You’re sitting in disbelief as you hang up the phone or read the email that informs you that your services won’t be needed. What type of company doesn’t require some sort of social media presence?
But, the real question is, how in the world did your prospective client not understand your pitched proposal?!???
Obviously, there had to be something that the client didn’t quite understand right?
You’re Communicating Your Value Wrong (If At All)
There are agency services such as graphics or branding that are harder to qualify to a potential client, because they involve very creative and highly subjective concepts in order to work. On the other hand, social media marketing projects are often a much easier sell.
All anyone has to do is a quick search engine query for social media marketing agencies , and they’ll pull up the links to a plethora of agencies that make all sorts of wild claims. There are social media marketing agencies near and far, high-end and dirt-cheap!
Right away, you can see why you’d need to go to the extra mile in creating value in your prospect’s mind. This is especially important in an industry space where anyone can hit certain websites and pay a measly $5.00 for all of the social proof they could ever hope to gain!
In the minds of those who have too many options and not enough of the right type of service providers, they need to know what justifies the trust that you’d like for them to place in your agency.
They also need to know what justifies the fee that you’re prepared to charge them, especially when they have access to bargain-basement contractors located in points all over the globe. With this in mind, here’s a great idea that you can use (and it’s one that very few are probably using):
Why not approach your prospect with a kick-butt, thoughtful, educational, streamlined proposal?
Let’s dig into the a couple of proposal scenarios. We’ll look at the what you should do if you want to turn off your prospects, along with what you should do if you want your prospective clients to take your proposal seriously.
The Qualities Of A Bad Proposal
There are a lot of ways to create a bad client proposal, but there’s something about social media that can bring out the worst in a proposal writer. It’s very tempting to write a proposal that does a couple of things:
- Makes assumptions about the marketing needs of the client
- Promotes hyperbole over substance
Let’s look at a couple of real (and highly amusing) tagline samples:
“I will add (15000) high quality Twitter followers in a mere 24 hours…”
“I’ll give you 50k YouTube views for your video, and tons of FB likes in 4 days…”
“I’ll bring you 2k realistic Instagram followers. Don’t believe the other guys, because they’re fake!”
We’ve got a couple of glaring issues here:
1. The vendors didn’t take a tailored approach to their prospects. They don’t qualify the needs of their client. It actually seems as if they don’t care who hires them, as long as someone does.
2. They make promises that are next to impossible to promise (on the one hand), and they’re probably using unethical means to achieve their goals (on the other hand).
As you can see, the approach is this: They tell you what they’re going to do, without proposing relationship-building strategies to learn who their client is, and what their unique needs are.
If the very first task is not to do an analysis of your audience and your objectives for your audience, (then) dump the proposal in the trash.
So many organizations have gone headlong and half-cocked into social media and then wondered if it was worth it. IMHO, the main reason social media projects fail to produce meaningful results (beyond, ‘Hey, we’ve got a Facebook page!’) is because they aren’t linked to actual business objectives and informed by research and understanding of the target audience. – SMPerformance
As you can see, taking a lazy approach to your social media proposal by assuming that your prospect understands why they need someone to create and oversee their social media presence is a critical mistake.
“But, doesn’t every company worth its salt have some sort of social media presence?” you might ask.
The answer is “no”, and what’s more, not all social media platforms are appropriate for every client.
Delving even deeper, not all types of content are appropriate for every social media platform. As a social professional, this is something that you probably understand. At least, you should.
But, does your prospective client understand this?
“If your prospective social media company doesn’t comprehend that understanding your existing online community is job #1, then find someone who does.” – SMPerformance
As you can see, rushing in to toot you own horn about results without showing any type of concern for your prospect’s needs turns them off at the very least. Worse, you may earn a sale, but you’ll also create a project misfire that leaves a bad taste in your client’s mouth moving forward.
Now, lets take a look at how you can stop wasting your time with ineffective proposals and learn how to write proposals that can’t help but to be taken seriously.
The Characteristics Of A Winning Proposal
As I’ve noted in other proposal articles, I’ll list the basic attributes that your proposal should contain if you want for yours to be taken seriously (and, bump up your revenue):
- The Problem Statement: You’re going to state your client’s pain/needs.
- The Proposed Solution: What’s your unique plan in coming through for your client?
- The Benefits: This section is like music to their ears.
- Pricing Information: This is where you’ll assign monetary value to your work
- Call To Action: You earn this when you’ve done everything else correctly
The Problem Statement
As you read in the earlier examples, the other so-called social media marketers did nothing to get to know their client, let alone address what the client’s needs might be.
They seemed to have taken a very generic, one-size-fits-all approach. Worse, they seemed to be more interested in promoting their social media magic than they were interested in genuinely helping their client to connect with the customer base.
Here’s a question that Social Media Today posts within an article on the topic:
In the rush to set up social channels and fill up content calendars with cheerful greetings, marketers failed to answer the fundamental question: Why would anyone in their right mind want to converse with their brand?
