How to make your proposal stand out

Of all the emails I received in response to my article published on the August 18, 2013 with the theme: ‘Acknowledging and responding to proposals’, I have chosen the email from Olusegun Ogunwale as the first one I will respond to in this column.

Reading Olusegun’s email further re-enforced my view that any individual with a dream or an idea about something must understand that how the dream or idea is positioned and packaged is of utmost importance.  If you cannot properly articulate, package and present your idea, it will be very difficult for the buyer, in this case, an organisation, to purchase what is on offer. On the other hand, organisations have a role to play in shaping the dreams and ambitions of the younger generation. Brand custodians within organisations may not be aware that they have the power to either keep the flame of a dream burning or to ruthlessly squash it by not responding with a clear position to a proposal they received. Everyone wants a closure or a beginning. Whichever one, it is important to always send a feedback to those who have contacted your organisation. Here is Olusegun’s email and my response.

Hi Ollys,

Thanks for your article on ‘Acknowledging and responding to proposals’.

As a student still in the university, you made me understand what goes on behind the scene in the corporate world. I have mailed a popular company’s marketing team a couple of times on a web marketing strategy proposal to promote one of their brands in West Africa but there has been no response to my mails. I would appreciate any tips from you on pushing the proposal forward.

Thanks for the anticipated positive response.


 My response:

Dear Segun,

Thank you for taking time to read this page and also for sending in your comments and sharing your challenges. It is always important for me to know that my words put in the newspaper will not only throw light on a hitherto unknown situation but will also provide a solution to issues that need resolution.

It is laudable that you are innovative and creative in your thinking especially at this stage in your life. This is a skill that will help you to survive in today’s challenging economy. However, I will advise that you get your priorities properly aligned.  You must ensure that your education and your entrepreneurial spirit get a proportionally balanced attention, depending on your talents and abilities. None must suffer if you are to excel, as they are both vital to your tomorrow’s success.

It is unfortunate you are in the category of those who are kept in the limbo by the unresponsiveness of most organisations’ marketing divisions. This could be due to a myriad of reasons; one might be that your proposal never got to the division. Another might be that your proposal did not meet the company’s brand proposition and positioning for the Knorr brand across West Africa. Be that as it may, the company should have responded if it received your proposal with a thank you email or a letter to nip in the bud the expectation you still obviously have. This will set your mind free to explore other options.

On your request for tips on how you can push your proposal forward, I recommend you ask yourself these five vital questions:

 1)What is the brand’s positioning for the brand? You must convince and prove to the organisation in your proposal, that your idea complements their articulated message already sent out to the public about the brand.

2)How will my proposal positively add value to the brand’s image across West Africa? Will my idea be transformational if it is implemented by the organisation?

3) If so, is it measurable? Basically, the company wants to know how profitable your idea will be. They want to see numbers.

4) Is my proposition viable; that is, will it cost the organisation a lot of money and time to create and implement? No organisation wants to spend more than 20 per cent of gross on product creation and market penetration. Therefore, you must show that not only will what you are proposing be cost effective to create and implement but also that it will both make the company a lot of money and ease its processes as well.

5) How have you articulated and packaged your proposal? It is not enough to have a fantastic idea that sounds great and might even have genius quality, it is equally important that you articulate your message clearly, intelligently and creatively. Don’t forget that your proposal is one out of a million others that the company may be receiving on a daily basis.

How can you make your proposal and the idea you are proposing stand out in the crowd? In short, how fresh and unique is your idea?

Once you can articulate the answers to these five questions and incorporate your response into your proposal, I believe you will have a fighting chance of being heard. My final advice to you will be to find a mentor. Your mentor must be someone who believes in you and in your vision. He or she can guide you, give you advice and  work with you in articulating your vision. He or she might also have a contact within the company or any other competing organisation that might be interested in adopting your idea for their business. It’s an idea you may wish to seriously explore.

One response to “How to make your proposal stand out

  1. Pingback: Most creative, out of this world, wedding proposal chosen by the experts! | The Wedding and Event Planning Specialists·

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