How to price and position content strategy in client proposals

How to price and position content strategy in client proposals

8 minute read

How to price and position content strategy in client proposals

8 minute read

How to price and position content strategy in client proposals

Corey Pemberton

Freelance Writer

Digital agencies can provide a ton of value to their clients.

But many struggle to express the full extent of that value when they’re trying to land new projects.With so many agencies competing for a small pool of quality clients, many resort to slashing their rates in an effort to set themselves apart from their competitors.If you’re tired of playing these games—if you’re sick of charging less than you’re worth and taking mediocre projects just to keep your business going—you have another option.It’s time to change the way you price and position your content strategy services to appeal to your dream clients.

Why Digital Agencies Struggle to Land Clients with Proposals

So, why are so many talented agencies failing to get attention from quality clients?It isn’t a lack of expertise that’s doing them in. There are plenty of highly knowledgeable experts out there struggling to make ends meet.But many of them are overlooking the importance of their client proposals. Most agency proposals are generic and bland. They are either ignored by quality clients (bad) or make a bad impression (worse).Bottom line: you can’t expect top clients to let you help them with their content strategy if you can’t market yourself in your proposals first.

All hope isn’t lost, though!Changing the way you price and position your content strategy services can help you get in the door with your dream clients.By applying the tips below, you can turn proposals from chores into persuasive sales tools that give you an edge over your competitors.

Let’s get to it.

Making Content Strategy More Compelling

Changing the way you price and position content strategy within your proposals is one of the easiest way to make it more appealing to target clients.A good proposal makes a memorable impression. And when you get attention for all the right reasons, you make clients much more likely to hire you. No desperation or price haggling needed.Without further ado, here’s how you can position and price your content strategy services for maximum appeal.

Positioning

How you present your content strategy services in client proposals is more important than many digital agencies realize.It’s a lot like food photography. Positioning can make the difference between something looking repulsive and irresistible.How do you get the best clients clamoring at your door?

The key here (and something most people don’t pay nearly enough attention to) is the language you use. With the right language, you can make the same services much more appealing to high-caliber clients.Here are three tips to make yours as compelling as possible:

1. Understand Clients Will Pay More for Higher Perceived Value

You’ve spent years building your expertise. So you have an intimate understanding of the value you can deliver. But the deciding factor here comes down to the client’s perceived value of your content strategy services.The better you can position your services to potential clients, the more of them will want to hire you. There’s less need to compete on price when everyone feels they’re getting something exceptional in return.The first step to making your client proposals more compelling is to understand your capability to mold and shape perceived value.Economist Richard Thaler conducted a study where people were charged different prices for the same beer depending on their location. The study revealed that people were willing to pay more for beer bought from an upscale hotel than a rundown grocery store.This helps explain why so many agencies struggle to land clients. They’re offering great stuff, but clients are unwilling to hire them because the way they’ve positioned their services makes them appear like the “rundown grocery store.”But this doesn’t have to be the case with you! With a little time and attention to the rest of the tips in this article, you can revamp your proposals and become like the “upscale hotel” from Thaler’s study.

2. Identify the Client’s Core Problem

Your target clients don’t really want the services you’re offering.They want something deeper than that: the end results those services can create. They want long-term solutions to problems preventing them from growing their businesses.Most client proposals don’t touch that stuff. They might recommend content strategy and other related services, but they don’t express to the client why they’re recommending them.You can go deeper.By showing clients you understand their real reasons for offering the project—and doing this early on in your proposals—you get them hooked and keep them reading. You become memorable.It might take some time and research to discover what drove your prospects to offer their projects. But it’s time well spent. Doing so positions you as an expert – someone who truly understands them.So ask yourself: why does this client really need help with their content strategy?

Do they have a traffic problem?

Customer retention issues?

Time management concerns?

All of the above?

Peel back the surface layer of every project, and reflect what you find back to clients in your proposals. You’ll put yourself light years ahead of everyone else.

