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Marketing Proposal Guide: Write, Design & Track + Templates

Learn how to make a marketing plan proposal for a marketing strategy or consultant. Discover the best marketing proposal format for your strategy or campaign.

Burkhard Berger

9 minute read

How to create a marketing proposal
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Short answer

What is a marketing proposal?

A marketing proposal is a detailed plan that outlines advertising, marketing, and brand enhancement strategies for a client's company. Usually crafted by a creative marketing agency or an in-house marketing team, this document is shared with the business's top decision-makers.

Most marketing proposals flop, but this can be avoided

Many marketing professionals find it a challenge to craft a proposal that truly resonates with potential clients, one that speaks directly to their needs and visions.

We put hours into crafting the perfect marketing proposal, only to be met with skepticism during the actual marketing presentation.

It’s true… making a marketing proposal that clients love is extremely difficult, but it’s not impossible. I can teach you how.

We’ll delve deep into how to make a marketing proposal that prospective clients will like so much they’ll read it with attention from start to finish.

Let’s get started.

Are you making proposals the wrong way?

A marketing plan can be presented as a dense text PDF, a visual presentation, or a modern interactive web story.

The most common way of making marketing proposals is a text-dense PDF format, but that’s also the least effective. A PDF format makes it practically impossible to stand out from the crowd, or engagingly convey information.

This is why leading marketing agencies are moving to interactive web-based proposals that can include live data and multimedia, embed e-signature forms, and can be easily read on mobile.

Here’s what the difference looks like between legacy PDF and modern proposals:

Marketing plan proposal in static PDF format

Static marketing proposal template

Modern interactive marketing proposal format

What are the main types of marketing proposals?

Whether you're looking to elevate a brand's market position, dive deep into market trends, or launch a focused marketing project, getting to grips with each type of marketing proposal will let you build strategies that hit the mark and deliver impactful results.

7 main types of marketing proposals:

1) Marketing strategy proposal

Offers a comprehensive plan for reaching marketing objectives, including how to position in the market, identify the target audience, and select the best marketing channels.

2) Market analysis proposal

Suggests an in-depth look at the market to spot trends, analyze competitors, and understand potential customer needs, helping shape informed business strategies.

3) Marketing project proposal

Details a particular marketing project with its goals, required resources, timeline, and the anticipated benefits for the business.

4) Marketing campaign proposal

Describes the aims, strategies, schedule, and expected results of a specific marketing campaign, with a focus on targeted promotional efforts.

5) Marketing budget proposal

A financial outline that specifies how funds will be distributed across different marketing activities, highlighting cost efficiency and expected return on investment.

6) Lead generation proposal

Concentrates on methods and strategies to attract and convert potential customers into leads, including the tools and approaches for successful lead gathering.

7) Performance marketing proposal

Targets marketing strategies with a focus on tangible results, underlining quantifiable achievements like conversions, sales, and return on investment from specific marketing actions.

What is the best marketing proposal format?

Based on our internal analysis of marketing proposal performance, with over 100K reading sessions, we’ve come up with an optimal content structure for a marketing plan proposal.

This marketing plan proposal outline works well both for marketing agencies or consultancies looking to persuade prospective clients and for internal teams seeking to promote their marketing projects internally.

What to include in a marketing proposal

  1. Introduction and overview: A brief introduction to the marketing plan, highlighting its purpose and key objectives.

  2. Market context and challenges: An analysis of the current market environment, including key challenges and competitors in the arena.

  3. Target audience segmentation: Detailed profiling of the target audience, including IT managers, software developers, tech startups, and IT consultants.

  4. Key objectives and goals: Specific goals such as user acquisition targets, conversion rate improvements, and brand awareness metrics.

  5. Strategic approach: Outline of the strategic approach, including product differentiation, content marketing, and influencer partnerships.

  6. Tactical game plan: Detailed tactics for each strategy, including online advertising, content creation, and influencer collaborations.

  7. Budget and financial planning: A comprehensive financial plan detailing budget allocation for various marketing activities.

  8. Implementation timeline and milestones: A timeline with key milestones, such as finalizing the marketing plan, launching campaigns, and assessing progress.

  9. Performance metrics and KPIs: Definition of key performance indicators for measuring success, including user acquisition rate, conversion rate, and user engagement metrics.

  10. Review and optimization strategy: A plan for continuous review and optimization of marketing strategies based on performance data and user feedback.

  11. Conclusion and next steps: Final remarks summarizing the plan and outlining the next steps for implementation.

How to write a compelling marketing proposal (9 steps)

Whether you represent a marketing agency, a marketing consultant, or an internal marketing team, decision-makers will want to know how you intend to reach the desired company goals.

And whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started, a structured approach to making a professional proposal can make all the difference.

From initial research to the final polish, each step is designed to help you communicate your vision and value with clarity and confidence.

1. Conduct research on clients

Focus on information about your potential client’s industry trends, target audience’s key demographics, distinct pain points, and competitive landscape to craft a well-informed marketing strategy.

With this, you can personalize your proposals to businesses by reflecting their ethos and ambitions within your pages. Thus, guaranteeing that every solution you propose resonates with key stakeholders.

  • Start with the company’s public face, including its website, press releases, and published interviews, to grasp its market position.

  • Leverage their social media accounts to reveal their brand voice and customer engagement strategies.

  • Look at your target client’s competitors. Doing this lets you determine what sets them apart. It will also help uncover gaps that can be transformed into opportunities, and you can highlight those in your proposal.

  • Get data and insights from your prospect’s reports and case studies to help you understand their industry trends and consumer behavior.

For instance, let’s say you are creating a proposal for a solar power solutions company.

When you visit their website, ask yourself: How do they showcase their products? What is their price range? Premium or budget-friendly?

Perhaps they highlight eco-friendly benefits, energy independence, or their unique longer-lasting solar battery system in their content and homepage.

Using your findings, start creating a content strategy outline for the proposal that highlights the brand’s strengths and speaks directly to their consumers.

As for pricing, this should help you customize your marketing services to appeal to their specific customer base.

With this approach, you can form the first layer of the foundation of your entire project.

2. Identify the client needs

The key difference in your proposal will be its ability to mirror the client’s needs accurately and innovatively. What this entails is diving deep into what drives a business, its challenges, and its aspirations.

In essence, this takes your preliminary client research to the next level and goes beyond visiting websites and reading case studies. This requires a more direct approach and communication with your prospects.

As a marketing expert, recognizing these needs lets you align your action plan with the client’s specific needs.

It becomes a game-changer in the bidding process, as it elevates your proposal from a standard pitch to a customized solution.

How do you nail this?

Engage in direct conversations with your potential clients to know what they aim to achieve.

Also, involve project stakeholders in these discussions since they can provide other perspectives that might otherwise be missed.

What you gain from your conversations will help you formulate a detailed plan that addresses your prospect’s needs. Completing this step helps transform your marketing agency from a service provider to a strategic partner.

Moreover, you should create a custom assessment for your potential clients to personalize your proposal process. This is particularly effective for larger projects, where understanding nuances is crucial.

For instance, let’s say you are creating an assessment for a retail client. Include a wide variety of questions that explore their use of automation tools, customer engagement strategies, and online sales process efficiency.

A deep dive like this lets you uncover common elements in their business and highlights specific areas where your marketing expertise can drive significant growth.

3. Set clear objectives

Define the specific goals your marketing solution aims to achieve to have a clear direction and purpose when writing your business proposals.

Without this clarity, your proposal might be aimless and unclear. Hence, diminishing its impact.

What should you do?

  • Align your objectives with your prospect’s goals. Understand what they want to achieve through their marketing efforts.

  • Tailor your proposal to your prospect. Based on your alignment with prospect's needs, ajust your project objectives and overall proposal to meet their project goals.

  • Leverage professional tools like SMART to structure your objectives. Using this framework helps make sure that each objective is precise, trackable, and attainable within a specific timeframe.

  • Break down your strategy into project phases and give each phase its own set of objectives. With this, you demonstrate a well-thought-out plan.

Here's a handy infographic explaining the SMART framework:

Marketing proposal - The SMART framework

Let’s see this process in action - say you are crafting a digital marketing strategy proposal for a brand expanding into digital products like courses, software solutions, and webinars.

First, align your plan of action with their goal: to captivate and convert their potential customer base into digital learners.

Then, dig further to know what their end-game is: Are they aiming to become thought leaders? Is their primary focus to make more software subscriptions? Are they tapping into current trends to attract a wider audience?

Afterward, use the SMART framework to ensure each objective in your strategy is focused and achievable.

For instance, set a target to increase webinar sign-ups by 30% within 3 months through targeted social media campaigns and email marketing.

With a structured objectives list, your client gets to visualize each step towards successfully diversifying their business.

Here's a great example of an objectives slide:

Marketing proposal objectives slide example

4. Design your strategy & tactics

Once you have your objectives, it is time to develop a game plan. You should detail how you will achieve the set objectives by including the specific actions you will deploy.

