Breaking Down Business Writing and Proposal Writing

RFP writer giving tips for writing an RFP
Let's break down business writing and proposal writing.

We all know what good writing is. It’s the novel we can’t put down, the poem we never forget, and the speech that stays with us forever. Good business writing is the memo that gets action. It’s also the report summarizing new knowledge and the company presentation that inspires a new policy. In this article, The Bid Lab’s procurement writing experts break down elements of great business and proposal writing.

Formats in Business Writing

The broad goal of business and proposal writing is engagement, but there are several formats of business writing. Each format has its own specific goal:

  • Daily communication falls under transactional business writing. Most of this writing is by email and includes official business letters, forms, and invoices. This business and proposal writing style can range from informal to very complex and technical.
  • Another format of business writing is instructional. This format aims to provide the information needed to complete a task. Think of user manuals for appliances or electronics.
  • Informational writing is less glamorous but still essential to business and proposal writing. Companies rely on business reports to track work, record incidents, finalize projects, and review business operations. Major company decisions often result from the data and structured information presented within the report.
  • That said, when most people think of business and proposal writing, they often think of the persuasive format. This format aims to convince the reader that a product or service offers the best value (RFPs and proposal writing). The text is presented to persuade the reader to make a decision based on the information provided.

Process in Business Writing

Regardless of the format, the process for creating a business document is consistent:

  • Gather information: The writer learns about the product or service by interviewing the developers or subject matter experts (SMEs).
  • Plan and organize the information: The writer needs to understand what the research means and how to group related subjects into a coherent outline. Organizing the document often exposes important gaps in knowledge.
  • Write the text – The first business and proposal writing draft will always be rough, but the important thing is getting everything down on paper. Remember, the first draft is never the final draft.
  • Check the text and information for accuracy – Unfortunately, writers sometimes skip the accuracy review because of time constraints. However, a good business and proposal writer will always make time to ensure their document is correct, to the best of their knowledge, and then allow the SMEs to comment.
  • Make the necessary corrections – As the final step, the writer should correct all errors (spelling, grammar, or otherwise). It’s also important to add missing information, clarify any possible confusion, and perform a final read-through.

In a proposal writing environment, there are a few extra steps added to this process. Many organizations outsource or build a bid management team in-house to ensure the response is both compelling and compliant with all the requirements in the Request for Proposal (RFP). Ultimately, the goal is to write a winning bid. This is one of the daunting tasks in responding to an RFP.

CTA: Submit a Schedule a free consultation with The Bid Lab!

Proposal Writing

Business proposals are a critical subset of business, and they have an organization, language, and style all their own. The organization is prescribed by the RFP and must be followed exactly to successfully engage the reviewers. Every proposal demands structure… because structure provides clarity, and that’s exactly what you want to give the prospective customer.

With the right structure, your business and proposal writing will not only engage the reviewers but will also motivate them in your favor. Structure requirements can be as unique as the company to which you are responding. Government RFPs can still look good even if they are extremely strict. You’ll have to work with any required font type and size for the response.

Bottom line: It’s important to record these requirements during the initial review of the RFP. This way, they won’t get lost in the impending flurry of activity.

Essential Proposal Components

  • Cover – Most professional proposals create a full-color cover to portray your company positively from the onset and set the tone for the rest of the format and contents.
  • Transmittal Letter – Address this letter to the person or department mentioned in the RFP. It should function as an introduction of your company to the customer and will usually provide a brief overview of why you’re the best choice to provide the good or service.
  • Executive Summary – There is an art to writing the best Executive Summary possible, as it is your opportunity to tell your company’s unique story and include relevant information to the issuing entity. The Executive Summary is also an appropriate place to insert color images to capture attention.
  • Scope of Work – Each requirement listed in the SOW needs to be addressed within the technical response. This might include key personnel, specifications, timelines, and anything and everything requested by the procuring entity. So, this is the time to be very specific. Therefore, answer all questions exactly as they’re asked. On the other hand, this is not the time to plug in marketing materials or generic responses. 
  • Pricing – Review and engagement factor heavily into the pricing breakdown section of the RFP. Most RFPs specify a particular format for the pricing, and your response should make every effort to comply with that format (whether it’s a complex Excel spreadsheet or a simple table). Occasionally, an RFP will permit pricing proposals that don’t adhere to the proposal’s instructions. 

When it comes to understanding the business and proposal writing language of RFPs, The Bid Lab has you covered. We cover related topics, like why you need an RFP writer and whether or not you need bid writing services in other articles. Want to write your proposal yourself? We offer tips that can help you organize original documents of solicitation so you can write like an RFP expert. And, of course, we have a team of RFP writers at the ready who deal with these details all day, every day. So, if you need help navigating these complexities, start by scheduling a free consultation today! You can also call us at 1-844-4BIDLAB or email us at