Crafting a compelling client proposal can often feel like walking a tightrope, especially for marketing agencies. There's a delicate balance between showcasing your expertise and delivering a message that resonates with non-experts.
You want to say so much amazing stuff about your agency, what it does, and the people behind the processes. Then there’s the technical knowledge swimming around in your head, everything you need to know to get the job done. But not everything can–or should–be included in a client proposal.
Instead, a client proposal should focus on–you guessed it–the client.
I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to know all you can about your client, their competition, and their target market. All of these will help greatly in your success.
Consider this example: if you're proposing a digital marketing campaign for a local restaurant, their priority isn't the intricacies of your SEO strategy, core vitals, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), or other things that an SEO expert lives and breathes.
They care about how many new customers you will bring through their doors.
A well-constructed and effective business proposal is a key that unlocks high-value contracts, yet, the process can be time-consuming and often daunting.
Delivering knowledge and value in the discovery phase shows customers a snapshot of what it is like to work with us and helps them see the potential that exists. This can really set the tone for the whole project and makes the customer comfortable to invest properly.
Marketing agencies create various business proposals based on their clients' specific needs and the services they offer. This can run the gamut based on the agency, the industry or niche they serve, and the location. However, these are some of the most popular business proposals generated by a marketing agency like yours, in no particular order:
1. Full-Service Marketing Campaign Proposal
These proposals outline a complete marketing campaign for a client, which can include a combination of digital marketing, traditional marketing, public relations, social media, and more. It often consists of a proposed budget, timeline, tracking metrics, and performance strategy.
A full-service digital marketing proposal allows an agency to bring all of its expertise to bear. It provides a comprehensive solution that creates a unified and powerful strategy for enhancing a client's online presence and performance.
This type of proposal is focused on creating and distributing content, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, ebooks, and more. It often includes a content calendar, an SEO strategy, proposed topics and formats, and a content promotion plan.
A well-crafted content marketing proposal is a strategic roadmap to increasing a client's website traffic or social media presence, outlining targeted content creation and promotion strategies designed to attract, engage, and retain a larger online audience.
4. Social Media Proposal
These business proposals cover strategies for engaging with audiences on various social media platforms. They often include an analysis of the current social media presence, recommended platforms to use, content strategy, engagement strategy, a schedule for posts, and a budget for paid social ads.
A compelling social media marketing proposal lays the groundwork for substantial revenue growth for your clients, outlining a targeted strategy to increase brand visibility, engage with potential customers, and drive more traffic to their sales channels.
This proposal outlines the process of designing (or redesigning) a client's website. It usually includes research on the client's industry and competitors, a proposal for the site's architecture and user experience, suggested aesthetics that align with the brand, and sometimes also includes development and ongoing maintenance plans.
Often, it provides a timeline for the project and a breakdown of project costs for each stage of the process. Some web design proposals might contain recommendations for a responsive design for mobile and tablet devices, SEO-friendly design practices, and integration with social media or other digital platforms.
A detailed web design proposal or eCommerce proposal serves as a blueprint for a client's revenue generation by outlining how a revamped, user-friendly website or an optimized online store attracts more visitors, enhances customer experience, and–ultimately–increases sales.
6. PPC Management Proposal
This proposal addresses strategies for managing pay-per-click advertising campaigns, which include Google Ads, Bing Ads, social media ads, and more. It often contains an audit of any existing PPC campaigns, keyword research, proposed ad copy and creative, a bidding and budget management strategy, and a plan for testing and optimizing the campaign over time.
A PPC management proposal should also outline the agency’s experience with other PPC clients, expected costs, projected return on investment, and the metrics the agency will use to evaluate the campaign's success.
The Differences Between Solicited and Unsolicited Business Proposals
When creating client proposals, it's important to distinguish between solicited and unsolicited proposals, as they have unique characteristics and purposes.
A request from a potential client initiates solicited proposals. These clients are expecting the proposal, having expressed an interest in the services offered.
The content of these business proposals tends to be more specific, addressing the particular needs or problems the client has outlined. As a result, solicited proposals generally have a higher success rate since they respond directly to a client's expressed need or interest.
