I've had a lot of conversations with people regarding what makes our one-page proposal successful. "What about my one-page proposal?" they say. "Isn't mine just as good?"
Immediately thereafter they inevitably show me something that starts with discussions of kilowatts or other concepts that don’t drive decisions. Sure, those are the concepts they want to talk about – they want to talk shop! The problem is the customer doesn't really care. In some cases, they don't even understand what a kilowatt is!
So, people show these proposals to me, asking, "Well, isn't this just as good as yours?" Frankly, they aren't. They don't press the right hot buttons or capture the decision maker's attention.
I used to be editor-in-chief of my college weekly newspaper. One of the things I knew was that people wouldn't pick the paper off the shelf unless it had a captivating headline. When you write a one-page proposal, the principles are the same.
- Write a headline that’s going to grab an executive’s attention.
- Follow that up with carefully chosen and engaging phrases that establish what you're talking about.
- Use bullets to make the highlights easy to scan.
- Spell out the benefits that will keep the decision maker interested and motivated to continue reading.
Once you’ve established this within the top two inches of the page, you’ll have an opportunity to make your pitch. You only have about 150 words or even less – perhaps three short paragraphs – to say why the proposal should be approved.
These principles set one-page proposals apart from the ones that don’t work. It’s not about kilowatt-hours. It's all about the why. When it comes to the what, how much, and when, your reader can learn about those things elsewhere. The one-pager has to be squarely focused on the "why.”