Doing this provides your prospects with a clear, transparent view of your approach. Thus, boosting their trust and confidence in your capabilities.

To craft an effective proposal, thoroughly understand your prospect’s target customers to directly tailor your marketing plan to those who matter most to their business.

  • Who are they?

  • What drives their decisions?

You should also leverage data to inform your choices and show why certain approaches are more likely to succeed.

Analyze market trends, customer behaviors, and previous campaign results to identify opportunities to capitalize on.

With this data-driven approach, you bring a level of precision and personalization to your proposal.

Here's an example of a game plan slide:

Marketing proposal game plan slide example

For example, let’s say you are developing a social media marketing strategy proposal for a company eager to expand its online presence. Start by identifying your prospect’s target customers on social platforms.

Are they millennials drawn to visual content and influencer marketing? Your business plan should then align with this discovery.

So, propose a blend of creative content and influencer collaborations and use data to show the effectiveness of those strategies.

Additionally, make sure your entire proposal is understandable. Avoid overly technical terms that could confuse the project team or stakeholders.

Break down strategies into clear, actionable steps and explain how each will contribute to effective marketing campaigns and overall business goals.

Of course, do not forget a common theme in this guide, your prospect’s needs. Align your strategies with the client’s marketing objectives to guarantee that every tactic you propose moves towards these goals.

5. Provide expected outcomes & KPIs

Clients want more than promises; they seek tangible results. Give them KPIs and a clear forecast of the results you aim to achieve to demonstrate accountability and set benchmarks for success.

Here's an example of an interactive outcomes slide:

Marketing proposal expected outcomes slide

How do you do this?

Choose KPIs that are most relevant to the strategic marketing plan you are proposing. Make sure these indicators align with the marketing challenges you aim to tackle.

In addition, you should detail how you will track progress using specific metrics.

If you create your marketing proposals with Storydoc, then analytics are tracked for you automatically from the get-go, and you can get all the insights you need from the built-in analytics suite.

If you’re using some other form of web content you could use a streaming data analytics platform to monitor real-time insights into how your campaigns are performing.

What this shows is foresight and assures clients that you have a solid plan to measure and achieve results.

Here's a brief video explaining how the built-in analytics panel works:

Storydoc analytics panel

Consider that your persuasive marketing proposal for an SBA loan investor company focuses on its goal to educate and build trust with small business owners.

Set clear KPIs and expected outcomes:

  • Aim for a 20% growth in social media followers to broaden the reach to potential borrowers across platforms.

  • Secure a 50% boost in site traffic through SEO-optimized articles on SBA lending practices.

  • Strive for a 15% increase in direct inquiries about SBA loans, indicating heightened interest and engagement.

Do not forget to detail how you will track these with regular updates via dashboards and monthly reports.

With this, you will show that you are going to handle the project with full transparency and precise measurement of progress.

A structured approach like this is especially critical in financial services marketing, as it guarantees precise targeting and messaging. It helps build trust and credibility in a sector where accuracy and reliability are paramount.

6. Establish a timeline

A chronological timeline will be your roadmap that marks significant milestones and allocates when clients can anticipate results.

Including this in your marketing proposals provides you and your clients with a structure. It also guarantees that everyone involved stays on track. Hence, avoiding misunderstandings, overlaps of phases, and delays.

Here's an example of a timeline slide:

Marketing proposal timeline slide example

To establish a timeline effectively, break down major phases into manageable tasks. Use a visual timeline in your business document like a Gantt chart.

This visual aid helps clarify the project timeline, including the specific hours dedicated to each task.

Here’s a scenario: You are creating a proposal for a company launching a digital marketing campaign to promote its creatine supplements.

Use Microsoft Project, GanttPRO, and Wrike to outline a visual timeline.

Then, break the campaign into phases:

  • Begin with a 2-week market research phase, focusing specifically on the target demographic for creatine supplements and competitive analysis in the supplement industry.

  • Follow this with a dedicated 4-week content creation phase to produce blog posts, how-to guides on using creatine for fitness goals, and engaging social media content highlighting user testimonials and creatine benefits.

  • Conclude with a 4-week content distribution and promotion phase, targeting fitness enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers.

Then, include bi-weekly check-ins with the marketing team to monitor and adjust the campaign as needed.

7. Include costs & terms

A well-detailed cost structure, paired with clear terms, sets the foundation for a harmonious partnership.

It helps prevent disputes and aid decision-making, as it sets clear financial obligations and conditions.

How do you set this up?

