Six tips for better content reuse

Determine whether it contributes to increased proposal wins both in percentage and in volume

Proposal content reuse at its best improves productivity and make the most of your bid and proposal (B&P) resources. Every company reuses proposal content, whether they have a formal content reuse strategy with tools, technology, and dedicated writers or individuals who reuse their own latest and greatest nuggets independently—or they are somewhere in between.

As with any aspect of the proposal life cycle, successful bidders must plan, measure results, and continuously improve. Yet, all too often, companies fail to examine whether their formal and/or informal reuse processes result in content that gets the job done. The best way to measure if content reuse works is to determine whether it contributes to increased proposal wins both in percentage and in volume. Even if content reuse saves time, it doesn’t necessarily increase PWin.

Content is an expression of your company

Content articulates what your company is, what it does or has done, and how it achieves customer objectives. Content adds and redistributes value by connecting with customers through proposal narrative. All proposal content contains data, and data in a specific proposal is important information. Why is it important? Because information is actionable.

In the context of proposals, the goal is to create information that results in the action we desire—the evaluator finding strengths rather than weaknesses, deficiencies, or risks and awarding us the highest scores or ratings for the win. If the content contains data that is irrelevant to the customer or, even worse, ignorant of their values, then the information is actually counter-productive in this context.

So, if your company copies and pastes boilerplate into proposals without selecting and tailoring content based on customer and competitor intelligence, your content reuse processes are worthless. Effective content reuse reflects the specifics of customer hot buttons, values, and objectives and also helps to ghost the competition. Without a content re-use strategy, your content is an expression of a company that is careless. Poor content re-use reduces PWin and decreases customer trust.

Improving the value of your proposal content

Remember, content from a winning proposal was tailored to that specific solicitation in order to present a compliant, responsive, compelling, and customer-focused solution. Therefore, it is impossible to copy and paste content without revision. To improve the value of your re-use materials, try these six tips.

  1. Create: Determine which content (written and graphics) has the best potential return on investment. In other words, what information does your company need to communicate repeatedly? Gather that data as top priority from winning proposals.
  2. Organize: Organize the content using a content management system (CMS) and/or structured hierarchy of folders in a way that makes sense for your organization. The structure may be by contract vehicle, business line, customer account, solution, and/or others.
  3. Label: Label the content using tags. Make it easy for the proposal team to find content using a variety of key word and phrase searches.
  4. Question everything: A particular piece of content, a tag, an organizational hierarchy, or a CMS entry may make sense today but not in 6 months. Set regular intervals to reexamine all aspects of the system you use.
  5. Update: Things change. Your solution architects may improve a process or system. Your project managers may embrace more-effective techniques. Your proposal writers may find a better way to articulate a technical approach. Past performance and resumes may not reflect the latest achievements. Content is never unchangeable. Revise and refresh content regularly.
  6. Revise based on the solution. Some companies copy and paste content into the writing template without first articulating a customer-focused solution. Build the solution, and then pick the best content to tailor to the customer’s objectives and hot buttons. Read every word of the reuse content to make sure it’s applicable to this customer and these competitors as well as compliant with and responsive to RFP requirements.

Content reuse requires thoughtful consideration of which proposal text or graphics are well-suited for recycling. It also requires understanding that all reuse content must be tailored and edited to opportunity specifics. Content without customization is unproductive. Use the six tips above to create reuse materials that result in more proposal wins.

By Lisa Pafe, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, CPP APMP Fellow and PMI PMP

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $135B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at 
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