How to write better proposals
Sending a compelling proposal helps your agency win business. Actually writing one is another story. What do you write in your proposal? How do you structure it? How can you save time writing it?
Adam Hempenstall, founder of Better Proposals shares his experiences growing his agency and learning key best practices when creating communicating with clients, creating proposal documentation and winning business.
- He once played at the AMX stadium in Brighton for Charity.
- An entreprenur from an early age, he launched his first business selling home recorded wrestling tapes at 13!
Adam’s brutally honest agency journey:
- started off by making sites for bands
- kept edging up the prices and skillset
- claims they made it up as they went along and learned from what worked and what didn’t
- wrote a book called automate your business
- created an in-house application for creating proposals
- clients ended up wanting their hands on the application
- the rest is history, and they are now creating an exciting future!
In short, as their agency grew they recognised they needed to streamle the proposal creation process. They had a problem, they created a solution. Clients who experienced their proposals liked them so much, that Adam and his team took what they had created internally and decided to productise it.
Speeding up and improving proposal creation
Mind over matter
Know in your own mind that it won’t take long, otherwise you will be more tempted to procrastinate. We can create imaginary barriers in our mind when we over think something we know we have to do. Over time it builds up, and we are less inclined to do the task until the last minute.
Arrange a physical meeting
If you go and physically meet your client, don’t meet them at their office. Get them to meet you somewhere cool like a posh hotel lobby, or a trendy coffee shop. It helps make them feel good about themselves, it takes them and you outside of the normal work day environment and gets the creative juices flowing.
Write the proposal straight after the meeting
Do the proposal there and then after your physical meeting or call as it is fresh in your mind. You’ll still remember most of the detail and it will be significantly quicker to write down all your notes. Inthe podcast Lee shares his own experience of doing a 1 hour call and spending just minutes writing a reverse brief because everything was fresh. Nothing got missed out, the client was SUPER impressed that they had been understood and this lead to a very productive relationship.
During the meeting write down phrases they use
When they are talking write down their exact words/phrases. We don’t mean everything, but one liners that stand out. Either phrases they use regularly, or one liners they say that help illustrate a problem, a need, a point, a feature or benefit. Add from these notes what you can to the proposal. It’s the little things that help create the chemistry. Talk to them in their language.
Illustrate that you have done this before
Actions speak louder than words. If you can pull from existing case studies and testimonials from similar projects or clients, this helps build your credibility and answers one of the unspoken questions…. “can this agency actually do what they say they can?”
If you are quick they are quick
If you create your propsal straight after the meeting and send it as soon as possible, not only is it fresh in your mind, but it is fresh in their’s. Coupled with the phrases they said that you repeat back to them, it is really going to help them resonate with the proposal. They will see you are an action taker, that you speak their language and that you understand their business and their needs. If you wait for days, everyone looses the excitement, and forgets much of the conversation. Late proposals can affect your credibility. Send it quickly whilst it’s fresh.
Making a proposal more consumable
Keep away from technical jargon
We know so many phrases in our industry, and we talk tech all the time. Clients however may understand the terms “responsive design”, or understand what WordPress is or it’s relevance to the project. Be sure to use language that they can resonate with and understand.
“Which means that”
When you do nead to use technical jargon or names of products/tools, be sure to add “which means that” to explain what the impact on the project will be, or the function of that particular item.
Send it in a unique format
Proposals can look really boring and overwhelming to read. Break the content up, don’t overload it. Add imagery and even brand colours of your client to make it feel personalised.
Make it all about them
You’ve been approached with a problem, and although ensuring they know about you is important, the biggest credibility boost is demonstrating you know about them, and that you understand their problem as well as the solutions you are presenting.
Get experimenting with your proposals. Be sure to check out Better Proposals especially their blog which is FULL of amazing advice.
If you want help and support from peers, then it is always good to share and you can find us all in the facebook group by clicking here.
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Adam’s “Automate your business” book: click here
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