Excuse me, but I have a lot of questions…

I’ve previously shared how I’ve revised my content creation process.

Like any good process, the not-so-new-anymore Bredemarket content creation process asks a lot of questions up front. These questions ensure that I perform the project in accordance with the wishes of my client.

Because, as we all know, it costs more to rework a project at the end than it does at the beginning. (Or maybe you didn’t know that; it’s something I included in some work I did for a client. But the client knows.)

Specifically, early in the engagement I reach agreement with my client on all or most of the following questions on the content:

  • The topic.
  • The goal.
  • The benefits.
  • The target audience.
  • If necessary:
    • The outline.
    • The section sub-goals.
    • Relevant examples.
    • Relevant key words/hashtags.
    • Interim and final due dates.

When you break it out, that’s a lot of stuff.

And there’s more stuff that I need to know from the client that I’m not sharing publicly. But I’ll give you a hint: some of the questions are driven by a recent experience with Google Docs, and the fact that two different people weren’t using the same fonts, sizes, and styles. Well, if Google Docs can’t take care of it automatically, I can ask about fonts/sizes/styles (when applicable) so that the issue can be resolved manually.

So I’ve created a form that I can use for either the content or proposals sides of the Bredemarket business, and the form contains all of the questions that I need to ask a client at the beginning of an engagement.

My in-house form, first iteration.

Or at least I think it contains all of the questions.

I’m going to try it out with a future client.

And perhaps I’ll iterate it afterwards.

Using Toggl Track to quantify proposal services for marketing purposes

Bredemarket’s slogan should be “better late than never.” It took me a year to print business cards, and it has taken me almost a year to quantify my proposal services work for clients. But Toggl helped me quantify my work.

Incidentally, this post is NOT sponsored by Toggl. If I were smart I would have pitched this post to Toggl and gotten something substantive in return. But I’m not that smart; I’m just a happy Toggl Track user. Sure the service has had a couple of hiccups in April and August, but Toggl responded to these hiccups quickly. In general, Toggl Track has been very useful in tracking time, gathering data to bill clients, and (as I just discovered this week) very useful in quantifying Bredemarket’s work and accomplishments.

Quantifying hours per proposal

The whole Toggl Track quantification exercise started over the last couple of weeks, when I had two separate discussions with firms regarding the number of hours that a contractor usually spends responding to a request for something (proposal, information, comment, etc.). Acronym lovers can use RFx, RFP, RFI, RFC, etc. as needed.

After the second client raised the issue, I realized that my Toggl Track data contained time data on all of my billable proposals work. (Helpful hint: even with the free version of Toggl Track, you can set up project names to keep track of billable hours, although you have to manually calculate the billing yourself.)

So I logged into Toggl Track, selected the billable projects that I knew had Rfx hours, downloaded a comma-separated values (csv) version of all of the data from January 1, 2021 to present, opened the csv file in Excel, filtered out the columns that I didn’t need, filtered out the rows that didn’t pertain to RFx work, sorted the data by description (for example, “AFIS proposal for Noname County”), then subtotaled the hours at each change of description.

And then I realized that I did something wrong.

When the Toggl Track data was loaded into Excel, it used a standard hours-minutes-seconds format. What that meant was that the subtotals also displayed in a standard hours-minutes-seconds format. So if I had three time entries—one for 10:00:00, one for 9:00:00, and one for 8:00:00—the resulting subtotal would be 3:00:00, or only three hours.

Whoops.

I played around a bit with the number formats in the Duration column, and found a format (displayed in Excel as “37:30:55”) that correctly rendered my subtotals—in the example above, yielding the correct value of 27:00:00, or 27 hours.

So once I got the subtotals to work correctly, what did I find, based on my own RFx proposal work data?

  • One of my projects required approximately 20 billable hours of work.
  • Three of the projects required less than 20 billable hours per project.
  • The remaining three required more than 35 billable hours per project.

Obviously my results do not apply to other independent contractors, and certainly do not apply to employees who are involved much more intimately in a company’s proposal process. So don’t try to extrapolate my numbers and make the declaration “Studies show that nearly half of all RFx responses require over 35 hours of work per person.”

But this data gave me the information that I needed in my discussions with the second firm.

But this exercise raised another question that I should have answered long ago.

Quantifying total proposal work

As Bredemarket, I have not only worked on RFx responses, but have also worked on sole source responses, and on proposal templates.

But I’ve never compiled a definitive overview of all of my proposal work.

