Three Common Problems to Avoid When Leveraging Reuse Material

We’ve all been there. We’re busy, strapped for time, and these RFP requirements look just like the requirements of the proposal we submitted last week. Let’s just repurpose that content and we’ll be golden, right?

While this might seem like a great strategy, repurposing content can lead to some pretty embarrassing blunders if you don’t do a proper scrub of the material first. Reusing content can certainly be a great starting point, but be sure to watch out for these three common pitfalls that can quickly turn off your evaluators.

Problem 1: You Don’t Sufficiently Scrub Out the Previous Customer’s Name

If you’re using reuse material, it’s so critical to scrub out the previous customer’s name. This seems simple enough, but I see this problem so frequently with teams that consistently reuse proposal content. Leaving in the wrong customer name is such an easy way to turn off evaluators from selecting you and your team. First, you’ve offended them by calling them by the wrong name. Second, the jig is up—you recycled some solution that you proposed to someone else—and didn’t even take the time to sufficiently tailor it. Third, you have come across as sloppy—plain and simple. If your proposal response is sloppy enough to include the wrong customer name, the customer can only assume that your contract delivery will be similarly sloppy.

Problem 2: You Forget to Remove Requirements That Aren’t Applicable to This Opportunity

While requirements frequently look remarkably similar, there are very few instances where the requirements are exactly the same. When leveraging reuse material, you need to watch particularly closely for incorrect PWS or SOW references, as well as references to work that isn’t even part of the new scope. You’d be surprised how often I catch this issue in the proposals I review. If these issues stand out enough for me to catch them, the customer evaluators are certainly going to catch these issues as well. Like calling the customer by the wrong name, this common problem just comes across to the evaluators as sloppy, and it further eats away at their confidence in your ability to deliver.

Problem 3: You Forget to Tailor the Content to the Customer’s Issues and Hot Buttons

A third common problem with using reuse material is the tendency to forget to tailor the content to the customer. For example, if the customer cares about transparency into contract status, the proposal might highlight a project dashboard that provides the customer with real-time contract status updates on schedule, risk, issues, and budget. If the customer values face-to-face interaction with project leadership, you might stress that the Project Manager will be located on-site with the customer during regular business hours. When content isn’t tailored to address the needs of the procuring customer, the proposal will inevitably come across as generic and non-compelling.


Final Thoughts

While reinventing the wheel certainly isn’t necessary when you have responded to similar requirements in the past, we should all take extra care when repurposing old content in our proposal responses. Be sure to scrub out old customer names, old program names, wrong delivery locations, and non-applicable delivery requirements. Then take the time to write to the customer’s hot buttons and issues, tailoring the solution and content as necessary to address those needs. These measures will help ensure that your proposal doesn’t come across as generic—or worse—sloppy. Remember, compelling and effective proposal content speaks directly to the issues and hot buttons of the customer by highlighting the features of the approach that address their concerns and then articulating the resulting benefits that they receive—and that’s something you really can’t achieve with a simple cut and paste.


Written by Ashley Kayes

Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)




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