I have always been campaigning for the concept of a "1 Pager". If you can not get your point across on one page then you do not have a point.
In our previous article we looked at what your plan's outline or content should cover. And everyone agrees it should include an "Executive Summary".
Why is it called an "Executive"? I suppose it is because a lot of "great" 100 page proposals were submitted to the top management of companies who did not have the time to wade through the confusing pages, or who did not understand all the technical jargon and demanded a concise short version In layman's terms.
EHow defines an it as follows:
"An executive summary previews the main points of an in-depth report; it is written for nontechnical people who do not have time to read the main report."
From this follows that it must contain a summary of all elements or areas of the plan, namely Market Analysis, Company Description. Organization & Management, Marketing & Sales Management, Service or Product, Funding Request and Financials. Logic therefore says that this is the last section to be written.
There is not a definitive guideline on how long the summary should be. We favor a "one pager" approach, but if you have to go longer try and keep it to two pages. Some references say it should never exceed 10 percent of the length of your plan.
This section is by far the most important part of your plan. If you can not succeed in exciting your audience to get involved with the plan through the Executive Summary, the rest of the plan will be wasted effort. This section must in a compelling and exciting way show how you are going to produce a return on investment by delivering unique value to your target markets.
Other pointers to keep in mind include:
- Purpose – Make the purpose of the plan clear;
- Teaser – It is a teaser to entice your audience into the plan;
- Empathy – Put yourself in your readers' shoes and test if the summary will excite them;
- Strong and positive – It is not a good idea to dilute it with weak language;
- Expectations – Know your audience and make sure you tailor the summary to their needs and expectations;
The bottom line of the Executive Summary is really this:
If it does not excite and entice the audience, your plan will not be read.
Write it, test it, rewrite if necessary and continue doing that until you have it right.
Happy planning. Make it a challenging, exciting and creative experience.