When this question isn’t answered, then consumers will answer the question on behalf of the branded account:
Short of clear answers, consumers decided for themselves, using social platforms primarily to voice complaints and deal with service-related issues–hardly the types of conversations that social proponents had dreamed about. – Social Media Today
Since the last thing that you want to do is to allow the customers to direct the conversation on your client’s social media account, then this is how you should approach the issue of initiating one’s social media project:
Over the past year, ABC company has noticed that they aren’t able to direct the narrative of their company’s public perception or branding. They’ve noticed that their customers are far more responsive to companies that allow for two-way, relationship-building conversations with brands via social media platforms.
ABC also desires to take a proactive stance in developing brand perception and reach. The company needs to take advantage of social platforms beyond announcing sales, promotions, or industry news.
ABC requires a social media campaign that identifies the correct platforms to reach their targeted customers, while remaining mindful of the native language and style of each platform.
Of course, you’ll word this section as you see fit. The point is that you’ll need to start out with a statement that lets your prospect know that you see the bigger picture as it pertains to their problems and concerns.
More than this, you should be able to not only state the problem, but you should also be able to state a solution that the client hadn’t even thought of.
At the very least, state a solution that makes sense to your client. And, do you notice that you’re not engaging in horn-tooting in this section?
Let’s move into the next section where you’ll render a diagnosis for the problem, and begin to prove your worth over your competitors:
The Client’s Solution
Based upon the examples you read earlier (and probably laughed at), it would seem that the average social media “professional” would scream out “ME!” if they were asked to render a solution to their potential client’s problems.
But, you’re not like those jokers. You’re going to do things differently, because you actually care about your client. More than this, you understand the concept of create a great client/service provider fit.
So, this is the part of your proposal where you’re going to show your client that you’ve done your homework, and you’re going to create a project that is going to lay the foundation for how they’ll continue to connect with customers, vendors, and industry insiders, for years to come.
If you answer no other question, then here’s one that you MUST answer if you hope to send out winning proposals:
What’s in this for me?
This is the question that every client wants answered, in detail. So, you can see (again) why it’s not enough to promise your prospect tons of likes, follows, shares, pluses, etc., because in doing this, you haven’t really answered their question.
What they really want to know is how all of that social proof translates into revenue.
How do likes keep the lights on? How do tweets keep the inventory flying off of the shelves? What does shares have to do with keeping the shareholders happy?
And, why should the prospect consider a social media project over another type of relationship-building project such as, say, email marketing? Here’s something to consider:
With conversations out of reach, brands banked on social to spark engagement in the hope that accumulating Likes, Favorites, Retweets, Shares and Clicks, would add up to something meaningful.
In reality, engagement rates per post are abysmal on Facebook (.7%) and Twitter (.2%). Even Instagram with its impressive 4.2% engagement rate pales in comparison to the average open rate of a brand-generated email!
But, before you become dismayed, keep in mind that these are stats generated from brands that had little to no direction regarding their social media campaigns.
This example was use to impress upon you the need for leading your client by the hand in all areas of your proposal, so that you might stand a great chance in winning their business.
Again, it comes down to showing the client that you get them, and you care about the outcome of their campaign.
Asking for money from your client might seem like one of the easiest things for a social media agency or freelancer to do. It will seem this way if you take the approach that everybody understands the value of social media.
But, if you’ve been following along, then you shouldn’t feel so confident about asking the prospect for money…unless you’ve done an awesome job of proving value and ROI.
If you’ve done these things, then the only thing left to do is figure out how to group all related aspects of your project together, and then assign financial value to your sub-projects. Of course, you’ll calculate all of these and create a complete package price.
But, it helps the client to understand what they are paying for when you itemize the project price points a bit.
Here’s something to keep in mind (because you’ll probably need to implement this): Include a section for payment milestones.
The Call To Action
Did you notice how in those crappy-yet-hilarious social media pitches, the provider went right for the call to action? And, did you notice that as you learned what you should do to create a decent proposal, this step was saved for last?
You could use the cliche of saving the best for last, but really, you needed to earn the prospective client’s attention and trust before you dared to ask for their business.
And, now that you’ve done this, here’s how you’re going to tie a lovely bow on a lovely presentation:
ABC Company should take the following course of action in order to proceed with the project:
- Approve the proposal as is, or discuss any desired changes or additions. We will provide strategic adjustments as the project commences.
- Finalize and sign the contract.
- Submit the initial payment of the first monthly fee. Once the contract is signed, then we’ll set up an initial meeting to discuss specific creatives.
You’re not going to make any assumptions here (or anywhere in your proposal). You’re going to formally let the prospect know that you are done pitching your services, and you’re ready to get to work.
You’re also not going to leave any room for guessing. You’re going to be considerate enough to guide them towards the legal process of allowing you to begin a project on their behalf.
Now, you can send off your proposal!
One More Thing….
After you enjoy the thrill of winning clients, the only thing left to do is to keep scoring more. But, you might be worried about all of time involved in creating winning proposals.
You can’t get around the time it takes to research your client’s needs (sorry), but you can cut down the time it actually takes for you to produce and format your proposals.
Just use our proposal software package. Using the software takes away the guess work out of proposal formatting. Plus, the Bidsketch proposal software makes the proposal look professional.
If nothing else, you’ll appear to be the opposite of those who need to make hyperbolic promises to compensate for their lack of capabilities!
*All photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net