October 20, 2020 - Brittany Garlin

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How to Write a Successful Social Media Proposal

An essential part of the sales process is researching, writing, and presenting proposals – such as a social media proposal – that compel and convert leads into paying customers. 

Unfortunately, writing proposals can be a time-consuming task and one which doesn’t always guarantee results for your business. It’s no wonder that proposals have a bad rep.

But what goes into the perfect social media proposal and how can you ensure that it beats the competition?

This article will take you step-by-step through the exact process to create a social media proposal designed to win more clients. 

So, if you want to get GREAT results from your social media proposals, you’ll love this guide.

Let’s get started. 

The Discovery and Research Phase

Step One: Understand the Business Needs

Before you write a proposal, the first step is to understand what the client wants and needs. The easiest and quickest way to get vital information is to conduct a discovery session.  

While you can get the information via email or Google, in an ideal world it’s best to have an in-person meeting or conference call. 

Not only does this build a human relationship with your potential new client, but it also allows you to get a clear understanding of the business goals and customer needs.

Aim to find out the following information from the meeting: 

  • What are the business goals over the short, medium, and long term? 
  • What are they working towards? Do they have any sales or other targets they need to meet? 
  • How do they think social media will help them achieve these goals? 
  • What does their current social media strategy look like? Are they happy or unhappy with it, and why?
  • Who are their competitors, online and/or locally?
  • Who are their target customers?
  • What social media activities have worked and haven’t worked to date?
  • What issues or challenges are they currently facing with social media?
  • What’s their budget for social media? 
  • What is an acceptable cost per acquisition? 

While this isn’t an interrogation, it is your opportunity to find out if you’re a good fit for each other. 

You need to find out if the client can afford your services, if you offer the services the client needs, and whether or not the client’s expectations are realistic. 

Step Two: Discover the Target Audience 

There’s little point in driving traffic if it’s not qualified or relevant. Your proposal needs to show that you understand the type of customer that will generate revenue or conversions for the business. 

During the discovery call, you asked the potential client to explain their ideal customer. This is a great starting point but, if possible, try to dig deeper. 

Ask them to provide data about their existing social media audience or, even better, provide access to their social media accounts. Review their analytics to learn about their audience demographics. 

Once you’ve gathered the statistics from existing social media activities, use the data to create audience personas. 

Let’s use a fictitious dog food site as an example. For example, the target customer might be John:

  • He is over the age of 45
  • He lives in New York 
  • He has recently retired after having a successful career
  • He worked in tech, so he is comfortable on social media
  • He owns an older dog with deteriorating health
  • He enjoys walking his dog multiple times per day
  • He wants top quality, organic food for his dog as he thinks it’s beneficial for his dog’s health

Once you’ve completed your audience personas, it’s a good idea to consider if they fit well with the business goals in step one.

For instance, if the business goals are to sell a high volume of cheap dog food as quickly as possible, our retiree dog food connoisseur is not going to be a good fit. 

Step Three: Research the Competitive Landscape 

In the discovery meeting, ask who the main competitors to the business are. These could be local brick and mortar competitors or worldwide brands that compete online. 

Use the information from the meeting as your starting point, but also conduct your own research to find other competitors.

Do this by considering whether there are any similar businesses in slightly different industries or companies that your target audience already follows on social media.

What social media networks do the competitors use? What content types do they publish? Which content types are the most popular with their audiences?

Do all of the competitors conduct the same type of social media posts or are there any outliers?

As well as considering what the competition is already doing, try to discover any gaps. Can you see a way to differentiate your offering from the competition or a way to do what’s currently being done but on a larger, more successful scale?

Step Four: Conduct a Social Media Audit 

Most businesses will have already conducted some form of social media marketing. Therefore, it’s important to take this into account when you’re crafting your proposal.

The first step is to audit their existing social media channels. Review all of the platforms they are currently using.

  • Which is performing well? Which isn’t? Why?
  • What types of posts are performing best? 
  • What are the business objectives for each channel? 
  • What are the core metrics for each channel?

Input all the data into a spreadsheet to get a really clear picture of what’s working and what’s not. 

Writing the Social Media Proposal

Pat yourself on the back, you’ve done the discovery and research phase (a.k.a. the legwork) for your proposal.

Now you need to tie it all together to write an epic proposal that tells the potential client how well you understand their requirements and why you are the best person for the job. 

#1 The Introduction

First impressions count.

The introduction can make or break your entire proposal.

It needs to quickly and succinctly explain that you understand exactly what the client requires and why you can help them. If it doesn’t, you can easily lose them.

Be polite but also personal. Use “you” and “yours” to build the relationship.

This is your opportunity to tell the potential client about your business. Use it to introduce your company, relevant experience, and also the team members who will be a part of the project.