On the other hand, unsolicited business proposals are initiated by the service provider without a specific request from the client. This means the potential client is likely not expecting the proposal and might not have identified a specific need.
The content of unsolicited client proposals is typically broader in scope, aiming to convince the client of a need or opportunity they might not have recognized. However, the success rate for these business proposals can be lower, as the proposal might not align with the client's current needs or priorities.
Requested by the potential client
Initiated by the service provider without a specific request from the client
The client expects the proposal and has expressed interest
The client may not be expecting the proposal and might not have identified a specific need
Typically more specific, addressing particular needs or problems the client has outlined
Generally broader in scope, aiming to convince the client of a need or opportunity they might not have recognized
Generally higher, since the client has indicated a need or interest
Can be lower, as the proposal might not align with the client's current needs or priorities
By understanding these differences, you tailor your proposal approach to better meet the client's needs and increase the effectiveness of your client proposals.
Why You Should Start with a Client Proposal Template
There's no need (or time in your busy day) to recreate the wheel whenever you need to create a new proposal. Starting with a proposal template, such as our free SEO proposal template, offers numerous advantages to busy marketing agencies.
Here are some key benefits of enhancing your proposal development process by using free templates, like the ones included in the AgencyAnalytics platform:
Time Efficiency: A proposal template saves valuable time by providing a ready-made structure and framework. Instead of starting from scratch each time, focus that time on customizing the content to suit your specific client and project requirements. Templates also streamline the formatting and organization of information, ensuring a cohesive and professional-looking proposal.
Consistency and Branding: Utilizing a proposal template maintains consistency across client proposals, reinforcing your agency's brand identity. You present a unified and polished image to potential clients by incorporating your logo, colors, and typography. Consistency not only enhances brand recognition but also instills trust and professionalism.
Clarity and Structure: Client proposal templates offer a clear and logical structure that guides you, and your team, through the client proposal creation process. They provide predefined sections for critical elements such as executive summaries, problem statements, proposed solution, timelines, and next steps. This structure helps you organize your thoughts and ensures that important information is included, making it easier for non-experts to follow and understand your proposal.
Value Demonstration: A well-crafted proposal template effectively communicates the value of your agency’s services to non-experts. Use it to showcase your expertise, highlight past successes, and outline the specific benefits of your solutions. By presenting a comprehensive yet concise proposal, you quickly articulate the value you bring and demonstrate your understanding of the client's needs.
Professional Presentation: Templates provide a professional foundation for client proposals, ensuring a visually appealing and polished presentation. They offer standardized formatting, font styles, and headings, making your proposal aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. A professional-looking proposal creates a positive first impression and reflects your agency's professionalism and attention to detail.
In short, proposal templates:
Streamline your proposal creation process
Communicate your agency's value effectively, and
Create reader-friendly business proposals that resonate with every prospective client.
Key Elements of a Client Proposal Template
Although templates will vary based on agency, client, and other differentiating factors, some common elements should be considered no matter what kind of client proposal template you are creating.
1. Introduction and Executive Summary
The summary or introduction to a client proposal serve as a strategic roadmap, providing a succinct overview of your agency's offering and the potential benefits for the client while also setting the stage for detailed information and solutions to follow. It is meant to spark interest and establish a solid foundation for the rest of the proposal.
Crafting an engaging introduction for your client proposal entails personalization to resonate with the client's unique needs, highlighting your agency's expertise to establish credibility, and addressing specific client pain points identified during your research phase, which demonstrates your thorough understanding of their business challenges and positions your proposal as a targeted solution.
2. Identify the Problem or Pain Points
Identifying the problem or pain points in a client proposal is crucial as it demonstrates your deep understanding of the client's challenges, helps establish a context for your proposed solutions, and highlights the value your agency can bring by directly addressing these issues and driving tangible business outcomes.
There’s typically only one reason a business leader reads a client proposal—they’re not making as much money as they’d like. Your priority is to figure out why this is, or more likely, one or more of the many reasons behind this shortfall.
