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?
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, they will quickly notice it and feel that you won’t put much effort into their campaign.
Just think about it, if you were too lazy to create a custom proposal, what’s going to happen to when it comes to doing the harder work?
One of the simplest ways to make a proposal seem customized is to modify your template’s design. You can do this by adding in 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 and 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. And 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 to.
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 out 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 1 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 specially list out everything you did. If you are unsure of what this looks like, checkout 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 optimize the order of your styles and scripts.
- A/B testing – you should consider running split tests on neilpatel.com if you already haven’t. 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 would have 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 have created at least 15 to 20 points and included screenshots.
Your solutions to the problems you stated above 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 counterintuitive, 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 it builds trust.
Again, if I were creating a real proposal, here would be 4 potential solutions to the 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 2 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. If you can include a video testimonial from your client or text based testimonials, it will help your case studies seem more legitimate. I would also recommend that you include call to actions 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 from them. But more so 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 of 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 as well as if 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 showing who is going to be working on the account and include their bio, which should back up their experience. Make sure you keep your 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 a SEO proposal for an ecommerce company, I would include an ecommerce case study.
Each case study shouldn’t be longer than 1 page. It should include what you did, the results, a testimonial, and it should be easy to skim. You ideally want include 2 to 3 case studies with every proposal that 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 a SEO proposal to make it standout from the crowd?