Why proposals don't need to be crazy long

Proposals. THESE CAN TAKE FOR-FAAARKING-EVER! Amirite seasoned pro’s?⁣

When I first started G'day Frank, was no-joke spending half my day’s putting together pretty-ass proposal documents for potential clients. Even with a snazzy template in place…they ate time away like waiting for a microwave to heat up last night's left-overs.⁣

They also tend to be so cumbersome that it's like giving your client a mini-bible to go through if it includes:

  • A welcome note

  • An overview of their problem

  • How it should be solved

  • Deliverables outline

  • Package options

  • Your process

  • Timeline

  • Profile of yourself and/or your business

  • Portfolio examples

And why do we do them exactly?

a. Client Consideration

A proposal allows the client to walk away with a document to further consider your services after putting it in writing.

b. Team Consultation

A client can use the proposal to supply their team and key decision-makers with an outline of the engagement to consider.

c. A Request-For-Proposal (RFP)

DANGER, DANGER! A potential client who puts out an RFP is a client that is shopping around. Which is typically where a comprehensive proposal may be necessary for things like government tenders or large company/agency bids. Totally up to you if you want to pursue a potential job like these but some even require pitching free work/concepts to get hired as the chosen contractor.

But for the most part, I'd imagine most of us are working with small to medium businesses. So the time invested in such a dense document, in addition to a hefty contract if your's is anything like mine, is likely to be overkill if you're producing a 42-page proposal as I have in the past.

So what’s the solution?⁣ 🤷🏻‍♂️

1. If a client doesn’t ask for a proposal, don’t make one!

If they agree to the terms in your conversations with them, move straight to a contract that has the necessary details that you’ll have no doubt discussed in person or over the phone with your client.⁣ Which you can and should go through some of the main points in your contracts to alleviate any doubts about them entering into a contract with you...especially if they don't read the damn thing.

Because here's the thing. If they're not expecting one, then why go to the trouble of a day or half a day's work invested in impressing them with a proposal that gives them even more to have to think about, when they didn't need to in the first place?

2. If they do ask for a proposal…

ASK YOUR CLIENT: “What would you like to see in the proposal document apart from what we have discussed so far?

AND IF THEY HAVE A TEAM: "And who will this document be additionally beneficial for if it's someone in your team other than yourself, so that I might be able to add anything specific you believe they'd want to see?” ⁣

By doing so, you now know a greater level context of what kind of document you need to create…which could be a huge time saver or allow you to add elements that may appease a head of marketing or C-Suite level executive.⁣

The one-page proposal

I've seen Johnathan Stark talk about this, where your proposals are an A4 letterhead document with main details of what was discussed in your conversations. All so they can simply have what you talked about in writing and it shows you were attentive and listened.

This is something I have recently been doing as the greater amount of detail about me and my business can be seen on my website and much of what is needed can be outlined in a one-page document like this.

Obviously I've advised the client that this would be what they're going to receive, to make sure they're happy with that. But I'm yet to have any kind of pushback.

So to summarise this all, basically, don't overcook your proposals or overstretch yourself as I have in the past. A one page PDF with maybe 5-6 key details might be the only thing necessary. Or better yet, a simple email with the same kind of details so they have something in writing. ⁣

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