Three mistakes in executive summaries

Executive summaries are key to all of your marketing materials. Let’s learn how to improve them, and give them the attention they deserve.

Three mistakes in executive summaries

We’ve all been there! Sitting down at our desks, or perhaps pacing about trying to figure out how to best put together a compelling executive summary for our next prospect. In the midst of this process, organizations tend to use previous executive summaries as templates, or perhaps use them for inspiration. And yet sometimes, they overlook some of the most basic points that really ought to either be at the forefront, or truthfully should have no place in an executive summary!

Here are three of the “worst offenders” in an executive summary:

  1. A boring, uninspiring opening statement. Starting off with “thank you for giving ABC Company the opportunity to respond…” – it is better to thank your prospect when concluding the executive summary … instead, write a powerful and unique statement that catches the reader’s attention from the beginning, which ties into your organization’s value proposition.
  2. Talking about your organization too much. This is a key mistake many organizations make, irrespective of industry or sector. If you write endlessly about how great your company is, it leaves less room to showcase your organization’s key differentiators, and demonstrating why your organization is the right choice over your competition. After all, that’s what you want to do, right? A better alternative is to focus on a call to action, in the form of a value-add or incentive to secure your prospect – this can be anything from a signing bonus, to complementary implementation or training, or something different that is unique to your organization.
  3. Not understanding the client’s need, and failing to demonstrate why your solution is best. This, in my opinion, is the single most important thing you need to nail down. You want your prospect to be interested, impressed, and work with your organization in that you have the knowledge, resources, infrastructure, and scalability necessary to achieve their goals, from inception of your relationship to the end. If this isn’t front and centre of your executive summary, your prospect won’t be compelled nor excited to work with you.

The executive summary is typically the first section an RFP evaluation team looks at as a summation of your entire proposal. But executive summaries are also popular in other marketing materials, such as articles, as well as reports. Putting together an excellent executive summary is no joke – it needs to be well thought out, with engaged stakeholders, and a writer who can elevate it to new heights.