As well as introducing the proposal, briefly outline what you’ll include in the document. For example:

In this document, you will find:

  1. Your social media needs and objectives. 
  2. An audit of the current social media performance.
  3. The proposal on our engagement including the scope, timelines, pricing, and next steps.

#2 Business Objectives

The purpose of this section is to show the client you’ve listened to and understand their business needs.

Use the information from the discovery and research phase to outline the company’s current issues and/or needs.

Keep it simple, specific, and avoid any ambiguity.

You want to show that you don’t offer generic filler social media services. Rather, you offer services that are tailored specifically to the business’ goals, the customer needs, and the competitive landscape.

Here’s an example of a clearly defined social media goal:

  • Brand awareness will be improved by a 50% increase in Facebook engagement rates. 

#3 Scope 

Explain what you are proposing to do for the business and why. Make sure that all of the activities tie into the business goals and customer needs.

Break down this section into smaller subsections; for example, content creation, network selection, posting schedule, social listening, engagement, analytics, reporting, and meetings.

Try to be as specific as possible. Not only does this help the potential client understand exactly what to expect, but it also means that further down the line (when you’re hired), there’s no scope creep or ambiguity.

Here’s an example of a subsection:

Posting schedule: How often you will post to each network and why.

For example, “I will post to Facebook once a day, using different types of content each day.”

If there will be an approval process for posts, include it here. For instance:

  1. A draft post is submitted seven days in advance by the agency.  
  2. The client approves the post or requests revisions within seven days. 
  3. The revisions are submitted within 24 hours by the agency. 
  4. The client approves the revisions within 24 hours. 
  5. The post is approved and scheduled for publishing. 

Once you’ve covered what’s included, it’s a smart idea to mention what’s not included. If you’re not prepared to source images, make sure to mention that, or if images are an added expense payable by the client, add that in too. 

#4 Introduce Your Team Members

When you enter into a new contract, the client is investing time and money in your team. They want to know who they will be working with and, more importantly, why they are the best people for the job.

Your social media proposal should identify the roles of each person involved in delivering the project. This could include writers, designers, strategists, analysts, project managers, account managers, or digital marketers.

If you’re a larger agency, it isn’t necessary or realistic to list everyone. However, try to include team members that are integral to the project, especially those that are client-facing.

If the client knows your team, it will humanize your agency at the same time as positioning your company as a team of industry experts ideally placed to deliver the work. 

#5 Milestones and Deadlines

It’s important that the potential client knows exactly what they will get and when. Use this section to outline what will be done and how you will tie these activities to the success of the project.

Here’s an example milestone:

Milestone: Increase Facebook leads by 50% in the next 12 months.

To make sure that everyone is held to account, use social media analytic tools to measure current and ongoing engagement. This ensures that everyone can quickly and easily see exactly how much progress has been made throughout the engagement.

Explain how you will provide access to analytics and reports. Will you send a weekly or monthly report? What metrics will be measured? Which measurements indicate success?

#6 Showcase Your Past Successes

So far, your social media proposal has explained how well you understand the customer needs and how you are going to meet them.

Next, include some data to showcase why your company is the best option to deliver the work.

Consider including client testimonials, case studies, and results from past clients. You don’t need to add everything you’ve ever done, but include relevant examples from similar projects you’ve worked on. 

#7 Payment Terms and Fees

One of the most important sections of the proposal is the terms and conditions. It’s here where you’ll add specific details about your fees and payment terms.

  • How would you like to be paid? Is this a time and materials contract or are you proposing a monthly retainer fee? 
  • Who pays for expenses? Do they need to be agreed in writing or verbally beforehand? 
  • How will you deal with items that are outside the scope? Will these items be billed on an hourly rate? 
  • When will you invoice? Weekly? Monthly? After the work is done or in advance? Does the client need to pay a deposit upfront? 
  • Is there a deadline for accepting the contract? 
  • How can the contract be canceled? Is it a rolling contract or a fixed-term contract (e.g. six or twelve months)?

Take time to consider all of these questions before submitting your proposal. Scope creep is a huge issue for agencies, so make sure to address this upfront and consider all “what-if” scenarios. 

#8 The Next Steps

At the end of the proposal, it’s useful to tell the potential client what to do next. This eliminates any ambiguity and gives the potential client clear expectations. It also means that you are not left in the dark waiting for an answer.

You can arrange a time to follow up via email or phone, or you could offer directions for how to sign and return the contract. Alternatively, you could let the client know how to request changes.

Creating a Reusable Template 

You’ve now created a social media proposal that speaks directly to the client’s needs and wants. You’ve outlined exactly what you’ll do, why they should trust you, and how you can be held accountable.

This may seem like a ton of hard work, but once you’ve crafted the perfect pitch, you can easily turn it into a reusable template to use for subsequent clients.

With a reusable template in hand, you can create new proposals for prospective clients, win more business, and grow your agency.

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