Your proposal should be framed in terms of a concrete goal or problem statement that frames up the reasons behind revenue shortfalls.
If you work in a technical business, chances are your proposals will tend to be a little bit boring to non-specialists. This isn’t your fault. Generally, no one is as interested in a field as the people who actually work in it. This is only natural.
Focusing on business goals right from the beginning helps to hook your reader. If you communicate how you will solve their problems, they’ll continue reading.
For example, leveraging the findings of an SEO site audit, use the problem or pain point of a low audit score in this section of your proposal to highlight specific areas that need improvement. The client doesn’t need to understand all of the ins and outs of core vitals to see that 57% is not a great score.
Listen to the prospect's needs, wants, and goals. Identify their problem. Listen, listen, listen, and THEN show them your solution.
By illustrating how these issues are impacting the client's online visibility and traffic, you reinforce your agency's expertise in SEO and how you will help the client reach their business goals.
But if their audit score comes in at 99%, are they a good prospect for your SEO agency?
Our mission, as agency owners, is to first determine if what we're offering really lines up with the prospect's goals. If we're actually the right next step for them, great. And if not, we should be the ones killing the sale...not them.
Once you’ve established the problem you’d like to solve in the Introduction section of your proposal, it’s time to fill in the details on how you’ll go about this. This is called a project specification. In some ways, this is the most challenging part of your proposal, especially in niches where there might be more than one potential solution.
Depending on the type of client proposal you are creating, this can be attached to each of the individual pain points–such as providing an overview of your team’s ability to address technical SEO errors right below the SEO audit findings, or your team’s link-building expertise along with a current overview of the client’s inbound link profile.
Make sure the presentation has a clear focus and contains only the most important information. It should have a well-structured narrative that flows logically from one point to the next and strikes an emotional chord with the client. The visuals should be engaging and easy to understand, while any data should be used to back up key points.
Your task here is to convince the reader that your proposed solution is the right one.
In the example above, the solutions section connects the dots between what the agency provides and how it helps drive results for the client, in this case, increased keyword rankings.
Alternatively, use the summary section and next steps to take a combined approach to how your agency will tackle all of its current problems by tapping into your agency’s expertise.
The balancing act here is to give a detailed overview of what you’ll do, without burying the reader in details.
4. Case Studies or Client Testimonials
As you craft your client proposal, remember that it serves not just as a roadmap of your suggested strategy, but also as a testament to your agency's skills, knowledge, and track record.
Clients are so inundated with calls and emails from our industry it's hard for our clients to know who they can trust. We are working hard on building authority through video testimonials, case studies, content, and guest appearances on podcasts.
Your agency's expertise should permeate every section of the proposal, from the executive summary, where you succinctly communicate your understanding of the client's needs and how your services align with those needs, to the detailed solutions, where you highlight their problems and your agency’s strategies and tactics to solve them.
Here, you have the opportunity to showcase your agency's specialized skills and establish authority, whether it's SEO, PPC, social media management, or another area of digital marketing.
Our clear understanding of the industry we work in is one of our greatest strengths, allowing us to consistently outperform the competition and achieve success in everything we do.
Past successes should also be woven in through compelling case studies, achievements, agency awards, and client testimonials. These narratives of triumph act as concrete evidence of what your agency can achieve.
If you’re an SEO agency, I HIGHLY recommend AgencyAnalytics. It contains the best reporting tool out there... by a mile.
Incorporating case studies or testimonials in a client proposal underscores the credibility of your agency and its methods, providing concrete evidence of past successes and the value you brought to similar clients. This helps to instill trust and confidence in your prospective client about your ability to deliver the desired results.
When selecting case studies or testimonials to include in your client proposal, choose the ones that are most relevant to the client's industry or problem at hand, showcasing your agency's specific successes and results in similar scenarios.
For example, a testimonial about what an amazing job your agency did at running an email marketing campaign for a client won’t mean as much inside an SEO client proposal.
Find the ones that resonate deeply with the client to reinforce their confidence in your agency's ability to handle their particular needs and challenges.
