No Room for Fiction in Proposals!

Pursuit Strategy, Business and Politics – The Art of Storytelling

A bit of drama sells in every sphere of activity. In business as in politics – and cinema! In some countries, marketing and operations, nothing else matters!

Not always, though! Most winning proposals, for instance, are ones that tell a business story persuasively – without any histrionics. In fact, every RFP of every hue carries an unambiguous message: “no marketing information.” Akin to the stark warning on cigarette packs that “smoking kills.”

Fiction and histrionics are only transient forces deployed for a telling effect in politics and, to some extent, in business.

StorytellingEffective storytelling, nonetheless, will go a long way in enabling the success of a pursuit strategy. Except that the themes we weave around a story will have to stand strong reviewer scrutiny. Intense fact-checking is an essential part of proposal evaluation that businesses cannot ignore.

Hardly Relevant Fluff

Where the narrative goes out of hand is when proposal writers leverage marketing content and play up information that will not rank high among evaluators. If one bidder claims 80% of Fortune 500 customers, another puts the figure at 90%. If 8 out of the top 10 banks make up the customer tally of a vendor another goes with 10/10. Such fluff, whether it is fact or fiction, may not even be fact-checked or counted as a strength by the evaluation team.

In politics and cinema, the protagonists may have an audience predisposed to them – just as U.S. President Donald Trump is seen winning the storytelling game in this side-splitting CNN piece today.

The thundering message from the writer is that “Trump’s stories are often more fiction than fact. But the thing about a story, like a novel or a drama, is that it’s not really meant to be fact-checked.”

The comic relief the President’s stories provide to his fans sustain the momentum he builds – and his popularity.

Some charms do sell when the going is good. Fake, evil fortunes do not, however, last long. Just as Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s world came crumbling down as the #Me Too movement gathered steam.

Business is the opposite of politics, even if there is collusion often between the two – it has to be built on fact – its marketing messages can be hyperbolic but if they are founded on fiction they will not have an outcome that is different from “smoking kills.”

G Joslin Vethakumar

Personal Jottings Aug 2018

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Filed under General, RFPs

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