Jim Gorman is GORMAN360—meaning the company is really just him, along with a few partners carefully selected based on the specific needs of the project. Jim is very up-front about this, and even positions it as a competitive advantage.
Jim is a writer, first and foremost. The tone and personality of his cover letter are carried throughout the proposal, making it feel as if it was crafted just for this prospect, not copied and pasted from a previous proposal or based on a boilerplate. If words are not your strong suit, consider investing in a writer who can help your proposal stand out the way this one does.
Here, we'll take closer look at Jim's proposal and what makes it so compelling.
The cover letter sets the tone:
Jim opens by acknowledging what was requested (a list of deliverables and costs), but goes on to say he's going to provide more in the way of information about his creative process, because the client “deserves to know.” Right away, Jim sets the expectation with the prospect that he is not just a production guy or an order taker, but a strategic and collaborative partner.
Jim mentions the names of clients that are relevant to the prospect, reinforcing Jim's credibility within the industry, as well as his appropriateness for the project.
Jim personalizes his proposal by relating his obsession with aviation as one that goes back to early childhood. Jim is not just in this for the money—he loves planes. The prospect will presume Jim to have a shorter learning curve than most other firms, and will have an inherent interest for digging into the details.
Positions business model as a competitive advantage:
Here, Jim expands on the relationship expectations he alluded to in his cover letter, and very convincingly states why he and his uniquely-curated group of partners will be a better fit than a traditional agency that cannot offer the same level of industry expertise, and likely comes with more overhead expense.
Jim has made no bones about the fact that he's a one-man show. Here, he introduces three specific partners he will bring to this project based on needs that have already been anticipated or identified.
Jim writes more about his partners than himself, and by doing so, demonstrates his own self-confidence. It's a subtle cue that Jim is probably not going to be a diva to work with, and that he knows his own strengths, as well as the aspects of the project that will be best served by others.
He's honest about the fact that one of his partners “has a day job,” and even directs the prospect to external websites for work samples.
Reveals the process:
Jim “de-mystifies” the creative process by providing a brief outline of how the project will progress. This builds trust with the prospect and can ease anxiety for someone who may be new to working with a creative firm. Also, in the case of a competitive proposal process, providing these specifics can improve your value proposition compared to a firm that does not reveal its process to this level of specificity.
Further demonstrating the value Jim will bring to the project, he recommends additional services (market research) that were not requested, and explains why these services could be important. Some creatives are reluctant to do this because they are afraid the client will question their motivations, but in reality, good prospects will appreciate the fact that you are thinking strategically, and want to produce the most effective outcome.
He shares a link to an actual creative brief and example of a resulting deliverable, so the prospect can better understand what goes into developing successful creative work.
Breaks out costs, with options:
Jim breaks out the cost for each deliverable that he will provide, and what is included with each of them. It's enough information to be clear, but not so much that the exchange begins to feel inflexible.
Knowing the wide range of scope and cost that can come into play with website projects, Jim offers two examples—a basic HTML site and a more complex, content managed site—to establish a rough range of what the prospect could expect. He can't offer much more without going through a more extensive discovery process, but at the same time, he has made it easier to compare the value of his offering to that of competing firms.
Jim itemizes recommended (but not required) components separately, so as not to artificially inflate his project cost compared to that of other firms. At the same time, in doing so he demonstrates that he is thinking about things outside the initial scope that may be required in order for the project to be successful.
Keeps terms basic:
Jim provides a very abbreviated version of his terms and conditions document. This is recommended at the proposal stage, rather than overwhelming the prospect with legalities. A more extensive terms and conditions document would be appropriate to include with the project's official contract presented for client signature.
Presents timing visually and with flexibility:
Jim makes the project timeline easier to grasp by making it visual. Each deliverable is related to a block of time on thumbnails of actual calendar pages.
Timing is communicated in weeks rather than hard dates. This provides some degree of flexibility, and introduces the premise that the work is sequential. If a delay of one deliverable becomes necessary for any reason, it has the potential to impact timelines for subsequent deliverables.
Suggests additional elements:
Again, Jim demonstrates what he means by being a “marketing partner.” He suggests specific components that were not requested by the prospect, but could enhance the marketing effort.
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