SMPS-CHI Blog

How visual aids put your proposal a step above the rest

Proposals are one of the most stressful parts of an A/E/C marketer’s job. After tight deadlines and late nights, no one wants to feel like their proposal is just another document in a stack. So, what can you do to set a proposal apart? Consider using visual aids.

Find Your Muse

According to The Muse and Albert Mehrabian, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, “55 percent of the information we take in is visual, whereas only 38 percent is vocal. Translation: Your audience wants to see something!” Incorporating visuals into proposals and proposal presentations is a great way to ensure your submission is a front-runner. Adding visual aids that keep proposals neat and professional is important.

OK, so visuals can help us stand out from the pack, but what are some best practices? Include an image or infographic to break up text-heavy paragraphs. It’s easier for readers to glance an at image than to read through lines of text for information. See how we did it for this blog?

While we realize an article on the web is a different format, the strategy is the same. Try incorporating before and after images you’ve mocked up, or create pie charts and line graphs, instead of simply listing data. Remember the old adage: an image is worth 1,000 words.

Don’t take it from me! Here’s what two fellow SMPS Chicago members had to say:

Tell Your Story "OKW has drastically improved our graphic quality over the past year as a result of a recent rebrand. We were in need of a streamlined approach to producing more efficient and consistent storytelling. Proposals tend to be very text heavy. Graphics can help to draw attention to and from certain elements, creating a sense of movement.

OKW uses composition and balance to help navigate complex proposals. The most complicated spread typically ends up being the project schedule. We use line weights and color help to create a sense of direction. One of my secret weapons as a Marketing Department of one is Canva, a free graphic-design tool website. A life saver when it comes to creating infographics!”

Caroline Ferguson, Marketing Manager OKW ARCHITECTS

Using visuals are part of a larger trend, with marketing personnel leveraging ideas, traditionally used in digital marketing:

Complete the Narrative

“Visuals help bring the reader back to your main points, differentiators, theme, or narrative and in some cases, can even introduce your firm’s branding.

I think we will see more infographics, memes, and video clips incorporated into proposals and presentations. These items are no longer just for use on social media or websites. Regarding infographics and photography, I’m seeing the incorporation of firm logo or firm name into these items. R.M. Chin & Associates has started to follow suit when appropriate.”

Stefany Adholekar, Corporate Communications Coordinator R.M. Chin & Associates, Inc.

Visualizing Your Future Remember, visual aids “should add impact and emphasis to your message, thus increasing what your listeners remember and how long they retain it.” Don’t just throw images into your proposals or presentations for the sake of adding them. Be sure they are useful and support your claims.

Catie Duffy is in the marketing department at Cushing, a Chicago-based display graphics company that offers solutions such as decorative privacy film. She volunteers on the SMPS Chicago Special Events Committee.

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