There is no right or wrong way to submit a proposal unless you’ve been asked to write it in a particular format. Grant applications come to mind. Always follow directions for grant applications.
Joe Versikaitis emailed me because he has a terrific opportunity to submit a portrait proposal to a dream client, and he didn’t want to blow it. He writes:
. . . knowing that [this prospective client] has 30 years of marketing experience, should I be formal with this? For example, should I have a cover letter, a quote letter, and a thank you letter? Or should I just give him one letter with a quick thank you paragraph and then the quote for the art work? What is the proper way to write quotes and present them?
As I said above, I don’t think there is a proper way. Even though Joe’s client has 30 years of marketing experience, I doubt he’s received many quotes from fine artists. So, he doesn’t have any huge expectations. Still, you want to put your best foot forward–always.
I would submit the following with a proposal:
1. A cover letter thanking the prospective client for the opportunity to submit the proposal. Mention your availability and a possible timeline. Under-promise and over-deliver! If you think you can do it by November 1, put December 1 on the proposal. When it’s delivered to the client on November 15, he’ll be delighted rather than disappointed.
2. A separate sheet outlining your fees, including down payment and payment options. And this is key . . . On this sheet, you will give the client options. The client might say he wants something very specific, but he might not know of other options. Offer options for size, head only vs. bust vs. full-length, medium, “rushed order,” and so forth. Add options for reproductions (giclées on canvas, on paper, on watercolor paper; note cards on various types of paper). But don’t list too many options, or your client may not be able to decide. If you naturally have a lot of options available, make a suggestion for the client in your letter or at the bottom of the fee schedule.
3. A page containing four or five testimonials from happy collectors.
4. Anything extra that will impress the client. This might include postcards with your images, a 5-pack of note cards for his use–tied with a bow; or articles written about you and your work. Again, don’t overwhelm. Use your best stuff and no more. You don’t want your prospective client to wonder what he is going to do with all of your stuff. You want him to recycle it without guilt!
You can put this in a presentation folder if it needs it, but I think most people are trying to conserve on paper and not appear to be wasteful. I’d get some really nice presentation envelopes and mail everything paper-clipped together inside. Attach a business card at the top. I don’t mail much stuff anymore, but I sure like these envelopes from Paper Source, which come in lots of colors.
KNOW THIS———-~> People like options.
THINK ABOUT THIS—~> Are you putting your best foot forward?
DO THIS————~> Submit a proposal you’re proud of. Proposals should always include a cover letter with a Thank You, of course; fees; timeline; and options.
Have I missed anything? Tell everyone about it and listen to the podcast on the Art Biz Blog.