How to write an RFP

A New Twist on Client Relations: Psychographer Jack Dermody

Posted by Sommer Caraway on January 26, 2010
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For the January SMPS Arizona Monthly breakfast, Jack Dermody of Four Windows spoke on psychographics, the component of marketing that many of us in the A/E/C industry may overlook as we interact with our clients and create marketing vehicles to communicate the benefits of our firms. Jack successfully condensed his client relations workshop into a 45-minute sneak peak into the application of Four Windows with an interactive exercise in proposal writing.

Mike Godbehere introduced Jack and shared a number of experiences using the Four Windows methodology in his every day client relations practices for GCON, the general contracting firm that he owns. Mike knows what kind of presentation to make: just the bullet points for Orange but be prepared to have the evidence to back it up for Green; the type of information to include in a proposal: include all of the procedure details for Gold; or the perfect meeting place for his clients: Orange would like a quick meeting at Starbucks and Blue would rather meet with the entire team at a comfy, neighborhood locale.

All attendees were asked to take a survey prior to attending to evaluate their colors. Every individual exhibits a gradient of all Four Colors: Gold (guardian), Green (rationalist), Orange (artisan), and Blue (idealist). This system of understanding human behavior in four group types has been used throughout history by Hippocrates, Carl Jung, Myers/Briggs and Keirsey. In 1978, Don Lowry introduced the concept of the Four Colors, an easily understandable way to gain powerful insights into temperament typing and human behavior.

“When you connect with other people’s strengths, you get their attention, you gain their respect and you inspire their cooperation,” Jack Dermody told the audience. These are certainly the goals of any A/E/C firm for their clients.

Each attendee was asked to sit at the table represented by the color least like them. My first three colors are represented quite evenly: Blue, Green and Orange, respectively. Gold is my last or “least like me” color so, I sat with my fellow non-guardians. After the basics of the Four Windows was explained, Jack presented an example paragraph from an RFP and tasked each table to re-write the paragraph to the color least like them. After all, the most difficult task for anyone is to ask them to communicate to those least like them. This exercise stretched the marketing abilities of the entire room.

Most governmental employees are Gold or guardians so, at our table, we imagined our proposal needed to communicate to a municipality. There were a number of blue/green first color types at the table so our paragraph started out Blue and ended in a quick Green review of what we would do for the client. We asked the client to refer to the appendix for a full explanation and documentation. But Mike Godbehere who is experienced in applying Four Windows to client relations made us realize that if we are writing to a Gold audience, we had better put all of the detail and procedure right up front. Only Green and Orange would be okay with checking out the detail later. Our opening needed to change as well. It talked about teamwork and people – a little too Blue for the Gold people we wanted to reach.

After each table had re-written the paragraph, a representative from that table got up and read their paragraph aloud. Persons who had that color as their first color then critiqued the work. Oranges wanted the paragraph to get to the point quicker, Blue wanted to hear how the team was going to work together, Gold wanted every thing spelled out and Green wanted to see the proof of any percentages or numbers were presented.

As marketers and business development professionals, we can take the Four Window principals and apply them not only in proposal and collateral work but to the entire client relations plan for our firms. Four Windows gives us unique and successful tools to differentiate our firm’s approach to our clients and a new, unique way to connect with one another.

RSVP to a full version of the Four Windows Client Relations workshop Jack Dermody is presenting on February 16, 2010.

Patricia Krogh is the principal of KroghCreative, a marketing and business development firm in Phoenix, Arizona.

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