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marketing proposal

Small business basics

Ultimate guide to crafting a stellar marketing proposal in 2021

Everything you need to know about crafting an effective marketing proposal.

6 April 2021 · 8 min read

Marketing proposals can make or break a business. Get them right and you’ve opened the doors to a steady stream of new clients. Get them wrong, however, and you might as well not bother to write one in the first place.

Here’s the thing though, a winning proposal doesn’t just happen. Marketing is a key consideration in strategic business decisions; business leaders and potential clients will often require a comprehensive breakdown of relevant items so they can make informed decisions.

Have you had enough of submitting marketing proposals that don’t yield tangible results? Perhaps you’re looking to bolster your marketing efforts with a stellar proposal. This post is for you. We break down everything you need to know about crafting an effective marketing proposal.

Let’s get to it.

What is a marketing proposal?

A marketing proposal is simply a formal document that marketers, advertising agencies, and PR companies submit to prospective clients and key stakeholders when pitching their marketing services. This document communicates the scope and budget of a marketing project, as well as deliverables over a given period.

The goal here is to tailor the proposal to the potential client’s marketing needs. You’ll need to provide details on the proposed marketing strategy, costs, and implementation plan for the client to approve. The proposal should also be persuasive and clearly outline the benefits of the project to the client’s business.

Who are you writing the marketing proposal for?

This is the first thing you’ll need to establish when putting together a marketing proposal. Your proposal will typically vary based on who you’re writing it for — a marketing proposal for prospective clients will differ from one written for internal company stakeholders.

Having a specific audience in mind allows you to focus your proposal on what they really need. After all, whatever marketing plan you’re proposing must be about addressing your client’s problem.

Let’s take a closer look at each audience category.

Writing marketing proposals for potential clients

The main takeaway here is that your prospective clients are always busy. They are pressed for time all day long and the last thing they want is to get bogged down on some boring documents with no real value proposition.

One of the best ways to grab and maintain their attention is to hone in on the dollars and cents of the project. Clearly describe how your marketing proposal can improve their business in terms of losses slashed and profits gained.

This means your proposed marketing plan must articulate your potential client’s needs and then propose practical solutions that align with their marketing goals or even exceed them. For example, if the prospective client’s problem is a lack of an established online presence, your marketing proposal could contain a robust, yet tailored digital marketing strategy along with the cost benefits of the deliverables.

As much as possible, avoid flowery jargon. It’s a waste of time on your part to write it and it’s a waste of time on the prospect’s part to read it. Stick to facts, figures, and a personalized value proposition.

Writing marketing proposals for internal stakeholders

Like your potential clients, internal stakeholders are pressed for time and you’re not the only department seeking their attention. In order to make your proposal count, it must be succinct, focused, and valuable.

Keep it succinct. Marketing proposals aren’t the most riveting reads. Efficiently deliver the key insights, strategy, and information. Frame the project costs accurately and clearly explain the expected returns on investment.

Break down the scope of work with approval milestones. This allows for a smoother approval workflow so you can avoid foreseeable roadblocks and delayed decisions down the line. Most small businesses may not have such a lengthy approval process, but for larger organizations, expect your marketing proposal to pass through multi-step approvals and committee-led decisions.

End with a description of how the value of your marketing plan far outweighs the cost.

Most important components of a successful marketing proposal

No two marketing proposals should ever be alike. It’s all about solving a particular problem after all. However, winning proposals are often made of the same stuff. Once you understand these essential components, you are one step closer to crafting a marketing proposal that closes the deal.

1. An attention-grabbing intro

Did you know that the introduction of a proposal accounts for almost 35% of the total read time? This is followed by the pricing section which accounts for over 27%. The point is, there’s a lot riding on the effectiveness of your introduction (these include the cover page and executive summary).

The person reading the proposal should be able to understand all they need to know to make a decision — to continue reading or toss it aside.

This means demonstrating a clear understanding of the potential client’s problem and their marketing goals. They should find themselves nodding in agreement to your presentation when you break down their current and possibly, long-term challenges. This leads to trust. If you see that someone clearly knows what they’re talking about, you’re more likely to trust them when they proffer viable solutions.

How to go about it

The best marketing proposal intros are those that are based on your initial call or meeting with the prospect.

Many marketers use special marketing proposal templates to speed up the process, especially when they’re sending out multiple proposals to different prospects. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a proposal template, it’s important to customize each proposal based on your perception of the potential client.

What are the pain points they talked about? What other challenges are they facing? How badly do they need a solution? Use this knowledge to optimize your proposal introduction.

2. Use a template to streamline the process

If you’re sending out marketing proposals, chances are you’re sending to more than one prospective client. And it simply makes no sense to write each one manually. The idea is to work smarter, not harder, after all.

Thankfully, you don’t even have to pay. You can easily get a free marketing proposal template from many apps, including Better Proposals, PandaDoc, and Lucidpress. The next step is knowing what sections of the template require editing. For those areas, you could simply swap the most important details and avoid building the proposal from scratch.

How to go about it

What you want to achieve here is a simple, highly customizable proposal structure. Your marketing proposal template is like the skeletal framework. It is on you to flesh each one out for every new business you’re trying to reel in.

As much as possible, customize the content of each proposal to capture the potential client’s needs.