3. Speak the Client’s Language

A lot of client proposals come off as boring and impersonal.It’s effortless to slip into using buzzwords and industry jargon. After all, you deal with this stuff every day. But assuming your prospects are on the same page sets them up for confusion. And when they’re confused, they can’t appreciate the value you can deliver.The term “content strategy” itself is open for interpretation. It might mean something a lot different to your prospective client than it does to you. So it’s worth your while to set out what it means in terms they’d understand – regardless of their industry.The most effective client proposals tie every service they recommend to tangible client benefits.You aren’t selling services (or even a package of services); you’re selling a solution to a frustrating problem. The more that’s at the forefront of your mind, the more compelling your proposals will be.

Breaking down your services helps clients appreciate their full value. They can see how all the pieces fit together to give them the solution they’re looking for. This makes them more likely to hire you than agencies that submit boring, cookie cutter proposals – even if you charge more.

Pricing

Even if you do a great job positioning your content services, practically every client will still be interested in the bottom line:How much is this going to cost us?This is a scary part of the process for a lot of agencies. They like to dance around the topic or avoid it completely until a prospective client brings it up.But pricing isn’t something to be afraid of. With the right tactics, you can state your price with confidence. And you can do it in a way that makes clients more likely to hire you!

Here’s how:

1. Offer a Few Different Price Points

If you’re limiting prospects to only one pricing option in your proposals, you’re missing out.Hiring you to help with content strategy could be a long-term commitment. That’s nerve-racking enough. Giving clients a “take it or leave it” option only adds to their anxiety, hesitation, and doubt. This is a psychological phenomenon known as single-option aversion.Your prospects are used to not acting to solve their problem. That’s the status quo. Even with an excellent proposal, it can be tough to get them to pull the trigger and hire you right away.But offering two or three pricing options changes the conversation in the prospect’s mind. The question shifts from “do I want X or not?” to “do I want X or Y?” More people end up hiring you because they feel they have more control during the process.

Derek Halpern, a marketing expert and founder of Social Triggers, explains why this works in the video below:

Our research supports Halpern’s view. In research of over 25,000 proposals, we found that offering two price options instead of one resulted in 32% additional revenue.Another cool thing: offering multiple options taps into the price-anchoring phenomenon. The highest priced option (the “anchor”) sets expectations and makes lower priced alternatives seem reasonable in comparison.

2. Bundle Your Services

Do your proposals remind clients of a Chinese restaurant menu?

2-menu

I just explained why only offering one pricing option makes clients less likely to hire you. So you might be tempted to make up for it by offering plenty of options for clients to choose from.But resist the temptation! Too many choices can be just as detrimental to your proposals as too few.

Why?Because too many options make it easy for people to put off important decisions for later. Except we all know how that works; “later” usually never comes.You can strike a happy balance by bundling your recommended services into two or three different packages. This gives prospects the control they crave—they get more than a “take it or leave it” choice—without making them feel overwhelmed.Our research found that this approach made proposals much more likely to be approved. Proposals that contained bundled options were 36% more likely to be accepted than those that didn’t.

credit: Bidsketch
credit: Bidsketch

Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, tested the impact of choice at a local supermarket. She set up a display table where shoppers could sample different types of jam. Shoppers who saw 24 varieties of jam were only one-tenth as likely to buy jam as those who saw a smaller display of 6 varieties.

credit: bidsketch
credit: bidsketch

3. Use Strategic Up-Sells

Strategic up-sells are a great way to put the principles of bundling and multiple price points into action.Up selling gives your prospects a greater sense of control; they get to choose the level of service that best suits their needs.But there’s a catch: effective up-sells tend to be improvements to services the client already wants. Those are much more appealing than offering related services, which is what a lot of agencies try to do.

credit: bidsketch
credit: bidsketch

Convincing your clients to invest in related services could happen after you’ve built a relationship with them. Trying to do it in a proposal, which is often your first contact with a prospective client, makes the burden to get hired too much for most to bear.

