You probably know by now that one of the keys to a successful business proposal is having a great marketing proposal. Once you figure out what every proposal needs to have, you can create a template, set it and forget it and just edit a few details every time you need a new proposal.
Based on our analysis of hundreds of thousands of signed proposals, this is what your ideal marketing proposal absolutely needs to have.
Ask questions in the discovery phase
The best way to know what your clients are looking for is to simply ask them. In the discovery phase, make sure to ask as many questions as possible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a meeting with a client, a simple phone call will do. Your aim with the meeting is to understand what the client is trying to achieve and find out ways to help them.
This is the stage where you want to find out what the client really wants vs. what they’re communicating they want. For example, a client may come up asking you to get them more customers. Keep asking more questions and you may end up realizing that instead of a full marketing strategy, they just need to get more customers from SEO and that their website needs to be optimized so it can actually be found in Google.
Make sure to keep asking questions until you find out what really solves your potential client’s pain point. Oftentimes, it’s completely different from what they think they need. Write down the exact words that they use because you will be repeating them back to the client in the proposal.
Write a great introduction
Armed with the knowledge from the discovery sessions, it’s time to kick off your proposal with an amazing introduction. Our research has shown that this is the second most read part of every proposal, after the pricing. As such, it deserves your utmost attention.
The key to getting the client hooked with the introduction is writing about how you will solve their (actual) pain point. As mentioned, use the client’s exact words and talk back to them. For example:
“We will get you more customers by optimizing your website and making sure that you get 30% more traffic from search engine results.”
You’re just repeating the exact words that the client said and mentioning how you’re going to solve their problem. Don’t get into too much detail, that’s what the next section is for.
Cover the details
Your potential client will have questions, probably quite a few of them. The less they know about marketing, the more questions you’re going to get. This is the section where you answer all the questions that they may have, in simple language so that they can understand everything without googling a single term. Keep it simple stupid.
This section is called “detailed specification” in most of our templates because that’s what it is. Tell the client exactly what you’re going to do, who’s going to take care of the work, what kind of results they can expect and every detail that you find relevant.
Think of this section as a safety net for the future. You’re only going to deliver what you promise here, and this section is where both you and the client will go in case things go wrong.
Have a case study prepared
There is nothing better to convince the client that you can do your part of the job than seeing that you’ve already done it before. Case studies are one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, and while you can’t (and shouldn’t) include a full case study with each proposal, you can create it as a separate section.
Ideally, you want a case study that shows what you’ve done for a similar client in a similar situation. Some people have a distrust for marketers because after all, their job is to market themselves. This is why you need a convincing case study to prove to your client that you can actually get things done.
This can be a testimonial, a full-blown case study, a review, a short video, a portfolio of your previous work – whatever shows off your work in the best way.
Time is money. Besides the work being done and how much it’s going to cost, clients will want to know when the work will be done. Make sure to include this as a separate section and break down when you’ll be able to do each part of the work. If the client has an upcoming event such as a launch or anniversary, factor this in the timescales.
You probably want to avoid a case of the client asking “are we there yet” every other day, so this section needs to be done well. While you can’t guarantee when the results of your campaigns will kick in, you can guarantee when your work will be done. Be generous with your estimates – if you finish sooner, it will make you look good and the client will be all the happier.
This is the second most important element of each proposal. Naturally, the client wants to know how much your services are going to cost them and whether they can afford it at a given point in time.
You may be tempted to offer several different pricing tiers or upsells, but our research shows that this is actually not that great of an idea. In fact, the best thing that you can do is have a single offer and a single price. It will give the client a simple choice of yes or no and it will increase the chances of your marketing proposal getting signed.
The next steps
Imagine buying a table from Ikea without any instructions on how to put it together. That’s what most hand-written proposals look like. You need to include a section that tells the client what they need to do immediately after signing and what happens next.
For example, it can be something along the lines of:
- You sign the proposal
- You pay the invoice for the first half of the agreed sum
- We schedule a kick-off meeting to get started
- We start working on your project
Literally spell out exactly what the client needs to do if they want you to start with the work.
Terms and conditions
You may think that you don’t need this section and the truth is, clients will most likely skim over it. However, you absolutely need it in your proposal. This is the spot to include all legal details and ensure that if things go wrong, both parties are covered.
The great thing is that there are lots of terms and conditions generators online where you can grab the basic content to keep everyone covered in case things go wrong. Of course, modern proposal software comes with this section included in all proposal templates.
None of these sections are absolutely necessary. However, if you leave out any of them, you considerably hurt your chances of the client reading and signing your proposal.
Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She’s a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.