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How to Write a Business Proposal Using 4MAT

How to Write a Business Proposal Using 4MAT

When vying for work with a private enterprise or government authority, a key challenge for professional service providers is to create a compelling business proposal that sets them apart from other contenders.

I recently wrote about the power of using the 4MAT model as an effective structure for engaging an audience based on tapping into the four key learning styles of people: people who want to know why (imaginative types who seek meaning); people who want to know what (analytic types who seek facts); people who want to know how (practical types who want to know the steps); and people who want to find out what if (dynamic types who seek to explore, speculate and adapt).

I’ve discovered that 4MAT is an equally useful framework to use when developing a business proposal, tender bid, request for quotation document or expression of interest. Below are some tips to consider to ensure you appeal to the different information needs of those who may be assessing your next business proposal.

Why – establishing the purpose of the proposal

  • Demonstrate your understanding of the purpose of the project, for example, indicate the challenge to be overcome and the desired outcome to be achieved, based on the background information and scope of works provided in the project brief.
  • Describe why your company would be the best choice for the job. Detail your relevant experience and results achieved for similar clients/projects.
  • Share your company mission and values so the client knows what you stand for in terms of quality, customer service, innovation, value for money, communication, integrity and the like.
  • Detail the logical AND emotional benefits of the problem you solve, and how this will help achieve the client’s stated business goals.

What – explaining what exactly is being proposed

  • Detail the proposed service deliverables. For instance, if it is a training package being proposed, outline how many sessions there will be, how many people can participate in each, the duration of each session, suggested timeframes for delivery and a description of topics to be covered.
  • Outline any particular methodologies that will be used and/or style of delivery. For example, if you are a coach, detail any profiling tools that will be used and the process for their administration and unpacking.
  • Detail the critical success factors that you believe are relevant to the project. For instance, engagement of specific stakeholders, alignment with key policies, clarity of roles and responsibilities, timeliness of feedback, and the like.
  • Outline any key performance indicators that will be put place to measure the success of the project milestones and the project as a whole.
  • Indicate what systems, policies and procedures you have in place to mitigate against any risk, for example, professional indemnity and / or public liability insurance.
  • Clarify the investment including cost for each item, payment terms and methods for this to occur.

How – detailing how the service will happen, when it will happen and who will make it happen

  • Indicate a proposed methodology and timeframe. For example, create a three-column table with the first column labelled ‘Stage’, the second column labelled ‘Proposed Activities’ and the third column labelled ‘Indicative Timeframe’ then populate it with information broken into logical milestone chunks.
  • Confirm the modality of service delivery. For instance, will it be delivered face-to-face at the client’s premises or a different location, over the internet, or perhaps a combination of both?
  • Indicate what resources you will provide or require the client to provide such as technology and equipment.
  • Indicate how confidentiality will be handled in terms of the client’s personal and business information.
  • Identify the individuals who will deliver the service including their name, title, key competencies, strengths and relevant experience.
  • Identify the key person from your business and their relevant contact details.
  • Outline how all project stakeholders will be kept informed of progress and how feedback will be provided.

What if – engaging the audience to envisage the future

  • Embellish the proposal with case studies and/or testimonials from happy clients and provide referees who can sing your praises.
  • Provide a cover letter that reinforces how your service will take the client from where they are now to where they want to be.
  • Have a specific call to action offering the client to experience the service being proposed. For example, include a web link to a demonstration video, offer a Skype or face-to-face meeting or put them in touch with a previous client who can explain the results they achieved from receiving the service.

Of utmost importance, is ensuring that the presentation of your business proposal looks professional and represents your brand at its best. Use a great headline, break up sections of the proposal with sub-headings, use bullet points, avoid technical jargon, ensure language is clear and concise, and use images if appropriate. Good luck!


©Ros Weadman 2017   Ros Weadman is the creator of the Brandcode® Marketing Method and Reputation Equation™, founder of Melbourne PR & Marketing Group and author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com



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