Make your B2B proposal stand out

One of the joys of being a freelance consultant is that sometimes I get to act on behalf of my client and hire specialists to work on their B2B marketing campaigns.

I recently advertised a job and was stunned by one of the proposal submissions. As a new business specialist I know how hard it is to make your proposal stand out from others. This one hit all the gold stars for me.

Integrate proposals and CRM

I was sent an unique URL to view the proposal. This makes everything trackable – it was on a sub-domain of the B2B marketing agency’s website and so I know they will be able to track:

  • How many times I opened it
  • Which sections I browsed (they are distinctly separate)
  • How long I spent reading each part
  • Which sections I expanded to read further

All in all it was a pleasure to read and to be “sold” to. I felt engaged in the process and I know my actions on that page enabled the agency to get better insight into me as a prospect.

Screenshots from the marketing proposal web page.

And a final note, there’s a Squarespace service Qwilr which offers this on a 14 day trial.

How to find digital marketers

You can look on freelancer websites and marketplaces. Some of these are specialist sites, e.g. Toptal is for UX/UI people.

  1. Upwork | Hire Freelancers. Make things happen.
  2. http://Freelancer.com
  3. Clarity — On Demand Business Advice allows you to ask questions first and then hire the people who answer. You can buy advice over the phone by the minute. It’s a good way to get quick answers.
  4. http://Peopleperhour.com
  5. Expert360 | Freelance Management Software
  6. Toptal – Hire Freelance Talent from the Top 3%
  7. http://Freeup.com
  8. Log In or Sign Up Linked In will allow you to search for people with those skills in your region.

After you have chosen the marketplace and the skillset you want; you will need to be expert in how to brief an agency, how to write an agency pitch and ways to select from a range of candidates for your work. That’s the subject of another question!

Why I’m not signing up with DesignRush

There are lots of agency listing websites and directories – I have long been a fan of Chuck Meyst at AgencyFinder.com and Tom Holmes’ Creative Brief in the UK.

DesignRush logo, agency search service,

DesignRush is a nicely designed website for listing agencies allowing filtering by country and skillset.

I found three New Zealand agencies there – none of them competitors for us.  But instead of reaching out for our profile and submitting it, I decided not to go that route.

Why??

The main reason is that the site lists agencies with a price per hour as part of the filtering.  This is WRONG on many levels.

  1. Firstly, buying creativity is not like buying socks – a commodity.
  2. We sell by value, not by the hour (I’m not a solo-preneur or just getting started)
  3. This encourages viewers to buy based on price and that demeans the whole industry of creative agencies

So thanks, but no thanks for us.

Make your own mind up by answering these situational questions

  • A client approaches and asks your price to solve a problem situation.  You know the answer and how to solve it.  Does it matter if you solve the problem in five minutes of 50 hours?  Will the client be happy that the problem was solved or unhappy that you did it in 5 minutes?
  • You are asked to respond to a brief in some detail.  You do it with a written proposal which the prospect takes and uses as a bid document to ask other firms to submit prices.  You don’t get hired as a result.
  • A marketing director asks for your credentials and whether you have experience in a particular industry.  Does this matter to her – is it an exclusion or inclusion filter?  Does it affect your ability to do the work?

Coaching and learning how to navigate the new business development minefield is available.

Best books for Pitching and winning marketing work

I was doing some training with a client this week and they asked me about pitching for new business.
There are three books on my shelf which I have found useful in my 25 year career.
Shaun Varga – Brilliant Pitch – what to know, do and say to make the perfect pitch. Prentice Hall
Jon Steel – Perfect Pitch – the art of selling ideas and winning new business – Wiley
David Kean – How not to come second – the art of winning business pitches – Marshall Cavendish
Here’s a link to another article we wrote in 2012 on the topic – Best books on pitching for new business
David Kean was interviewed and I found this 50 minute audio interview useful.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHD4yx2pRx4
What is an Expert?

How to hire any expert e.g. a website developer

It’s really easy to find a specialist supplier.  It’s really difficult to find out if they are any good at that specialism.  Especially when it is in an area that you know nothing about.

What is an Expert?

What is an Expert? Image Credit: Workcabincommunications.ca

Giving a keynote speech to an industry group recently I was stunned to find how many felt that they did not have the confidence to hire a website designer.  This motivated me to write this short guide.

How to hire an expert (when you don’t know)

Are you a business owner who feels that they got mis-sold or ripped off by a website design project?

Did you pay a lot of money and find that the website you got did not deliver what was promised?

This is my tried and tested technique that will help you to find a supplier who is both an expert and will work well with your project situation.