Now I’ve certainly discussed bits of my proposal work here and there. You’ve probably already seen the testimonial that I received from a client regarding my proposal template work:

“I just wanted to truly say thank you for putting these templates together. I worked on this…last week and it was extremely simple to use and I thought really provided a professional advantage and tool to give the customer….TRULY THANK YOU!”

But after the proposal hours exercise above, I decided that it was time to quantify this work.

  • How many competitive proposals have I worked on for clients?
  • How many sole source responses have I worked on for clients?
  • How many of these “extremely simple to use” (my client’s words, not mine) templates have I assembled?

Obviously I had all the data; I just had to pull it together.

So I went to Toggl Track (and to other sources) to quantify my total proposal work, searching for billable (and in the cases of Bredemarket’s own proposals, nonbillable) work and identifying all the projects.

Sharing the quantification

Once that was done, I was able to create a neat handy dandy summary.

Which I put into a brochure.

Which I then added to various pages on the Bredemarket website.

September 10, 2021 iterative revision to https://bredemarket.com/bredemarket-and-proposal-services/.

And, of course, I’ll share the information in this blog post when I publish it and distribute it via my social media outlets-not forgetting Instagram, of course. (Did you notice that my statistical graphic is square? Now you know why.)

And I need to share this information in one more place, but that’s a topic for another time.

Can my proposal services help you?

If my experience (now with better quantification!) can help you with your proposal work, then please contact me.

Why is Kaye Putnam happy that I’m IGNORING her marketing advice?

This is the cover art for the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by the artist Simon & Garfunkel. The cover art can be obtained from Columbia. Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2184092

A few hours after finishing my revision of Bredemarket’s work process, I attended this month’s Orange County (California) Freelancers Union SPARK webinar. I’ve shared some things from SPARK meetings in the past (July’s happy hour, May’s AB2257 discussion), and I’m going to share some things from the August meeting also.

Jung and the restless

This meeting (which also happened to be the national Freelancers Union meeting for the month; our chapter rules!) was led by Cara Raffele, who spoke about “The Power of Storytelling.”

From https://www.freelancersunion.org/community/spark-events/#spark–monthly-theme, although it might have changed by the time you read this.

I’m not going to talk about the ENTIRE meeting, but will focus on the last part of the meeting, during which Raffele discussed “understanding your brand for maximum impact,” or brand archetypes.

The idea of archetypes started with Carl Jung, who defined them as images and themes that derive from the collective unconscious.

Jung claimed to identify a large number of archetypes but paid special attention to four. Jung labeled these archetypes the Self, the Persona, the Shadow and the Anima/Animus.

In modern-day marketing, this “large number of archetypes” has been boiled down to twelve, and it was these twelve that Raffele referenced in her presentation.

Twelve archetypes. From https://www.kayeputnam.com/brandality-archetypes/. More about Kaye Putnam later.

Raffele encouraged all of us freelancers to listen to all twelve, and then to select multiple archetypes (not just one) that seemed to reflect our freelance brands. So I iterated a first cut at the archetypes that I believed applied to Bredemarket; my preliminary list included Sage, Creator, and Explorer.

Why Sage? That particular one resonated with me because of my experiences with my clients (educating on benefits vs. features, expanding the understanding of law enforcement agency stakeholders), and because of the way I’ve been marketing myself anyway. After all, when I self-reference as the biometric content marketing expert and the biometric proposal writing expert, then it’s obvious that I can add the sage to my clients’ parsley, rosemary, and thyme. (Sorry, couldn’t resist, even though I know it’s bad.)

But after guessing that Bredemarket is Sage with a pinch of Creator and Explorer, I realized that I might not know myself as well as I thought, so I asked if there were some type of online “archetypes test,” similar to the online Meyers-Briggs personality tests, that could help you semi-independently discern your archetypes.

Raffele responded by pointing us to Kaye Putnam and her online Brand Personality Quiz.

(One aside before moving on to Putnam’s test. A few of you realize that I did not come up with the section title “Jung and the restless” on my own. Yes, I stole it from a Steve Taylor song title (and he stole it from a soap opera). I used the title even though Taylor is frankly not that positive about secular psychology. But he did say “some of my best friends are shrinks.” Oh, and that’s obviously Gym Nicholson of Undercover fame on guitar.)

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JNOMb_IG8I.

My “Brand Personality Quiz” results, and Kaye Putnam’s recommendations

If you’ve taken an online Meyers-Briggs personality test, or any other similar online test, the process of the Brand Personality Quiz will seem familiar to you. Putnam’s quiz asks you a series of independent questions, some of which have as many as twelve options. It then tabulates your answers against attributes of the twelve brand archetypes, and produces a final result listing a primary brand archetype and some secondary archetypes.

