Winning Cause Marketing Proposal Preparation

Most prospects like to see some type of proposal when you pitch them on a cause marketing program. But consider yourself warned: Proposals are a crutch for seller and prospect alike. The seller uses them so that they can avoid selling to the prospect, which is uncomfortable to them. Prospects ask for proposals so that they can appear to have given your offer much thought.

But the real reason is so they can say no to your proposal without hurting your feelings, which is uncomfortable to them. Proposals are not effective for communicating your message or closing business. Proposals don’t close deals; people do.

But not bringing a proposal to a meeting is like showing up as a guest for Thanksgiving dinner empty-handed. People will be surprised and maybe just a bit insulted. So bring a proposal. But use it strategically and realistically:

  • Know when to use them. Proposals are not for first meetings. Greet prospects with pen and paper in hand, but it’s blank. It’s time to listen and explore. Save your proposals for later after you have a better idea of their objectives.

  • The proposal isn’t about you. Save that for the agreement. It’s about converting a prospect into a partner. So make sure to include the examples, the metrics, and the benefits a partner needs to make an educated decision about working with you.

  • Be clear on what the company has to do — and just how much you will do. Everyone wants to know just how much time, effort, and resources executing a cause marketing program will involve. Make sure that partners have a short checklist to work from.

    It generally has must-do items that only they can execute, such as monitoring and helping to motivate cashiers to execute point-of-sale programs. Make it clear that you will handle the rest.

  • Be clear on money. This is critical. How will they raise money? Put it in the proposal. Have you agreed on an amount? Put it in the proposal. What if they don’t reach the agreed on amount? Put it in the proposal. How long after the promotion ends will you have to wait to receive the money? Do you get the point?

  • Have Legal review it. That’s easy to do if your cause has a legal department. But if your cause doesn’t, perhaps a lawyer on your board could be helpful, or you could invest in one for just this purpose. It may seem like overkill, but it’s worth it, especially when you’re new to cause marketing.

  • Proposals don’t close deals; you do. Causes too often think if they wallpaper their business contacts with proposals, they’ll eventually land a partner. This never works. Your physical presence and role in the outreach is the most important part of closing a deal. The proposal is just a nail — and just one at that. You’re the hammer.

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