In many cases marketing business owners will need to create effective proposals for marketing clients. The first few times you are asked to create a proposal can be an intimidating experience. They can be long, complicated documents with more than one opportunity to woo or disappoint a potential client. The best way to create a proposal is to follow a step by step plan. Once you have a general template for your proposals in place they become easier and fast to write. The first few will be challenging, but if you follow these tips you should do fine.
There are five essential elements to every single proposal. These include:
- A thorough description of the project. You do not need to go into every little detail of each step, but you do need to include enough to back up whatever fees you intend to list. Organize the description as best you can at this stage of the project and write it from the client’s perspective.
- Deliverables. This is a precise description of what you will be providing to the client. It might include products or services. You need to include the name of the items or services, a brief description, and how much time for each.
- Cost. If you are concerned about exact fees at this point, choose a price range. Since this is a proposal, some haggling will likely occur.
- Timeline. You need to let your client know how soon you can provide this work. Most of the time this will be a range of time and not an exact date. You do not want to list an exact date only to have your client postpone his response to the proposal and leave you with a short period. You can include a statement such as, “Deliverables to be due two weeks from finalization of the contract.”
- Sign off. Include a way for your client to agree to the terms of the contract. For instance, they might need to sign and fax the contract or respond to the email that is included in the contract.
Once these elements are complete, you can focus on providing a pitch within your proposal. This typically occurs in the description section, but you can add an additional section concerning value. You explain in detail how your products or services will help the client. Mention goals of the client that you have previously discussed and how you will help him reach those goals. Some people call these objectives. They can be included right at the beginning of the proposal, too. Some marketing business owners create a narrative sheet at the beginning of the proposal summarizing a clients goals, the value of the products or services, and why they are the best option for providing the products or services. The marketing business is very competitive, the better you can sell yourself, the more likely you are to land a client.
There are several different types of proposals, so even though you should always include the five essential elements and your description of how you will meet the goals, you might need to use different formats.
There are very short proposals that are only one page in length. These are fee oriented and typically occur after a detailed conversation. Think of them as summarizing a verbal agreement.
Small proposals are slightly longer, but are typically used after a product or service has been verbally agreed upon. Many people refer to proposals that are short and small as technicalities, but they are still a good idea to create before you begin working. It solidifies verbal details so you and your client are on the same page before you invest too much time.
Medium proposals are typically four to ten pages in length. They occur when a client is unfamiliar with your work or if the proposal is being passed along to a third party. For instance, if you are a freelance writer working with a web designer, you would prepare a proposal such as this for the designer to pass along to their client concerning content creation.
Finally is the long proposal. These are the ones that intimidate marketing business owners the most. They can be as many as 20 pages long and are usually reserved for your ideal client. They can take two days to complete, so you really need to feel that the project would be worth it to use this much time to create this type of proposal. They include a quote for work, case studies, possibly a white paper on the industry, information about your team, references, photos, statistics, and several samples of your work. Long proposals are a major undertaking even if you have a template in place and you just need to customize it for specific clients. For instance, I know many marketing business owners who keep photos, samples of work, references, and team information on hand to use in long proposals. This type of proposal is a job in and of itself, but they are well worth it if you are trying to impress someone you consider an ideal client.
There are a lot of things you need to know concerning proposals when you own a marketing business. They can be a lot of fun to create, but they can also be a hassle. They help you bring your work into focus and give you a platform to brag a bit about your experience and talents, but they can also be time consuming and frustrating. With a little practice you will be able to write a great proposal, so take your time and learn as much as you can.