The world of bids and proposals is constantly changing and evolving. It seems that there’s always an emerging trend to investigate or a new approach to research. One of the easiest ways to stay up to date is to read and subscribe to blogs. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. But don’t worry, we have you covered with this list of the best marketing blogs and more.
I am a big fan of blogs. They’re the perfect bite-sized resource when you need information or want to share your point of view. As I continually look for resources to deepen my proposal-writing skillset, improve my soft skills and cultivate my big-picture vision, I’ve found myself coming back to many of these blogs time after time.
This list includes my favorite general marketing blogs as well as proposal-specific blogs. In addition to the best marketing blogs, below you’ll find content about sales, procurement and business development — which all influence the RFP process. So, dive in, subscribe and let these blogs spark your interest and inspire you.
- McKinsey & Company
- Ann Handley
- Learning Hub from G2
- BD Ladder Insights
- Winning the Business
- Proposal Reflections
- AOC Key Solutions
- Theme Insights
Best marketing blogs for general trends
Hubspot’s blogs are often my go-to reference when I’m learning a new skill, exploring process improvements or looking for sales trends. A majority of the posts are written by Hubspot staff or contributed by industry experts. Most importantly, the posts are always reliable, well researched and thorough. From an RFP process guide to the best proposal software tools, nearly everything you need to know can be found here.
Post you should start with: 12 tips for staying positive in sales — no matter what
In the proposal world, you either win or you lose. Unfortunately, when our win rates are low it can be difficult to remain positive. When we get down, our whole team can feel the change and collaboration becomes a challenge. This blog post by Dan Tyre offers a dozen great ways to keep your chin up and momentum moving.
“So much of staying positive comes down to perspective and mindset. It’s all about the lens through which you see your job, your day to day tasks, and your career.” – Dan Tyre
McKinsey & Company is an impressively large management consulting firm. At first glance, you may not think they have content that would be relevant to you, but you might be surprised. In fact, they often identify RFP and procurement trends long before others do. Additionally, their blog covers a wide range of topics including mergers and acquisitions, analytics, risk management, sales operations and more. Because their insights are so helpful, we often share their blog content on our RFP360 Twitter and LinkedIn channels.
Post you should start with: Sales automation: The key to boosting revenue and reducing costs
Automation of the sales process is transforming the way we do business. From RFP automation to post-sales activities, technology is making sales even more efficient and effective. This blog post features interesting stats about current and future automation within the sales function.
“With automation, everybody wins. Customers will benefit from faster turnaround. Companies will benefit from higher sales-force productivity. And sales reps will experience greater job satisfaction because automation lets them focus on what they love: delivering value to customers.” – McKinsey & Company
3. Ann Handley
Writing compelling content is a huge part of creating effective proposals. And, when it comes to practical advice for improving your powers of persuasion, Ann Handley has the best marketing blog out there. She is the master. Her marketing blog focuses primarily on writing tips. Personally, I find her style refreshingly approachable and easy to understand. From straightforward grammar tricks to addressing the complexity of B2B writing, I always learn something new, useful and inspiring from her posts.
Post you should start with: How to find your unique brand voice [with examples]
This post offers great advice for how to define and create your brand voice. Certainly, for proposal professionals, this can be a huge challenge. Afterall, you’re working with multiple authors to create a single vision. But, creating and defining a brand voice and sharing it with stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) can unify your proposal.
“Smarter companies think of tone of voice guidelines as bumpers on a bowling lane: They gently guide your communication in the right direction and help content creators avoid a gutter ball.” – Ann Handley
If you’ve ever researched a new software solution, you’re probably familiar with G2. In addition to their helpful reviews from customers, they offer articles on a wide range of topics in their marketing blog. Most articles are contributed by experts from various industries, so you constantly benefit from new perspectives.
Post you should start with: 10 tips for cross-functional collaboration at your company
For proposal managers, interdepartmental collaboration is essential. However, it can also be a daunting challenge. Certainly, engaging with stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) can make or break your proposal process. Consequently, you can meet the challenge by exploring new strategies for cross-functional collaboration with this post on G2 from Ian Haynes.
“Cross-functional collaboration happens when a group of people, each with unique expertise, come together to achieve a common goal. When teams from different departments collaborate, it brings a global perspective to your organization.” – Ian Haynes
With a mix of general marketing advice, business development insights and proposal content, the BD Ladder, led by Ben Paul, has one of the best marketing blogs for proposal professionals. In addition to information about standard RFP processes, the blog also covers branding, worldwide marketing trends and more. The blog publishes about twice a month and it’s definitely worth subscribing to.
Post you should start with: How to say no to an RFP without annoying your prospective client
Admittedly, turning down an RFP can feel awkward. Afterall, you want to maintain your relationship with the potential customer while setting expectations for the future. Luckily, with the tips in this post you’ll be able to say no to an RFP with grace and tact.
“In the right situation an honest response can help build a stronger long-term relationship with your client or prospect. After all, we all respect people who are honest and don’t waste our time. Remember, someone has to read your bid, so if it has no chance of success, ultimately you are wasting their time.” – BD Ladder Insights
Explore more insights from Ben Paul in The future of RFPs ebook.
When you’ve made the shortlist and you have a week to create your RFP presentation, what do you do? If you need to ensure your PowerPoint is impressive, clear and engaging, start by exploring BrightCarbon’s blog.
