Browse Templates Explore the Product Try It Free

How to Write a Marketing Proposal - 11 Experts Share their Tips

The variety of clients, the challenging platforms you work on, the changes in search engine algorithms, the thrill of seeing a campaign go live - there are lots of reasons why marketing is great. Unfortunately, not all of marketing is about working with your clients - sometimes you have to do some sales as well.

The business proposal is one of the most important sales documents out there. Especially for marketers, who can use it to convince the client that they can achieve the results they promise. A great marketing proposal can turn any prospect into a client, while a bad proposal will ruin your chances of winning the job - even if you’re the best marketer in the world.

Today, we talked with 11 marketing experts and asked them one question - what is your number one tip for writing an amazing marketing business proposal?

Talk the way the client talks

If the work you do is highly technical, there is a high chance that the client won’t understand what you’re saying in your proposal. As Itamar Blauer, a London-based SEO consultant says, many marketers make the assumption that “by spewing technical jargon, the prospective client will seem more impressed”. This is anything but true.

As he goes on to say, “If it's a business owner, they might not necessarily care about how high their website rankings are on Google, but rather the number of customers that can be generated”. In other words, use the language that your client is familiar with and speak in their terms.

Khurram Suhrwardy of CaptionEasy agrees. He uses one trick which we frequently recommend - talking back to the client in the proposal by using their own words.

His advice is to “pick up on the words the client uses to describe the problems they’re facing and mirror them in the proposal. Make sure to communicate empathy through your words.

Set clear expectations

You probably have a good idea of how the work will progress for a client once you start working together. Why not show them what they can expect and how your relationship will look in the months to come?

As Jason Thibault, the owner of Massive Kontent says, he shows them “a vision of how months 1,2 and 3 will go by creating a timeline and concluding with an outline of months 4-6. This helps potential clients picture how the working relationship could and should progress during our first six months together.

As we’ve said a few times before, including a section called Timescales should be one of your top priorities for creating a business proposal that converts. According to Jason, this approach helped him win 8 of his last 10 client proposals.

Walk your client through the proposal

Maggie Carroll, the founder and owner of Vixen Digital believes in showing rather than telling. Her PPC agency often has strong competition for each of their marketing clients. She creates an advantage by talking to the client through the proposal.

She states: “Walk your client through the proposal in more detail by recording your screen and explaining it in more detail highlighting the key points. Are you doing a website audit? Record your screen while navigating through the website and showing examples of areas for improvement.

While you may not be available to record a video every time, you can do something else. Use live chat to talk to the client as they are reading the proposal. You can use Better Proposals and one of our live chat integrations to just this.

Business proposal templates

Back up your claims with proof

At its core, a business proposal is a promise of the service you’re going to provide as a marketer. This promise is what puts off many clients from signing and doing business with you. One of the best ways to convince them that you’re the real deal is to offer proof and show previous clients you worked for who were in a similar situation.

As Dimitris Tsapis of Coara says, “Since a business proposal will be executed over a longer period of time (6+ months) and there are no guaranteed results, it might be best to validate your assumptions with existing case studies of industry-related competitors.

He goes on to say that “The best marketing proposals don’t assume; they verify.

In other words, every business proposal needs to have a proof section that shows off your expertise. Just make sure that it’s relevant to the client that you’re pitching.

Brian Robben of Robben Media agrees and states that “Nowadays, people don't only want to know how you can help them. They also, and often more importantly, want to know how good you are and who else you have helped with your marketing expertise.

Be transparent and build trust

A lot of times, your potential clients will have very little knowledge of marketing and as such, they will be sceptical of the results you’re promising. This is especially true when you’re supposed to manage a client’s ad spend and large sums of money are at stake.

RJ Huebert of HBT Digital solves this problem by doing research in advance and coming up with data to show exactly how much the ad spend will be. He shows the client the expected clicks, cost per click, and click-through rate for specific keywords, all based on historical data. As he says, “this research shows that I'm being transparent with their marketing budget, and builds trust from the beginning.

Offer something that the client can benefit from immediately

As a marketer who writes proposals, you know the risk that shows up often. You need to offer a plan of what you will do without revealing too much. If you end up giving the client a full solution, they just might use the information from the proposal and do the work themselves. However, you can offer them a bite-sized preview of your work. It might be a piece of advice that they can use immediately and test it out and see that you know what you’re talking about.

This is what David Morneau of Inbeat does when writing marketing proposals. He says that you should “do some research and compile a "teaser" of your strategy for this client. The teaser should be an actionable insight that your client could implement even without your help.

By applying this strategy, you give the client a freebie that gets them hooked to sign and see the entire plan of your proposal in action.

How to write a business proposal

Base the proposal on the discovery call

We’ve written quite a few times about the importance of a discovery call. A great discovery call ensures a great business proposal, as long as you carefully write down all the information provided by the client. As you start writing, use the information from the discovery call to make a convincing case for the client. Similar to how websites increase conversion through targeted messages, referring to details that your client shared previously tells them that the solution you’re proposing was made specifically with their goals and circumstances in mind.

Siva Mahesh, the CEO of Dreamshala, uses this technique. “In the call, the prospect should have given their main pain points and goals. In the proposal, the marketer needs to focus on their solutions to those problems.” 

Dan Bailey of WikiLawn adds that to make the discovery call successful, you should always ask as many questions as possible about how they tried to solve the problem before contacting you, among other things. He suggests to “research their past marketing efforts, their products or services, their customer base, and everything you can about how their company is run and what they're building toward. This should give you a good amount of data to take back and develop your proposal.

Also, sometimes the reason why the client reaches out is not the actual problem they have. For example, someone might approach you because they need “social media management”, when in reality, they need more leads from social media ads and they’re a better candidate for ads. As

Kateryna Reshetilo of Greenice says, “After figuring out what the initial goal is, you can ask whether the suggested method is best for achieving this goal. It may very well turn out that there are better ways to do it. Once you’ve reverse-engineered your client’s request and found out the real pain points it will be just a matter of communicating it all clearly and supporting your arguments with facts and evidence.

Wrapping up

As you can see, creating the ideal marketing proposal comes down to personalizing your proposal, having great discovery calls and providing value for the client in advance. One thing which can greatly help the way you write your marketing proposals is your choice of tools. Make sure to try out Better Proposals if you want to write your proposals more quickly and turn more prospects into clients!

Adam Hempenstall's profile image
Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He started his first web design business at 14 and has since written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Having helped his customers win $500,000,000 in the last 12 months alone, he’s launched the first ever Proposal University where he shares best practices on writing and designing proposals. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.