Scenario: It has been 10 years since you were first hired on as a special projects manager for the Big City Chocolate Company. In that time, BCCC has achieved great success, thanks in no small part to your signature product line: the College Collection, which now includes licensed chocolates for all of the major area schools, along with a handful of out-of-state schools, as well.
Credit for much of BCCC’s recent success also belongs to Amy Jenkins, the enthusiastic young designer who first pitched the idea of a social media plan to help promote the College Collection. Her creativity and dedication have helped her earn a position as BCCC’s Director of Social Media. In this position, Amy is responsible for establishing and maintaining BCCC’s presence on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Places, and YouTube. Amy has recently earned a BA in Marketing, she stays current in her field, and she is an active member of the Association for Business Communication.
Amy also works with you on customer service issues involving the four stores that fall under your supervision as Retail Manager. For example, Amy passed along to you a recent review on Yelp.com which said: “Pet peeve: When you ask for a Coke or a cup of coffee ‘for here,’ they still serve it in a Styrofoam cup. You have to specifically request a mug or glass.” With that information, you were able to implement a procedure to prompt servers to ask if dine-in customers would prefer a mug or a to-go cup. When Amy replied to the customer’s review with an apology and details about the new procedure, the customer changed her review on Yelp from four stars to a full five stars.
Mary Andersen has a much more aggressive agenda than her parents did when it comes to expanding the business. She has made it a priority for all BCCC employees to be actively seeking opportunities to attract new clients. When you recently came across the following Request for Proposals, your interest was piqued:
RFP: Small Business in the Digital Age
The Big City Association of Small Business Owners is accepting proposals for presentations for its upcoming conference, Small Business in the Digital Age. Our members are busy entrepreneurs, trying to manage and grow their businesses with limited resources. Ideal presentations will give them an overview of how technology is changing a particular aspect of small business and most importantly give them skills and practices they can incorporate right away.
Please submit a letter of interest that includes a brief overview of your credentials, a summary of your proposed presentation, and explanation of how your presentation will benefit those who run growing small businesses.
There are no speaker fees associated with our event; however, speakers are able to attend the conference free of charge. Your bio and company contact information will be featured prominently in the program. Additionally, speakers will be given a digital list of the names and addresses of conference attendees.
You see an opportunity here: conferences are a great way to learn more about your craft, establish contacts within the local business community, and meet potential new clients. Especially enticing is the list of contact information for attendees.
There is only one problem: you are sure that the Association will be inundated with proposals about how to market your small business using social media. You have a policy of only responding to RFPs when you believe that one of your core strengths will be a competitive advantage, but you believe you can craft a unique presentation based on the experience and expertise both you and Amy have acquired in your years of helping lead BCCC to its current success.
You and Amy decide to craft a presentation that combines your expertise in writing, marketing, and customer service, showing the audience how those factors are interrelated when it comes to using social media effectively. The two of you will team up to give the presentation at the conference.
Amy wisely suggests that you identify your strengths and competitive advantages in this situation. You come up with the following:
- We work for a small business with the same challenges and goals as the audience.
- We have experience crafting and executing social media strategies for our business.
- We have a unique presentation because it incorporates three crucial areas of expertise related to using social media.
Assignment: Write a 1-2 page proposal letter (what the RFP calls a “letter of interest”) in response to the RFP from the Big City Association of Small Business Owners. Be sure to include a subject line and all information called for in the RFP. Open with goodwill.
The address of the Big City Association of Small Business Owners is 15 Commerce Circle, Big City, FL 33999. Big City Chocolate Company’s address is 31 Confectioners Row, Big City, FL 33999.
Your proposal letter will be graded on correct use of language and overall professionalism as well as the Red, Orange, Yellow, and Green Strategies listed below (a more detailed rubric for Writing Assignment 4 can be found below):
Red Level Strategies
- Establish purpose and audience
- Use simple, concrete, direct language — align language and purpose
- Use the direct organization
- Ensure completeness and accuracy
- Write informative and purposeful subject lines
Orange Level Strategies
- Use goodwill-building techniques
- Emphasize reader benefits
- Write with a positive emphasis
- Write with a reader-based emphasis
Yellow Level Strategies
- Refine information to make it more useful
- Design information using SSPD
- Use lists
- Write with parallel structure
- Craft informative headings
Green Level Strategies
- Establish a clear objective
- Align objectives and account for differences
- Identify and emphasize competitive advantages and meaningful strengths
- Create concrete images
- Motivate action