Archives For Connecting


If proposal responses are like dating, then the Executive Summary is that first glance across a crowded room. This is where your organization makes the crucial first impression. In seven seconds or less.


So how can you make them like you? How do you stand out in a room full of hotties? And why did you pick that shirt?

If you are lucky, your date (the issuer of the proposal) will give you a few hints as to how to impress them, but often they are generalized: The Offeror shall condense and highlight the contents of the technical proposal and demonstrate and understanding of our objectives and goals. Ummm, alrighty then…

In any case, your objective is clear: you must dazzle and delight. So here  are a few dating tips from an old pro to ensure that you do just that.

1) Find out as much as you possible can about the other person(s) before you write. The actual proposal, if your lucky, tells you only half the story. You need to find out the other half. What is motivating the offeror, are there politics and budget issues driving the proposal (that aren’t mentioned in the proposal), and what types of folks will be evaluating the proposal? Make sure your communication style in these first few pages strikes the right tone.

2) Be natural in your approach. Nothing drives me more nuts than when my clients write in stilted, corporate-speak. Write like you would talk to someone you just met. Read your stuff out loud as you edit. Would you really say this to someone? “I offer a robust, holistic, next-generation approach to… No? Then rewrite it the way you would say it in the real world.

3) Focus on them. Nothing worse than someone who goes on and on about themselves. Yes it’s a proposal and you are supposed to sell your organization, but it’s not about you – it’s about them. So make sure you lead with benefits – not just prattle on about all of your unique features. Make sure they get the impression that you listen more than you talk. Get them excited about turning the page.

4) Don’t show off. Braggarts are boring. You may very well be the nations leading purveyor of awesomeness, but your date would like to draw his/her own conclusions – thank you. Sprinkle the Yay-Me’s! evenly across the proposal. But be careful. Third-party validation of your fabulousness score more points. If you are the only one saying how great you are, you run the risk of an authenticity fail.

5) Make the first interaction count. To make sure you are on the right track with your message – put in a little extra thought and preparation. Have someone outside the organization read and evaluate your introduction. This is akin to having a trusted pal weigh-in on whether your outfit works. Trust me. I’ve had plenty of experience is having to tell a client that their butt does look too big in those jeans. (Translation: You come off as full of yourself and you’ve haven’t paid enough attention to your perspective client).

Can you overcome a weak Executive Summary? Certainly, but why take the chance? First impressions count. If you don’t make a great one, the rest of your proposal faces an uphill battle and you may not get that second date.

A pair of orange striped pants.

A wink to Chris Boyer.

Last week I attended the excellent: Texas Hospital Association’s Health Care Social Media Summit 2012. And yes, it was primarily for hospitals but the pearls of wisdom were/are totally applicable to MCOs.  The following is a curation from my dog-eared Moleskine. I reframed my notes to address those of us in managed care. (BTW it’s lonely being a managed care person in a sea of hospital folk…but I digress).

And yes, I was also tweeting like mad with the rest of the conference attendees. Please check out the hash tag: #HCSMTX to see what was happening. Or this cool HCSMTX e-book from @chimoose.

From @LeeAase, Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media: We have to do a better job telling stories. It’s about compelling content and mixing, matching and linking. Video, video, video – yes we should be doing much more of it. Best way to overcome objections from your compliance officer and other C-suite Luddites: “Well if JCAHO is tweeting and can have a YouTube channel…”

@EdBennett, University of Maryland Medical Center: Patients expect more than we deliver. (Now he was talking about his hospital system, but it certainly isn’t much of a leap to assume that we haven’t measured up to expectations from either patients, providers and regulators). Social media is an opportunity to reach and build communities with all these folks. To be successful, implementing social media has to be approved by the top of the org chart. IT, HR, or Legal shouldn’t decide it – your CEO should. Fundamentally, it’s about culture. And for MCOs that are squeamish about dealing with the inevitable negative comments on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.: reframe it an opportunity to show our passion and commitment.

Notes from the expert panel of Susan Chana Elliott & Matt Pereira, WebMD; Donald Hackett, dailyRx; A.J. Melaragno, On-Site Studios: It’s all about facilitating the conversation between our organization and the needs of our customers. If we aren’t listening, we won’t have any perspective as to where we need to be.  And whether we are actively participating in social media or not, conversations are happening all around us – and with or without us.

@naveen101, LIVESTRONG: It’s all about the social – not just the media. We should be using social media to connect, mobilize, amplify and support.

@reedsmith, Gray Digital Group: Smart phones are driving video adoption – especially in rural areas. Everything you shoot should be optimized for mobile. The most important part of the video is actually the sound. Trends we should be exploring: fast draw, animation, kinetic type, time-lapse, explainer and crowd sourcing. (And of course my personal mantra: Please kill PowerPoint). We need to do a better job at providing media training for folks we put on camera. Or put in front of a microphone. Or allow out the front door of our office.  (Okay that last one is mine).

From Allen Caudle & Sandy Diaz, Edelman: Crisis communication in a digital world requires owning and driving our own content. In a crisis, social sets the pace.  Five steps to manage issues socially: 1. Listen around the clock. Being proactive about what’s being said about you helps you determine what’s a crisis and what isn’t. 2. Implement your voice (and make sure SEO supports it). 3. Be prepared. You should have a presence long before a crisis. 4. Drive crisis traffic to a dark site that has relevant and updated information. 5. Build relationships with advocates who can speak on your behalf. Outsiders are generally more credible to the general public than your spokespeople (can I get an AMEN?).

@Doctor_V, Texas Children’s Hospital and author of one of my favorite blogs 33 Charts: Delete the stethoscope pictures from your materials – docs have moved on to more precise diagnostic instruments. (I’m looking at you, GE V-scan).  The democratization of media makes all doctors, nurses, and staff, etc. “publishers.” So it would be smart for us to help them refine their voice and share their stories. Docs are at the top of the cone of trust. (I’m fairly certain managed care is near the bottom). Social media would go a long way towards improving our credibility.

@ChrisBoyer, Inova Health System: According to a recent YouGov study, 81% of consumers believe that if a hospital has a strong social media presence they are likely to be more cutting edge. Social media reinforces our collective mission of: providing the best care, being fiscally responsible and building strong relationships. Don’t get cute with redefining ROI. It’s math: financial gain/savings – cost…divided by cost. Period. Done well, any social media campaign should be easily measurable in terms of ROI by: driving growth, lowering marketing and communication costs and increasing loyalty and customer satisfaction. (BTW the pants image above is a hat tip to Chris and my fellow attendees…ya had to be there.)

So I hope these nuggets give us all something to think about because we are late to the party. #Ahem.

I fully expected to hear a great deal about using social media as an enrollment tool – having heard encouraging stats recently at SXSW. And where several speakers mentioned the high usage of smartphones among minority populations, I was astounded to hear that over 80% of persons of color still prefer in-person access to enrollment and eligibility information.



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