60 minutes | Aug 12, 2018
013: How to write better proposals with Rick Harris
Adam Lowe: Welcome to the business insight lab where we bring you interviews with leaders in their fields to deliver valuable information for your business. I'm your host, Adam Lowe, and this is episode number 13. This week's guest is Rick Harris. Rick is the executive director of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, the APMP. I had to practice saying that about 10 times before I got it right. They are an association for professionals who pursue business through proposals, bids, tenders and presentations. He and his members advanced the arts, science, and technologies of winning business in virtually every major industry such as IT, telecom, software, healthcare, consulting, finance, and the federal government. They keep business in business. In today's business environment, whether you're a small business, we're a fortune 500 company. Knowing how to write a winning proposal is the key to expanding your business, but what are the crucial elements to consider when responding to an RFP and writing a winning proposal as the head of the association that's dedicated to helping companies navigate this world. Rick is going to unlock the mystery behind proposal writing, and offer practical advice that will resonate with any business leader. He'll share proven tactics from all aspects of the proposal development process, including the role of creativity and writing play. And this frankly is really timely for me because I was sitting here before, uh, before we started recording, just trying to write a proposal. So I'm really glad to have you on the podcast today, Rick. Rick Harris: Thank you, and what we find at any given time in someone's life, they're writing proposals, so we're happy to be here to help. Thank you for inviting us on your program. Adam Lowe: Oh, great. So can you tell me just a little bit about you and your history and what got you into this particular business? Rick Harris: Yeah, actually I have the tale of two careers. So I started out as a radio disc jockey down in Florida and I did that for about 18 years. So I have a long and storied career in radio. Adam Lowe: What radio station you were on? Rick Harris: Well, really every market in Florida except for, except for the Miami market. So I worked at WAPE in Jacksonville. I worked or WGLF in Tallahassee Y106 in Orlando, so the list just goes on and on and on the New Speaker: I used to live in winter park. That's why I asked, Rick Harris: So you know Y106 Adam Lowe: I certainly do. Rick Harris: Yep. So, uh, so it's a tale of two careers and you know, that gave me a chance to meet people, to talk to people in a way that it's helped me in my second career and I moved up to Washington DC a number of years ago actually. It was about 30 years ago now and was looking for something, do fell in with a met somebody who worked for an association. They said, hey, you'd be pretty good at marketing. Went into the association business and found that I absolutely loved it. It was brand new word that came at you every day. It's moving people in a direction to help them do better in a single subject. And in this case, uh, what we're here to talk about today is writing a proposal that helps you win and to generate new revenue for your company, for Your Business or for you personally and individually. So it's very gratifying work. And I've been doing this, as I said, for about, or two years now. Adam Lowe: Can you tell me a little bit about some of the industries that you mentioned? Rick Harris: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, I have a, a lot of experience in technology and I started out with, I've worked with the National Association of broadcasters of work with the National Association of homebuilders, but I do have a funny story. It was my work at the National Association brick distributors. So there really truly is an association for everything. And I worked there for about three years and then I got a call from the home builders who said, hey, we love what you've done with them. Why don't you come do it with all of the, uh, the different building materials. So I worked there for about eight years, but what I specialized in was marketing programs. And also, um, the tradeshows, uh, I found that was where the energy and the money and uh, uh, all of the innovation. So, uh, I would always gravitate toward the trade show component of these associations. I worked for the cell tower industry, uh, back when a cell towers were. Nobody likes it, some I think people are used to them and they're a lot smaller now, so, uh, they're not as controversial as they once were. Okay. And just lately in, in all of this work proposals have been a major part of the associations that I've worked with, both in terms of associations writing proposals and our members meeting to write them. So when this opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to lead and I've been here now for about seven years. Adam Lowe: I think everybody has to write proposals of some sort or another to get jobs, especially, especially here in the DC area where there's so many federal, federal and government jobs that, uh, you know, they send out these ridiculous rfps. Um, so there's, there's definitely an art and a science to writing these things to be able to get the business. Um, so I definitely the importance of being here in DC, but, you know, aside from, from government contracts, can you tell me what other types of proposals, um, you help people. Right. And you know, just why it's important to have those good proposal writing skills. Okay. Rick Harris: There really are two types of proposals, one that you mentioned, which are the government federal contract proposals were, were large defense contractors generally are responding to RFPS, ease and. No Sir, excuse me, those