8 Tricks to Writing a Marketing Proposal that Wins Business

Writing business proposals is hard. However, it’s one of the necessary steps you must take if you want to win new business in 2020. As a marketing professional, you don’t even have to offer it – most clients will request a proposal before saying yes to your offer.

As marketers, we try to simplify and automate every action we take, and the good news is, you can do the same with marketing proposals. Here are some of the most useful tips for writing marketing proposals, based on the research gathered from hundreds of thousands of proposals sent through our platform.

If you’re ready to take your marketing proposals to the next level, let’s get started.

Don’t write your marketing proposals in Word

Let’s start out with the basics. If you’ve been using Word or a similar document processing tool to create your marketing proposals, it’s time to stop now. Sure, they’re easy to use and you’ve been familiar with them for decades, but they are not ideal for sales documents such as proposals.

The reason is not that easy to guess. If you send proposals as Word or PDF files, you risk one thing from happening: the client may print the proposal. As we’ve found out, printing is the biggest conversion killer there is. If your proposal gets printed, it is 78% LESS likely to get signed.

Moreover, PDF and Word proposals lack some of the best features which are now available in modern proposal software. For example, you can’t track when your document was opened, how much the client read of it and when they signed it, and much more.

Finally, there is one more major disadvantage – Word and PDF files are not mobile optimized. The customer has to pinch and zoom in and out to view the proposal. As minor as this may seem, this will influence their final decision whether to sign or not.

Mind the length

Bigger should be better, in theory. Just like any type of written content, proposals have the optimal length where people are interested enough to buy and it’s not too long where they will bounce because you’ve bored them to death.

We’ve discovered that this optimal length is 6 pages of text or a total of 8 sections. Anything shorter and you’re risking a bounce because there is not enough information to get them hooked. Anything shorter than that and they will bounce because you’ve bored them to tears.

Here are the 8 sections that we include in all of our proposal templates, including the marketing proposal one:

  • Introduction
  • Detailed specification
  • Timescales
  • Guarantee
  • Proof
  • Pricing
  • Terms and conditions
  • The next steps

Should you have all of these specific elements in your marketing proposal? Probably not. However, the more you have from the list, the higher the chances of getting your clients’ signatures.

Use a template

Let’s be real – most marketing proposals have similar elements. After all, if you pitch SEO services all the time, why wouldn’t you use the same elements and just send them every time, instead of writing for scratch? The way to accomplish this is by using proposal templates.

Most proposal software nowadays comes with templates. Put simply, these are proposals that are 80-90% done and missing just a few key elements. You grab the proposal, fill out the specific details and whip up a marketing proposal within 15 minutes instead of spending hours. Most proposal tools nowadays come with a ready-made proposal template, but you can create your own pretty easily too.

Be careful with your pricing section

There are two major sections in each marketing proposal: the introduction and the pricing. Most people read only these two, so it’s best to make them count. The pricing section, in particular, is one where most decisions are made.

There is one thing that stood out in all of the proposals that we analyzed is that the pricing section should be called anything but “pricing”. It turns out customers aren’t too fond of paying prices, they’re more fond of investing – and that’s exactly what I suggest.

Call your pricing section “investment”, “return on investment” or “ROI”. You want your clients to think of your product or service as an investment where they get value in return, rather than a cost that brings nothing to their business.

It’s a pretty small detail in the grand scheme of things, but it does help with conversions. So much so that all of our 100+ proposal templates have this section named “Your investment”. 

Have a single offer

One of the best marketing tips that I’ve picked up is to always try to upsell and cross-sell. If a customer is already warmed up and ready to buy, it makes perfect sense to get them to try to spend more. In traditional marketing, this makes a lot of sense.

It turns out that business proposals follow a different kind of logic. We recently did some research based on more than 190,000 signed proposals and it turns out that those with just one offer fare quite a lot better than those with multiple offers. Let me explain.

If you have a single offer, you will sell for 20.6% higher fees with upfront costs and 33% higher fees with monthly retainer costs – this is data from our own research. Some of the logic could be that proposals are sales documents where the customer only needs to say yes or no. The more offers you give them, the less likely you are to get their signature and ultimately business. Of course, if you do send a single offer, make sure that it’s a good one.

Offer a guarantee

Here’s an unpopular suggestion. Most marketers don’t like offering guarantees, especially not if it’s something that they have no control over, such as page ranking for SEO or conversion rate from cold traffic. However, having a guarantee in your marketing proposal is one of the easiest ways to increase your conversion rate.

If you’re not feeling particularly creative, you can offer a money-back guarantee. But if you want to spice things up, you can offer something else to sweeten the deal. For example, one free landing page if you miss your deadline or if you don’t meet the requirements you set yourself. One of our clients has a service where she builds a website in a day and if she can’t make that promise, your website will be done for free.

If done right, guarantees can be a powerful way to nudge your customers into converting. However, be careful what you promise and make sure to stand behind your words.

Send out the proposal quickly

Okay, technically, this isn’t a tip about writing, but it is one that is very important before you get to writing. Say that you’ve had a call or a meeting with your client and they’re waiting for your marketing proposal.

Like a guy after the first date, you’re postponing with sending the proposal because you don’t want to seem desperate. After all, what kind of business do you run if you have the time to send a proposal immediately after the call?

Yep, not a good way to think about things. When we’ve done our research, it turned out that the sooner you send the proposal, the more likely you are to get it back signed. If you want specific data: if you send your business proposals within 24 hours instead of 3-4 days, you increase your chances of winning the job by 14%.

Include live chat

Those of you who tried out live chat on your website (or your clients’ websites) know how useful of a tool it can be for driving conversions and sales. Since proposal software is getting more advanced and you can now have live chat in your marketing proposals.

The idea is simple – as the client is going through your marketing proposal, they have a chatbox where they can write to you and you’re there to immediately answer their questions. You will know when they open and read your proposal because you will get a notification immediately. That way, you can answer their questions in this crucial time and ensure that they are one step closer to signing.

As for the numbers – having live chat in your proposals means that you’re 13.2% more likely to get their signature and win their business.

Conclusion

Writing, managing and sending marketing proposals may seem like no big deal to an experienced marketer. However, there are some small, distinct rules that you need to follow if you want to make sure that your business proposals are just as successful as your marketing campaigns.

Remember, a marketing proposal is a sales document and the more you personalize and tweak your offer, the more likely you are to get conversions and sales. I hope that these tips will help you with writing your next marketing proposal.


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