Top 10 (Quick!) Tips for Writing Government Proposals
If you’re looking for the best practices and top tips for writing government proposals, look no further. Writing a proposal and applying for government bid opportunities can be an intimidating part of growing your business.
We’re here with proposal writing tips to ease the stress of navigating government procurement. Reference our guides to writing a capability statement, communicating with government contracting officers, and top tips for winning government contracts to begin the research process and compile the documents your business needs to win bids. Plus check out our online course, Proposals that Win: The Small Business Guide to Public Sector Success.
So here are our Top 10 Tips for writing government proposals:
- First, be sure that you carefully read and thoroughly understand the government solicitation. By reading the solicitation materials carefully, you can get a grasp of the program office’s requirements and state that your business will meet their needs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the government contracting officer or program manager. Most solicitations list the contact information of the people who can answer your questions, and provide a deadline for asking questions. Be respectful of the contracting officers by submitting your questions in a formal email before the question-submission deadline. We notice that this deadline is typically 1-2 weeks before the solicitation deadline. To learn more about how to appropriately communicate with contracting officers, read our advice on effective public sector communication and networking.
- Create a checklist of all the items that must be included in your proposal. Government solicitation requirements are usually extensive (similar to a federal grant proposal). Project planning and time management are key to successfully submitting your proposal on time! Once you’ve read the proposal carefully and posed your questions to the government representatives, create a checklist of things you must include. We recommend skimming ahead to the “Instructions for Offerors” section of the solicitation, since this is where the government clearly outlines the documents you need to submit as part of your proposal package.
- Remember, proposal writing is about creating a compelling case that your business provides the best solution to the agency’s needs. This is the story that needs telling throughout your proposal, so make sure that your technical capability narrative clearly addresses every need stated by the government.
- Specificity and focus are key to impressing agencies and increasing your proposal’s overall appeal. The best way to reveal your specific fit for a project is to use highly relevant examples of past performance. For some proposals, the government will allow you to share not only public sector experience, but also industry or corporate experience. Draw upon the most engaging, impactful, and relevant work in your portfolio.
- Show evidence of your business’ success by presenting past performance. Display that your business has done similar work, so the agency gains trust in the experience and abilities of your business.
- Use an un-cluttered, compelling document design for your proposal. The design doesn’t have to be fancy, but you should definitely incorporate best practices in visual hierarchy, such as using distinctive fonts for your headings. Include a cover letter that overviews the proposal package contents, and consider also adding a table of contents. Overall, make sure your reader can navigate the document easily. Don’t make it hard on the contracting officer to find the information they need to determine whether your company is a great fit.
- Next, be sure to offer pricing that is both fair and competitive for your services. Conduct market research on the government spending that occurs in your industry in order to target the most appropriate price range. We cover this topic in depth in our online course, Proposals that Win: The Small Business Guide to Public Sector Success! Be sure to check it out.
- Make sure that your final proposal is well-written and error free. Though it can be tedious, going back and editing/proofreading multiple times is crucial for eliminating grammar errors and correcting simple mistakes in your proposal.
- Timeliness is key. You must submit your proposal on time and make sure all of the necessary components are there. This document is critical to your business’s initial first impression from government representatives, so be punctual and take care to package and deliver your submission according to the solicitation instructions.
With the help of these quick tips, you can build confidence in your business’ growth by sharing your services with government agencies and competitively bidding on government opportunities.