On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your sales pitch? Let's face it, there are a lot of companies out there doing phenomenal work, writing beautiful code, and building functional, standards-based layouts. One way to set yourself apart has nothing to do with semantic markup, it has to do with your sales pitch, meaning your proposal.
Numerous elements come together to create a winning website proposal that can help you land that big client or project; I found four of them that I consider to be high priorities in my own experience.
Provide a Value Proposition
Most any web developer or company feels there are certain qualities that set them apart from all the rest. This quality, whatever it may be, is your unique value proposition. In writing your web proposals, make sure you spend some time exploiting the number one reason you should get the project.
In writing proposals, our value proposition is the first thing I talk about. Right off the bat, the potential client knows how we are different than most any other company they might choose for the job. I find that this sets the tone for your entire sales pitch.
Use a Copy Editor
At Project83, we send all of our public copy through a copy editor. Getting your proposal edited by a professional already sets you apart from most other companies, and fixing common grammar and spelling mistakes is only the beginning of what they can add to your proposals.
Not only does an editor bring an English degree to the table, but also the opinion of a real person that understands simple terminology instead of the latest industry-specific jargon we are all used to. A good editor is exceptional at putting complicated terms in words that people can easily understand, which is key in this line of work.
Anyone can benefit by communicating clearly to potential clients, and a proposal that is in very simple, understandable terms is a great start. If anyone knows of a good resource to find online copy editing, please leave it in the comments for others to see.
Add a Personal Touch
People can always appreciate something that has been personalized specifically for them. While you might use the same general "template" for proposals, be sure to add a personal touches throughout that grab your potential client.
For instance, make sure the cover page is decorated with the client's logo, something they can immediately connect with. Revise the copy throughout the entire proposal to make sure it all applies specifically to the potential client and their specific needs. Finally, we try to write a personal note at the end of each proposal to assure them that a great deal of time was put into creating this document.
If a client sees how much work you put into a free proposal, imagine what that says of your work ethic once you start working on their project.
Keep it Simple
This principle can apply to most anything relating to web development, and is absolutely true in a proposal. This is not the place to layout every single specific about the project. Save specifics for the contract and for writing out technical specifications down the line. A proposal is simply not the place to do anything but sell your services.
Make sure that you provide a clear description of the services you would like to perform, and a clear description of what those services will cost. Doing this will probably give your proposal the ideal length as well.
These are definitely principles that have helped our team to write proposals we take a great deal of pride in. Another nice resource for writing proposals can be found on the Blue Flavor Blog.