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Government Proposal Writing: Proposal Strategies

Writing a winning government proposal is not the product of luck, but rather careful planning, writing, and review. In this four-part series of blogs, we will be discussing the capture, strategic planning, execution, and evaluation processes. Each of these elements is key to create not only a compliant proposal but a competitive proposal that can win contracts.

Now that your capture process is complete, it’s time to create a proposal strategy. This will begin with developing win themes, creating an outline, and finally developing a consistent approach. Your proposal strategy will drive the overall message of the proposal and is key to moving beyond a compliant proposal to a winning proposal.


1. Develop Win Themes


Using the intel gathered in the capture process, you will develop win themes to drive the overall approach for the proposal. These may be technical solutions, processes, methods, or improvements that meet the needs of the customer, solving an issue or presenting an innovation that supports their mission. Your win theme will be comprised of the solution, its benefits to the customer, and supporting information such as past performance.


Your goal is to select win themes that set your company apart from the competition. Companies that seek contracts in the same area of government work are often very similar. You need to consider your past performance, your company’s strengths and weakness, and the strengths and weakness of your primary competitors. From here identify those capabilities and strengths that are unique to your company. These will be the differentiators that will push you above your competition.


The Coronavirus placed a strain on our national medical PPE supplies. In response, the government quickly wrote contracts to attract non-traditional PPE vendors. This provided an opportunity for new companies to enter the marketplace and provide novel solutions. One company proposed instead of increased manufacturing of new masks, using existing technology to clean typical one-time use masks with UV light. The company’s win theme proposed a solution that met the needs of the government and leveraged an existing capability and patented technology.


2. Create Section Outlines


It is not uncommon for a proposal team to create an outline that parallels the RFP and assign each section to team members with instructions to respond to the RFP requirements. This approach lacks the development of consistent messaging and methodology.


Alternatively, creating a template or storyboard with the factors the author should consider for each section will create a consistent and thorough proposal. The added context could be the questions you want the writer to answer, the voice you would like them to use, relevant background or customer information, examples of your company’s strengths and capabilities, or specific features of your approach or technology. Additionally, outlines can include instructions for supplementary elements such as call-out boxes, tables, and graphics. These elements can be used to help save space and illustrate key concepts. Developing a template can be a lot of work but will save time and effort in the long run when you are receiving quality content.


When you identify the elements, it will take to win and weave these into the proposal outline, you can compile each section into a cohesive proposal with a unified consistent message.

3. Develop a Consistent Approach


Developing content customized for each contract and customer is not just specific to the technical section. It is imperative not to repurpose content throughout the proposal, without modifying it for the specific RFP. Whether the section is the Executive Summary, Statement of Work, Technical Approach, Management Approach, or Past Performance, every section should incorporate win themes, customer intel, and relevant statements that were crafted specifically for this customer.


Preparation is the key to consistently winning government proposals. Developing a proposal strategy that highlights your understanding of the customer, your proposed solution and past performance, and how your solution is unique is the basis for writing a winning proposal.

If you found this material helpful and want to learn more, check out our podcast, The Inside Scoop with Novelle, at www.novelleonline.com/podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, or Overcast.

Rita Simmons, Ph.D., is the founder and lead consultant of Novelle, where she provides business and research consulting to companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Simmons leverages her drive for innovation and excellence along with her extensive executive and military experience to help companies grow their business, drive revenue, and achieve strategic goals. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Dr. Simmons at info@novelleonline.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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