  1. Start with the outcome you want.  Can you describe in plain English what you want to happen by the end of the project?  Use this to explain what you want to buy.  So you could say I need a website that  will showcase my products to customers living in Australian cities who buy mens fashion.  That is much clearer than “I want a website that will put me on page one of Google”. [By the way, that’s impossible to promise – so don’t trust anyone who says they can do this for you.] When we work with clients seeking websites, read the descriptions we write about their projects.
  2. Ask good questions.  By gaining detail from questions, you can discover the depth of expertise in each business you talk to.  Let’s say you have a written quote from a web developer explaining how they’d achieve your outcome.  You can ask them questions like “What’s the best way to achieve my outcome?” and “How will you go about doing that?”.  So if they say that on-page SEO is the best way to achieve search results for customers living in Australian cities who buy mens fashion, ask them to show you HOW they’ll do it.  Step.  By.  Step.  Yes, I’d ask them to explain in this level of detail.  If they can’t do it, or do not appear consistent, or are unwilling that’s a big red flag that they may not have a robust process methodology.
  3. Know the language they use and understand it.  Write down the words they use in written submissions and in conversation.  Go away and look them up.  What is on-page SEO? How do UTM Tags work?   There is no shame in research and increasing YOUR knowledge.  And afterwards, you can follow up and get them to explain more about the phrase they used once you understand what it is.  So that’s back to Step 2 – ask good questions.
  4. Run tests when you are face to face.  Any skilled operator should be able to show you real live work jobs that they have done or are currently working on that will be using the same techniques as your project. So when you meet your expert – get them to SHOW you what they mean.  Open up Google Analytics for YOUR website live in the meeting on your laptop.  Ask them for their views on your recent traffic history.  Watch how they browse inside Google Analytics – do they know the sub-menus, can they navigate confidently to the answer they’re talking about, do they explain something which you hadn’t noticed?  Nobody who works in marketing should be ignorant of GA.  Including YOU.  So if they don’t or can’t use it.  Run away fast.  Another test you can run is to show them a problem you have and ask how they’d fix it.  Then ask them “How will I know that this problem is fixed?” so that they show you the proof that they are an expert and good at their job and can prove it as well.
  5. Think hard before hiring a friend.  Many business people like to recommend other businesses.  Nothing wrong with this.  But in my experience, your friend or your friend’s friend is probably not the only person who can help you.  Do interview the friend, but also go and look for other supplier experts and compare them fairly.  You want the best value for your business, after all, don’t you?

Now you’ve got a good core set of skills to start your expert hiring process.  Be courageous and keep good records – you won’t regret it.

 

And if you want a website built, or some direct response copywriting, or a video made and overall effective marketing done that brings in sales – get in touch with us.  We will either teach you how to do it yourself or we can do it for you.  Easy!

How I plan to benefit from a lost pitch

A question from Quora was sent to me to answer. And it demonstrates so neatly why many new business people get discouraged by apparent failures. My answer shows how to play the “advantage” card from a disappointment and position yourself for future success while gaining valuable business experience from the situation.

My business partner’s dad/investors asked for a pitch, to which he said no after a while, but still plans to use some of the ideas. What can I do?

I told her this idea I had for a concept store that she just shared with her Dad who offered to invest/add it to his Group. After talking a few weeks ago, he just sent us a decline letter, but she says he & his partners may still use some of my ideas. I’m lost… and she doesn’t care.. What can I do ?

How to benefit from a failed pitch

Write back to each person, individually, thanking them very much for their time in hearing your pitch. Be sure that they understand how much of the pitch was your concept/idea. Say you’re sorry that they have decided not to progress working with you at this time.

Tell them that if they use your ideas in future you will be keen to

a) work on the project, or
b) receive a commission payment to reflect your intellectual capital investment

Tell them that this is only one of many bright ideas you have to contribute to their businesses and ask for an introduction to two other people who might be keen to work with someone of your talents.

Four days later, follow up with a phone call to each one to check they got your email and to ask for the introductions.

The outcome will be that you will probably not get any money from a) or b). But the introductions you receive will give you entry into a new circle of prospective employers and clients.

Why this works

The psychology of getting them to acknowledge your contribution (which they may use in future without paying) provokes the principle of reciprocity. You gave them something of value and now you are asking for something of value in return (introductions).

The follow-up shows that you are more determined than most (e.g. your business partner) and therefore are “one to watch” for the future who may benefit them again.

Lastly, in future don’t share your ideas with your business partner again without first gaining agreement about how they are to be used and valued.

ModComs pitch pack video

B2B video brochure – cool sales tool

Matt O’Neill is the Managing Director of ModComms – a company that produces The Pitch Pack, he sent us this neat video pack which business to business marketers

ModComs pitch pack video

ModComs pitch pack video

can use to open new leads.

How does PitchPack work?

The pack is a bit like a card brochure – you open it that triggers a magnetic switch which opens the power – a logo displays for a second while it warms up and then the first video plays

A typical pack has 4 videos – they come with volume controls and the larger packs have more videos on them.  Al the components are built in – from batteries, speakers to CPU.

They are encoded to Xvid format – the reason to use a specific codec is that it is lower file size with max picture quality.  A standard has 256 mg memory of which 170 is usable the rest is operating system.  so it gives about 17 minutes of video playback.

Finish watching, close it like a book and that switches it off.

In the spine there’s a little USB port you can charge the battery and uploading the videos.

