Jul 19, 2017 | Payel Mukherjee
A simple search on Google for ‘Social Media Agency’ results in 15,10,00,000 results. And this doesn’t include freelancers or the bigger umbrella of digital marketing agencies. A prospective client has a good subset of these vying for their business. Surpassing them all, winning a client over and getting them to stay with you is an uphill task – one that everyone on this end of the equation knows for better or worse.
There are numerous things that go in winning a client over – your reputation, existing work, recommendations and testimonials from existing clients, overall experience, your website and social media, your team strength, your physical presentation, budgets – and last but not the least – your actual proposal.
With so much competition out there, some may even be better than you on a couple of factors in the above list. There may be others who may be willing to do the same work for less. But that doesn’t matter. We believe that if all things are equal, there is one factor that makes or breaks a deal when it comes to winning over a client – your understanding and interpretation of the brief that goes in the proposal.
In this first of our three-part series, we will be taking you through simple but effective steps to create a social media proposal that can help you clinch the deal. (We will also be We've outlined specific guidelines that will make your proposal stand out from the rest of the crowd and get your client to sit up and take notice.
Let's get started on writing a winning Social Media Proposal.
Getting the brief right
A written proposal is mostly sent after the basics are agreed upon during an initial meeting. This meeting / conversation should form the crux of your proposal. Here, you’ll actually be putting your ‘social listening’ skills to use (the real world kind) where you can either write down or record the conversation when you client gives you a brief.
There are multiple points your clients may mention during the meet – customizing your proposal with clear answer to their queries will make your proposal stand out when compared to others.
Here’s what you need to do before you meet your prospective client to collect the brief:
A. Do thorough research on your client
Understand who they are, who are the key players in the company, their current social presence and status and their overall online reputation. If they send newsletters, be sure to subscribe to them.
B. Take time to understand their industry
From construction to hospitality, from healthcare to fashion, our range of clients are quite diverse. With each new client comes new understanding of their industry and its workings. Whether your clients are B2B, B2C or both will play a huge role in charting their social goals.
C. Run a top level check for competitors
Do a quick search for their competitors and analyze their online presence / campaigns.
D. Have a set of questions handy
From your understanding of the client, get a question set ready that’ll tell them that you’ve done your homework. These shouldn’t be superficial but instead demonstrate some of the insights you’ve gained during your research process
At the client meeting where you have gone to take the brief:
A. Understand client objectives
We’ve had clients who want to do social only because everyone else is doing it. There are others who want to do it to see if social as a channel can exponentially increase their sales. A clear understanding of the business objections will allow you to create better social media objectives and a strategy then to follow it up.
B. Check for assumptions
A client may have worked with some agency at some point in time. They may just assume that you will follow a similar style. In other cases, they may have heard stories and case studies and expect things to be like clockwork for them too. At worst, we’ve had clients who were new and amateur in the business and assumed digital was going to bring their pot of gold. Assumptions often lead to unrealistic expectations so make sure you set the tone on your working style and deliverables.
C. Gauge their knowledge level
Clients come in all shapes and sizes. Some have just set up a website and are testing waters. Others have been around since the evolution of the internet and will drop terms like “Audit”, “inventory”, “analytics” and “ROI” during a regular conversation. Understanding this will help you determine the language you need to use in your proposal. You want to speak their language for them to be receptive to your idea.
D. Excite them about a prospective relationship
Show them that you’ve done your homework. Demonstrate how genuinely you are interested in their business and want to be a part of their success story. Tell them you are in for the long term and want to craft an exciting social story for them.
E. Be prepared
Prospective clients generally tend to ask for work samples, case studies and references. Not being able to provide this is a big red flag so have your credentials handy.
F. Write things down
Many ships have sunk when they go the ‘he said, she said’ route. Hence, we’ve made it a point to have a colleague record the minutes of the meeting and circulate it once the meeting is over. This ensures you are on the same page and goes as a first step in showing your diligence.
G. Note the nuances
Create an internal brief for your team’s reference. Mention what you’ve gauged by reading between the lines too.
Now that your first level is complete, it is time to make an outstanding social media proposal that’ll seal the deal.
A Doc or a Presentation?
While there is no right answer here, use whatever is easily compatible with basic software that are available with your client. We prefer a presentation when we have to just mention bullets and then personally present the proposal to the client. If we just have to email it over, we prefer a doc which has things written down and doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
There are 4 essential elements in building a social media proposal – 4 questions that every client has in mind and how your proposal answers it
The rest is fluff and jargon.
Let’s get started
1. YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR CLIENT’S OBJECTIVES
When it comes to social media, there is a lot of flashy jargon that gets thrown around, especially because algorithms and drivers of the media itself keep changing quickly. We generally like to stay away from this and keep it as simple as possible and set goals that can max be achieved in the frame of six months. You can always run a check at this point and re-establish your goals for the next six months.
A. Setting objectives
Start by establishing the two or three key business objectives of your client.
More often than not, these are around two things – leads and conversions. There are some add-on factors like ‘branding’ and ‘visibility’ but these also need to translate to sales and revenue.
Things become slightly tricky when the product offerings are either B2B or high-value which doesn’t give an immediate reflection of the revenue generated from social channels. In such cases, measuring leads also help the client understand the effect of social media marketing.
B. Setting goals
Every goal you set needs to link back to a business objective. These need to be finite and measurable with the analytics resources made available to you.