Break down costs for the types of marketing services you are offering, especially when specialized services are involved in complex projects.

Outline payment terms straightforwardly and specify the payment schedule, including any deposits required and the preferred payment methods.

For instance, if you are crafting a proposal for a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, list individual line items for each service. Additionally, clearly state the specific deliverables under each category.

Here’s an example you can take inspiration from:

Marketing proposal pricing summary example

For payment terms, incorporate details like having 35% due upon contract signing, with the balance payable monthly.

As for contract terms, specify duration, like a 1-year commitment, including conditions like a 45-day notice period for termination.

Laying out these terms eliminates ambiguities and promotes transparency. Plus, you can make sure your clients understand their financial commitment.

8. Write the marketing proposal

You've gathered insights, set objectives, planned strategies, provided KPIs, and outlined the costs and terms. Now, it is time to package this into a compelling proposal that resonates with potential clients.

Set up a solid framework to make sure you present your plan persuasively and coherently to guide the client through your vision and plan.

Use Storydoc to create personalized decks or dynamic presentations to “WOW” your potential clients.

What are the key elements you should work on?

  • Start with a cover page that includes the project title, your company's name, and the date. With this, you can set a professional tone right away and gain a favorable first impression.

  • Next, craft an executive summary. Treat this as your elevator pitch and not as a mere brief of your entire proposal. Summarize the client's needs, your proposed solutions, and why your agency is the best choice.

  • Then, delve into the specifics like the ones we discussed throughout this guide. Describe your proposed services, detailing how each element addresses the client's unique challenges and goals. Be precise, yet comprehensive.

  • Moreover, include case studies or examples of your previous success. They will show proof of your expertise and ability to deliver results. However, make sure to only include case studies relevant to the client's industry or challenge.

9. Use an interactive marketing proposal template

Consider using structured marketing proposal templates, so you do not have to scramble every time you propose to a prospect.

It’s also a good idea to move away from legacy proposal formats like PDF or PPT and upgrade your documents to interactive web experiences. These are much more attention-grabbing, compelling, and persuasive.

You can grab one of the tried and tested templates below to make your best proposal ever in record time.

No templates found

3 biggest mistakes to avoid when crafting a marketing proposal

Knowing what to include is not the end to crafting a marketing proposal that woes prospects. It is also critical to know what NOT to do. Otherwise, the goodwill you earn from the good parts of your proposal will become futile.

One misstep can jeopardize your chances of securing that coveted client. Identifying and sidestepping common mistakes enhances your proposal's effectiveness and positions you ahead of competitors who might still be making them.

Start taking notes and do not fall for the usual traps of marketing proposals.

1. Overpromising

Offering the moon captures your client’s attention, right? While that might look like a winning strategy for some, it is not.

When reality does not measure up to those lofty promises, disappointment rises. With this comes broken trust and fractured client relationships.

What do you do to avoid this?

Be realistic and transparent about what you can deliver. Plus, set achievable goals and communicate potential challenges upfront.

You should also ground your proposals in data and past experiences. Use them as benchmarks for what's attainable.

When you do not overpromise, you build credibility and showcase your integrity and commitment to honesty.

2. Being too vague

When clients cannot see a clear path, they will hesitate to take the first step with you. It suggests you do not fully understand their needs or the project itself. That ambiguity breeds doubt, and that’s a silent proposal killer.

So, make your proposal as detailed and tailored to the client's specific requirements as possible. Conduct thorough research and present a thorough, step-by-step strategy to paint a clear picture of the path forward.

Additionally, incorporate precise language and avoid jargon that could obscure your message.

With a well-defined plan, you demonstrate professionalism and a deep understanding of the client's needs. It also strengthens their confidence in your ability to execute the plan effectively.

3. Ignoring client needs

Every client has unique business needs. That’s why they are looking for customized solutions, not one-size-fits-all approaches.

When you ignore those needs, prospects will perceive a lack of attention and care from your end. This fosters a sense of being undervalued, making them question your commitment and suitability for the project.

Prioritize active listening and engage in detailed discussions to understand their objectives and challenges. You should also regularly seek feedback throughout the project to guarantee alignment.

Moreover, do not be afraid to ask probing questions and show genuine interest. Incorporate the insights gathered from these conversations to develop an effective marketing proposal.

With this, you show that you value their input and are adaptable to their needs.

Burkhard Berger

Burkhard Berger is the founder of Novum™. He helps innovative B2B companies implement revenue-driven SEO strategies to scale their organic traffic to 1,000,000+ visitors per month. Curious about what your true traffic potential is?

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