Here are my results.

So if you take Putnam’s quiz as gospel, I was somewhat accurate in my initial self-assessment.

  • Note that “Sage” came first and “Explorer” came second in the quiz results, and those were two of the archetypes I initially tweeted about before taking the quiz.
  • Considering the personal writing style I use in my blog, tweets, and elsewhere, “Entertainer” wasn’t much of a surprise either.
  • Upon further personal reflection, “Royalty” makes sense also. (So bow before me, serfs.)

And after reading Putnam’s description of “Creator” and its emphasis on visual presentation (rather than textual presentation), I can see why this was NOT on the list.

I did not draw this myself. Originally created by Jleedev using Inkscape and GIMP. Redrawn as SVG by Ben Liblit using Inkscape. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1692938

Along with my results, Putnam provided a link that allowed me to download a brief description of my primary archetype, Sage. Now this brief description doesn’t include all of the detail found in Putnam’s 12 Brandfluency courses (one for each archetype), but it does include many actionable items.

The “Sage Inspiration Kit” provides useful tips for Sage businesspeople to include in their brand marketing. The kit asserts that if the tips are followed, the results will produce emotional responses in potential clients that will increase brand attractiveness, thus allowing businesspeople to win more business (and win better business).

Tips are provided on the following:

  • Color.
  • Typography.
  • Words.

Obviously that’s a lot of stuff to absorb, even in this brief kit. (The paid course offers tips in additional areas.) And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t change all the colors and fonts in my marketing overnight.

But I could look at Putnam’s word suggestions.

Ignoring the expert

Now Kaye Putnam’s word suggestions are freely available to anyone, but I’m not going to just copy all of them and reproduce them here. Request them yourself. (The link is for the Sage archetype)

But I’ll offer comments on a few of the 18 words and phrases in the kit.

From https://xkcd.com/386/. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.5).

First off, I’m NOT going to use “think tank” in Bredemarket’s marketing. Perhaps this phrase may resonate for a larger firm, or even for a smaller firm with a team of people addressing their clients’ needs. But it would take a lot of stretching to describer a solopreneur think tank.

Another term that DOESN’T make sense for Bredemarket is “engineering.” Now obviously engineering is a good thing, although I’ve seen cases where engineering is overemphasized. But it doesn’t really make sense for my business, in which I make a point of emphasizing my ability to communicate engineering concepts to non-engineers. The same issues apply with the phrase “the code.”

I won’t go into all of my concerns, but there are several “Sage words” in the list that I would never use for Bredemarket, or would use very sparingly.

And that’s…OK

Remember, of course, that Stuart Smalley is not a licensed practitioner. By http://www.tvacres.com/words_stuart.htm, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31855280

When someone gives you advice, whether it’s Kaye Putnam or John Bredehoft, you have to judge whether the advice is good for YOU.

Even if you narrow a brand down to one archetype, there are innumerable differences between individuals who align with this archetype. One size does not fit all, and I personally may love the term “experiment” but hate the terms listed above.

Now perhaps I may be wrong in rejecting Putnam’s advice. Perhaps there’s a really, really good reason why I should sprinkle the phrase “think tank” through all of my marketing materials.

But in the end it’s up to the recipient to decide whether or not to follow the advice of the expert. That applies to people giving advice to me, and that also applies to the advice that I give to my clients. (If a client insists on using the phrase “best of breed,” I can’t stop the client from doing so.)

But several of those words and phrases DO seem like good ideas, and I’ll probably make a concerted effort to sprinkle the GOOD words and phrases throughout Bredemarket’s website, social media channels, proposals, and other marketing.

Even though this might require me to re-revise the content creation process that I just revised.

Oh well. It’s good to…experiment with things. After all, Bredemarket is in effect a laboratory in which I like to try solutions out myself before I try to make a case for them with my clients. It’s easier to speak to research-based proven solutions than ones with which I have no experience at all.

By Rembrandt – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=157824

Did that paragraph sound sage-like? I got six of the words/phrases into that paragraph!

Oh, and if you’re looking for a Royally Entertaining and Exploring Sage…

Bredemarket offers clients deep experience in content marketing, proposals, and strategy. I can offer expert advice to biometrics firms, since (as noted above) I am a biometric content marketing expert and a biometric proposal writing expert. However, this expert advice can also be provided to other technology firms, and to general business.

You can read here about how my content creation process ensures that the final written content (a) advances your GOAL, (b) communicates your BENEFITS, and (c) speaks to your TARGET AUDIENCE.