4. Keep Your Pricing Section “High Level” in Your Proposals

Content strategy consists of a variety of different services. A lot of agencies break down those services and price them individually in their proposals.They might do this in an effort to justify their total price, but it actually backfires. Including too many prices (beyond simply offering a few service packages) makes proposals get complicated quickly.

Complicated pricing sections confuse and frustrate prospective clients, many of who dive straight into that section before reading the rest of your proposal.That’s why we recommend sticking to one price to cover an entire service package. This helps keep things simple and easy for clients to understand.Here’s an example from our sales consulting proposal template:

pricing section

This is a good compromise between maximizing your perceived value and keeping things simple. You can break down your services with a brief description to make clients aware of everything you’re willing to provide. But you pair it with a single price tag, which helps them feel like they’re getting a great deal. Also, notice how the pricing section is labeled; it’s framed as a solution to the client’s sales performance issues.

Offering Content Strategy as Part of a Larger Service Package

If you’re offering content strategy as part of a larger service package, you might be wondering how to price and position it in the most appealing way.The principles above still apply, but with one exception:You probably won’t want to break down “content strategy” into as much detail as you would if you were offering it by itself.

Going into too much detail, combined with adequate information about the other services you’re offering, risks overwhelming the prospective client.Ideally, you don’t want your proposals to go over five pages. Our research found that proposals under five pages are accepted 31% more often than those five pages or longer.Which of your recommended services should you emphasize the most?

Start by identifying the client’s underlying problems. Then focus your efforts on introducing the services most aligned with addressing those problems. You can always fill the client in with more detail on your content strategy plan at introductory meetings.

Over to You

First impressions matter. So you might as well make yours the best.With a little attention to pricing and positioning in your proposals, you can get clients’ attention and make them more likely to hire you.Most agencies churn out bland proposals that make themselves invisible to the clients they really want to work with.But you don’t have to play that game anymore. Apply the tips in this article to put your best foot forward and captivate prospects. Charge the rates you deserve with confidence. Give it a try today. It’s a lot easier than slashing your rates and scrapping for mediocre clients!

Digital agencies can provide a ton of value to their clients.

But many struggle to express the full extent of that value when they’re trying to land new projects.With so many agencies competing for a small pool of quality clients, many resort to slashing their rates in an effort to set themselves apart from their competitors.If you’re tired of playing these games—if you’re sick of charging less than you’re worth and taking mediocre projects just to keep your business going—you have another option.It’s time to change the way you price and position your content strategy services to appeal to your dream clients.

Why Digital Agencies Struggle to Land Clients with Proposals

So, why are so many talented agencies failing to get attention from quality clients?It isn’t a lack of expertise that’s doing them in. There are plenty of highly knowledgeable experts out there struggling to make ends meet.But many of them are overlooking the importance of their client proposals. Most agency proposals are generic and bland. They are either ignored by quality clients (bad) or make a bad impression (worse).Bottom line: you can’t expect top clients to let you help them with their content strategy if you can’t market yourself in your proposals first.

All hope isn’t lost, though!Changing the way you price and position your content strategy services can help you get in the door with your dream clients.By applying the tips below, you can turn proposals from chores into persuasive sales tools that give you an edge over your competitors.

Let’s get to it.

Making Content Strategy More Compelling

Changing the way you price and position content strategy within your proposals is one of the easiest way to make it more appealing to target clients.A good proposal makes a memorable impression. And when you get attention for all the right reasons, you make clients much more likely to hire you. No desperation or price haggling needed.Without further ado, here’s how you can position and price your content strategy services for maximum appeal.

Positioning

How you present your content strategy services in client proposals is more important than many digital agencies realize.It’s a lot like food photography. Positioning can make the difference between something looking repulsive and irresistible.How do you get the best clients clamoring at your door?

