing For Small Business - Video Production Tools - (Part 1 of 2)

It seems like video is taking over the internet! That's a good thing if we know how to use it. Bad, if we do not. Most small business owners, do not have the time to research all there is to know about local web video marketing; we have a business to run! In this short report (the first in a series of three), we will try to explain how local businesses should produce video for our internet marketing plan. Look for a second issue which talks about the many ways to distribute online video. Finally, we will discuss how local business owners can promote video as a vital part of an overall local internet marketing plan.

So many of us are overwhelmed at the thought of using video to promote our business. Usually, the first things we think of are the cheesy commercials local furniture stores use. We sure do not want to portray our business like that, but we cannot help wondering what kind of crazy traffic they get with those silly ads. Then, we think about the production end and the costs the small business owner must incur. On top of that, the cost of actually airing those commercials have got to be insane. Because most small business owners know we do not have a budget to support those costs, we just disregard the whole idea. Many never even investigate using TV as an ad medium. I was one of the fortunate few who did.

What I found was that these local divisions of the major networks will shoot the video for us for free if we spend the money on the ads. They are done on a very tight budget using old cameras and intern crews. Which, unfortunately, is why they are so cheesy. Then, they will "guarantee" our ad being shown during certain parts of the day. What they do not tell us is that sometimes they will run very close to each other and even back-to-back in some cases. Oh, and they are expensive! No thanks. Some of us know that using TV to promote our business just won't produce the results that we need. Besides, who knows if the people watching those commercials on TV are part of our target audience?

Almost automatically, when we think of video, we think about TV, right? Well, that is changing. Very quickly, in fact. Statistics are showing that people are starting to spend more time online (maybe with the TV on in the background...). Furthermore, over 50% of internet traffic is now video being streamed over the internet. Savvy local business owners will take advantage of online video marketing to promote their business online. Just how to do it is the question. We want several things from our marketing efforts: ease of use, low cost, and most of all, measurable results. We want people walking through the door. We know that marketing, in its purest form is really just generating traffic to our business. Sure, there are other things we need to always be thinking about to keep our business running (this is why we need it to be easy); but if we have no traffic, we have no business! Money is always running away from our business, so we need it to be cost effective, as well. Finally, we need to see that what we are doing is working and paying for itself. How can we get on the internet gravy train using web video?

Let's talk about video production. We need to start with the end result in mind before we start. When people find our video online, it needs to look and sound professional. It also needs to be engaging so that people actually watch it.

There are many tools you will need to produce a professional video. Do not fall into the trap of using commercially available video cameras or computer microphones. Although the web is very forgiving, we do not want a video that screams, "We made this from scratch!" As local business owners, we should should agree that the first thing we want to accomplish with our video is having people watch it through its entirety. If we are considering local web video marketing, we need to splurge a buy professional equipment or hire video professionals. Our audience will be sure to "click" off of our video very quickly if it looks like an amateur shoot.

  • Essential Tool #1 - Video Camera Consider a camera with three color chips. These are called 3CCD cameras. The important thing about having a 3CCD camera is the colors it can represent. We don't want to look like we shoot the video in a basement or backyard even though we may have. An HD camera should be at the core of our equipment only because when we resize our video for the web, we want it to still look crisp and clean.
  • Essential Tool #2 - Tripod This is important because a tell-tale sign of amateur video is shaky video. Be sure to research other basics of video shooting like framing, depth-of-field, and camera angles so that the final product looks good.
  • Essential Tool #3 - Microphone Sound is the most overlooked aspect of video. It is not logical to think of the way a video sounds while we are watching it; but if your sound is sub-par, it will be very distracting to the final product. We suggest using a lavaliere microphone because it is the most versatile while providing very professional sound. Please pay attention to the "levels" and always monitor your sound during a video shoot.
  • Essential Tool #4 - Editing Software Want to cut out the junk and keep the good stuff? Need to put some parts of the video before others for it to make logical sense? Video won't upload to the web because that site doesn't like your format? Choose an editing software that can handle all of these things efficiently. We suggest Final Cut Pro for the Mac and Adobe Premiere Pro for the PC. You will find that these pieces of software will do everything you need and more.