What I Mean When I Say, "Your Proposal Is Not About You"

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You’ve heard me say it before, “Your proposal is not about you.” (BTW Neither is your pricing.) But maybe I haven’t explained it clearly enough yet. So I tried again in my recent podcast/interview with Nathan Powell of Nusii Proposal Software.

Listen (or read the transcription) to learn all about how to write proposals that are not about you — and don’t forget to enter Nusii’s amazing giveaway to get $1200 worth of prizes (one of which is my 2015 Marketing Plan + eCal)!

Here’s an excerpt:

Nathan: What are some typical proposal mistakes?

Ilise: The biggest mistake I see is the difference in perspective in a proposal. A lot of people have never seen anyone else’s proposal, that’s why I put the proposal bundle together in the first place. So if you’ve never seen anyone else’s proposal you don’t what to put in yours. Maybe you have some details or questions that the client has asked you but the biggest mistake is the perspective, which means that a proposal is not about you and your work, it’s about what the client needs, what you propose to solve those needs and why you’re the best person to do it. But it’s an essentially different point of view that it has to be written from and so the what I would call “bad proposals” I see are “Here’s what I do, here’s our team, here are examples of our work” and then maybe half a page about their project. The good ones, the effective ones, the ones that win are the ones that say, “Here’s what we understand are your issues or challenges, here’s what we know about your industry. Here’s what we propose for the possible solution, and here are some examples of other people like you that we’ve worked with. Here are the fees that we would charge, and here’s why we are the best people to do it”.

Nathan: I’m so glad you said all of that!

Ilise: Why?

Nathan: Because that’s exactly what I believe. When I first started writing proposals, like many of the freelancers that I talk to, they talk about themselves because…not through any sense of inflated ego, but because they think that’s the right thing to do. We talk about how, “Yes, I can programme in this language, yes I can design with this tool”…I think it’s a natural place to start but it can take a long time to learn that your client doesn’t care about you, they care about themselves. They care about how “I” can better “their” business. So if I’m always talking about myself, how does that help them?

Ilise: Exactly, and I think that to me it’s a sign of maturity as a business person. Whether you’re in your first year or your tenth, when you come to the realisation that your own marketing is not about you, and that you have to stop talking about you, you start to focus on the people you really want to work with, the problems they have and how you might be able to help them solve those problems.

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