The key here (and something most people don’t pay nearly enough attention to) is the language you use. With the right language, you can make the same services much more appealing to high-caliber clients.Here are three tips to make yours as compelling as possible:

1. Understand Clients Will Pay More for Higher Perceived Value

You’ve spent years building your expertise. So you have an intimate understanding of the value you can deliver. But the deciding factor here comes down to the client’s perceived value of your content strategy services.The better you can position your services to potential clients, the more of them will want to hire you. There’s less need to compete on price when everyone feels they’re getting something exceptional in return.The first step to making your client proposals more compelling is to understand your capability to mold and shape perceived value.Economist Richard Thaler conducted a study where people were charged different prices for the same beer depending on their location. The study revealed that people were willing to pay more for beer bought from an upscale hotel than a rundown grocery store.This helps explain why so many agencies struggle to land clients. They’re offering great stuff, but clients are unwilling to hire them because the way they’ve positioned their services makes them appear like the “rundown grocery store.”But this doesn’t have to be the case with you! With a little time and attention to the rest of the tips in this article, you can revamp your proposals and become like the “upscale hotel” from Thaler’s study.

2. Identify the Client’s Core Problem

Your target clients don’t really want the services you’re offering.They want something deeper than that: the end results those services can create. They want long-term solutions to problems preventing them from growing their businesses.Most client proposals don’t touch that stuff. They might recommend content strategy and other related services, but they don’t express to the client why they’re recommending them.You can go deeper.By showing clients you understand their real reasons for offering the project—and doing this early on in your proposals—you get them hooked and keep them reading. You become memorable.It might take some time and research to discover what drove your prospects to offer their projects. But it’s time well spent. Doing so positions you as an expert – someone who truly understands them.So ask yourself: why does this client really need help with their content strategy?

Do they have a traffic problem?

Customer retention issues?

Time management concerns?

All of the above?

Peel back the surface layer of every project, and reflect what you find back to clients in your proposals. You’ll put yourself light years ahead of everyone else.

3. Speak the Client’s Language

A lot of client proposals come off as boring and impersonal.It’s effortless to slip into using buzzwords and industry jargon. After all, you deal with this stuff every day. But assuming your prospects are on the same page sets them up for confusion. And when they’re confused, they can’t appreciate the value you can deliver.The term “content strategy” itself is open for interpretation. It might mean something a lot different to your prospective client than it does to you. So it’s worth your while to set out what it means in terms they’d understand – regardless of their industry.The most effective client proposals tie every service they recommend to tangible client benefits.You aren’t selling services (or even a package of services); you’re selling a solution to a frustrating problem. The more that’s at the forefront of your mind, the more compelling your proposals will be.

Breaking down your services helps clients appreciate their full value. They can see how all the pieces fit together to give them the solution they’re looking for. This makes them more likely to hire you than agencies that submit boring, cookie cutter proposals – even if you charge more.

Pricing

Even if you do a great job positioning your content services, practically every client will still be interested in the bottom line:How much is this going to cost us?This is a scary part of the process for a lot of agencies. They like to dance around the topic or avoid it completely until a prospective client brings it up.But pricing isn’t something to be afraid of. With the right tactics, you can state your price with confidence. And you can do it in a way that makes clients more likely to hire you!

Here’s how:

1. Offer a Few Different Price Points

If you’re limiting prospects to only one pricing option in your proposals, you’re missing out.Hiring you to help with content strategy could be a long-term commitment. That’s nerve-racking enough. Giving clients a “take it or leave it” option only adds to their anxiety, hesitation, and doubt. This is a psychological phenomenon known as single-option aversion.Your prospects are used to not acting to solve their problem. That’s the status quo. Even with an excellent proposal, it can be tough to get them to pull the trigger and hire you right away.But offering two or three pricing options changes the conversation in the prospect’s mind. The question shifts from “do I want X or not?” to “do I want X or Y?” More people end up hiring you because they feel they have more control during the process.

Derek Halpern, a marketing expert and founder of Social Triggers, explains why this works in the video below:

Our research supports Halpern’s view. In research of over 25,000 proposals, we found that offering two price options instead of one resulted in 32% additional revenue.Another cool thing: offering multiple options taps into the price-anchoring phenomenon. The highest priced option (the “anchor”) sets expectations and makes lower priced alternatives seem reasonable in comparison.

