How to Write an Advertising Proposal

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First impressions matter, and your advertising proposal is your first chance to wow your potential client. Instead of using a template or generic document, each proposal should specifically address how you and your company can address and exceed the client's needs. Although the information within each section will vary, most advertising proposals should address four specific sections.

Proposal Overview

Begin with an overview that shows how you understand the prospective client, their business and their advertising needs. Summarize previous meetings or conversations, identify target market customers and talk about current market positioning. Next, show you’ve done your homework by discussing the competition. For example, identify direct competitors and discuss the client's vulnerabilities. (Remember to keep it professional. Do not trash the competition; you never know who in the room may have once worked for them, or who will work for them in the future.) Lay the foundation for upcoming recommendations by ending the overview with a short discussion about what distinguishes the prospective client from the competition and gives them a competitive edge.

Goals and Objectives

Describe what you expect the ad campaign to accomplish. Be specific and tailor statements to the focus of the campaign. For a sales ad campaign, set a goal of increasing sales by 10 percent within six months. For a brand-awareness ad campaign, set a goal of increasing the customer awareness by 30 percent in three months. Identify the media or media combinations you plan to use to reach target customers. Support the chosen media strategy with research data, such as coverage area and target market demographics designed to help the client understand why this is the most cost-effective way to reach their audience.

Advertising Strategy

Define your advertising strategy in the next section of the proposal. List key messages the ads will convey and describe how each relates to the target audience. Describe actions or responses each ad will encourage customers to take, such as visiting the store or your website to redeem a coupon, contacting a call center or requesting additional information. Include scripts or mock-ups for voice, print and internet ads, along with an explanation of how and why you feel each will achieve the expected results. This is your chance to shine and show them your strengths.

Costs and Campaign Options

The ball is in the client's court, so give them options. End the proposal by giving the prospective client a choice between two similar scheduling options that fit within the client’s budget. For each option, include a project plan that outlines a different media mix, highlights key benefits and displays a cost breakdown. Include a call to action in a closing paragraph that clearly states you want the client’s business, briefly summarizes benefits the client will receive by working with you, ensures the client has your contact information and sets a response deadline date.

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About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.