Examples of Social Media goals
Often, clients tend to question how the increased traffic or engagement would benefit them. The answer is simple – eventually it should all link back to leads and sales.
C. Setting metrics
While leads and conversions are straightforward, brand engagement and reach can be a bit tricky. Define the specific metrics you’ll track for these. Follower count, cumulative post reach, and cumulative engagement on a social channel can be used as a starting point. Eventually, you’ll have to summarize it to analyse the impact of your entire work on social.
2. WHAT YOU PLAN TO DO
While you don’t have to reveal all your cards here, it is important to clarify all the little big things you’ll take up during the course of the project.
The idea is to use this section to show your clients how you are different from the others. After all, your clients may have received other proposals that’ll say they’ll create social media posts and provide them reports.
A. Create a content story
The hand that creates content will rule the digital world. From blogs to social posts to guest posts, it will go a long way in establishing authority, generating awareness, leads and even conversions. Don’t talk about just creating posts but how the posts are aligned with the overall goals and how you can eventually join the dots when you look back.
B. Plan a campaign
A campaign allows you to set milestones that can be met during the course of your project. Both successful and failed campaigns leave a lot of learning in their wake. Outline four campaign ideas you intend to take up during the project duration here.
C. Monitor social reputation
You’ll be the eyes and ears for the client online and will keep them abreast with your social listening tools – not only about them but their industry and even competitors.
D. Report on analytics
You’ll translate analytics into an analysis on how you’ve achieved your goals and map it back to the brand’s objectives. Also set the reporting schedule. Some clients want a weekly update, others care OK with a bi-monthly report. Some clients want a personal meeting, others may do it over a call and email. Set out report formats in advance and the reporting schedule to avoid any misalignment.
You’ll establish timelines, weekly work schedules and reporting schedules.
3. HOW YOU PLAN TO DO IT
A. Assign an Account Manager
If you are an agency, then having an account manager is a big factor in establishing a comfort zone for your client. You’ll have to make sure that your account manager is someone with reasonable experience and is more a ‘jack of all’ kinds who can sound like a best friend to a client while protecting your agency’s interests.
If you are a freelancer, you’ll have to take up this job yourself. Sending regular email updates and having weekly calls can ease both you and your client into the schedule.
B. Tools you’ll use
While you don’t have to tell your clients the exact tools you plan to use, you can always speak about the benefits and features and what type of tools you plan to use. Several agencies use a task management tool like Asana which takes the conversation out of emails and keeps everyone on the same page. You may sometimes have to teach your clients on how to use the tool too.
C. Information you’ll need from them
In several cases where the nature of the product or service is technical, you’ll need to client’s help in picking the right words. In such cases, you’ll need regular briefs from them. You’ll also need updates on the company happenings, images, recruitment information etc. which can be shared socially.
From contests to newsletter subscription rewards, you can have numerous tactics to achieve your goals. You can map these to campaign ideas and share with your client.
E. Customize, customize and then customize some more
So far, whatever we’ve mentioned can be done by any social media agency. But what will truly make your proposal standout is the amount of customization you add in. For each of the points, use examples that the client can relate to clearly. This will showcase your depth of understanding their business.
F. Bring in the WOW factor
Add in one insight or idea that’ll make your client sit up and take notice. This is the real deal. We highly recommend you do not send your proposal without this. You’ll need some industry, category, brand or product insight / problem that will become a strategy driver for your brand.
Take the recent #LiveThere campaign by AirBnB. There was a simple insight that AirBnB’s customers wanted to live like a local. In a 360 degree effort, the campaign video received 11 million views on Facebook, 56,000 likes and over 5200 comments.
It all started with the insight. That’s where you’ll have to start too. It is what will make your proposal stand out from the rest and get you your client – hook, line and sinker.
4. WHAT WILL IT COST THEM
Budget is always a stressful topic for the agency. You’ll have to calculate the cost of the resources you dedicate to a client and some of the additional work that crops up without notice when you are on a retainer. Many agencies outsource work to freelancers to save time, costs and efforts.
To ensure you don’t shock your client out of the park, try to break down the costs. This allows the client to see where their budget is being spent and then change the allocation if needed. The sacred rule is to never undercharge because the work will always be more than you think. There will be unplanned meetings and calls. There will be a sudden email, which your resource will spend half a day on. At other times, the natural cascading effect of a campaign will make work overflow. There’ll be a Plan B that needs to be executed to get the campaign in line.
If you are a freelancer, you’ll be able to find near accurate answers on websites like Quora about what your peers charge. If you are too cheap, you client will doubt your quality. If you are too pricey, it’ll put them off.
Document all actions and support it with explanations – this will keep your client at ease.
GETTING A CLIENT AND THEN KEEPING THEM IN
After the tough job on getting that coveted client, you now have the more important job of keeping them in and keeping them happy.
Here are things that our regular clients have told us
A. Get visible results in 3 months
Three months is the patience threshold for most clients by when they want to see something moving – preferably forward because of the efforts put in and money spent. At the end of three months, you should be having a clear report on how your work has helped your client.
B. Be available
Responding to all emails within one working day keeps clients reassured that you are available for them and consider their requests important.
C. Be sticky on time
If you’ve set a call time for 4PM, make sure you call – and you are ready with a clear agenda for discussion. Also, you record minutes and diligently follow up on action points. Be on time for meetings and always be well-prepared with Plan Bs.
Do you have some interesting tips on what makes your client tick?
Drop us a comment here.
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