Social Media Proposal: The Request for a Proposal

social media proposalSocial media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit are shaping the way businesses see marketing. With the whole world watching, companies can make their presence known in just 32-characters or through a meme like Doge. It’s a wonder that all companies aren’t using social media marketing as their primary campaign to target audiences. Actually, it makes sense. A wise woman once said “ain’t nobody got time for that”. So what’s a business to do? Seek out social media marketers – of course. This is a niche group of people who specialize in making your venture “pop” online which enables you to get your message across to millions of people around the globe. Not sure about social media? You’re not alone. Check out this course called Social Media 101 to learn how important social media really is to the success of your business.

Now, there are two different kinds of social media proposals. First, there is the social media proposal sent from the business to a social media marketing firm to ask for assistance in managing their social platforms. Secondly, there is the proposal from the social media marketing company to potential new customers. Regardless of which category you fall into, we’ll cover it here. A social media proposal is not a social media plan. If you are looking for more information about creating a plan to help manage your social media marketing in-house read How to Get Started.

Social Media Marketing Agency to Potential Customers

There are two thinkable situations in which a company that specializes in managing social media for businesses would need to write a proposal. One, a customer asks you to. This is called a Request for Proposal (RFP). Sometimes customers throw a handful of mud at you and say “make gold”. It’s not quite that easy. But as a social media marketing professional you do your best. For these particular circumstances you want to write up a proposal about why you’re company is better than everyone else, what you can offer, what you will do for them and how you will attempt to accommodate all of their needs. After all, the goal is to make them think that no one else will make gold from mud. Two, you may be a new firm without a long list of clients to work with. Everyone has to start somewhere. In this case, you would write up a short and sweet proposal about the same things mentioned in number one. With proposal in hand, you can begin to seek out clients through marketing efforts (which is your specialty so this shouldn’t be too difficult) to secure business. Learn more about social media marketing for businesses in this course.

Either way, you’re going to need a proposal. So here is a guide to writing an agency-to-potential-customer proposal to get the business you deserve.

The Proposal

1. Don’t let your secrets out. This may seem like a no-brainer and at the same time seem incredibly tempting. I mean, you have great tactics and you know you can convince the customer that you’re the best at your job. However, if you give them a detailed strategic plan on what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it – you will be out of a job because they will do it themselves. And there you have it, customer wins and you lose. We’re hoping for a win-win kind of situation here. Be thorough in your discussion of what you can offer but don’t hold their hand through it until they agree to hire you.

2. Research the business you are writing a proposal to. The best edge you can get is to know your audience. If you write about how Twitter increased CNN’s viewer numbers by 30% and your company was solely responsible… but you’re telling this to a coconut monkey making company, they may not be that impressed. Do your research. This is also incredibly beneficial to you as some companies are just not worth your time. If someone asks you to write a proposal for them and they are trying to sell a less-than-desirable product (maybe one of those nutritional supplement, As-Seen-On-TV, tiered profit system kind of things) you may not want to get involved. It’s totally up to you who you represent so use your discretion.

3. Get the low-down on what the company is looking for. If someone comes to you asking for a proposal you’re going to need to ask some questions. This will show the customer that you are taking into consideration all of their needs and their current situation. Not to mention it’s going to make writing that proposal a heck of a lot easier. It may sound appealing to draft a couple proposals and then affix appropriate customer name to the heading and send it out. However, tailoring your proposal to each and every client is going to land you more business than sending out a one-fits-all response. Ask the customer what their current resources are, what they expect to get out of social media marketing and what their communication needs might be. And very importantly, ask them what their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is. If they can answer this concisely, you know they mean business.

4. Budget and Timeline. This is also a good time (if the conversation allows) to ask about their budget and timeline. This is good for two reasons. First, if the customer is seriously interested they will likely talk money with you. They want to know as much as you do what the price is going to be. Secondly, this allows you to explain to them that no, we can’t turn this around for you in two weeks for $100. Ensuring you and the customer are on the same page is a huge step towards securing the job.

Okay, so on to the proposal outline.

