Proposal Time – A Few Simple Tweaks Can Make a Huge Difference


 A lot of you have seen the movie with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds “THE PROPOSAL”- little cheesy but totally worth watching — Ryan insisted on a proposal for marriage – why?? 


Because the proposal is the beginning to a happy relationship!! 


The Proposal is just the starting point but it is the point where your client says “yes” or “no”! Proposals can be a deal breaker! 


We all know that every proposal is not created equally. Some prospects want a simple brochure-type website, some prospects have no idea what they want, and others have an advanced RFP(Request for Proposal) document created! Either way, there are certain categories that are a must in a proposal (such as having a ring…)


An outline for your proposal should include:


GUIDED PHILOSOPHY – Branding/Brand penetration, yes even in the proposal – saturate your client with who you are:)

The name of the game is to get your brand identity in front of your prospects in a high value manner as often a possible. One of the reasons Fortune 500 companies spend billions of dollars a year on advertising is to penetrate their audience’s subconscious with their brand in a high value or emotional manner.


Then bring it home  — go above and beyond! 


Always have a formal footer at the bottom of every page — Never make them look for contact information. Make things simple for them. 

Add Frequently Asked Questions – Settle their hesitancies before they have them.

Have a How to Move Forward with the Project section – Reference the legal jargon on your website to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible.

Executive Summary – This is where you wrap everything up with a pretty little bow and tell them how stupid they are if they don’t move forward.

Personalize  – Do not simply mail this to your prospects!!

You must personally present the proposal to the prospect!


DEFINITIONS – Explain marketing terms – I know this seems like too much – but believe me your client will appreciate the clarification. Most organizations do not use marketing terms on a daily basis: give them a quick reminder of the terms used in the proposal. They will love it!


DEFINE TARGET AUDIENCE – Do some RESEARCH – FIND OUT who the client is trying to reach and what their needs are – Such as: Age, Name, Gender , Hobbies Geographical Location, # of employees – this shows you know your potential client and truly are the best choice for them.


OUTLINING EXISTING ASSETS AND PROCESSES – BRING THE PAIN  remind them that what they’re currently doing isn’t working, this builds a case for why they need you. Explain to them how their existing systems are underperforming, and dramatically hurting the marketing department’s performance/conversations.


STRATEGIC RECOMMENDATIONS OVERVIEW– Focus on the big picture in this section – lay out a vision for the next 12-18 months Overview about why you’re recommending what you’re recommending.You do this to see and prepare the client for a long-term commitment with your agency.


PROJECT TIMELINE – Outline the specific phases of the project – This is a big picture of expected timelines. Consider it a general guideline of how the project should flow from a strategic level. 



Break it down into Phases 

Project Planning Phase  1-2 Weeks

Content Writing Phase   3-4 Weeks

Design Phase   2- 3 Weeks

Programming Phase   5-6 Weeks

Functionality Testing and Edits Phase  1-2 weeks

Make sure to give time buffers on all phases of at least 20-25%. It is ok to deliver early but never late!!


RETURN ON INVESTMENTS PROJECTIONS ( ROI) Projects – associate this to real world increases in traffic/leads/revenue/profit. Current versus projected.


This section does not always apply. If you are only building a website, this section most likely does not apply BUT – If you are driving traffic and can get current media buying, conversation percentages and customer lifecycle value  — this section does apply and can separate you from your competitors.

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Ok — lets get some details on those FAQ — When setting up this section think of 5-7 questions that would be a benefit for your clients to know —  POPULAR QUESTIONS:

Can we do any of this ourselves? Of course, you can, but in our experience that has a tendency to slow things down and increase the budget.


Can we host the site ourselves? We strongly recommend you do NOT. Hosting is a very complex process and if your website goes down in the middle of a large media buying campaign the minimal cost saved is dwarfed by the revenue lost in lead generation.


How long Before we see more Leads? It depends on the details of the Infrastructure Build Out, but on average it takes 90 days.


How do we get started? ( Make this a whole section) To move forward with this project, please do the following items: FILL IN THE BLANKS


After coming up with you 5-7 questions that would benefit your clients and answer the possible concerns they may have, come up with the best answers showing you really care about your clients.

LEGAL STUFF – Some agencies like to put all of the legal copy in the proposal; I have found that to be a substantial barrier to entry. I prefer to reference the legal copy we have posted on our website and provide links for them to review (intended for proposals of 50k or less). 

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Obviously, I am not an attorney, so consult with your attorney if you have any questions about how to handle the legal aspect of your agency. The cold, hard truth is that if the client has an issue with your service, it will cost you more to fight it that it will to settle it, not to mention the bad public relations/reviews –YIKES!! So, you should at all cost mitigate all negative client experiences and do everything you can to ensure they leave happy at best — or at worst, satisfied with a mutually beneficial settlement agreement. 


IF you decide to place the legal copy in the proposal, make sure you cover all possible services you are offering for this project!



Of course, you know what works best for your agency as far as PAYMENT TERMS  but here are some suggestions (never do 50% up front and 50% upon completion).

50% Retainer

30% Upon Beta Delivery

20% Upon go Live


Monthly retainer fees begin upon the Go Live phase.  


HELPFUL HINT: I like to insert an online order form for them to process the 50% retainer fee. Always think about how you can remove barriers to entry without opening your agency up to liabilities.

Last but certainly not least — EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 


This is your last chance to WOW your prospect with your philosophy, awards ( insert awards in footer area if you have them), social proof and social trust items ect.

This section should wrap up the entire project into a simple to understand recap.

When writing this section, try to think s if the person reading this proposal has never talked with you and is hearing about this project for the first time.


It should outline your dedication to their success — It should remind them of WHY they contacted you for a proposal — It should clearly outline the solution you have proposed. 


Make sure to paint a clear and compelling picture of what their business will look like after you go live with their website, automated campaign, media buying campaigns ect.


It should explain that someone in the leadership position has reviewed this proposal and approved everything — It should thank them for the opportunity to earn their long term business. 

Then —- have a personal signature: Write something that they personally mentioned during the negotiation phase. 

Make it Personal

Signature and Date

Signed for[insert Prospect Name]

Signed for[Insert Agency Name



The proposal is truly the beginning of the relationship. The potential clients needs to feel special, understood and taken care of. Make sure you have done your research, understand who you want to have a relationship with, find the perfect ring and delivered the perfect proposal ( it worked for Ryan)



Lee Goff

Hyper focused on serving digital agency owners grow, scale, and enjoy their digital marketing agencies. It is hard to grow a digital agency unless you have the right tools and guidance.
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