March 2009
Writing eTips UpWrite Press

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February Winner in Our Monthly Facebook Drawing

Congratulations to “Business Writing with UpWrite Press” Facebook fan Josh Schindler! He’s the February winner of a free copy of Write for Business, A Compact Guide to Writing & Communicating in the Workplace and the emPOWERED Business Writing Job Aide.

You could be our next winner. We’re giving away a book and a Job Aide each month. To qualify, just become a Facebook fan of "Business Writing with UpWrite Press" and RSVP to our event invitation each month.

Writing the Proposal:
Replying to a Request for Proposals

In a tough economic climate, an effective sales proposal is more important than ever. Most proposals will contain standard elements, such as a proposed budget and a convincing list of your qualifications for the job. But sometimes you will be replying to a request for proposals (RFP) put out by a prospective customer. Such requests spell out the customer’s needs and give you a clear listing of items to include in your proposal. Pay special attention to the following:

  • the due date
  • the RFP’s title, code number, and contact information
  • any legal requirements and conditions
  • any key words or technical terms
  • particular design specifications, including any requirements for graphics or formatting

When answering an RFP, follow the stated requirements to the letter. Many times, a proposal will be disqualified if anything is missing—after all, a prospective customer will assume that if you can’t follow directions, you probably can’t do the job.

As with any proposal, provide a specific opening. In an RFP, the customer already wants something, so you don’t have to prove a need. Instead, focus on your understanding of the need and your ability to fulfill it.

Then hit all the points outlined in the RFP in the middle of your proposal. Organize clearly, using bulleted or numbered lists to smoothly move your reader through your ideas.

Include a closing in which you summarize your ideas and offer to provide any additional information necessary.

The key is to be clear, organized, and complete. That way your reader can quickly assess your proposal, and saving the customer time is always a point in your favor.

You can find more about writing the proposal on pages 67–74 of Business and Sales Correspondence, part of the EZ Series of business writing materials from UpWrite Press.

Our Staff Writers’ Blog

Get the latest insights into writing from our staff writers. In February, Steve Augustyn advised about “Moving Forward in a Recession Environment,” Dave Kemper discussed “When writing about causes and effects…,” and Joyce Lee gave tips on “Overcoming Stage Fright” and “Creating the Computer Presentation.” Be sure to visit our blog for these and other great articles!

That Little Extra:

Did you ever notice how some people just seem to attract business? Ever wonder what their secret is? Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering people’s names. Watch a successful salesperson. Chances are, he or she not only remembers clients’ names but probably also knows a few personal details about them, such as their spouses’ or kids’ names, hobbies, even a recent vacation spot. The ability to break down barriers and connect on a personal level is something that tilts the sales scales in your favor. We all want to deal with people who make us feel good, and what feels better than knowing that you are appreciated as more than numbers on a balance sheet?

Connecting is a habit you can cultivate. Start by looking a potential client in the eye. Repeat his or her name out loud to help you remember it, make a mental note of some interesting fact you hear, and don’t be afraid to veer away from business talk now and then. A photo of a kid on a desk almost always opens the path to conversation. Just make sure you honestly listen to what your customer has to say. It’s amazing how easy it is to connect. You’ll not only make the sale, but you may also make a friend.

Join Our Writers’ Forum

We invite you to be part of our monthly eTips. Each month we pose a question or problem regarding the use of writing in business. Send us your reply along with your name, your company’s name, and a brief description of what you do. We will print the best responses, and you will get your name out to our more than 6,000 subscribers! (We reserve the right to edit your remarks for fit and suitability.)


February Writers’ Forum Topic

We seem to have become an electronic workplace. New equipment pops up every day, ostensibly designed to make work and communication easier. Ah, but is it all good? What piece of electronic equipment are you hooked on, and, just as important, what could you do without? Is there something you recently began using that makes you wonder how you managed before? Or does it only complicate your life? Tell us your e-joys and e-woes—we’re all in this together!

E-mail your response to Write “March Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in April

The Power of Good Design

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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2009,
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