Of course, some content are repeatable, such as the About Us section, branding information, contact details, and Calls to Action (CTAs). You could retain the overall design and layout as well. This way, you can spend the bulk of your time customizing the proposal and practicing your pitch.

3. Break it down to specific details

They’ve read through the introduction and have decided that your proposal is worth reading. Now it’s to get as specific as possible on what you’re proposing. Again, you’ll want to tap into your findings from the kick-off/discovery call to provide detailed insight into your offerings.

For instance, let’s say you’re creating a content marketing proposal. You already know that the scope of work for a typical content marketing project is as broad as they come. Everything from SEO (Search Engine Optimization), email marketing, social media marketing, graphic designs, video marketing, and even PPC (pay-per-click) ads are all tied into content marketing.

You’ll want to break each of these categories down and outline their benefits to the client’s business. For example, under SEO, you could detail your approach to keyword research along with the expected conversion rate of each marketing campaign.

How to go about it

Your primary goal here is to make your proposal granular and transparent. Be upfront about your marketing services and other relevant details about the project (workflow, metrics, payment terms, deliverables, etc). If for some reason a dispute occurs down the line, you could always use the proposal as a reference.

You also want to keep the industry jargon to a minimum. Maintain a simple language from start to finish. The last thing you want during the presentation is the potential client having to stop you every now and then to ask for an explanation of a term or acronym.

Erase all forms of ambiguity — Dive into the problem statement, then write down exactly what you’re going to do and how it benefits the prospective client.

4. Include a practical timeline

This shows that you know what you’re doing. You’ve done this before and you have delivered tangible results over a given period. In addition to establishing credibility, adding a timeline helps manage your client’s expectations.

Digital marketing is an extremely wide field and some areas, such as SEO and email marketing may take anything from a few weeks to a few months until you can start seeing results. If the client wasn’t aware of this from the get-go, they might raise a dispute.

How to go about it

When putting together a timeline, you’ll want to be practical with your output. Don’t go promising what you cannot deliver and then resort to making excuses. Study the industry and learn about any events that may impact your timeline. If it’s going to be a long project, consider your resources and be sure you can keep delivering all the way.

If you’re submitting your marketing proposal for a particular event, make sure you complete it well ahead so there is time to make any changes as needed.

5. Showcase your proof

For most potential clients, marketing is not an area that they particularly excel at (which is why you’re sending them the proposal in the first place. The fastest way to get them to understand what you’re offering to do for them is to showcase your results. This builds trust, which as a marketer, you know is the most important aspect of the sales process.

How to go about it

Include relevant case studies and measurable metrics that you’ve accomplished. For instance, you could include results from previous social media campaigns — audience reach, cost per lead, traffic generated, conversion rates achieved. This paints a more convincing picture of your abilities and the credibility of your marketing proposal.

Avoid the temptation to just throw in the link to a portfolio or testimonials page on your business website. Instead, show proof of work that actually relates to the proposal and relevant to the client’s needs.

6. Be upfront and transparent with your pricing

Nothing turns a deal sour faster than issues with financing. Many potential clients will jump straight to the pricing page of your proposal after going through the introduction. Be clear about every line item and break down their corresponding costs. Clearly state the payment terms too and whether this will be a one-time project or something of a retainer agreement.

If you’re a startup marketing agency, make sure to price your services appropriately. Of course, you don’t want to price yourself out of the market, but you don’t want to settle for peanuts either. You might need to do some industry research to decide on the appropriate pricing.

How to go about it

First, make sure to give that section a proper name. “Pricing” and “Costs breakdown” are both great choices, but you can use something more descriptive and compelling, such as “investment” or “return on investment”. These allow the potential client to see your services as an investment, instead of another expense.

You’ll also want to offer simplified payment options. Some proposal templates even offer responsive pricing sections that allow the reader to do an ala carte selection of what marketing services they want.

Lastly, try not to include upsells. These are great for eCommerce checkout pages; but for a proposal, they could end up causing confusion as they give the client way too many options.

Wrapping up your proposal

At the end of your marketing proposal, outline the next steps that you want the prospect to take. Never leave them wondering what to do next. Leave spaces for them to append their signature and provide a brief description of what comes next once the proposal has been approved.

Another possible inclusion is a guarantee statement — only if you’re absolutely sure about delivering quality results. A guarantee can go a long way in convincing the prospect that doing business with you is in their best interest and therefore makes them more likely to sign the proposal.

Ready to craft your next winning marketing proposal?

Small businesses and large corporations alike deal with marketing proposals all the time. It’s on you to make sure your proposal stands out for all the right reasons. Start by making sure all these essential components are included in your marketing proposal and then drill down on the customization of the details to address your potential client’s needs.

Lend credence to your proposal with a stunning website

If you’re going to offer marketing services, then your website must be top-notch. After all, web design is central to digital marketing. If people are underwhelmed by your website, what’s to make them want to accept your marketing services?

B12 can help provide a stunning, responsive website for your marketing agency. We utilize the best of artificial intelligence to design professional websites while our team of expert web designers takes care of the customization. The result is a business website that perfectly reflects your vision.

We also offer a number of useful features, such as copywriting, blogging, SEO, scheduling tools, and a dedicated support system. Sign up with B12 today and we’ll provide you with a FREE website draft within the next five minutes.

You can also visit our resource center for more handy guides on running your business and maintaining profitability.

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