Some people know what they will do, and what they will not do.
Other people say they will do anything.
Don’t trust the second group of people.
Checking all the boxes in a Bredemarket contact submission form
As you may know, Bredemarket has an online contact page that allows people to request information from me. The form on this page includes several checkboxes (recently edited) that allow the submitter to specify if they are interested in one of Bredemarket’s standard packages.
Occasionally I’ll get a submission from someone who checked ALL of the check boxes. In 100% of those cases, it turns out that the person is NOT interested in ANY of Bredemarket’s standard packages, but in something else. (In the most recent example, someone wanted to write a guest post on the Bredemarket blog that had NOTHING to do with marketing or writing services. No thanks.)
Checking all the boxes in a proposal
It reminds me about the time, many years ago, when I wrote an RFP. This was years before I actually began responding to RFPs, by the way. The consultant that our company brought in suggested that we create a Request for Proposal for a particular service that our company wanted. The main part of the created RFP was a check list to see if the respondent provided a particular feature that we wanted. The responses that we received fell into two categories:
- Some respondents checked every check box with no further comment. We concluded that they hadn’t actually read the RFP, so we ignored these proposals.
- Other respondents checked most of the check boxes, but provided text for certain responses explaining that they had a different approach. Since these people read the RFP, we paid more attention to those responses.
Now I’ll grant that this filtering method doesn’t work for all proposals. Some RFPs truly demand mandatory compliance with every requirement. But in those cases, the RFPs usually require to say how they will perform each requirement. A simple “we do it” response is not sufficient.
Checking all the boxes in a business offering
The “check everything” rule also applies in one other instance: company offerings.
When a company states the products and services it will offer, the statement usually sets a boundary between what the company will do and what the company will not do.
For example, this post from Reddit’s HireaWriter gives a clear picture of the writer’s strengths:
…I have a bachelor’s degree in screenwriting (writing for film, TV and radio), and I’m currently studying English Literature to further my skills. I’m about to be on summer holidays for a few months and I’m looking to collaborate on some writing projects.
I have freelance experience, writing YouTube scripts and some podcast work, I’m very capable of both fiction and non- fiction…From https://www.reddit.com/r/HireaWriter/comments/u2ydhh/writer_looking_for_new_projects/
So if I need a YouTube script, I’ll consider this person. If I need an article for Foreign Affairs, maybe not.
But other company offerings are…less focused. You’ve probably seen the posts (I won’t link to them) from people who say that they write. When you ask what they write, they say that they write anything.
Now I guess that theoretically, I can write anything. (Heck, I wrote the Eastport Enquirer, which you can probably guess wasn’t high-minded business prose.) But I’m not going to make a living by writing 19th century fiction or French political positions. I’ll stick closer to content marketing and proposals if you don’t mind.