are proposals that have a set of guidelines and a set of rules that need to be followed. So, and they're governed by the far, which is the federal acquisition requirements for proposal bid proposal managers and they need to follow those rules Rick Harris: by far concentrated a vc area, California based, some in the Massachusetts area, anywhere where you find a, not of the military, that's where you'll find the government proposal, but the most amount of proposal and proposal writing is really in the business or the commercial space. So it's when you get outside of the beltway, when you get outside of areas where there are large agencies or base a military base is, that's where you find the commercial opportunities and it can be anything from, um, really small proposals of where we would like for you to, um, we're putting our accompany. We'll put out an RFP for video service or an individual will put out an RFP p for to help them up market their business. That was a very small, but even the business and commercial side, those proposals can generate as much as a million to $10,000,000 for companies. And examples of that would be, Rick Harris: uh, just just say mastercard wants to change to a new plastic and it's putting out an RFP, pay for plastic manufacturers too. Uh, help them design a better cart. And certainly you saw it in play when the chips, gay man. So somebody who's got, you know, they have the idea to make the change, but somebody has got to actually build the card. So, um, so you see those ps four about products and services. And what I would tell you is that although the stakes are a lot higher on the government side, the, uh, the federal bids and proposals, um, sometimes as much as, you know, $10,000,000,000 for a jet fighter, um, or a, um, you know, I'm new munitions, something like that. The more plentiful and more robust proposal writing is done on the business and commercial side, it's much more frequently and the rules are completely relaxed Adam Lowe: given that I deal with a lot of professional services companies, almost every job that I do, I have to deliver some sort of proposal. Um, and for me, you know, a lot of it's very boiler plate, just changing a little bit of scope of work. Um, but I, you know, I'm sure like you mentioned, there are the larger ones out there that really requires some, some in depth thought and uh, you know, responding to actual rfps. So can you tell me a little bit about, uh, you know, just, just start with the basics, you know, how to people find out about the RFPS, how do people, um, you know, find those, uh, those, those things to respond to. Rick Harris: Is it on the federal side? There are a couple of tried and true places. Bloomberg government runs a, a depository of where all of the government contracts with. Another one is which is operated by Delta Fed Biz ops has. So there are places where people can go and they monitor daily to look at that. If it's more on the business and commercial side of the industry, it's the connections you make, the contacts. So are you, do you have your ear on the ground, on the ground at professional associations like ours and you're hearing about opportunities, are you part of your chamber of Commerce? Are you part of your local regional associations and are you looking and anticipating what accompany wants or needs six month
49 minutes | Jul 29, 2018
012: Manny Cosme shows us the fun side of accounting!
Today's guest is Manny Cosme, Manny is the president and CEO of CFO Services Group, a boutique accounting firm specializing in helping small businesses manage their finances. He's been helping small businesses with their accounting needs for over 20 years.
50 minutes | Jul 8, 2018
011: Process Optimization and Automation with Adam Lowe
This week I’m going to talk a little about what we do here at Adam Lowe Creative, then I’m going to nerd out on one of my favorite topics – process optimization and automation! If you are falling asleep already, grab a cup of coffee. I promise you are going to want to hear some of this, especially if you are finding yourself working more than necessary, letting little things fall through the cracks, or if you want to make sure your customers have a consistently great experience with you and your company.
43 minutes | Jun 24, 2018
010: James Bonato on perseverance and the power of being a good person
James Bonato has been a professional videographer in Washington D.C. and specializes in producing website videos as well as filming over 1,000 weddings covering a 30-year span. James is a multi-prize winner of WEVA international awards and is five-star rated on Wedding Wire with over 100 five-star reviews.
40 minutes | Jun 17, 2018
009: Before you lease a commercial space, with Paul Remson
Today we have Paul Remson from Strategic Realty Advisors. Paul is a commercial real estate tenant broker who helps businesses find new office space, renegotiate commercial leases, or move their offices. If you have ever considered leasing office, commercial, or warehouse space you’ll definitely want to listen to this podcast before you take your next steps.
43 minutes | Jun 10, 2018
008: Mike Tash, Serial Entrepreneur
Mike Tash owns several businesses including a Point of Sale company, a promotional products business, and a successful blues band. Mike and I talk about his “serial entrepreneurship” and some of the things he has done to be successful. Spoilers -- There are no secrets to his success other than doing the basics and doing them really well!
34 minutes | Jun 3, 2018
007: Brand Therapy with Stacy Husk
Stacy has a long history of brand strategy in the corporate space and is now helping small businesses find and communicate their brand. In this interview, we discuss what exactly a brand is, how it can benefit your business and some first steps you can take to identify your brand voice.
40 minutes | May 20, 2018
006: Fear, Anxiety, and Inspiration with Melanie Anderson
This week's guest is a very good friend of mine, Melanie Anderson. Melanie is a photographer, public speaker, coach, mentor, and all-around incredible person. In this podcast, Melanie and I talk about everything from value-based pricing, overcoming your fears, and having a great team to support you. I always walk away with a ton of knowledge every time I talk wither her, so I hope you find this as valuable as I do.
30 minutes | May 13, 2018
005: Attribution Theory in Business and Children with Amy Kines
Amy Kines from Ready Aim Teach discusses attribution theory and it’s application to everything from employees to schoolchildren…
41 minutes | May 7, 2018
004: Diversifying your Social Media with Brian Loebig
Today’s guest is Brian Loebig of Loebig Ink. Brian and I talk about what’s going on in the world of social media marketing and how you can use it to put your customers first. Adam Lowe: Today I'm here with Brian Loebig of Loebig Ink. Brian, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you help people? Brian Loebig: Absolutely. I'm the founder of Loebig Ink Web Consulting. I like to say that we're inspired by coffee, creativity in music to provide web design, social media and search engine optimization services. Adam Lowe: You had me at coffee. So tell me a little bit about your path to starting your business. Brian Loebig: I've only been in business since 2012, which is actually kind of a long time for businesses. Usually, you know, you succeed or fail by the five year mark. So it's been about that amount of time and I continue to improve and to grow. So that's good. I started, one of the things that really motivated to start the business was getting laid off. I used to be a chief operating officer of a large nonprofit social service non-profit in Virginia, a Lutheran family services of Virginia, multi-million dollar non-profit doing social work, a foster care adoption and family preservation, all those kinds of services. And, um, I laid, some people off in 2010 during the down turn in the economy. I laid some people off, I got laid off. Um, I would help them suggest I get laid off based on my responsibilities and how the organization was going because I was one of the senior executives and uh, and my wife was in medical school at the time, full time. So perfect timing for me to be laid off. Adam Lowe: You were in it, Brian Loebig: This was in Richmond, Virginia. And so, um, we prayed about it and we had a long discussion. We decided I'm just going to, um, go into this web design thing full time. So I've always done it as a side project side hustle, if you will. Um, since going to college at Marquette in 1997. I graduated from their first executive MBA program. I actually develop their website. I'm the first executive MBA website at Marquette as part of a class project. And so I've always had my fingers in like web design and technology since then and doing it on the side. So when I got laid off, that was a perfect opportunity to do it full time. And then we didn't know, my wife was an army doctor so we didn't know where she was going to end up anyway. And so I decided to do this and just follow her wherever she goes and drag the kids along. And uh, so we wound up in a. She got. I'm stationed at Walter Reed right after graduation. So that's what brought us to the DC area and that's kinda how I kicked off the business. Adam Lowe: That's awesome. And your business has been going pretty good. You also do a lot of public speaking. I know that you're really actively, actively involved in, uh, some of the chambers. And I know that I spoke with you on a panel once a couple years ago and I saw you present again, I think last year. Um, so tell me a little bit about that. Brian Loebig: I've been doing, I've been doing more of that if it had more opportunities. Um, it wasn't really a strategic plan. People would ask me to speak at things. I'm Julie Schumacher is a close colleague of mine with sassy agency and she's very active in the Bethesda chamber. She'd always ask me if I could, uh, speak with her on, you know, marketing or google analytic related kinda topics. And so, um, I really liked doing that and so I decided to actually make that kind of a strategic plan and, and, um, kind of seek those opportunities. And so, uh, I've been. So when I joined the Silver Spring chamber, um, they, that's created some great opportunities to do larger speaking events. I've spoken at, um, AIGA, which is a graphic design, you know, organization and um, it just, uh, even BNI, I'm involved with business networking international and um, I've, they've flown me down to Florida to speak at a BNI of Florida Broward county, talking about how to use LinkedIn to increase your visitors to your chapter. Adam Lowe: Alright, fancy pants. I always just saw you as being the seo guy that everyone turns to around here. So, uh, yeah, I had no idea until I actually went on the website. I was like, oh yeah, Brian, Brian is awesome. But on the website I was like, holy crap. Bryan does a lot of stuff. That's pretty amazing. So tell me a little bit like the breadth of what, uh, what you offer Brian Loebig: seo is kind of the, uh, the thing that's kind of risen to the top. I've, um, I started off doing web design and I love web design, but I've really been the fastest growing part of my business is search engine optimization and that's really happened