If Bredemarket can fill a gap in your company’s needs (NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT MENTION PARSLEY. DO NOT MENTION PARSLEY. DO NOT MENTION PARSLEY.), then feel free to contact me and we can discuss your needs and possible solutions.

The end of the APMP-AWBP brouhaha

Back on July 20, I shared my thoughts on the brouhaha over the proposed renaming of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals to become the Association of Winning Business Professionals, and how that might impact the APMP conference in Denver later this year. (This was posted before I re-rejoined the APMP.)

By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11357434

Well, there’s an update.

On August 2, the APMP posted a video on its YouTube channel. But the video is marked as “unlisted,” which means that the APMP probably doesn’t want everyone to see it. So I’m not going to link to it.

And the APMP has posted information on its website, but it’s behind the login firewall. So I’m not going to link to it.

I will, however, summarize it.

The Association of Winning Business Professionals is no more. It has ceased to be, bereft of life, it rests in peace, it has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed its last, and gone to meet the Chief Renaming Officer in the sky. (Adapted from Cleese and Chapman’s Dead Parrot Sketch.)

Actually, there is a public discussion of this, posted by Robin Davis.

It’s official, your efforts to #SaveAPMP paid off! The name stays—and everything it stands for. Thanks for your passion—that’s the kind of energy that can change the world! 

Perhaps I should revisit this topic five years from now. Not seven years from now.

By Published by Corpus Christi Caller-Times-photo from Associated Press – Corpus Christi Caller-Times page 20 via en:Newspapers.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37860629

Yes, I’ll repurpose that old joke for a while.

How the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) benefits Bredemarket’s NON-proposal clients

Presumably you saw my earlier post, “I just re-rejoined the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. So what?” This post is a follow-up to the “So what?” part, specifically addressing clients of my consulting firm Bredemarket (marketing and writing services for biometric, technology, and general business firms) who DON’T use me for proposal services.

I said the following in that prior post:

But there are benefits for my Bredemarket clients who DON’T depend upon me for proposal support, but instead depend upon me for content marketing or other marketing and writing services. The same strategies and tactics that contribute to a more effective proposal can be extrapolated to apply to other areas, thus contributing to better white papers, better case studies, better blog posts, better social media posts, better marketing plans, etc., etc., etc. Again, this can help my clients win business.

(Yes, I intentionally used the words “win business.”)

Of course, now I’m in the initial process of making use of my new/old APMP membership by soaking in APMP things (while ALSO hopefully contributing things) that will benefit me and my clients.

I’ll talk about live webinars, the APMP Body of Knowledge, and the benefits for Bredemarket’s non-proposal clients.

Live webinars! Well, sometimes

My first opportunity to obtain value from my APMP membership came on Wednesday July 28, when the Western Chapter (a merger of the California Chapter and other chapters) scheduled a webinar entitled “Persuasion Through Page Architecture.” The presenter, Nancy Webb, offers over 30 years of design expertise. I recall the name, so I’ve probably attended a previous presentation of hers during my second (or perhaps even my first) stint in APMP.

Sadly, I was unable to learn from Nancy Webb on July 28. A major requirement for a webinar is the ability to access the web, and when we all logged into the webinar on Wednesday, we learned that Webb’s Internet connection was out and that the meeting would have to be rescheduled.

By Monoklon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75697420

Ah, technology.

The APMP Body of Knowledge

But MY Internet connection is working, so on Thursday afternoon I was able to visit the APMP website and poke around some more.

Which led me to the page describing the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK).

Not a body OF KNOWLEDGE, but this illustration was created by Leonardo da Vinci, so the SMA folks will like it. By Leonardo da Vinci – https://www.metmuseum.org/special/Leonardo_Master_Draftsman/tour_gallery4.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1744423

And yes, I’m going to call the Body of Knowledge the BOK from now on. Bok bok bok.

By Andrei Niemimäki from Turku, Finland – Friends, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3769100

It’s no surprise that the proposals world has a slew of acronyms (more on that later).

One important thing you need to know about the APMP BOK; it’s only for APMP members.

The APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK) is available to all APMP members in good standing.

Well, I haven’t done anything to lose my good standing yet, although if I were to log in to the BOK, copy all of the content, and post it here in the Bredemarket blog, I would obviously get in a heap of trouble. For one thing, Wordman would come after me.

Wordman. From https://wordmanspeaks.com/about-wordman/. Fair use. NOT created by Leonardo da Vinci; Wordman avatar created by Sean Jones (www.knitestudios.com)

As it turns out, Wordman could come after me in multiple ways. In addition to his superhero status, Wordman (Richard “Dick” Eassom) chairs the APMP Western Chapter, and is also an executive with SMA, Inc. (which I previously joined). I could get kicked out of the APMP AND SMA in one fell swoop!

