Posted by News Express | 17 April 2017 | 1,788 times
So, there you are, getting ready to hit the send button on your proposal. You are almost certain that that your potential client is going to take one look at your proposal and intuitively know that you understand how your branding project will place them on track to become the gold standard in their industry.
So, imagine your surprise when days turn into weeks (or months) and you don’t hear anything back from your prospect. Or, worse, your prospect sends you a hasty reply letting you know that they have decided to go into another direction.
Or, possibly worse, you receive a response stating that your prospect has decided not to embark on any branding projects, because they don’t see the value in it.
Oh no! What went wrong? There are probably a few things: You assumed that your prospective client understood all aspects of branding. You assumed that your prospect understood how branding affects their bottom-line over the long-term. You didn’t explain why your service is worthy of the money that your prospect would need to spend.
There might be other reasons, but there are three major ones that you should address while you are sending out proposals.
The perfect opportunity to address these concerns is while you are composing a comprehensive proposal. For a moment, let’s take a look at what a comprehensive proposal entails.
The problem statement: Here, you’re letting the client know that you understand their concerns.
The solution: Because, that’s why you are in business, right? You need to solve the client’s problem.
The benefits: This is exactly what the client wants to hear. Why should they invest in your service?
The cost: When you set up the first three steps correctly, you’ll completely justify this section.
The call to action: The crucial, simple step that you’re probably getting wrong.
But, before we delve into the how-to of each step, let’s back-track a bit and delve into the challenges of a branding service provider.
Translating intangible value into tangible revenue
There are certain services such as SEO or social media that are easy to quantify. These are the type of services that are mostly data-driven and are also stat-heavy. In other words, it’s easy to explain to your clients how these types of campaign add value to their marketing.
But then, there are the services that are far more reliant upon concepts such as creativity and perception. As an industry expert, you might fully understand how and why a service such as branding adds value to your prospect’s business.
But, here’s the problem: Can you clearly and fully articulate this to your prospective client? And besides, are you willing to give your clients a quick primer course in branding?
If you’re scratching your head a little, trying to figure out where you had to begin in explaining the basics of a product that is based upon imagination and perception, then imagine how your prospect feels when you blast them with promises of building and expanding their brand?
This leads to the first aspect that you will need to address within your proposal: The problem statement.
The Problem Statement
For the sake of this write-up, we’ll pretend that your agency is about to approach ABC Company. ABC Company in this scenario wants to increase their revenue by making sure that as many people as possible learn about them. They have used traditional marketing and advertising in the past, but suddenly, they come across pitches from agencies such as yours, asking them the following:
We will create a comprehensive branding strategy that will enable ABC Company to expand their reach and become the leader in the industry. Now, as an industry insider, you might understand what this means, but does your prospective client understand what this means?
Chances are good that they won’t, and the decision maker who reads your message will say ‘Oh’, and then toss your proposal into a slush pile. Or, they’ll roll their eyes as they read yet another indecipherable pitch loaded with industry speak, and they will throw your proposal in the trash (or, they will delete your pitch from their inbox).
Since you will never get ahead with prospects ignoring and throwing away your proposals, why not try this:
ABC has noticed that their competitors are being perceived as industry leaders who are in touch with the needs of their customer base. Their competitors are establishing an identity with their customers in a way that creates positive connection, service and satisfaction. As a result, ABC is realising a loss of immediate revenue and life-time customer value. ABC needs a branding campaign that allows their company to create an enduring identity among their industry peers and targeted customer-base. The branding project will include a variety of tools that will cohesively create a perceived corporate image.
Consider the following: You have explained that you understand the gaps that the ABC Company needs to fill, and how it’s killing their bottom-line. You have made a diagnosis of the problem so that your prospect understands that there is a solution. You’ve offered a brief explanation of what the result of the project will entail.
You could probably offer up a few more details, but the point is, you went beyond a one-liner, spewing on about how great a branding project would be for your customer. Because, they’re not going to believe that it’s great if they don’t understand what a branding project is, or why they’d need one in the first place.
So, let us now look at the second step you’ll need to take in your proposal, if you hope for your client to take something like a branding project seriously.
Let us brand your company so that others can understand how great you are.
Okay, so you might not propose a solution in such simplistic terms (Or, would you?), but you can see how others might believe that the statement itself is a solution.
On the contrary, you will need to dig deeper, if you want your prospect to understand the value you bring to the table along with the amount of work involved in a comprehensive branding project.
Let’s take a glance at what you should be proposing in your solution statement:
ABC Company will require x amount of consulting time in order for us to understand their corporate culture and values. After identifying these, we can begin to create materials and messages that further a carefully-crafted perception.
Examples of these materials will include marketing media such as letterheads, logos, websites, blogs and e-mails. All these will attract the type of customers who want to be loyal to a branded company who understands them, and holds to the values that are important to the targetted customers.
To be continued next week.
•Lawrence Nwaodu is a small business expert and enterprise consultant, trained in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with an MBA in Entrepreneurship from The Management School, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and MSc in Finance and Financial Management Services from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Netherlands. Mr. Nwaodu is the Lead Consultant at IDEAS Exchange Consulting, Lagos. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org (07066375847).
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