5. Next Steps & Call to Action
The Next Steps and Call to Action (CTA) sections of a client proposal aren't just the closing remarks–they're your agency's powerful one-two punch, designed to create a clear path forward.
Another easy way to project value without getting into technical details is to offer detailed timescales. This is often overlooked, but it offers a number of benefits.
When we lay out the tasks that we'll be completing, the timeline, contingent elements, and the details we'll depend on the client to provide, they leave with the assurance that we have a plan.
Timescales educate your leads about what you’ll need from them and when, including a detailed project timeline or project phases. In turn, this creates credibility and offers them project details that they actually care about.
By clearly outlining what comes next and offering a persuasive CTA, you're not just suggesting the next move; you're choreographing the dance of conversion, turning prospects into clients and proposals into exciting projects.
We touched on this earlier, but the ability to craft an effective business proposal that resonates with a prospective client, regardless of their expertise, is an invaluable skill. Remember that the entire proposal serves as a platform to communicate your agency’s unique value proposition in a clear and compelling manner.
From the executive summary to the detailed services, every component should be thoughtfully curated to guide the reader through your proposed strategy and its benefits. Weave in client success stories throughout the document, as these serve as practical examples of how your agency will achieve their business goals, should they choose you as their marketing agency.
The following are a few best practices to help you communicate your expertise, highlight their potential for future success, and make a strong case for why they should choose your agency over others.
Use FOMO in Your Business Proposals
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is one of the most powerful sales tools at your disposal. This comes down to showing off how you’ve provided value to other people, just like your reader. This is vital, as non-experts are often skeptical of your proposed solution. And rightly so.
The biggest challenge is differentiating from more affordable but poor-quality services being offered by so many freelancers or small firms who don't have a very high skillset. It is very hard for clients to be able to tell who is legitimate until they've experienced that difference. So ‘trust me, we're different’ doesn't really work. They've heard it before.
To address this, we just share our successes as much as we can---not only in terms of growth and expansion, which is a good indication of quality, but also in telling the stories of client retention. We proudly tell everyone about how long our clients stay with us.
Lane Anderson, Founder & CEO, London Road Marketing
Competitive analysis is also an essential ingredient in a client proposal. The more a potential client understands what their competitors are doing–that they’re not doing–the better.
Research the customer's needs, requirements, and expectations. Show them the competition and what they are up against.
When you do this, it’s still best to focus on outcomes rather than processes. For instance, if you run an SEO agency, focus on increased traffic numbers from your analytics, and only include your strategy's essentials.
Include a Clear Pricing Structure (Maybe)
When drafting a client proposal, one crucial aspect to consider is whether (or not) to include a clear pricing structure. This can be a strategic decision based on several factors, including the nature of your services, the client's expectations, and your agency's policy.
Including a clear pricing structure can provide transparency and clarity, which many clients appreciate. It gives them a straightforward understanding of the cost of your services, which can be crucial in their decision-making process. It also demonstrates your agency's confidence in its value proposition, reinforcing the perceived worth of your services.
However, there can also be a strategic advantage to leaving pricing discussions for a later stage. This approach allows room for negotiation and discussion, which can lead to a more tailored understanding of the client's budget and needs. It also provides an opportunity to further elaborate on the value your agency offers before discussing cost, which can be beneficial in situations where your services' value might be challenging to quantify.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, understanding the pros and cons can help you make an informed decision. Here are some points to consider:
Gives clients a clear understanding of the cost upfront, which can help in their decision-making process
May deter potential clients if they perceive the cost as high without understanding the full value of the service
Allows room for negotiation and discussion, which can lead to a better understanding of the client's budget and needs
May cause uncertainty or confusion for clients who prefer clear pricing structures upfront
How do you convince the company you are pitching that you are the right company for the job?
The easiest way is to focus on ROI. This means leading with the value your service will provide and then presenting the investment required.
We focus on values and ROI projections, so the client can see before hand how we can benefit their business.
This takes advantage of a piece of psychology called an anchoring bias. Basically, this means that we naturally pay more attention to the information that we hear first.
