Writing a video production proposal is like donating bodily fluids; you freely offer your finite resources in the hope of making something beautiful. But without the right precautions, you could end up facing court cases and custody hearings.
The ability to write video production proposals is a skill we wish we’d been taught in University. Whether it’s a corporate video production proposal, a video marketing proposal or anything in between, this skill is valuable for three reasons: (1) it develops a business acumen that will up the odds of your video production company surviving (2) it increases client conversion rates (reducing the number of proposals you need to write to break even) and (3) it allows you to command a higher price point by professionally differentiating you from competition.
In the same way that you need to protect your production company with insurance and legally binding contracts, knowing when to rein in your precious resources (time, money, energy) can ensure that your company lives to see another day.
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Our 6 Tips For Success
- Don’t start proposals before qualifying prospects
- Keep it concise
- Keep the same structure
- Keep it personalised
- Develop a repeatable proposal process
- Only deliver high-profit proposals in person
1. Don’t start proposals before qualifying prospects
Performing the research, writing the copy, proofreading, sourcing the relevant media assets, assembling the document and printing/delivering all consume an inordinate amount of time, energy and money. While you should perform a proposal for every prospect (repeat customers and otherwise), “before you start, make sure that your services are within the client’s budget”.
Nobody goes into business to lose money. As small business owners, we learnt the hard way that not every prospect is valuable. It’s a painful truth, but sometimes an organisation will be required to source multiple quotes for a video despite having already chosen which Melbourne video production company they want as a supplier.
2. Keep it concise
A form of commercial window-shopping, proposals can be an enormous drain on a video production company’s finite resources. It therefore pays dividends to be pragmatic and use the wisdom of 80/20 Thinking.
An interpretation of the Pareto Principle, 80/20 Thinking proposes that a small percentage of our efforts result in a much larger portion of rewards. An often cited example is that 20% of your clients will bring you 80% of your profits. In the case of a production proposal, 80% of your proposal’s value is contained in just 20% of its pages. Similarly, your proposal could be written in 20% of the time it would otherwise take you, with a comparable result. Keeping things concise and only focusing on elements that matter free you to focus on other valuable areas of your business while continuing to deliver value.
A violation of this rule is a proposal that landed on our laps from global branding agency Interbrand. In our early years, valuable inside information yielded us access to an Interbrand document prepared for a pitch to win a small Melbourne startup. This 70-something behemoth of a document was so long that you can feel your internal organs ageing as you read it. The sheer amount of money that must have been spent on writing, preparing and presenting that document would have been offset by the costs of existing clients would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars.
3. Keep the same structure
We’re all guilty of it, the bigger the client the greater the number of pages we jam into a proposal. But to achieve the time benefits of standardisation, regardless of a client’s size use the same structure for your proposals. This agile approach to pitching keeps you responsive to client feedback while minimising the cost of acquiring new customers for your production company.
Adopting one proposal for new clients and one for returning clients, the structure we use for our a minimum viable proposal (MVP) contain four sections:
Video Production Proposal Template #1 – New Clients (Inspired by PandaDoc)
- Information about your company: Who are you and why would a potential client pick you over your competitors?
- Demonstrated knowledge of the problem: Show that you’ve listened and done your research. You know what the client needs.
- Methodology/Pricing: How exactly are you going to solve the client’s problem? How much is it going to cost? When will it be delivered?
- Call To Action: What the prospect needs to do, with a clear date
Video Production Proposal Template #2 – Existing Clients (Inspired by PROSPER)
- Where are now? (Problem/opportunity – analytics for previous campaign)
- Where do we want to be? (objective)
- How do we get there? (idea, budget, dates)
- How do we know when we’ve got there? (results)
4. Keep it personalised
While standardising the proposal process should be the goal, ensure that each is personalised enough to appeal to your audience. Including your prospect’s logo, contact information or company colours are small touches that makes them feel special. It also helps them visualise a partnership between your two companies.
A violation of this rule is our experience with SaaS giant Salesforce. After we’d been forced to endure a qualification process that lasted months, we were finally presented with a clumsy cut-and-paste sales pitch. While details like misspelling our company name and a poorly rendered logo didn’t cost them the sale alone, it compounded existing frustrations and made them appear irrelevant. Don’t be Salesforce.
5. Develop a repeatable proposal process
How will you present your proposal? Marshall McLuhan’s statement “the medium is the message” is just as relevant for the way in which you deliver a video production proposal as you would a marriage proposal. Placing a wedding ring inside a champagne flute is as unimaginative and hazardous as throwing an arbitrary number at a client in an email and hoping that they don’t choke themselves to death after reading it.
Delivering a .PDF file for video production proposals is one approach to distribution. But just as a novel approach to resumes heightens your chance of getting hired, a progressive approach to delivering your proposal will increase the chances of securing the contract. We use Qwilr to deliver personalised proposals, however Conga and Pandadoc are equally innovative alternatives. All options allow you to streamline and standardise the proposal process. If you decide to submit the proposal via email or as a follow-up to your in-person pitch, these platforms enable you to distribute proposals more readily (as well as providing page and video analytics).
6. Only deliver high-profit proposals in person
In the absence of a credible portfolio, in the early stages of our video production company we spent an absurd amount of time in boardrooms delivering pitches to suits. The idea went, armed with storyboards to rival Star Wars and proposals thicker than The Bible, we could overcome the age-bias and win bigger corporate jobs. In the end, this created not only an enormous expense but an even larger opportunity cost; with both of us occupied on a single pitch for days, we lost thousands of dollars that could have been spent on smaller jobs that could have generated necessary cash flow.
While sacrificing long-term success for short-term wins is the fastest way to end up living in the queue for Centrelink, establish clear limits on time and financial costs you’ll spend piecing together a proposal.
Unlike conventional thinking in creative industries, business isn’t the death of creativity. Following basic business principles like screening prospects and standardising client proposals is the pathway to allow you to be more productive, freeing time and energy to do more of what you love, shooting creative videos.
Searching for video production services in Melbourne? Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Apparel and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia.