Art and Science (Part 1): It Takes Both to Develop Great Content


Posted By Qvidian | May 25, 2016


Proposal Software and RFPsWe tend to think of the artistic and scientific approaches to any task as being fundamentally opposed. One is right-brain, one is left-brain; one thrives on inspiration and intuition, while the other is grounded in observation and deduction. They’re like Venus and Mars – complementary planets, but moving in very separate orbits.

But when it comes to creating content for proposals and RFPs, you need to rely on both approaches to achieve excellence. What’s more, the best content tends to appear when content professionals find the overlaps between these two approaches – applying “analytical” thinking to their “creative” process, and vice versa.

If all that sounds a bit confusing, let’s put it in more familiar terms. Until fairly recently, developing sales content was thought of as primarily an artistic endeavor. Does this scenario sound familiar?

  • A writer would try to articulate an agreed-upon set of messages in as compelling a fashion as possible
  • A designer would dress up the text to make it inviting and visually appealing
  • A creative spark would (hopefully) appear, which would motivate the prospect to action

Analysis and measurement of this process – or of the content it produced – were considered to be beside the point.

The flip side of the purely artistic view of content was driven by the arrival of scientific analysis of content, made possible by digital media, the Web, and powerful data-crunching tools. Here was an inexhaustible source of data to help sales and operations executives see in real time which content was being used, by which salespeople or prospects, at what stage of the sales cycle, resulting in what outcomes. The missing element in this scenario, in many cases, has been any qualitative understanding of how a given content asset speaks to prospects’ needs – or doesn’t.

The Intersection of Art and Science

If you’re responsible for shepherding a proposal or RFP to completion, you may feel as though you’re already task-switching between your artistic and scientific functions, out of necessity. But that’s not a bad thing.

In fact, when you consciously look for opportunities to apply one mindset (call it artistic or scientific) to a problem that seems to reside on the other side of the creative/analytical fence, some of your best ideas may result.

For example, when you’re trying to measure the effectiveness of specific content, do you look beyond the usual statistics, and seek out qualitative feedback from salespeople, customers, prospects, or lost deals?

Conversely, when you’re faced with developing a new proposal from scratch, you might dig more deeply into the data that’s available regarding the likely buyers and influencers within that company, its competitors, or its industry – not just their role or department, but their motivators, their criteria, and the devices they’re likely to use to review your content.

There are lots of other opportunities to fuse the “artistic” and “scientific” perspectives, in order to create content that is more personalized, more compelling, and more likely to drive sales. We’ll explore some of them in upcoming posts in this “Art and Science” series. In the meantime, try crossing some fences!

Interested in learning more?

Please download our new guide, The Art and Science of Developing and Managing Proposal Content, to see how the synergy between art and science can help produce your most effective content.