So, you've decided to submit a proposal.

Maybe you're the incumbent with a very happy client or in a pack, or somewhere in between.

Maybe somebody threw a request for proposal (RFP) over your transom. Or you were invited to respond to an RFP. Or, you've done it the hard way—by having a sustained business conversation with a prospect about what the prospect needs.

However you got there, you're looking for ways to create a proposal that sets you and your company favorably apart. Ways that capture the great things you have to offer. And do you no harm.

Here are six suggested proposal writing tips and best-practices intended to not only maximize your chances to stand out and land the job but also manage the risks.

1. Be responsive

If your proposal is the result of an RFP, you've been given a recipe. Follow it precisely.

Well, at least be very cautious about how much you improvise. Remember that you're getting points for showing how well you color inside the lines—and how well you listen.

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Doug Stern ( is a freelance business writer and marketing strategist based in Louisville, KY. Contact him at 502-599-6624 or

Jaclyn Landon ( is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. Contact her at 949-872-2296 or