On my journey to becoming a full-time freelancer, I spent a lot of time working on proposals. Whilst I worked as a Marketing Executive for a start-up, I was often responsible for writing and creating many a professional proposal, pitch or portfolio for the company, and I quickly grew to learn just how important they are in the hunt for new business.
A proposal not only details the services you hope to carry out for your client, but it also presents a reflection of you and your business. It can describe how you present yourself, how well you’ve understood the brief, how much research you’ve done into the company, how organised and reliable you are and your personal professional style. A rushed, hastily written one-page Google Doc, for example, won’t be quite as impressive as a fully-fledged, stylised and creative presentation piece to your future clients.
Your proposals should be clean, efficient and engaging to read. They should fill your client with hope and excitement about the upcoming project and truly reflect the best of your ability — without glossing over the important information. They should demonstrate your experience in the field and your clear understanding of the client’s values, thinking of everything from how your work will be delivered to the schedule of meetings you propose to set up.
In today’s blog post, I want to share the top 6 Things To Include In Your Freelance Marketing Proposal, to help you impress your future clients and learn a few essential tips on customising your pitches!
your proposed services — all of them
As a freelancer, it’s your responsibility alone to help your client truly understand what your services can do for them, and how much it going to cost. Offering up an easy to read and easy to understand list of services is the best way to help your client appreciate how much work you are offering to do and the effort you’re willing to put in. It also prevents confusion later down the line where certain expectations haven’t been met due to miscommunication on one side or the other.
It’s also important to be specific — using too many vague, umbrella terms or technical jargon can also lead to confusion or misinterpretation. If necessary, provide a short description of the service you’re describing and why you’re recommending it for this client in particular. Often, certain clients will require different services so try to make it relate to their project or business.
Your fees and invoice policy
Obviously, your fees need to be featured in your proposal. This is an obvious one. But the way you present them and where they lie in your proposal can have a big impact on how your client interprets them. Personally, I like to present my fees at the end, after explaining my experience, the proposed services, some mock-ups of my work, testimonials and strategy — allowing the reader to fully understand the rates I’m listing.
An invoice policy is also great to include as it helps to avoid any confusion over late fees, bank details, policies and expectations once the project is underway. It’s a good idea to mention any penalties for late fees you have in place, when you expect invoices to be paid and how alongside your fees to help cover yourself later down the line. It also helps the client to avoid any unexpected costs or processes which might cause tension in your working relationship.
One of my favourite things to add into my proposal are small custom touches that can help your proposal to feel intentional and well-thought-out, rather than a bland, generic template. This can be done in a number of ways, from adding in the brand colours of your potential company throughout your presentation, including the logo throughout your pages, using their iconic typography style or even using icons or characters from their branding to help illustrate your points.
These small additions may seem small, yet they reveal to your client that you’ve taken the time to look into their company and it’s branding and that you can utilise it in a way that helps to get a point across — which is a very desirable skill in marketing.
An understanding of the brief
A great way to show your client that you’re truly ready to take on this project is through your understanding of the brief. This is a section of copy that breaks down the brief provided to you, explores who the company is, what their goals are and how you can help them to achieve them. In many cases, it might be as simple as stating in bullet points what your client hopes to get out of your services, i.e. increased digital awareness, brand recognition, social growth, but it’s also good to refer back to the history of the company too. For example, you can mention some of the core services and skills, their place in the industry and their current approach to marketing, before jumping into what they need now.
A client reading your proposal should get the sense that you’ve really wrapped your head around their needs and their aspirations and that you’re the person to make them happen.
Carefully curated mockups
Mockups are a great way to demonstrate your skills in a format that’s specific to your client’s needs. Creating well manufactured and thoughtful mockups can help to illustrate, not just your style of work, but also your appreciation of the company you’re marketing for. By utilising a strong tone of voice, language that you know will appeal to their target audience, imagery that directly encapsulates their core products and services and some essential marketing hacks to help boost engagement, your mockups should demonstrate the best of what you do.
However, it’s important to remember that what you’re providing is just a proposal at this stage. Whilst I’m never a fan of gatekeeping knowledge until you officially have a signed contract and a guaranteed invoice, try to limit your mockups to around two or three in your pitch. You don’t need to give away all of your advice, your strategy and your content for free, on the off chance that your client might reject your proposal but keep your ideas.
Your own personal flair
Proposals are a space to show off you. Not just your professional side but also your personal approach to the work required of you — from your communication style to your work ethic to your client relationships. You can use your proposal to help demonstrate and highlight just how you plan to work with this client, and how you’ve worked with others in the past, through glowing testimonials, client reviews and even references for your potential company to reach out to.
But you can also highlight some of your own creative flair through proposals, through the page layouts, through the way you write, through the images you select. Do you write creatively, passionately, intelligently, boldly or emotively? Do you value minimalist designs over bold colours or is maximalism a core feature of your brand? Do your strengths lie in diligent strategy or artistic visions? Take the time to inject a little bit of YOU into your proposal, and let the client find your true style in their proposal.
Proposals can be such a great creative opportunity to help you reflect on your own strengths and services, and then package them up and deliver them to someone else. They can be fun to work on, can push your creative ability and allow you to gain insight into industries you’ve never explored.
So take your time, get planning and enjoy the process. You’ve worked hard to build up your business and now’s your chance to show it off. You got this.