I've read lots of agency new business proposals. Especially today, but even when business is robust, cookie cutter proposals won’t win.
Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of firms that simply cut and paste from one proposal to another and then offer the proposal as new, original, and even strategic thinking. Anyone see yourself in this picture?
Sure you can fool some prospects with this kind of approach, and you’ll even win some new accounts, but you will not win the ones you truly want – those ideal, good names, potentially high budget clients that are crucial to an agency’s reputation. The excuse I often hear is that “we didn’t have the time to put something together from scratch.” That’s baloney. You chose not to make the time.
If you have to submit a new business proposal in writing, without the benefit of an in-person presentation, keep in mind the following suggestions:
1. Identify the situation or challenges the prospect faces. Analyze that situation. What does it suggest? How has it influenced your proposal?
2. Limit your objectives to a few that can be "measured" and relate directly back to the situation. Many "objectives" I read are really strategies or in some cases even tactics. They don't belong in this section.
3. Prioritize the key audiences. Prioritize is the key word. Explain why.
4. Consider a theme that under which all communication activities relate.
5. Prioritize strategies. These are “hows” – how we will achieve the objectives.
6. Describe and explain the tactics – what we are going to do. Don't assume PR sophistication.
7. Be flexible with your budget and termination terms -- especially today when prospects are reluctant to make long-term commitments.
8. Tell the prospect what the program will accomplish.
9. If you don't have to send it by email don't. Consider "packaging" the proposal creatively and either delivering it in person or by messenger/courier. It will make an impression and set you apart from every other firm that simply emails in the PowerPoint.
New business is the lifeblood of any agency. Make the time, educate your staff, and treat each proposal as if it is the only one that mattered.