Key Factors of a Successful Proposal

As event planners, we’re expected to write proposals at a relatively high frequency. Most vary from each other, but I’ve taken what I’ve learned along the way and improved my overall proposal strategy dramatically over the years. This has culminated in my pitching to a number of fortune 500 companies for partnership on the launch of my book, The Art of Event Planning. 

Last week I wrote a proposal for a potential collaboration with a company I’ve gotten to know well over the years. I sent my new contact all the information I knew she would need to make a decision. We’ve all dealt with potential clients or stakeholders who don’t follow up, but this meeting quickly materialized. Our conversation was a great one, and I felt thankful for the expertise past mentors had imparted. Now, I am sharing my strategy with you, and I hope you hone it to represent your own voice and move mountains!

Establish a level of understanding first
When we collaborate or pitch to new people, we try to ensure that they understand the role we will play in helping them create a goal-oriented event. However, I do think it’s easy to overlook how little a new client might know about the event planning process. Think about it this way, what seems obvious to us, most likely wasn’t fresh out of school.  

Maybe the new prospective client assumes that they will sell a certain number of seats at their ticketed conference, at an exact price point, and this bolsters their budget. However, we understand that there are comps and discounts and affiliate codes to be shared, and these affect net numbers. These additional discounts must be accounted for, since the overall budget will likely be less afterwards.

If we can educate our clients on basic strategies in talks before the proposal hits their inbox, then we have already cleared up any foreseeable confusion and we can seal the deal in a prompt manner.

The CEO of Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions, Inc.Hector Ruiz, once said, “Fair and open competition is the only course we know that can lead to meaningful innovation.”  This much is true, and studying competing agencies will only help you glean information on what’s working tech wise. While there is an abundant amount of tools at our disposal, knowing which ones to use to sustain a client’s strategy is key. In addition, whether you’re great at reducing budgets or very interested in engagement or have unique strategies for sharing messaging— I implore you to share your super strengths within your proposal. List them first and make sure to leave some points open ended so that you can talk to your client and provide supporting evidence, and avoid overwhelming them with the printed word.

Transparency is key
Finally, sometimes, our clients ask us for things to include in our scope that we don’t have practice with. It’s fine to say no, or ask more questions, or propose a different solution that your agency can handle. The truth is, there is a fair amount of risk in overpromising to a client. We must always air on the side of caution when we go about listing our services, when they are outside of our typical scope of work. Whether it’s a 30,000 person event you’re trying to win, or a fully integrated AI concierge service you’re trying to implement— always remember that your “yes’s” should be truthful. Take your time in answering, and if you realize you can’t accommodate their proposal, it’s okay! The great thing is, there is always a way: it just takes some brainstorming to get there. 

Finally, I’d love to hear your tips for scribing winning proposals. Since I am learning everyday, I will continue to share. I hope you do too!