One question we get all the time is how to vet a marketing agency proposal, more specifically, from a social media marketing agency and what to look for in their proposals. The particular belief that we’re addressing is that the prices are unknown or unnecessarily high all the time. When someone sends you a proposal you should be able to see all of the deliverables, otherwise, the price will seem unnecessarily high because you don’t know how many hours are involved in each particular task.

I see it a lot with social media marketing specifically. We’ve had people say in other groups we’re in, “I can’t get any clients, I don’t know what my problem is,” so I’ll take a look at their proposal and it’s literally an arbitrary number that says “I will do Facebook for you $500 a month” or “I will do Facebook and Instagram for you.” What does that mean? What are you doing on those networks? It’s not rocket science to figure out why they’re not getting any clients.

I want to show you what a proposal should look like and of course, this is a little biased because it’s our proposal template but I want to actually show you what that entails so that if you were looking for this type of service you can compare it side-by-side with something else that you know is legitimate.

  Proposal ID

  Table of Contents

  Welcome Section- This is important because this is where you outline what you talked about with that client, so our proposals are designed for someone’s specific goal. It actually addresses what they’ve already talked to us about, so we go over that. We give them the date we make the proposal, who it’s for, and how long it’s valid for. This is important as well because you have the right to reserve changing your plans if they don’t work for either party. If we decide after 60 days that we don’t want to offer this particular plan anymore we can do that.

  Vision and Mission- I’ve never had people ask about this but I feel that this is really important to have in there because every decision we make as a business has to reflect back on our vision and our mission.

  Additional Deliverables- If your proposal doesn’t have this, run the other way for both sides! There’s such a thing as scope creep which is when you have a monthly plan with a set of deliverables and the client wants to keep adding random things. Sometimes you just do it or you absorb it in your cost, but if you don’t have this section with other things that can be requested or additional deliverables with a cost associated, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Make sure that your proposal has this and from the client-side, this protects you as well. Other agencies could carry on with a monthly plan and you ask them for other things the agency just does it and they don’t tell you what the cost is and you get hit with this big invoice later on for all of these things that were outside of the project scope.

  Price breakdown- Aside from the legal terms, arguably the most important thing in your proposal and it’s the one thing that we do not see when we get sent competitor proposals all the time, the actual breakdown of what your monthly plan entails. We often see a proposal that will come from different competitors that’ll say tier one, two, and three and they’re adding on perhaps more social networks to each one, but they don’t tell you what they do on each one. I don’t understand as a business owner how you can sign a contract where it’s just this random price when you don’t know what’s going on. It seems crazy so this is what you want to look for. It might only be one option instead of three, in this case, we have three options, but it spells out exactly what we’re going to do for that price every day. 

If your proposal doesn’t have bullet points or you’re looking at one and you’re vetting an agency and all it has is a cost, I would just say buyer beware. You should have your cost and payment terms in there of course, and timelines are hugely important as well. I don’t quite often see this in a proposal, but this tells the client that when they make a request, how long it will typically take us to get back and if they need something rushed, the fee applied to that. Then there’s the payment schedule we have, and information about our team.

  Legal terms- Legal terms are also important, they’re going to spell out things like who owns the work before and after it’s paid for, do they reserve the right to have other contractors work on this outside of their team, or what happens if an invoice isn’t paid.

  About our team

  Contact and hours- Always put contact information and business hours; it’s shocking how important these pieces to you actually because I’ve seen a lot of relationships go sour because people haven’t spelled out what their business hours are. That’s likely because they’re freelancing or they’re just starting but they just don’t have it in there. If they have a client text them at 11:00 p.m. at night, which happens to happens to us all the time and if we didn’t have these hours spelled out and our service level agreement then our clients might feel like we’re ignoring them if we don’t reply right away or that they’re not important. Worst case scenario, they could keep taking advantage of time to the point where you know it’s very hard to service that client or get along with them. If there are any additional charges make sure those are outlined in your proposal as well.

I hope this helped anyone who’s in that stage where they’re looking to hire an agency and they don’t know how to vet the proposals. If anyone wants an actual copy of what one of ours looks like we’re happy to send that to you so you can compare them side-by-side.

Brittany & The EDS Team
Tel: 1-800-898-4472

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Brittany Hardy

Brittany Hardy ⎜ Owner

Brittany Hardy is the Owner of Empty Desk Solutions, a boutique marketing company located in Port Moody B.C.
Brittany is passionate about helping small businesses achieve their growth goals with marketing solutions that are both effective and affordable.
After many years of working in retail management, Brittany went on to become the Marketing Manager for Dominion Lending, Canada’s largest mortgage company. Brittany then decided it was time to pursue a life-long goal of creating her own business.  Inherently, Brittany likes to help people and decided there was no better way to do this than to use her creative talent to lift up others who want to do the same thing.
The mother of three young children, Brittany believes in balancing work and home life and continues to find new ways to support and employ other mothers who want to start their own businesses or stay at home with their children.
Social media marketing continues to evolve, and Brittany and her team are passionate about helping small businesses navigate how they can benefit from these networks. Brittany has been a finalist for the Women of Worth awards, the Tri-Cities Business Excellence awards, and has most recently been featured in Small Business BC and the Huffington Post.

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Find us on Instagram: @brittanyebh ⎜ @emptydesksolutions