(I could go off on a tangent and say why Moses was the most evil man in the Bible, but I really shouldn’t.)

(Moses broke all Ten Commandments at once.)

Um, John, let’s get back to the BOK

So I’m NOT going to go behind the firewall and redistribute the internal content of the APMP BOK.

But I CAN note what the APMP publicly says about the BOK.

TL;DR: as I’ve noted when talking about the brouhaha, the BOK and the APMP itself talk about topics that have applicability far beyond the creation of a proposal.

The topics are grouped into seven categories, which represent key practice areas for improving an organization’s business development focus:

Understand business development

Focus on the customer

Create deliverables

Lead a team

Manage processes

Train staff

Use tools and systems

Obviously, all seven of these categories apply to the creation of a proposal.

Benefits for my NON-proposal clients

And all seven of those categories just as easily apply to the creation of a blog post, case study, white paper, corporate strategy, or ANY deliverable for a customer-facing firm.

Again, I can’t speak about BOK specifics, but I spent part of Thursday afternoon reading about a topic which would have benefited me greatly in one of my NON-proposal positions with IDEMIA/MorphoTrak/Motorola/Printrak. Well, better late than never.

There are a number of helpful pieces of content in the APMP BOK, including…a list of common proposal acronyms. (CPAs??? No.)

For those who don’t know this, the major purpose of acronyms is to allow people of a small group to exchange secret communications in the presence of the non-initiated. “When you complete the response to the RFP for DoD, ensure that the collected KPIs align with the BD-CMM.” (In truth, many of these acronyms are used outside of the proposal profession, but the acronym list collects some of the important ones in one place.)

So I anticipate that I’ll be spending some significant time in the future reviewing the APMP BOK. And if all goes well, I’ll actually RETAIN something from these BOK content reviews that will result in better written content for ALL Bredemarket clients.

(And yes, Dick, I know that there’s also an SMA body of knowledge to which I have access…)

Another acronym is CTA

Incidentally, if you are a biometric (identity) or technology firm that needs a proposal (or content) consultant, feel free to contact Bredemarket.

(Bredemarket Premium) Getting competitive proposals WITHOUT submitting a FOIA request

One of the best ways to get competitive intelligence on a competitor is to request the competitor’s response to a government agency procurement, such as a proposal submitted in response to a Request for Proposal. This is done by submitting a request via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or equivalent.

One note: this technique primarily applies to government agency procurements, since governments are often required by law to disclose this information. Bids submitted to private entities usually remain private.

Of course, actually getting the competitor’s response isn’t easy.

  • First, you have to submit the request in the proper format.
  • Second, you have to be detailed in what you are requesting, and you need to request everything that you want: the actual proposal itself, any follow-up correspondence such as a best and final offer, the agency’s evaluation score, and everything else. If you only request the original proposal, the agency is only obligated to provide the original proposal, and nothing else.
  • Third, you have to wait for the agency to prepare a copy of the proposal. Depending upon applicable law, the bidder may be able to redact portions of the proposal, and it usually takes some time for the agency and the bidder to agree on what can legally be redacted.
  • Fourth, you may have to pay (usually on a per-page basis) to receive the materials.

This entire process may take several months, and you can’t even request the material until after the procurement has been awarded, or perhaps contracted.

But guess what? You don’t always have to submit a FOIA-like request to get a copy of a proposal submitted to a government agency.

By Neep at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3309749

And no, you don’t have to break the law; these proposals (and other valuable documents) can be obtained legally and ethically.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Subscribe to Bredemarket Premium to access this premium content.

  • Subscriptions just $5 per month.
  • Access Bredemarket’s expertise without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars.

I just re-rejoined the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. So what?

Remember my Tuesday post about the controversy regarding the possible name change of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals to the Association of Winning Business Professionals? And how the upcoming Denver conference of the organization (whatever its name is by October) might be…interesting?

By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11357434

Anyway, it turns out that I will have an inside view of all the brouhaha.

Why?

Because I have rejoined (actually RE-rejoined) the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. (Or at least that’s what the organization is called right now. The name may change, of course.)

Why does my renewed membership in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals matter to Bredemarket clients? And how can it benefit those who DON’T use Bredemarket for proposal services?

I’ll tell you why/how in this post.

So I re-rejoined the APMP

As I previously noted, this will be my third term as a member of the APMP (or, membership Version 3.0).

