One of the problems with business proposals is capturing attention and standing out from your competition. If you don't provide a compelling reason to do business with you instead of the competition, then it can be very difficult to win business. You may find yourself lowering prices to compete, which will reduce your profitability.
Capturing attention while remaining professional is a fine art. Hype and hyperbole may work on late night TV ads, but they have no place in a professional business proposal. Conversely, adopting the same format and selling points as your competitors is a sure way to become invisible.
Video is an attention-grabbing medium. It's easy to prove this statement - more people watch TV than read books. By introducing your business proposal with a video using the ClientPoint business proposal creation and management system, you have an immediate opportunity to stand out from the crowd and capture your prospect's attention. What you do with that attention is vital. It's possible to stand out from the crowd for the wrong reasons, after all.
The problem is that most people have no idea what to put in an introduction video for a business proposal. It is a new concept, after all. So here's a quick guide to how to make the best impression with your video.
Avoid Long Videos
There is a trend on the internet for long, interminable sales videos. They're the internet equivalent of infomercials, but usually with much lower production standards.
These videos are not a good model for an introductory video. Remember, you are borrowing the time of a busy executive, and the executive wants you to get to the point and give them a good reason to read the rest of the proposal.
So your video should be short - a couple of minutes, five at most.
How to Differentiate Yourself
It's hard to win business when your prospect can't tell the difference between your firm and everyone else in the market. You need a USP (unique selling position).
Developing a powerful USP is a topic in itself and we wrote an article on how to develop a USP here.
In essence, a USP is not a gimmick or a tagline. It's a way of presenting your offer and yourself. It makes you stand out from the rest of the field and creates strong interest.
Here's an example, to help make the concept more concrete. In 1973, Domino's Pizza was facing tough competition and had a hard time competing. Most of their competitors were presenting themselves in terms of price or quality. It's very hard to win the "quality" race because it's such a subjective concept. And being the cheapest in the field is not something to aspire to.
Domino's decided to present themselves in a completely different way. Instead of talking about quality or price, they talked about how fast their delivery was, and how hot the pizza would be. They backed this with a guarantee - if it took more than 30 minutes to arrive, or if it wasn't hot, the customer would get the Pizza for free.
Now, this is not to say that Domino's were the only people to deliver pizza fast, or that they were the only ones to deliver hot pizza. But they were the only ones bragging about it. They had identified a clear opportunity to differentiate. They knew that customers were annoyed by late deliveries or cold food, and they took advantage of this knowledge.
It's essential that you really understand your marketplace, and the common complaints or upsets your customers have about your competitors. What are their expectations, and how can you exceed them?
You need to take a look at your business from the viewpoint of your prospect and work out what you do that makes you unique. Here are some questions that can help you brainstorm:
What unique experience do you have?
What do you do differently?
What negative things do your competitors do that you don't do?
What benefits can you provide that others can't or won't (or don't talk about)?
What unique features does your service or product offer?
Can you work faster than others? Or do you work slower, but more thoroughly?
What are you able to guarantee that your competitors won't?
Don't just ask yourself, talk to your colleagues and your happy customers to get multiple points of view.
You should have some strong points that come up from answering these questions. You need to pick the strongest ones to build your USP. In an ideal world, you would have the time and resources to test these points with a focus group to discover which are the most powerful. That's not always viable. But you should try to ask a few customers (or prospects) which of the points are most compelling to them.
Pick out a few of the strongest points from the different categories, and use them to make a unique statement about your service. It should sum up what makes you different from everyone else in your field. Make sure it's focussed on the customer's needs and wants. That's your USP.
The USP is not the sole content of your introduction video or the proposal itself. It's the guiding principle. What you say and how you present yourself should convey this USP to the prospect.
Branding is often misconstrued to mean "looking professional." It's actually more subtle than that. Branding is all about creating the right impression and communicating the USP, often indirectly. So instead of just bluntly making claims or assertions about yourself, you use supporting elements such as design and production qualities to communicate that.
Your logo, music, the way you dress, what you say, and even the environment in which you place yourself are all a part of branding.
The aim is:
1: To differentiate yourself from your competitors, and to be memorable.
2: To conform with your prospect's expectations.
3: To create the right impression and value associations.
4: To convey and support the USP.
5: To reassure your prospect that you are the right person to do business with.
It's worth noting that your video should be professionally shot and produced. There are excellent freelance video producers who can help you with that, even on a tight budget.
The Elevator Pitch
By now, you should have a lot of ideas of points that you can make. It's not a good idea to cram all of these ideas into the introduction video. The main part of your message belongs inside the proposal.
An elevator pitch is an ultra fast summary of your USP that can be communicated in a few seconds (about the time it takes an elevator to travel one floor). It must create interest in a genuine prospect, and make them want to find out more. It should be one or two sentences, maximum. And it should be believable.
Creating a powerful elevator speech is an exercise in economy and nuance. It helps to picture yourself in an elevator with your perfect prospect. They've just asked you what you do for a living, and you have a couple of seconds. If you can grab their attention with a couple of sentences, you've succeeded.
Here's an example for an internet marketing agency:
We help small businesses get more customers through the internet, in weeks instead of months.
It's one thing to make a claim about yourself, but it's something else to be able to back it up. You should be careful only to make claims that you can support. Providing specific details can help make your message much more credible.
So the example above could be improved like this:
We help small businesses get more customers through the internet quickly. We recently got our client, a dentist, to the top of Google in 13 days. We've been doing this for ten years, so we know how to get fast results.
Introduce the Proposal
So far, the credible elevator pitch has managed to get your foot in the door. Now you need to sum up what your actual proposal is, and get your prospect interested in reading it. Summarize the main gist, but also use a little mystery to arouse their curiosity. That will get them to read in more detail.
And that's it! Now it's the job of your proposal to fill in the details and make it easy for your prospect to decide to do business with you.
If you want to make creating and managing your business proposal fast and easy, use ClientPoint's cloud-based business proposal software. Click here to request a free demo.