How to Create a Strong, Winning Design Proposal

What’s the most difficult question most designers have to answer? You scored a 10 if you answered: “How much will it cost?”. That’s why, my friend, you need to create a strong Design Proposal instead of a simple Price Estimate.

If you are now experiencing a little desperation thinking that you’ll have to lose hours writing a personalized proposal every single time your client send you an inquiry, well, life is better than that. Once you create a great proposal structure, it will be easily adaptable to your next projects.

Remember, as with resumes, an effective Design Proposal isn’t long. Don’t give them time to lose interest, yo! Oh, and as you know, a lot of what happens in our lives is now online. Your Design Proposal shouldn’t be different.

So here we go! Let’s walk through the indispensable elements for a strong, winning Design Proposal:

Everything Looks Better With a Cover

Any document we send to the prospect ought to be professional. If this proposal will be the first ever document you’ll be sending, make sure it looks über professional.

First of all: do you have a cool personal Branding? If yes, do you have your own stationary? Good, because you’ll use it all here. The winning Design Proposal cover should contain:

  • Your Logo
  • The Client’s Business Name (very important! everyone likes personalization)
  • The Title of The Service Described in The Proposal (Website, Logo, Brand Identity)
  • Your Contacts: Email and Website.

A cover is very simple and quick to design, but it will make a huge difference. After all, you aren’t sending a proposal for something bureaucratic and boring, but for a creative job that should add value to your client’s product or service. As in every sales pitch, the best order is: 1) Present your product/service as better as you can. 2) Inform the price. If you do this in this order, your prospect will automatically perceive the price accordingly to what he thinks of your product/service.

With a Design Proposal is no different. First, you should let the client know everything you can do for them, and then, tell them how much it will cost.

Let Them Know That You Get Their Problematics

The prospect will feel comfortable hiring someone that shows how good they can understand their needs. You can show them that you do by talking straight to them in a language they’ll understand and list the problems that they face. It will trigger a curiosity about the solutions you’re about to offer.

You are going to have to dig. Find out what the real problem is. Then, you can go about finding a solution. – Jacob Cass from JustCreative.com

Come With The Solutions

Now is when you write a quick insight on how the service you’re about to present can help their business. For instance: will you design their new Branding so it speaks directly to their dream audience? Is their business ready to expand to an online powerhouse especially crafted by you, for their needs? Maybe their concurrence changed and modernized and now they should re-brand to keep up? Whatever it is, be sure to state that you know how to help.

Service Characteristics

Here you’ll specifically describe all the characteristics of the service you’ll provide. If it’s a Website, every single page and function should be written. This practice not only lessens the chances of misunderstandings but also shows your client that you carefully calculated your price according to the exact service you’ll provide. Remember: it does not have to be true to the final agreements. It is just a first touch-base so you both know you’re in the same page.

If it’s a logo, you can add the number of alteration rounds you provide before starting to charge extra, and the number of different logo proposals you might present.

Tell Them Why They Should Hire You

This is the point where you throw in your USP – Unique Selling Proposition. What makes you different? Are you an expert in say, Branding + Website Design, as they need? Are you very familiar with their niche? Can you also provide Digital Marketing Strategies to attract more traffic and convert more leads to paying customers?

Finally, Let’s Talk About Investment

After you talked about their problems and how and what you can do to help, write down your price. A tip that usually works well for us: instead of writing down the whole amount, you can let them set the payment in a couple installments if it won’t hurt your business, naturally.

Remember to specify everything included or not in the investment. As:

  • Website Hosting – Do you offer it? Until how many monthly accesses? For unlimited or limited space? Is the first year included in the investment?
  • Are taxes included?
  • Is video/image production included?

Here, Jacob Cass from JustCreative came with a very interesting idea on how to better break down a Website pricing. In his own words:


THE BAD WAY

As we’ve already seen, there is usually both a good and bad way to do things. When it comes to pricing information, a bad proposal would share something like this:

WordPress installation$400
Theme purchase$50
Customization of theme$250
Creation of 10 WordPress pages$500
SEO Audit$300
Total Cost$1,500

Why is this a bad example? It is far too technical. From your point of view, you’ve outlined everything that needs to be done. From the client’s point of view, this is a confusing list of jargon that comes with a hefty price tag but really means nothing.


THE GOOD WAY

Rather than come at this like a to-do list, think of the client’s needs. How much will it cost to fix their problem and meet their needs?

Create custom website$700
Write website content$500
Ensure website is visible in search results$300
Total Cost$1,500

From start to finish, the entire proposal is about fixing the client’s needs. The pricing section is no exception.

Which Are Each Part’s Responsibilities? List Them Too!

Deadlines

How will the payments take place if any of the parts delay a deadline? Because, as much as you want to respect deadlines, no one is safe from a delay here and there. So the Design Proposal should specify if any payment extension will occur.

Also, we all know that clients sometimes can postpone the sending of material you’ll need to use or the approval of process steps. You should write down if payment extensions will happen then, so you’ll be covered whatever happens.

Work Systematics

Here you can note that every approved step will be a concluded step. You can also arrange that at the end of every stage, you’ll send a document for the client to sign. Why is this important? Because if the client needs alterations after a signed approval, you can (and probably should) charge extra for it.

You can also specify how much the extra charges would cost, say, per hour.

Create a Call-For-Action

Insert the call-for-action you judge that will work better for you. Here are some cool examples of almost irresistible calls-for-action.

Don’t Forget To Say Thank You!

At the end of your Design Proposal, warmly thank your prospect for considering working with you. Say that you are available to talk about any query they might have, and add again your contact information.

Download a Sample Proposal:

The folks from HOW Design shared this Design Proposal for Free Downloading.

Here is a useful Infogram showing some statistics regarding Design Proposals:

How to Land More Clients With Your Proposals
By LGuerra, from Visually.

Want some more?

Don’t miss The Essential Marketing Checklist Your Creative Business is Missing.

A complete step-by-step and the indispensable topics covered in the perfect design proposal. Website, branding, create a strong, winning design proposal.

Tatiana Bastos

The Content Pac-Man: Born and raised in Brasil, studied advertisement at Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo. But from a small child knew to be taken head over feet by fine arts, illustration, and photography. For that reason, attended Panamericana School of Art and Design, also in Brazil, and then ventured to learn some more at The Art Students League of New York, in Manhattan. After years spending time traveling the globe and living on an inspiring island at the center of the blue Aegean Sea, in Greece, settled to be based on electric Berlin, Germany. Still a world traveler, healthy eater, art lover, diy do-er and a words-addict.

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