RE: Proposal Writing: Second Person vs. Third Person

Subject: RE: Proposal Writing: Second Person vs. Third Person
From: "Rowena Hart" <rowena -at- vocalscape -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001 09:30:22 -0800


This is going to be a tough sell, but I would
say stick with second person. Here is a simple
enough example, in both second and third person:

"By selecting Our Company to provide consulting
services to your organization, you will receive

"Our Company will provide ________________
consulting services to The Government

The second person example is much more "hard
sell". The third person example requires the
reader to go the extra step and visualize the
advantages of using Our Company's services.
In general, you don't want to make the purchaser
work that hard.

In my experience writing proposals, you want
to (a) present your offering, (b) sell your
offering, (c) show how other people have
benefitted from buying your offering or show
the advantages to using your offering instead
of someone else's, (d) close with an invitation
to buy your offering (cost and services). The
second person makes it much easier to do this.

Unfortunately, lawyers and other professionals
are trained not to use the second person in
technical or formal documents. The fact is that
a proposal is a sales document, and sales
documents use a different writing style than
a report or brief.

You could consider a compromise ... try
using the second person for front-end
information and third person for the technical
sections of the proposal (the sections that
will form the contract between you and the
other party).

Best of luck,


Rowena Hart
Senior Technical Writer
Yahoo! Messenger ID rowena_hart

VOCALSCAPE Communications Inc.
Unit 203 - 3991 Henning Drive
Burnaby, BC Canada V5C 6N5
Tel:(604) 437-VOIP (8647)
Fax:(604) 437-8646
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