In other words, position your marketing agency's fees as an “investment” rather than a “budget” or “cost.” Investment evokes the thought that money will be positively returned and be beneficial for your client’s business.
This also highlights the long-term value and return on investment that the client will see down the road. This also promotes the perception of strategic partnership rather than mere transactional exchange.
If your reader sees a large number representing the money they’ll gain, followed by a smaller number representing what they’ll have to pay, they’re hard-wired to think this is a great deal. Humans are amazing, right?
It’s also a good practice here to offer some kind of guarantee. That is, if you don’t meet a certain project threshold, then your client doesn’t pay. Of course, this takes a certain amount of confidence on your part. However, it also communicates massive extra soft value to your prospects.
Propose Evaluation Metrics & Reporting Processes
When presenting a client proposal, outlining clear evaluation metrics and reporting processes is a critical element that should not be overlooked. These components give potential clients insight into how your agency measures success and maintains transparency throughout the project.
One element of our sales pitch deck includes a preview of the AgencyAnalytics dashboard. Based on the data we can obtain for the client, we showcase an example of their site audit, google tools, and top 10 ranking keywords uploaded into the rank tracker, and we include a link to access the report.
Ryan Stack, Co-Founder, The Stack Group
Evaluation metrics are the defined parameters that you will use to assess the effectiveness of your proposed services. These might include things like website traffic, conversion rates, social media engagement, or any other metric relevant to the client's goals.
By detailing these metrics in your proposal, you are setting clear expectations of what success looks like and providing a tangible way to measure the value your agency provides.
Previewing your agency’s reporting processes lays out how and when you will update the client on the project's progress.
Business owners want a way to measure their progress with our services–showing them upfront that we have a professional mechanism of tracking metrics and that they can log into 24/7/365 puts their minds at ease, and then they can focus on the benefits we can provide their company.
A well-defined reporting process reassures clients that they will be kept in the loop, reinforcing your agency's commitment to transparency and collaboration. This might include things like monthly reports, regular check-in calls, or access to a live reporting dashboard where they can see real-time updates.
Make Project Sign-Off Easier
This is another way to project soft value. Gone are the days of sending off a paper proposal and then scheduling an appointment to go and sign off on a project in person. Instead, you need to start assuming everyone is at home working in their pajamas.
Even if your prospects are in their office, it still helps to make the client onboarding process as smooth and painless as possible. Using proposal management software, you achieve this by providing electronic signatures or even integrating directly with a payment platform.
Tools like Better Proposals also allow you to track the status of your proposal—you’ll know exactly when your proposal has been opened, signed, or paid online, and how much time has your potential client spent on each section of your proposal.
Win More Clients Using Professional Proposal Templates
Now that we’ve covered a lot about what to put into a client proposal, it’s time to cover some of the aspects of how to send the proposal electronically. Choosing the right file format for your business proposals can significantly influence the way your prospective clients receive and perceive the information.
The choice largely depends on the nature of the proposal, the stage of the proposal process, and the preferences of your clients.
Some of the most common formats for client proposals include:
PDF Client Proposals: This is the most commonly used format for sending business proposals, especially for final versions. It preserves your formatting, is compatible with almost all devices and software, and prevents editing, which is helpful for maintaining the integrity of your proposal.
PowerPoint or Google Slides: These formats are often used for presentation-style business proposals. They can be useful if you plan to present the proposal in a meeting, or if you want to use a more visual and less text-heavy format. Presentation mode in the AgencyAnalytics platform offers similar functionality.
Microsoft Word or Google Docs: These are useful for draft versions of the proposal, especially if you're collaborating with team members or expect the client to make edits or add comments.
Online Proposal Software: Create and send business proposals in a web-based format using the AgencyAnalytics proposal template or other proposal software, and then share a live link with the potential client. Include video embeds and dynamic widgets. Use the analytics data to track how the client interacts with the proposal.
Whichever format you choose, ensure it effectively communicates your message, aligns with your branding, caters to the technical capabilities and preferences of your prospective clients, and includes all of the insights you have gleaned during the research and client discovery processes.
