Just because a potential client loves what you have to say, it doesn’t mean they are going to hire you. These days, people are talking to multiple firms and figuring out which one is the best fit for them.
Companies are evaluating every aspect of your pitch… especially your proposal. So if you want to increase your odds of locking in a potential client, you’re going to have to create a great proposal.
So, what should you include in your proposal?
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Well, you probably already know the basics such as: what you are offering, scope of work, price, and terms and conditions. But that’s not enough. Here’s what else you need to include:
Customize your template
You can templatize your proposals, but they need to be custom. If you just use a ton of filler text and add in the client URL here and there, clients will quickly notice it and feel that you won’t put much effort into their campaigns.
Just think about it: if you were too lazy to create a custom proposal, what’s going to happen when it comes to doing the harder work?
One of the simplest ways to make a proposal seem customized is to modify your template design. You can do this by adding the customer’s logo or even creating a unique title slide.
You have to assume that your proposal is going to be passed around, maybe to a manager or even another co-worker. They may not be up to date with what’s happening or why your SEO firm is so great. So, make sure you include:
- A corporate bio – a paragraph or two about your firm and why it’s great. From your company philosophy to your culture, show your true colors in your bio. Make it stand out. Don’t just write something generic like telling them how you guys are the best SEO firm as every firm will make that claim.
- Logos – show off some of the clients you work with or have worked with in the past. The bigger the logos you can put in, there the better. If small companies see that big companies trust you, it’s very likely that they will trust you too.
Just because a potential client came to you for SEO, it doesn’t mean that their only problem is that they don’t rank well on Google. In this section of the proposal, you need to tear down the client’s site and list everything that is wrong.
Your list shouldn’t be strictly related to SEO. You should list everything you can find that is wrong. Show examples, URLs, and even screenshots in this section.
Lets assume for a minute that NeilPatel.com was a potential client for you, and you were creating a proposal for what you could do for the site. Here are some things you could break down in the problem section:
- Site depth – currently the site only contains one page that has content. If you are looking for more search engine traffic, you should consider adding multiple pages. If you can’t add multiple pages with detailed content, consider adding a blog, where you can share valuable marketing information. If you decide to go with a blog, consider the URL neilpatel.com/blog.
- Case studies – you currently have empty case study pages on neilpatel.com. You either need to finish the case studies or consider removing them. I recommend that you keep them as it provides social proof. When writing them, make sure you include the problem, solution, results and especially a list of everything you did. If you are unsure of what this looks like, check out the Harvard Business Review as they write detailed case studies.
- Load time – search engines look at the load time of your website. The better your load time, the higher you are more likely to rank. If you look at Google’s PageSpeed, it shows that you have a score of 70 out of 100. Consider leveraging browser caching, optimizing your images, combining images into CSS sprites and optimizing the order of your styles and scripts.
- A/B testing – you should consider running split tests on neilpatel.com if you haven’t already. If your primary goal is to get consulting leads, you should try a variation in which the form fields are above the fold. Currently, the copy is really long, and a user has to scroll to the bottom of your website to see the form fields.
If you look at the above 4 points, you’ll see that I get into a lot of details. If I were creating a real proposal, I would create at least 15 to 20 points and included screenshots.
The solutions to the problems you stated can’t be generic. You need to be so detailed with your solutions that the client can just take that information and implement it without even hiring you.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but 99% of clients will be too lazy to implement your changes without you. Instead, they will feel that the easier route would be to just pay you to do it for them. For that reason, you need to be as detailed as possible as giving without holding back builds trust.
Again, if I were creating a real proposal, I would provide the following potential solutions to the 4 problems above:
- Create a blog – start a blog on neilpatel.com/blog and give away free information on how companies can market themselves through content marketing. A few sample post ideas are: how to create a powerful blog post in less than two hours, how to market your content through social media, and how to convert blog readers into customers. When writing blog posts, follow these guidelines.
- Finish your case studies – consider writing detailed case studies such as this one. Including a video or text-based testimonial(s) from your client(s) will help your case studies seem more legitimate. I would also recommend that you include calls to action throughout your case studies.
- W3 Total Cache – I see that neilpatel.com is running on WordPress, which has plugins that can help improve your load time. With the W3 Total Cache plugin, you can improve your Google PageSpeed score. The best part about the plugin is that it doesn’t require a developer.
- Run split tests – through Qualaroo, you can survey your visitors and find out why they aren’t converting into leads. Once you get that data, you can then modify your design and run A/B tests. A simple test could be moving your form fields above the fold. You can also try adding Bounce Exchange to your site, which should help boost your lead count by 10 to 20%.
Scope and deliverables
In this section, you should tell the client what you are going to do for them. Further, break it down into multiple plans.
The first plan should be for only what the client requested, and the price should be somewhere in their budget range. Make sure you break down all of the things you will do within this plan. The more detailed you can be, the better.
You should also include one or two more plans that contain more than what the client requested… these plans should be more expensive. In these plans, you should offer to solve all of the problems you pointed out in the proposal. Again, be very detailed on what you are offering here.
Lastly, in all plans you should add a timeline of when you are going to complete each action item in each of your plans. In addition, you need to specify whether the client will receive monthly reports or calls.
The large consulting companies typically throw associates onto new accounts. If you are a boutique SEO agency, make it clear that experienced people are going to be working on the account.
You can show this by adding an area detailing who is going to be working on the account. Make sure to include that person’s bio, backing up his/her experience. Keep the bio short and to the point. For example, I would use this as mine:
Neil Patel is the co-founder of 2 Internet companies: Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Through his entrepreneurial career he has helped large corporations such as Amazon, AOL, GM, HP and Viacom make more money from the web. By the age of 21 not only was he named one of the top influencers on the web according to the Wall Street Journal, but he was also named one of the top entrepreneurs in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine. He has also been recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama.
As I mentioned earlier, you have to assume that your proposal is going to be passed around. You can’t assume that the person reading it knows about your firm or you. For this reason, you always want to include case studies at the very end of your proposal.
I typically like including case studies that are relevant to the proposal I am creating. So, if I were creating an SEO proposal for an ecommerce company, I would include an ecommerce case study.
Each case study should be no longer than one page. It should include what you did, the results, a testimonial, and it should be easy to skim. Ideally, you want include two to three case studies with every proposal you send out.
If you follow everything that I mentioned above, you’ll increase your odds of closing a deal. I myself used to create generic proposals, and I had a low closing rate. Once I followed the above steps, I boosted my closing rate by almost 3x.
The one thing you can also add that I didn’t mention above, as it’s tough to add, is rough estimates on the results that you are projecting to provide.
Is there anything else you could add to an SEO proposal to make it standout from the crowd?