I discovered this blog recently thanks to APMP’s Winning Business Virtual Event where Director Richard Goring presented. After the event, I checked out this blog and was not disappointed. In my opinion, it is the best marketing blog focused on presentations out there. New blog posts are frequent and offer countless tips, templates and tools for creating visually stunning and effective presentations.
Post you should start with: Storytelling in presentations: Creating compelling content
Just like proposals, RFP presentations should tell a story. This blog post by Hannah Harper explores how to benefit from a storytelling style within a presentation. In addition to making your content more engaging, this approach also makes it more memorable and exciting for your potential customer.
“In a presentation you finish by extending a hand and inviting your audience to take part in the next chapter of the story. If you tell a compelling-enough story, then why wouldn’t your prospect want to jump in?” – Hannah Harper
Best bid and proposal blogs
As proud APMP members, we may be a little biased, but no list of best blogs would be complete without APMP’s Winning the Business. From proposal management best practices to professional development resources, the articles explore everything you need to know. It’s a great place for those just beginning their career as well as veteran proposal managers. With weekly posts from a variety of contributors, there’s always something new to check out.
Post you should start with: Developing your proposal team to demonstrate its indispensable value
Many businesses understand that proposal professionals are essential to success. However, too few truly grasp the value that the proposal team delivers. Unfortunately, that leaves many feeling undervalued and underappreciated. This post from Jeremy Brim of the bid toolkit, explores strategies for communicating your team’s vision and strategic importance to the business.
“We have to shift the focus from our role being a position of receiving and driving inputs to one delivering outcomes of tremendous value. We need to consistently reinforce that we are a wise investment.” – Jeremy Brim
8. RFP360 blog
I know how it sounds to recommend our own blog, but we’re truly passionate about improving the full-circle RFP process with RFP software. That means that within our blog we cover procurement in addition to proposal themes. This broad range of topics helps deepen understanding and collaboration between buyers and sellers. Not only that, but many of the posts in our blog are inspired directly by recent conversations with our customers.
Post you should start with: The future of RFPs: How technology, transparency and collaboration will change the way we connect
This post from Beau Wysong, chief marketing officer at RFP360, offers a vision of what the future of RFPs could look like as the process evolves and improves. Currently, for many, RFPs are manual, time consuming and painful — but they don’t have to be. In addition to identifying challenges faced by procurement and proposal teams, the post explores how technology, transparency and collaboration can deliver transformative change.
“We are more connected to information than ever. Likewise, the future of RFPs will make buyers and sellers more connected as well … RFP issuers want better answers. Similarly, suppliers want more feedback about their responses. And, everyone wants to have enough information to be successful. This is what strategic sourcing is all about — creating a lasting relationship between customers and vendors. To accomplish that and enjoy the benefits of longer partnerships and fewer RFPs, the process must become more collaborative and transparent.” – Beau Wysong
For Ashley Kayes, proposals are a passion. So, even when she’s not working as a senior proposal consultant at AOC Key Solutions, she spends time offering her peers guidance on proposal management through her own blog. The Proposal Reflections blog is creative and clever. It offers quick tips, helpful insights and timely advice.
Post you should start with: How common BD personalities align with the world of Harry Potter
There are a number of unique personalities in the business development (BD) world, and this post offers insights on each in a lighthearted and fun way. It explores the various houses of the Harry Potter world and connects them to common personality traits you may encounter working in the world of proposals.
“Harry Potter is full of individuals who are trying to excel and be the best. The characters form webs of alliances and conflicts among the various parties involved—many of whom are seeking to gain power and control. Within the world of business development, it is much the same.” – Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
10. Key Solutions
The team at Key Solutions has decades of experience in proposal management and writing as well as capture management. They specialize in helping government contractors, but their blog offers helpful advice for any bid and proposal professional. Key Solutions consistently creates content, but they also offer an archive full of helpful information to explore.
Post you should start with: How to shape an opportunity pre-RFP by targeting the right people
It’s easy to forget that every RFP starts with a person. Someone has to craft the document, source the vendors and manage the process. Certainly, it’s beneficial to vendors to know who that person is and connect with them. This post from Jack Mathes explores how to identify and collaborate with procurement professionals, decision makers and end users as a part of your pre-RFP strategy.
“When we meet with the right people, not only can we capture the most valuable and accurate information, we can also take advantage of an opportunity to shape the requirements in our favor.” – Jack Mathes, CF APMP
11. Theme Insights
The Theme Insights blog is fairly new, but already one of my favorites. Authored by Liz Megli, who has an impressive background in writing winning proposals, the content is timely, insightful and easy to read.
Post you should start with: Why you need a “go/no go” process to save time, money, and sanity
Chasing every RFP opportunity, regardless of merit, can quickly create burnout. Businesses need to be strategic and purposeful as they consider which RFPs are a good fit. This post by Liz Megli provides a helpful how-to guide for creating a go/no-go process for proposal professionals.
“Solidifying a “go/no-go” process will streamline your organization’s ability to choose who you want to work with, why you want to work with them, and how your services are a match for their needs. In other words, this process will help your company confirm whether or not you’re in a strong enough position to win the contract.” – Liz Megli, CF APMP
When I meet other proposal professionals, one thing that always seems to stand out is their curiosity and drive. As a group, we tend to be lifelong learners who take pleasure in growing and exploring new ideas. My hope is that this list of blogs feeds that drive. And while no list of the best marketing blogs and beyond can be exhaustive, these represent a good sampling of the resources and knowledge that are available to proposal professionals.