How you respond to enquiries can be decisive in winning projects or eating baked beans for dinner. It can also turn a one off project into the start of a long-term relationship.
So try to be tactical in how you make your offer. Apply the same rules as you would to any other piece of copy – find out what your prospect’s motivations are and then consider how you can build their confidence that you’re the right writer for them.
Here are six tips for writing winning proposals that will convert more curious enquiries into committed clients for life:
1) Don’t reply with a price
When you get emails opening with ‘Hi’ or “Dear ‘insert website URL’ team’ with a single line asking how much to write a website, it’s tempting to reply with an equally brief message stating your ballpark figure. This is a mistake. Just quoting a price commoditises your service and ignores all the other benefits you have to offer.
You’re not selling bags of nails. You’re selling the chance for the client to grow their business and all the thrills that come from a boost in profits. So do some probing. Find out about their objectives and how your copywriting skills can help.
2) Don’t offer a cut price deal
Thinking how low can you go to secure a project is the wrong approach. Offering a cut price service is never the basis for a good relationship – the client will see you as cheap and desperate for work while you’ll resent earning less than a handyman for your brain matter and skill. Check out the Professional Copywriter’s Network’s recommended rates and price accordingly.
3) Show off what you know
They may not realise it, but clients are hiring you for your marketing know-how as well as your lucid writing style. Demonstrate to them how you can help with content strategy as well as the words.
If you’re writing a website, advise them on fixing leaks (i.e. pages with high bounce rates), creating a path for visitor’s to follow, what the About page should really be about and creating a lead magnet. For email campaigns, advise them on average open rates, adopting the 80/20 ratio of information and sales pitches and why most sales don’t come until the forth contact.
4) Tell them what they’re doing wrong
If their website isn’t converting, provide them with ten reasons why. Point out how the slippery slope in their sales letters will give readers splinters and tell them that their white papers are actually brochures, unlikely to be read past the intro by today’s info hungry and sales averse prospect.
In my experience, business owners appreciate some tough love. They want to know how their campaigns can be improved and not just hire a copywriter happy to take their money for more of the same.
5) Offer more than words alone
Rarely is any piece of copy done in isolation. It forms part of the buyer’s journey that takes them from curious to convinced and eager to buy.
Provide clients with advice on creating this journey and the steps that need to be taken before (e.g. traffic generation with Facebook or LinkedIn ads) and after (e.g. lead capture form and auto responder series) they publish their white papers and case studies if they want more than page views and a placated boardroom.
6) Follow up with a phone call
(Full disclosure: this is one of those times when I offer advice I don’t follow often enough myself)
Following all the steps above when writing your proposals will give you a much higher chance of success compared to sending over a breakdown of your prices. But if you want to go that extra step further, pickup the phone or send them a Skype contact request to reinforce why you’re the premium grade choice.
People like to do business with those they know and trust. Connecting on the phone is can bridge the digital void and provide the human voice to accompany your proposal’s beautiful letterhead. Shooting the breeze about their project will give you another chance to address objectives, provide additional reasons why to hire you and do the same job of selling as meeting face to face.
So there you go. Yet more secrets shared from my melting pot to help you attract more clients and win more projects. Should we ever come up against one another in bidding for a project, may the best proposal win!