(Article published in 2002 Issue APMP)

Accidental Magic The Wizard’s Techniques for Writing Words Worth 1,000 Pictures, by Roy H. Williams (The Wizard of Ads)

Book ID Info: PE1427 .A24 2001, ISBN #: 1-885167-54-7 hardcover Publisher: Bard Press, Atlanta, GA, Copyright: 2001,  # of Pages: 238   

Fantasy fans have JRR Tolkien’s Gandalf and Saroman. The Government had a money wizard—Alan Greenspan, and proposal professionals have Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads to inspire and encourage us to find new ways to reach our customers and win new business. Roy stands norms on their heads, and shows us how to spin them round and emerge armed with fresh new ideas and weapons—though we may feel a bit dizzy by the startling changes.

He has been called “a clear sound in a noisy room,” and “Alice in Wonderland on Steroids.” Roy’s first book, The Wizard of Ads, was voted Business Book of the Year in 1998. His second book, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, became the Wall Street Journal’s #1 Business Book in 1999. Several of his books have been New York Times bestsellers.

Because of—or in spite of Roy’s walking away from a 4-year college scholarship—he developed dazzling, unique marketing techniques, and by age 26, had acquired a reputation for writing “miracle-producing radio ads that reached over a million people.”  Today he is CEO of Roy H. Williams Marketing, Incorporated, and his firm’s ads and columns are heard on over 550 radio stations, and played by more than 40 TV stations across the US. Roy is also a columnist for Radio Ink Magazine, and teaches several writing, marketing, and creative skills building seminars and workshops from his home office in Austin, Texas, and at selected locations throughout the US. Locally in his home state of Texas, he is known as the man with “moxie.”

His books provide insight into human behavior, make the reader think, and are easily digested. After spending a few hours reading Accidental Magic, you’ll be able to apply Roy’s new writing techniques to: look at strategic development and capture management from a different perspective (Franking); paint a stronger impression of your company’s capabilities (Moneting); jazz up a boring past performance write up (Seussing); and vamp and spin new introductory and summary paragraphs for your proposal (Frosting).

“Words are the most powerful force that has ever been,” Roy states in his 4th book Accidental Magic, which describes ways to “write words that enable us to peer into and capture a window of time.” It’s also a photo essay coffee table keeper, containing black and white snapshots for which students of the Wizard’s Academy crafted persuasive vignettes. In a world of deadlines, page limitations, and extreme pressure from competitors, what proposal professional wouldn’t benefit by developing abilities such as:

Frosting – Named after Robert Frost, this technique helps turn dull words into razor sharp weapons.

Using the “frosting technique,” change introductory words in your next Executive Summary from: “We offer a team that will integrate and improve your IT systems . . .” to: “Integrate and Improve. Innovate and Expand.  Empower and Energize.  These are but a few of the advantages our team will convey to your team. For example . . . .” When frosting, think poetically (described by the poet Joseph Brodsky as a form of “accelerated thinking”) to surprise and persuade your customer.

Seussing – Dr Seuss was famous for inventing new words and ingeniously using verbs to introduce new concepts. ‘Seuss’ up a dull introduction to a staffing section and you’ll create sentences and themes full of pizzazz and allure. Instead of writing: “Our team will provide numerous incentives to ensure staff satisfaction . . . ” try: “We ‘incentivise’ our staff to ensure continuity of service in a number of way. For a recent contract, we . . . . ” You may initially confuse a customer by inventing a new word; you’ll likely also spark their curiosity and make the customer want to know more. 

Moneting – Claude Monet’s work brilliantly captures first impressions, radiates light and eliminates empty voids. Text written in this style illuminates thoughts, radiates possibilities and contrasts benefits. For example, hone in on your management approach by changing: “An important aspect of our management approach is to apply proven processes and techniques to handle multiple task orders . . .” to: “Our team clearly outlines how we effectively consolidate the handling of multiple task orders by describing and illustrating our proven task flow, delegation, training refreshment, and open communication processes. We support these processes by . . . ” Monet your proposal via words that reflect and contrast, and use illustrations, color, and visual aids to ‘impress’ your customer and paint a winning picture.

Franking – Robert Frank’s photos cut to the heart of an image and revealed amazing angles. ‘Frank’ writing captures the bare essentials of thoughts in a most interesting way. Maximize use of white space on your next page limited proposal by changing: “Our team realizes that it must have a fully executable Transition Plan available for review by the contract start date. Accordingly, we include an outline of . . . ”  to: “Though it’s not a part of the RFP requirements, the first draft of our dynamic, tailorable three phase transition plan is ready to be reviewed by you at contract award.” Franking enables you to hint at what is not said—isn’t that an inherent part of selling your proposal—leaving the customer wanting to hear and know more about you?

The Wizard continually asks provocative questions about ‘saleability,’ such as “What is a teacher if not a “seller” of knowledge? What is a consultant if not a “seller” of new ideas?” To which I would add: What is a Proposal Professional if not a seller of ‘winability?’ See, he’s got me seussing.

Roy’s critics have called him a “showman and poseur, “ and a man who uses psychology and emotion to appeal to the masses. As the Key Speaker at the May 2001 APMP Conference pointed out, use of the right emotion, an appeal to the personal, and the careful use of innovations and creativity are the new discriminators of 2lst century proposals. Accidental Magic plays right to those heartstrings. Open up your purse strings and buy a copy of one of Roy’s books and measurably increase your proposal impact quotient.

Roy’s other books include: The Wizard of Ads: Turning Words into Magic and Dreamers into Millionaires, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads: Tools and Techniques for Profitable Persuasion. Learn more about the wizard (and purchase his books for less than retail cost) at: www.WizardAcademy.com.