Covers from early APMP conference booklets, including the cover for the conference that I attended in San Diego in 1999. From https://www.apmp.org/page/ConferenceArchive
  • I initially joined the APMP while I was a proposal writer at Printrak, but I let my membership lapse when I became a product manager. I couldn’t justify having my employer pay for a proposal organization membership when I was a product manager who only occasionally contributed to proposals. (Although some of those proposals, such as West Virginia’s first state AFIS, were critical to the company.)
  • I subsequently rejoined the APMP when the initial MorphoTrak corporate reorganization resulted in my move from product management to proposal management. After joining in 2012, I (again) let my membership lapse in 2015 after I became a strategic marketing manager, because (again) I couldn’t justify having my employer pay for a proposal organization membership when I was a marketing manager who only occasionally contributed to proposals. (Although some of those proposals, such as Michigan’s first cloud AFIS, were critical to the company.)

Obviously, back in those days corporate reimbursement for professional memberships depended upon the policies of the corporation in question. Well, now I’m not an employee of a large corporation, so I don’t have to justify my memberships to a corporate supervisor or accountant. Instead, as a sole proprietor I have to justify my memberships to myself (and the Internal Revenue Service, and the California Franchise Tax Board).

And since much of Bredemarket’s consulting revolves around proposal services, it makes sense for me to re-rejoin the APMP.

But it turned out that I couldn’t just send money to the APMP and be done with it. As an ex-member, there was an additional step involved.

If you are a former member but cannot access your account, PLEASE: Do not register as a new member….If you cannot access your past email address, contact our Member Services team (or call +1 866/466-2767, then dial 0). Within one business day (or sooner), you will receive a link with which you can pay for a new membership using your existing account.

So I contacted APMP’s Member Services team, who associated my lapsed membership with my NEW email address.

And I paid my dues, time after time, I’ve done my sentence but committed no crime…whoops, I seem to have digressed from the discussion of my new APMP membership. But in my defense, I’m not the first to associate the old Queen song with the APMP.

Anyway, I’m now an APMP member…again.

Just call me 3143. (Want to fire up a copy of Microsoft Word 97 while you do that?)

The one big difference between APMP Membership Version 3.0 and Versions 1.0 and 2.0 is that these days I am not EXCLUSIVELY dedicated to proposals. After all, I am not only the (self-styled) biometric proposal writing expert, but also the biometric content marketing expert. (With similar expertise in marketing and writing for technology firms and general business firms.)

In fact, I guess you could say that I am a general expert in…winning business.

So what?

Since I spend so much of my time talking about benefits, I’m sure that some Bredemarket clients are asking about the benefits to THEM of my APMP/AWBP/whatever membership. Yes, this internal dialogue is taking place with some of you right now.

ME: “I am a member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals again!”

YOU: “So what?”

Yours truly in a small group (I’m on the right) at the 2014 APMP Bid & Proposal Con in Chicago. Photo source: the gallery at https://www.apmp.org/events/event_photos.asp?eid=379324&id=130518 Fair use.

To answer this, I’ll state that my APMP membership will benefit my clients because I can provide them with superior services—superior proposal services, AND superior non-proposal services—that will help my clients to, um, win business. (As you’ve probably already noticed, I’ve found myself using those words a lot over the last few weeks.) My renewed affiliation with APMP will reintroduce me to beneficial outside education, general knowledge, and contacts.

  • For my Bredemarket clients who depend upon me for proposal support, the benefits are obvious. The things that I learn (and relearn) from APMP will help me provide better contributions to my clients’ proposals, hopefully helping the clients secure more proposal awards and business.
  • But there are benefits for my Bredemarket clients who DON’T depend upon me for proposal support, but instead depend upon me for content marketing or other marketing and writing services. The same strategies and tactics that contribute to a more effective proposal can be extrapolated to apply to other areas, thus contributing to better white papers, better case studies, better blog posts, better social media posts, better marketing plans, etc., etc., etc. Again, this can help my clients win business.

We’ll have to see exactly HOW my APMP membership directly benefits my Bredemarket clients.

Stay tuned.

My minority opinion on the APMP-AWBP brouhaha

About a month ago, the Association of Proposal Management Professionals posted this video on its YouTube channel.

It did not go over well.

Before discussing what the video said and why it’s controversial, I’ll explain my perspective on proposals, which helps to explain why I am happier about the move than some other people.

My five year itch, times two

Back in the summer of 1994 I had left my previous job and was consulting when I learned about an opportunity to write proposals for a company called Printrak. I had never written a proposal before, and the one Request for Proposal (RFP) that I had written basically consisted of a long checklist for which prospective vendors indicated what they could and couldn’t do. (Some vendors checked every box without reading them. None of them won the bid.)