“We take all of that information, do a huge deep dive, and that’s when top-of-mind solutions come up,” adds Christina Cypher from Click Control Marketing
Now that you have everything you need to create a flawless client proposal, the last step is to get it into the hands of your future client. To aid in this endeavor, we have crafted a sample business proposal email that introduces your proposal to the client.
Feel free to edit it to your heart’s content.
Subject: [Your Agency Name] Proposal for [Client's Business Name] - Unlocking Your Digital Potential
Dear [Client's First Name],
We trust you've been navigating these dynamic market conditions with the resilience we've come to associate with [Client's Business Name]. As we've recently discussed, these times present not just challenges but opportunities for growth and innovation.
At [Your Agency Name], we have been closely studying your current digital landscape and identifying areas where we believe our expertise can make a significant impact. It's with this understanding and a vision for future growth that we present our proposal for your consideration.
Attached to this email, you will find a comprehensive proposal outlining how our services can align with your business goals. It details our suggested strategies for SEO, content marketing, social media engagement, and more - all tailored to [Client's Business Name]'s unique needs.
We've also included case studies that demonstrate our proven track record in driving success for businesses similar to yours. Additionally, you'll find clear steps on how we can move forward together.
We invite you to review this proposal at your earliest convenience. Should you have any questions, need clarification, or wish to discuss any aspect of the proposal, please don't hesitate to reach out. We are committed to making this a collaborative and insightful process.
We look forward to the possibility of partnering with you to unlock the digital potential of [Client's Business Name] and setting new benchmarks of success.
[Your Contact Information]
Sample Follow-Up Email to a Client After Sending a Proposal
Just in case the client doesn’t respond immediately and start throwing money at your agency, here’s a drafted follow up email to remind them why your agency is their best choice.
Dear [Client's First Name],
I trust your week is progressing smoothly and that you've been able to review the proposal we shared recently. At [Your Agency Name], we understand that you have a busy schedule and that this decision requires careful consideration.
Our proposal, as you may have noted, is crafted with a focus on [Client's Business Name]'s unique digital needs and goals. We are confident that our strategic approach will help pave the way for amplified visibility, increased website traffic, heightened customer engagement, and–ultimately–more revenue.
If there are any aspects of the proposal you would like to discuss in more detail, or if you have any questions, please feel free to let us know. We are more than happy to schedule a call or a meeting at a time that suits you best. Our priority is to ensure that you have all the information needed to make the most informed decision.
We're excited about the possibility of this partnership and eager to start making strides toward achieving your digital growth objectives.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
[Your Contact Information]
Whether or not you decide to throw in some emojis, gifs, or other images into the mix will depend on your agency’s brand and the client you are sending the proposal to.
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Summary and Key Takeaways
In this article, we've delved into the intricacies of creating compelling client proposals that:
Effectively communicate your agency's value proposition in a way your prospective clients will understand,
Secure the client's commitment with a clear call-to-action, and
Outline the next steps to maintain momentum in the sales process.
Discussing the various formats for sending your business proposals, we've emphasized that choosing the most suitable format plays a pivotal role in creating a favorable first impression and facilitating the client's review process. And finally, we've provided examples of professional yet approachable emails for sending your proposals and following up with potential clients.
The best advice would be to ask a lot of questions. I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to know all you can about your client, their competition, and their target market. All of these will help greatly in your success.
An effective client proposal is a delicate balance of demonstrating expertise, understanding the client's needs, and articulating the unique value that your agency brings to their business. It's an opportunity to not just sell your services, but to build a partnership founded on trust, expertise, and a shared vision for the client's success.
Start with a standardized proposal template to:
Streamline your proposal creation process,
Communicate your agency's value effectively, and
Create reader-friendly proposals that resonate with every prospective client.
Ready to Take Your Client Proposals to the Next Level?
Streamline your process and close more deals with the AgencyAnalytics proposal template. Our template is designed to help you craft compelling, reader-friendly business proposals that resonate with potential clients.