Designer's Proposal Single 18

Designer's Proposal Single 18

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Event Collateral for Non Profit



Design Proposal Single No. 18
Submitted by: Anne Likes Red, Inc. (Silver Spring, Maryland)
Project Type: Event Collateral
Client's industry: Nonprofit

(Included in the Designer's Proposal Bundle, Vol. 2)

This proposal does a great job relating the firm's experience to the prospective project, and letting the design firm's personality shine through in the process. It also diplomatically declines a request for submission of spec work—detailing the reasons it would not do justice to the selection process, and gently explaining that the practice goes against industry standard. It is carefully worded so as not to shame the prospect, and may even call into question the experience of any firms that would include spec work in their response.

The cover letter hits four big points:

  • Anne relates her personal experience—losing a childhood friend to obesity—to the mission of the organization that is requesting the proposal. This creates a sense of personal investment in the cause. This project is not just another job for Anne's firm.
  • She states up-front that hers is a small firm that assembles teams on a case-by-case basis, and iterates how the client will benefit from this business model (lower fees, no overhead, and a more streamlined approach).
  • Anne tactfully acknowledges—and declines—the prospect's request for submission of spec work, but reminds the reader that they've discussed this matter by phone and agreed that exclusion of spec work from the proposal would not be a deal breaker.
  • A glowing testimonial from a client who worked with Anne on a similar project is included as a strong closing for the cover letter.

Reconciles the request with the response:

  • Requests for proposals often have a list of required contents that are not necessarily organized in a way that matches up with your presentation style. Anne cleverly lists the proposal requirements at the top of the page, as well as where to find those elements in the proposal, before launching into her own standard and very detailed order of presentation. If a selection committee is involved and they are scoring the proposals by section, this is particularly helpful. It's also respectful and says, “I listened to what you requested.”

Establishes common vision and scope:

  • The proposal includes a project background section that details the purpose of the event, and demonstrates an understanding on the part of the design firm of the prospective client's objectives.
  • The project overview section outlines a specific list of deliverables, as well as additional items that were not requested but will be provided as part of the deliverables at no additional cost.
  • A new idea for the use of infographics is suggested, with illustration and definition on the following page (there is no assumption made that the prospect would otherwise understand what Anne is referring to with this term).
  • Use of sidebars throughout the proposal is a rather unique approach and provides space for additional explanation and visual interest.

Demonstrates thoughtful (and extensive) consideration:

  • The project recommendations section is a great compromise with regard to the request for spec work (which is addressed again at the bottom of page 4). This section demonstrates that considerable thought has already been given to the objectives of this project, and how to maximize the success of the event with Anne's participation and ideas.
  • A reference to work samples (that appear later in the document) is made at the bottom of the page as a more effective demonstration of capability than inclusion of spec work.

Clearly outlines the work process:

  • The process section outlines the project in phases and steps. Each step is detailed to illustrate what the outcomes will be. The kickoff meeting with the client is detailed even further, giving the reader a sense of what to expect and how to prepare for that session. It also imparts a shared sense of responsibility for the success of the project, and bases that success on initial discovery and research (not whims, intuition, or whatever is trending at the moment).
  • Another “new idea” pops up in the margin for custom postage. This shows that Anne is not merely doing what is asked, but is bringing her head to the game and thinking about how to maximize her contribution to the success of the project.
  • The proposal includes what's referred to as “full brand development”—a guide and tools to standardize use of event graphics across all vendors and media. It's unusual to go to this level of detail for a deliverable with such a short lifespan (as would be the case for an event), so this underscores Anne's attention to detail and professional dedication.
  • In lieu of providing spec work, Anne provides text descriptions of how she envisions the collateral pieces could develop. She also acknowledges the potential for ads in the program (which invariably means at least some ads will be submitted in unusable format) and notes that the accommodation and/or design of program ads will be included in the project price.
  • The end of the section details what the client can expect in terms of proofing and production processes for each piece of collateral.

Details cost and schedule:

  • The cost and schedule are itemized with respect to the two defined phases of work, and are organized in an easy-to-understand table.
  • A discount is noted so the prospective client is aware of the firm's normal rate for similar work. This tactic is often used when a firm budget has been set that may be below the design firm's usual rate, and the design firm wishes to accept the project without diminishing the perceived value of their expertise.
  • A maximum number of allowed rounds of revision is specified, with additional rounds priced at an hourly rate.
  • Deposit amounts and due dates are clearly specified, with payment terms stipulated for subsequent invoices.
  • Print expenses are excluded from the cost estimate, with an explanation of why they are not included, and an offer for references to capable print vendors.

Sells the team:

  • The proposal makes a strong argument for the benefits of a virtual team—and this team in particular. Positioned against a fully staffed firm, Anne's team promises efficiency, senior level experience, responsiveness and a quality product. Collectively, it says, “your project is more important to us than it will be to a bigger firm, and we'll treat it accordingly.”
  • The team and individual biographical descriptions relate applicable experience to the subject matter of the project, and offer strong evidence of skills, capabilities and experience with high-profile clients.

Tells what happens next:

  • The proposal clearly details steps for moving forward, which is a component that is often overlooked in a proposal, but can serve very effectively as a call to action.

Lets her clients do the talking:

  • Rather than include only references, this proposal includes detailed client testimonials concerning projects related specifically to this scope of work.

Shows extensive work samples as evidence:

  • Seven pages of work samples are provided, with an explanation (again, something often overlooked) of what the samples represent and how they should be regarded.

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