through a lot of collaborations. Um, like a white Label. I do lots of white label seo through partner organizations with other web designers and marketing firms or consultants. I did over a hundred seo projects last year. We're on track to do a hundred and 50 this year. Um, and so I have a whole team, uh, you know, I started off as a solo entrepreneur now I've got like 15 people working for me. That's fantastic. It's great. And so we, we've, um, up. The cool thing about SEO too is that I also do a lot of consulting with organizations where I'm not doing the seo, but I'm consulting with them to bring on other consultants and bringing in other organizations to do, um, like seo or web design. So I get to see how all these other organizations that are doing their process and some of them, some of my clients are pretty large, like pretty good sized marketing firms. They'll bring me in as kind of an outside consultant to kind of vet the other marketing firms or the other SEO companies that are coming in and so had been a great opportunity to see kind of get an inside look at how these organizations do their process and then use that for information on my own team's process. Adam Lowe: Again, there's so much BS out there and that whole marketing and seo world and people don't quite understand it and they think that it's this magic black box and that they just get phone calls three times a day from people saying, I'll put you on the first page of google. So you know, tell me a little bit about what seo actually is and you know, what, what you actually do to help people get, get noticed. Brian Loebig: What seo actually is, is getting on the first page of google. That's the ultimate goal is to, you know, get ranked highly on the internet is not necessarily just google, but that's, you know, the 8,500 pound gorilla is if you're on the first page of google, then you're going to get traffic, you're going to get visits. Um, and so that, that is the ultimate goal. But you can do that through, um, not just a website like I do. I've been doing a lot of speaking engagements lately about personal branding, seo, how to increase your own personal brand on the internet, even without a website, how you can, you know, how you can use other kinds of internet properties to increase your visibility all over the internet. Adam Lowe: Websites, not always the right place to, to market yourself for certain certain businesses. Understanding where your customers are, then that's where you need to be. Um, so what I really wanted to talk to you about today is, you know, there's been a lot of crazy stuff happening the past couple of months with, uh, with social media and seo is changing and just digital marketing in general is going nuts. You know, it's right now. You know, it, it operates at internet speed to begin with and now it seems to have gone, you know, that times 10, um, you know, with the data breaches happening, um, with the cambridge analytic data breach with facebook and uh, you know, everyone's reacting to that and the GDPR changes, you know, everyone's, that we've got the privacy issues going on. So there's a lot of people that have built their entire businesses on certain platforms. Adam Lowe: So I know a lot of people that their entire business has been built based on facebook advertising, for example, or having a facebook page and building a facebook audience or you know, their entire followings on twitter, um, where they've, you know, they, they did this one magic thing inside of google that, that got them all this awesome google fu and then the algorithm changed and now they're, they're invisible. So I thought you'd be a great person to really talk about, you know, what's going on there and, and you know, why these things change so often and how you can protect yourself. Uh, you know, I think when, when we were talking about topics, I threw out the idea of diversifying your, your marketing channel, it's just like you would diversify a, uh, your, your money, um, you kind of need to do the same thing with your marketing if you want to be safe. So, you know, I'd love to get your take on it. Brian Loebig: Absolutely. A diversification is key. It's first finding out where your customers are or your customers might be going and on a, on a changing landscape of, you know, with, with all the social media, you know, changing, um, you never know what's where things are going to go and so it's good to have at least a strategic partner, if not your own self in your own staff. Be kind of aware of what's happening. What's the trends like. Alignable is really pushing everybody onto that platfor
44 minutes | Apr 29, 2018
003: Hire Like a Boss with Talmar Anderson
Today’s guest is Talmar Anderson from Boss Actions. Talmar and I talk about the challenges many businesses face in hiring employees and in switching their mindset from business owner to “boss.”
27 minutes | Apr 29, 2018
002: Franchises are more than fast food with Stephanie Lewis
In this podcast, we interview Stephanie Lewis of the Entrepreneur's Source to discuss he franchise model of business ownership. We discuss the pros and cons of running a franchise versus starting your own business, and we talk about the personality traits that work well for certain franchises.
20 minutes | Apr 29, 2018
001: All About Goals with Asif Choudhury
In this podcast, we interview Asif Choudhury from Bahar Consulting to learn all about setting both personal and professional goals.