If a client wants to use it the production process is firstly to design the outer pack – card wrap – using a standard Adobe Illustrator template.  The videos have to be produced and then you have all the assets.  These are sent digitally to China.  The factory sends back a prototype in digital print (not litho).  Sometimes there are small amends, it is signed off for manufacture and production.

One thing is critical is quality assurance with Chinese factories -we include two rounds of this – locally it’s checked in Shenzen and then it’s sent out and we check a few samples too.  Then we dispatch – sometimes it’s a bulk delivery, other times we do the fulfilment individually.

As part of the marketing it’s important that the telesales follow up to fix the meetings.

What types of Business use PitchPack?

It’s any B2B organisation providing a higher value product or service.  Tech companies like it, hotels, consultancies, engineering groups and some internal comms – high level changes across global senior teams.

Integration wit the sales funnel – the clients using account based marketing principles.  Some use it for the ‘door opener’ – grab attention of a senior decision maker.  It’s critical to have a structured follow up process.  Or use it as a leave-behind or a send-after to answer questions.  Salesman can film themselves on a mobile phone giving the answers and then include other videos too.  Those companies that are a bit more sophisticated and using lead scoring, for example, the score triggers sending a pack.

Personalisation – we are used to it with paper mail, but when you show the recipient that there’s an introduction just addressed to them – it’s flattering.  Anecdotally we hear it is very powerful.

Results – using a campaign with a global software company – we did a small run of 250 packs of which 240 were distributed.  They got 23 meetings with decision makers and they’ve got 4 deals with an average value of GBP250k each.  That campaign cost 5k on the packs themselves, 7k producing one video and re-used another couple of videos.  Total campaign cost 16k.

Why should our readers try the service?

Video is growing – mobile traffic about 50-70% of mobile traffic is video now.  Cisco predicts that 1/5 of the world’s population will access video online by 2016.

As a medium, video creates feelings of trust and so when brands use real people or show people doing real things curiosity is triggered.  When making video for marketing purposes don’t put everything in.  Leave them wanting more.

Confidence in the brand is built and sometimes amusement.  If you can make video for business funny you will have next to no competition because there’s so little out there.

With that popularity it’s a blessing and a curse – the competition will only get more furious.

Marshall Mcluan said the medium is the message in 60s and these packs are both – it allows people to explore video in their own time in their own way wherever they happen to be.

This is an easy differentiation tool – stand out from the crowd.  I remember in 2005 there were personalised USB sticks but now these are ubiquitous.  This type of marketing tactic is now at its 2005 moment but in 3-5 years it’ll be old hat.

If you are producing video for the pack, the content can be re-used across other media – home page, landing pages, powerpoint, email-able files.  The results are pretty tangible – looking at it in pure numbers.

2 Marketing Communications icon4 Profile raising icon6 Create Opportunities icon

3 ways to improve proposal writing next steps

We advised a client today about how to make 3 improvements to their proposal ending texts.  Writing a descriptive of your service or product and pricing it is only part of the new business development process.  It is essential that it leads to a next step to keep the discussion going and lead towards a buy/no-buy decision by the prospect.

Three key information points in a proposal

  1. clarifying next steps
  2. adding a timescale
  3. pushing the client towards buying what you want to sell

Here is the original ending paragraph they wrote:

Let me know if you are interested in talking more. If it would help, we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2 if you provide us with some game event data. As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.

By improving the text the reader is given clear expectations about next steps in the discussion process .

We recommended editing the last paragraph to give clarity on the 3 key information points

“The next step is for you to send us with some game event data and we can quickly provide a demo of steps 1 and 2.  

As part of that demo we can demonstrate how simple creating new reports / analyses is.  We would make a nominal charge for this work of $XXX which will be fully refundable if we proceed to a full implementation.  

I will call you on Wednesday next week to confirm when you can send us the data and a date for the demo.”  

Although sounding rather presumptuous this text sets clear expectations with regard to timeframes and next steps against which you can update your biz dev pipeline.

What are your favourite closing sentences in a proposal?7 Make New Biz Happen icon

New business development copywriting: Stalled prospects

September is the time business gets down to work after the summer break.  Blair Enns at the Win Without Pitching team say this is the perfect time to clean out your list of prospects and new business opportunities.

Find out which ones are going to buy and which aren’t worth your time chasing further.  Blair writes

Below is a simple email template that you can use to raise deals from the dead. It works throughout the year but this week, more than any other period in the calendar, is when it works best.

THE EMAIL

It was taught to me as The Takeaway but I refer to it by the subject line that I prefer: Closing The Loop. Draft it, modify it if you dare, but send it to all those prospects you were talking to over the summer about real projects only for them to disappear on you. That’s the intended purpose of this email – to raise deals from the dead and solicit a response from someone who has been avoiding you over the summer.

Your natural inclination is probably to do the opposite of what I’m about to suggest. Resist. Do not send an overly polite email. Do not make excuses for your prospect’s behaviour over the last few weeks. Do not email in pursuit of a yes or even an answer. No, your mission is to strip away all emotions and matter-of-factly just let your prospect go. Below is how to do this and then what to expect afterwards.

Ready?

Read the detailed email Blair recommends

Enhanced by Zemanta