1. Who are you? This should be the first section in the proposal. Make sure you have a catchy lead in and that all of your spelling and grammar is correct. Crafting your words to convey your point in the most concise way is an art when it comes to business writing. Enhance your business writing skills in this course. There’s nothing worse than a customer receiving a proposal and throwing it out before they get to the good parts. Draft a brief and concise background story about how long you’ve been in business, what your company philosophy is, who you serve and your mission as a social media marketing agency or consultant.

2. Why are you special? What makes you stand out from your competitors? Be honest about this as the customer will really pay attention to this section. You don’t want to make promises you can’t keep.

3. What does your company do exactly? Basically – tell them the long and short of what services you offer. But make it more short than long, because again, you don’t want to let the secrets out. Let the company know you have their goals in the forefront of your mind. It’s also important to explain that there are social media policies you have to follow. If the potential client is asking for something outside of this scope – say something. Unfamiliar with social media policies? Take this course on Social Media Policies.

4. What audience will you target to? This is when you pull out all that information you gathered from asking questions. Do an evaluation of the company and then give a few recommendations as to who your agency will target with marketing efforts.

5. What are competitors doing? It helps to use your competitors to your advantage. Give the customer a visual of what others are doing in comparison to your company. This will give them the facts in an easy to interpret way and hopefully land you the job.

6. Goal timeline and budget. This is important, in my eyes, but not everyone does it. Include a timeline displaying important dates along the way. This should be tailored to the inquiring customers business. Say, they accept your proposal and want to get started right away. Start the timeline off with the day you’ll begin working for them, when you’ll check in, when they can expect to see increased traffic, etc. Be detailed so the customer can’t refuse you!

Business to Social Media Marketing Agency

Alright, so now that you know all of the social media marketing proposal secrets – what should you do when trying to find the best fit agency for your business needs? It’s really the same concept as above, but let’s go through it. Maybe you’re thinking you want to try to leave the social media marketing up to your advertising department. Have them take the course Social Media Marketing Game Plan as guidance.

The proposal

1. What exactly are you looking for? Okay, so you need someone who knows something about social media. But what about the rest of your marketing needs? Do you need a company that can cover a little bit of everything or just specialize in social media? If you have an in-house marketing department that just isn’t up to speed on social media then you’ll want to find a specialist. Before you start wasting time sending out proposals to inappropriate agencies – know what you are looking for.

Also think about what you are looking to accomplish. Are you seeking an agency for a long-term relationship? Or do you need help spreading the word about a big event in 6 months? Define this in your proposal so the receiving company knows how to respond.

2. Do they know you? Don’t literally ask them that. They may have never heard of you before (probably because you need help with social media marketing). What you do what to ask them, however, is: how will the approach your specific needs? Throw them a situation that you’re looking for assistance with. See how they respond, how much they know about your business and what their first step would be. We discussed in the above proposal example about how the company should not outline every step they will take. So don’t expect an instructional response back from your proposal. You’re more looking to see if they understand your business and the direction you would like to go.

3. Ask questions. Always ask questions. Ask questions regarding the company’s present take on social media and how they expect social media to evolve over the next year or two. This will be a good indicator of how they see social media in time and space and give you a better idea of what to expect if you decide to go all in for the long haul. Ask about references, about the team itself, and ask for a case study. A case study will tell you how the company handled a successful campaign in the past and what you can expect for your own marketing campaign.

On the flip side, don’t ask too many questions. The agency may just look at your proposal and say “no way” and ditch it. Good social media marketing companies receive so many RFP’s that they can only respond to somewhere around 30% of them.

4. Money talk. Yes, it’s okay to talk about this. In fact – you want to. If the company doesn’t think you’re a serious customer or thinks that your requests are a bit outlandish, they may be tempted to write you off. You want to show them that you’ve thought about this, done due research and have a general idea of what you’re able to afford. The company will be quicker to work with you if they know there is literally money on the table. Additionally, if the company sees your budget and your needs and realizes there is no feasible way to get this done – they will let you know. This is beneficial because you won’t end up engaging with the company for several weeks before they drop the cost-bomb on you, only to find out it’s totally over budget. Don’t waste your time.

It’s a lot of information – but it’s all important. Take your time as you write you proposal, regardless of which side of the playing field you’re on. If all of this is confusing and you aren’t even sure you know what social media marketing really is, take the course Introduction to Social Media Marketing.