2. Bundle Your Services

Do your proposals remind clients of a Chinese restaurant menu?

2-menu

I just explained why only offering one pricing option makes clients less likely to hire you. So you might be tempted to make up for it by offering plenty of options for clients to choose from.But resist the temptation! Too many choices can be just as detrimental to your proposals as too few.

Why?Because too many options make it easy for people to put off important decisions for later. Except we all know how that works; “later” usually never comes.You can strike a happy balance by bundling your recommended services into two or three different packages. This gives prospects the control they crave—they get more than a “take it or leave it” choice—without making them feel overwhelmed.Our research found that this approach made proposals much more likely to be approved. Proposals that contained bundled options were 36% more likely to be accepted than those that didn’t.

credit: Bidsketch
credit: Bidsketch

Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, tested the impact of choice at a local supermarket. She set up a display table where shoppers could sample different types of jam. Shoppers who saw 24 varieties of jam were only one-tenth as likely to buy jam as those who saw a smaller display of 6 varieties.

credit: bidsketch
credit: bidsketch

3. Use Strategic Up-Sells

Strategic up-sells are a great way to put the principles of bundling and multiple price points into action.Up selling gives your prospects a greater sense of control; they get to choose the level of service that best suits their needs.But there’s a catch: effective up-sells tend to be improvements to services the client already wants. Those are much more appealing than offering related services, which is what a lot of agencies try to do.

credit: bidsketch
credit: bidsketch

Convincing your clients to invest in related services could happen after you’ve built a relationship with them. Trying to do it in a proposal, which is often your first contact with a prospective client, makes the burden to get hired too much for most to bear.

4. Keep Your Pricing Section “High Level” in Your Proposals

Content strategy consists of a variety of different services. A lot of agencies break down those services and price them individually in their proposals.They might do this in an effort to justify their total price, but it actually backfires. Including too many prices (beyond simply offering a few service packages) makes proposals get complicated quickly.

Complicated pricing sections confuse and frustrate prospective clients, many of who dive straight into that section before reading the rest of your proposal.That’s why we recommend sticking to one price to cover an entire service package. This helps keep things simple and easy for clients to understand.Here’s an example from our sales consulting proposal template:

pricing section

This is a good compromise between maximizing your perceived value and keeping things simple. You can break down your services with a brief description to make clients aware of everything you’re willing to provide. But you pair it with a single price tag, which helps them feel like they’re getting a great deal. Also, notice how the pricing section is labeled; it’s framed as a solution to the client’s sales performance issues.

Offering Content Strategy as Part of a Larger Service Package

If you’re offering content strategy as part of a larger service package, you might be wondering how to price and position it in the most appealing way.The principles above still apply, but with one exception:You probably won’t want to break down “content strategy” into as much detail as you would if you were offering it by itself.

Going into too much detail, combined with adequate information about the other services you’re offering, risks overwhelming the prospective client.Ideally, you don’t want your proposals to go over five pages. Our research found that proposals under five pages are accepted 31% more often than those five pages or longer.Which of your recommended services should you emphasize the most?

Start by identifying the client’s underlying problems. Then focus your efforts on introducing the services most aligned with addressing those problems. You can always fill the client in with more detail on your content strategy plan at introductory meetings.

Over to You

First impressions matter. So you might as well make yours the best.With a little attention to pricing and positioning in your proposals, you can get clients’ attention and make them more likely to hire you.Most agencies churn out bland proposals that make themselves invisible to the clients they really want to work with.But you don’t have to play that game anymore. Apply the tips in this article to put your best foot forward and captivate prospects. Charge the rates you deserve with confidence. Give it a try today. It’s a lot easier than slashing your rates and scrapping for mediocre clients!

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About the author

Corey Pemberton

Corey Pemberton is a freelance writer and regular contributor atBidsketch, a web app that helps freelancers create professional looking proposals in minutes. He also helped put together a free guide on writing the perfect proposal. You can download a copy here.

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