Developing Effective Theme Statements

Theme statements in proposals link a customer benefit to the discriminating features of your offer. Themes tell readers why they should select you. The most powerful themes contain the most important and unique discriminators—something the customer wants that no one else but you can offer. Effective theme statements also include a value proposition if it can be stated clearly and concisely.

Theme statements are not sales slogans, like the catchy phrases most commonly seen in consumer marketing. They are based on customer hot buttons and motivators.

Capture and sales teams sometimes confuse win strategies and theme statements. Strategies = things to do. Themes = things to say.

Inserting theme statements in a proposal, including at the section level, is one way to implement your win strategy.

When crafting your theme statement:

  • Use theme statements consistently
  • Link benefits (and value) to features, trying to state benefits first
  • Quantify benefits, if possible
  • Draft concise theme statements, preferably in a single complete sentence
  • Differentiate section theme statements and section summaries
  • Ensure benefits go beyond simple advantages—focus on value to the customer
  • Tailor your theme structure and approach to the evaluation process


Consistently using theme statements that are customer-focused and benefits driven will improve overall readability and your probability of winning.

To learn more about theme statement development, click here to read this section of the Shipley Proposal Guide.