You are a business owner but you need more work and clients. One tried-and-true method of landing new business is to create business proposals (either responding to requests for them or trying to land unsolicited jobs).
Business and project proposals are a great tool, but you're not the only one producing them. To stand out as a small business, you not only have to be able to supply an excellent product or service but you also need to present it in a creative way. A proposal should make you stand out from the crowd and command the attention of your potential client.
This article presents several creative business proposal ideas to help you land new work. And when you're ready to get started, try our business proposal template.
What Is a Business Proposal?
A business proposal is a document sent by a business like yours to a prospective client looking for suppliers. It is, essentially, a sales process document that usually contains information about the scope of a project or job, details on the deliverables of products or services, and their costs, timelines, and completion dates.
There are different types of business proposals. They can be unsolicited — delivered to a potential client who hasn't asked for a proposal but whom you feel may benefit from what you have to offer — or solicited — requested by potential clients, often in a formal request for proposal (RFP). They need a specific business problem solved and will usually issue the RFP to a number of different potential suppliers, choosing the one that can best solve their problem in an effective and creative way and at an affordable price.
A business proposal is different from a business plan. A business proposal seeks to sell a specific product or service. A business plan is a roadmap describing how a company, often a startup, will achieve its goals from financial and operational points of view. The business plan might be used to sell the business to potential investors or to financial institutions for funding.
A traditional business proposal usually includes a:
- Cover letter
- Title page
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Statement of the need or requirement
- Proposed solution and methodology
- List of qualifications, including past work and testimonials
- Agreement and call to action (CTA)
- Contact information
Why You Should Get Creative With Your Business Proposal
Business proposals are often created in response to an RFP. The person who judges who will be awarded the work often has to deal with a pile of responses, and each one can be quite hefty according to the nature of the RFP and the information requested.
To catch the eye of decision-makers inundated with business or marketing proposals, you need to stand out with a creative twist and a unique value proposition. Once you have their attention, you have a much better chance of convincing them that you are exactly the solution they need for their business problem.
7 Creative Business Proposal Ideas
Here are some examples of how to get creative with your business proposal, whether it's upping your visual appeal, personalizing the document, thinking outside the box, or being creative in your CTA. A winning sales proposal starts by developing a really good solution to a business problem and then presenting it in a way that makes the potential client realize it is exactly what they need.
Boost Your Visual Appeal With Graphic Design
To catch the eye, you need to be eye-catching. A splash of color and some pleasing typography are a great place to start. Skynova has a business proposal template which you can customize for your business.
Include a Case Study
A good case study can help you create a winning business proposal. It shows how you have solved similar problems for other clients and the benefits that they have received. The case study gives you a chance to show how you work and how you think, which can bring you closer to the new client and help land the job.
Personalize the Proposal Cover Page
Personalization is one of the keys to effective selling. The cover page is a good place to start. Of course, include the client's name here. But the personalization doesn't need to end there. You can also include graphics and images that relate to the client's brand or the nature of the job at hand.
Create a Roadmap With Goals
Helping a client visualize how you will lead them to success in a project helps them see that you understand their needs. Using flowcharts, timelines, graphs, infographics, or other devices, you can create a roadmap of a proposed job, showing the milestones you would achieve (e.g., profit targets, sales goals, or something else).
Use a Creative Call to Action
Your final CTA in the business proposal needs to stand out so that the proposal reader takes positive action. You could do this with a special type treatment and colors to make the CTA pop off the page. You can also do something more exciting than the usual "Call us today" or "Get in touch."
For example, a design firm might say, "There will be a lot of late nights on this job. We have a great coffee machine — let us know when we can start brewing."
Think Outside the Box
When preparing your business proposal, one way to stand out is to think outside the box, perhaps offering some options or services not covered in the RFP but that could be part of a company's larger marketing plans. For example, if a creative agency asked for a proposal for an advertising campaign, you might mention that you can also handle media buy, social media integration, and event planning as a way to make yourself even more valuable to the client. The client would save money by having all of these tasks managed by one agency and you would have a bigger project and rewards.
Add an Expiration Date to the Proposal
One great way to provoke a response in direct mail is to put an expiry date on an offer. The same tactic can be used with an unsolicited business proposal, creating a sense of urgency with an expiry date for the special services or price you are offering. The expiry date also gives you an excuse to do a follow-up, calling the client before the deadline.
Skynova Proposes Help for Your Business Finances
When you are involved in the excitement of landing new work with business proposals, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the day-to-day running of your operations and handling of your finances. Losing track of your invoicing and not properly tracking your expenses and income can be a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately, Skynova has a suite of online solutions for small businesses like yours, ranging from handling your invoicing and accounting to creating business proposals and estimates with easy-to-use templates that can be customized with your logo.
Skynova can help you get paid faster and manage your finances more efficiently — it's a proposal that's hard to refuse.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with the appropriate professional experts to ensure that your business proposals are effective and comply with industry standards.