The Power of Story Crafting – How to craft a story worth telling

Storying telling tactics that help set the framework for compelling and thoughtful proposals.


Before we can tell a story, we must think about the type of story we want to tell, and whether it’s worth telling at all. The stories we tell through our proposals are not so different from those of novels, movies, and plays; all stories contain certain elements. There will be characters (your client), a setting (project location and type), conflicts (what problems we are trying to solve), and plots (how we will approach the project). These elements help frame our team’s story to maximize impact and create thoughtful proposals that tell our story well.

Every proposal addresses issues and solves problems, and our job is to assemble the pieces into a cohesive final package that contains a clear-cut message with dynamic key takeaways. We also want to show our enthusiasm, conviction, relevance, and unique approach to solving a client’s challenge.

Shaping the Framework

To help shape the framework for a proposal, we start by pulling the “Win Themes.” While reading through a new RFP, we highlight (digitally or physically, dealer’s choice) the key words and phrases. Where is there emphasis? What is the goal, why now, and what do the decision makers care about? Then we add a layer of research. Are there key words in supporting plans, reports, and documents? Once we identify what we believe are the main win themes for the proposal, we use those themes to guide us when developing each frame of our story.

Identifying Our Frames

For our particular process, we like to divide our thinking into three “frames”: Project Appreciation, Project Approach, and Qualifications. Each frame has a core message that represents an issue or opportunity that has great power to shape the audience’s understanding of how we would react to the project. When figuring out the message for our frames, we like to ask question such as, “What does our audience care most about? What are their beliefs? Can we identify important cultural traditions?” We look for ways to tie the specifics of our story to the values our clients care about.

Project Appreciation:

Our project appreciation section outlines our team’s understanding of the opportunity. This section allows us to showcase our understanding and enthusiasm and get the client fired up about the impact of the project. Centering the opportunity around the win themes explains the importance of the project and makes it clear that we understand the client’s needs.

Project Approach:

The project approach section outlines our team’s process. This section is hyper-tailored to the client, is digestible and easy to read, and introduces our team’s work mentality to the project. We clearly break out tasks, deliverables, and meetings in graphic form, and make this section about what the team will accomplish together.

Project Qualifications:

Our goal in the project qualifications section is to make every example of our work – our projects, our team’s expertise, and our roles on the team – feel hyper relevant to this client and this project so they have no doubt we are the right fit for the opportunity. Ways we present this information include:

  • Grouping projects around win themes – Headers should align with win themes.
  • Showcasing the team’s expertise and role, specific to the project
  • Getting creative – if need revise project name to highlight relevance


Earning Trust

Every step of this process is about delivering a cohesive story; most notably, this is the client’s story, not ours. We can envision this story because we invest time up front in listening, researching, overlaying our knowledge of best practices, and presenting solutions that align with the client’s core values. When we listen deeply, and bring what we know about great design to the table, we can present an authentic, inspiring story that underscores our desire to become trusted advisors to our clients so they have no doubt that we are the right partners to help them in their endeavors – long after we win the work.

About Olivia

Associate Olivia Gray serves as LS3P’s Urban Environments Marketing Manager. Olivia brings her extensive background in interactive media, communications, and graphic design to deploy creative and intuitive problem solving to her daily work. In her role, she oversees inbound and outbound marketing efforts across the Urban Environments team. She leads the charge on client communications, proposals, and project pursuits and helps lead design efforts for unique branding and wayfinding projects.

Olivia earned a Master of Arts in Interactive Media from Elon University and a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Integrated Media from William Peace University. She also completed studies in Sierpe De Osa, Costa Rica, focusing on proactive marketing efforts to help boost the town’s tourism.