Sample Concepting Proposal
You've seen this little top line from me already. Just put the client and then your agency name, project title, deliverable, etc. And you ham it up up front, talking about the project. A concepting proposal, I thought would be useful for you guys to see, just to see how simple it can be. So I often get people saying like, "Do you get paid for your ideas? "Do you get paid for your concepts, and how often?" And I say, "As often as possible." And my percentage success rate of getting paid for concepting is more often than not, I guess I would just say that. And so, we'll get a phone call or an email. And someone might say, "Oh, we need a campaign; "it's 100 grand or half a million dollars or 50--" Or whatever that figure is. "But we need a really great idea; "we can't hire you unless we know what the idea is." Which seems sort of unfair, doesn't it? So now you're supposed to do strategy and creative concepting for free in order to win the work? And I don't like to do that; I don't think t...
hat's fair. I think that the highest value proposition, actually, that I have possibly, or sometimes our team does, is really in the concept generation. It's not just about the execution. Actually, the execution would be you can create a really horrible idea. So we'd rather get paid for the concepting upfront. And so what I'll say to someone if they said, "Oh, I've got 100 grand for a campaign." I'd say, "Okay, fine, that's great. "We would take you through a two week concepting process; "we typically scope those fees at about 10% of the budget. "So it's a $10,000 concepting project. "You guys ready to roll?" And if they say, "No, we would never pay for ideas." Then I say, "Okay, well I'd never not get paid for ideas, "so let's not work together." And then I'd get another phone call the next day from someone that would pay for our time and attention and we'd work on that. So again, opportunity, cost, and time. So when I write a little campaign concepting proposal, which literally takes me 10 minutes, after a phone call like that, I say something like, we're gonna do internal and external research to uncover creative approaches for the campaign. We're gonna do an evaluation of relevant messaging and campaigns, prior launches, what other brands have done. We're gonna do in-person and virtual workshopping with-- I don't know who that is so, "with your team," look at that. And an early review of five to 10 high level concepts in bullet point format to get-- Oh, I think this was like, Fill in Client Name, haha. FCN, Fill in the Client Name's-- Fill in the Client Name's temperature on potential approaches, and then finally one full concept delivered as a visual Campaign Concept deck expressing the core idea of the campaign, likely five to 10 slides, and extensions. And we'll give them a little guide and some execution plan. Line item pricing for bringing the campaign to life. The plan will be based on this level of spend for the campaign and the launch will happen at that point in time. And this is a messed up template. And I'll show the costs, a little pre-workshop for discovery and research. We'll do a workshop and creative concept development and then there'll be execution plan development. Now I know I mentioned this 10% of the campaign budget; this is coming in at 15 and I said the budget was a quarter million to what'd I say, a half million? What I'm doing here is just, what number do I need to charge in concepting to figure out if these people are real? If I think that they would actually do 25K for concepting and that we're actually gonna do 25K worth of that work, then I would put that number in there, especially if I thought they'd say yes. If I think they would say yes to and were actually gonna execute the whole campaign, I don't wanna scare them away up front, but we need to be paid something to do this work. And I find that these creative concepting proposals are a really great way to do it. And we've had, oh, what? Just in the past six months probably 10 of these signed by-- We work mostly with Fortune 500, so mostly Fortune 500s. Maybe there were a couple in there that were smaller brands. And so it's not something unheard of. And there's no difference between a Fortune 500 client and the local gym. They're either gonna say yes to paying you for your ideas or they're gonna say no. It's the same thing, it's just yes or no. So that is the creative concepting proposal.
A proposal question came in here. I mean, it's great that you are creating these and these samples are, like you said, something that people can download and start using right away, so you're making it easy for the viewers out there. But we had some questions about-- This one in particular came from El Capitan in the chatroom, who wants to know, "Where did you first "learn to create the proposals that amaze people?" Was there any resource that you used or is this just trial and error to get to this point? Like what did your first proposals look like? (laughs)
Wow, the first proposals, if you saw my earlier session about marketing materials, you'll know that the branding we used wasn't the world's best, cause I designed it myself and it wasn't incredible. My earliest proposals were probably heavier on the strategy side cause I didn't have as much work to show. So the reality is, you have to use the tools and the weapons that you have. So in the beginning I didn't have a lot of work to show, so I really heavied up with intelligence and strategy. I probably would have included some kind of demographic research about the audience and how the fact that we're gonna use a whole bowl of oranges to sell applesauce makes so much sense, though it doesn't at all. So yeah, I think you have to use the tools you have at your disposal. How did I learn how to do it? You know, I worked for two agencies before starting this, and so I got an understanding of how they did what they did. To be honest, I don't like how they did what they did. I thought that it was very rigid. I felt that the boilerplate PowerPoint-ed company history thing was horrible and I don't think anyone cares, frankly. I think that clients want to see the potential future for themselves. They wanna see wow, look at this amazing work. And it could be ours. One of the tricks, one of the really, really good tricks that I deployed early on-- It was just me, the first year. I had about 12 people that I worked with heavily who were designers and developers and animators, videographers. And they were my key freelance team that I'd draw upon. And I said, "Listen, I am the BisDev hustler. "I'm going out there, I'm gonna find the projects, "I'm gonna nail these things down, "we're gonna do great work together. "Send me your portfolio; "I wanna look at the best work you've got. "I'm gonna assemble it into my deck, "and I'm gonna go pitch it. "I'm gonna show that work and I'm gonna be transparent "and say this is my talent cloud of people "that I work with and here's our work." And now I've got stuff to show. So how do you show work if you haven't any projects yet? If you work with partners, show their work. There's nothing nefarious about that, especially if you're being transparent about it. And I was always transparent about it. I think it would be nefarious if you were like, "I did this," but you didn't, at all. Actually it feels horrible and I would never do that.
So I'm assuming that some clients come to you and they already have the concept. They say, "This is what we want." And then some you just-- What's the percentage-wise?
Sometimes, sometimes clients come to us with a concept. It's rare, because of the kind of company that we are. So the kind of clients who wanna hire us, they have lots of money and no time and sometimes not a lot of creative ability internally. And so they just want us to solve their problem, which is to make something that's gonna get people excited about their brand or their product or otherwise. When they come to the table with a concept, it's incumbent on us to tell them the truth about whether we think this concept will work. I am the opposite of shy and so when a client comes to us and has, and this happens, a really bad idea, I will say that. I will literally say, "That is not a good idea "and it's not gonna work and we won't make it." And they'll go, "I came up with it "with my husband over dinner or my cousin "over drinks and we think it's amazing." I'll go, "Have your cousin make it; "I'm not gonna make your bad idea."
But I'm assuming there's also some that come to you that had great ideas, so you say, "Yeah, we can run with that."
That happens much less often. (laughter)
Cause I'll be honest, if they had those incredible groundbreaking ideas for marketing, they probably would want to be in a different context, meaning the reason agencies-- One of the reasons why agencies exist, is because very creative people don't wanna work on the same brand all day. They wanna have a diversity of experience. And so I just think that that's rarer. And I try to stay focused on creating things that we just think are great. So I don't wanna work on a crappy campaign that someone came up with. So I'm just gonna be honest about it. I'm gonna stay focused on capturing projects that have the potential for greatness.