I didn’t get that consulting opportunity, but Printrak had a second opportunity later in the year and I got that one. (Yes, proposal manager Laurel Jew was so outstanding that it took two people to replace her when she went on maternity leave.)

As it turned out, both myself and the other consultant ended up becoming employees at Printrak, and (if I may say so myself) valuable members of Printrak’s Proposals Department. The company was winning bids, and after a few years I joined the Association for Proposal Management Professionals, eventually going to the San Diego conference.

But after five years, I got an itch. (Five years, not seven years.)

By Published by Corpus Christi Caller-Times-photo from Associated Press – Corpus Christi Caller-Times page 20 via en:Newspapers.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37860629

I began to feel that there were limitations in proposals. The process that LEADS to a proposal is a long process; those familiar with the 96-step Shipley Business Development Process know that the Request for Proposal isn’t even released until around step 64. Yet in most cases, the proposals team didn’t even get involved until step 64, when the salesperson announced, “Hey, here’s an RFP. Win it.”

I wanted to move to the left of the timeline.

So I became a product manager.

I was a product manager for about a decade, but due to a corporate reorganization, I landed back in Proposals again. I enjoyed the work, and got to manage proposals for some new products, including my company’s first cloud solutions. My APMP membership had long since lapsed, but I rejoined the organization, ending up at the Chicago conference. I also participated in local chapter events, first via ESRI headquarters in Redlands, and later at my own company’s headquarters in Anaheim.

But after five years…I got the itch again.

This time I ended up in strategic marketing, and also performed significant work in product marketing, event marketing, and later competitive analysis and corporate strategy.

After leaving IDEMIA, I’ve found myself doing a variety of things, some of which involves proposal work. In some cases I’ve been confined to responding to RFPs or writing sole source letters, but at other times I’ve been able to perform more strategic duties that affect in the long term how companies…um, win business.

So from my perspective, the name change of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals to the Association of Winning Business Professionals appealed to me. There are a variety of ways to win business, and proposals is just one of them. From my perspective, it even tied in to past APMP efforts, including the 2013 creation of the Center for Business Development Excellence.

So I was delighted with the news.

But others weren’t.

The majority opinion on the APMP-ABWP brouhaha (but is it truly the majority?)

In this section of my post, I will be quoting liberally from a petition entitled “Call to stop rebranding and to commission an external audit.”

Note that this isn’t just a call to stop the rebranding. It’s one thing to object to an organization’s decision. It’s another thing when there’s a demand for “an external audit.” Money talks.

This is the expressed opinion of a number of APMP members. As you’ll see below, it’s not necessarily the opinion of ALL of the APMP members. Nevertheless, the petition writers are not happy.

To set the stage, the video at the beginning of my blog post appeared with great fanfare on June 21….and appears to be a surprise to the petition writers and the APMP members in general.

The APMP Board of Directors (BoD) led by the CEO (‘the Leadership Team’) has attempted to change APMP’s long-established name, brand, and positioning – the name change undermines the very purpose of the organization and the voluntary work that many of us have done over more than 20 years to promote the profession of proposal management….They announced this fundamental ‘rebrand’ through a faceless, poorly crafted 2-minute-video on social media. When members began airing their concerns on the very same platforms, the Leadership Team largely refused to openly address these concerns.

For what it’s worth, that original 2-minute video currently has 6 likes and 23 dislikes. Not a huge sample, but clearly those 29 people who chose to express an opinion expressed a negative one.

Incidentally, as of today, the most recently posted minutes for the Board of Directors dates from March 2021. The rebrand was NOT mentioned in those minutes.

By June 24 (three days after the original 2-minute video announcement) another video was posted to the APMP account, announcing a “pause” in the rebranding and the establishment of a “brand transition council.”

That video currently has 36 likes and 4 dislikes. Of course, it’s impossible to tell whether people liked it because of the promise of more deliberation, or that the people liked it because they hoped that the APMP would stay the APMP.

But wait, there’s a more!

A new video was posted on June 28, with twice the number of speakers (Rick Harris joined Krystn Macomber). Macomber repeated her comments from June 24, and Harris emphasized this, while using the words “moving forward” to describe where the APMP (or whatever it will be called) is going.

That video currently has 16 likes and 2 dislikes. The one thing that you can conclude from this is that there is now YouTube fatigue from all of these videos being posted.

But the positive reactions (albeit in limited numbers) to the most recent videos didn’t stop the petitioners from developing their petition.

Even after the members voted “no” to the proposed name change, the Leadership Team wants the Brand Transition Council to come up with suggestions on next steps to find a ‘compromise middle ground solution’. The survey results and the reaction of a large number of members on social media channels should be enough to illustrate to the leadership that this proposed change is ill-considered and ill-judged to say the least.

The petition goes on to request “an immediate and complete stop of the entire rebranding initiative for at least 1 year,” and also requests that the Brand Transition Council appoint an independent auditor. (It’s not exactly clear how the Brand Transition Council can do anything if all rebranding activities are being stopped, but that’s a semantic quibble. And why should proposal/winning business professionals care about semantics?)

As of now, the petition has 185 signatures.

As of 2019. the APMP had 9,487 members. Even if all the YouTube likes, LinkedIn votes. and petition signatures are all added up, the vast majority of the thousands of APMP members has not expressed ANY opinion on the issue.

It’s a safe bet that a large number of the members aren’t aware of either the proposed name change or the controversy surrounding it, since they’re busy…writing proposals and winning business (in one order, or in the opposite order).

But as more and more members hear about the controversy, I expect that there will be renewed interest in this October’s Bid & Proposal Con in Denver.

By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11357434

This year’s conference will be…interesting.

(Bredemarket Premium) The multiple self interests of AFIS customers and vendors

In a prior post, I spent some time identifying the multiple stakeholders at a city police department (in my example, my hometown of Ontario, California) that is procuring an automated fingerprint identification system.

By Coolcaesar at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15739992

If I may recycle what I previously said, here are those stakeholders:

  • The field investigators who run across biometric evidence at the scene of a crime, such as a knife with a fingerprint on it or a video feed showing someone breaking into a liquor store.
  • The examiners who look at crime scene evidence and use it to identify individuals.
  • The people who capture biometrics from arrested individuals at livescan stations.
  • The information technologies (IT) people who are responsible for ensuring that Ontario, California’s biometric data is sent to San Bernardino County, the state of California, perhaps other systems such as the Western Identification Network, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • The purchasing agent who has to make sure that all of Ontario’s purchases comply with purchasing laws and regulations.
  • The privacy advocate who needs to ensure that the biometric data complies with state and national privacy laws.
  • The mayor (Paul Leon as I write this), who has to deal with angry citizens asking why their catalytic converters are being stolen from their vehicles, and demanding to know what the mayor is doing about it.
  • Probably a dozen other stakeholders that I haven’t talked about yet, but who are influenced by the city’s purchasing decision.

Why is this important? And who are the multiple stakeholders OUTSIDE of the city police department?

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After nearly a quarter century, I finally (virtually) attended an ESRI User Conference #EsriUC

Although I’ve never worked with the company directly, I have a long history with ESRI.

  • When Printrak acquired portions of SCC back in 1997, Printrak became the company of record for SCC’s computer aided dispatch product, which used ESRI technology for its mapping.
  • When I rejoined the Proposals organization about a decade ago, the (then) Southern California Chapter of the (then) Association of Proposal Management Professionals arranged for satellite locations for its chapter meetings. Initially I would go to Redlands and attend the meetings at ESRI’s corporate headquarters. (Very nice facility, by the way.) Eventually I arranged to host satellite meetings at MorphoTrak’s Anaheim headquarters on Tustin Avenue, so my visits to ESRI in Redlands ceased. Now most meetings (other than Training Day) are online-only.

Add my interest in mapping to the mix, and you would think that I would be a prime target to attend ESRI’s annual User Conference in San Diego. However, as I mentioned, I wasn’t working with the company directly, and so I could never justify attending the ESRI User Conference in the same way that I could justify attending Oracle OpenWorld, the International Association for Identification, or IDEMIA/MorphoTrak/Motorola/Printrak’s own User Conference.

Then this pandemic thing happened, I became a free agent, bla bla bla. And so I found myself watching the Monday plenary session for the virtual 2021 ESRI User Conference.

For those who know ESRI, it’s no surprise that the speaker for much of the 3 1/2 hour plenary session was Jack Dangermond. This was the first time that I heard Dangermond speak at any length, and he provided a helpful overview of the company and its offerings, supported by a slew of ESRI product managers and outside partners.

For those who know ESRI, it’s no surprise that ESRI’s offerings have expanded since the late 1990s, with mobile and cloud options that could barely be envisioned in the last millennium.

And (like Oracle) ESRI has expanded from its base product into various verticals, such as ArcGIS Business Analyst for location-based market intelligence. The case studies illustrate how this product can benefit its users.

And I am certainly a fan of case studies