After working for a couple of years in the sales and marketing department for one of the biggest news publishers in my region, I have gotten used to a certain way of handling proposals and later on negotiations with clients. Simply said, I followed the exact same steps (inherited from my ex-colleagues):
OUR ACQUISITION —> PROPOSAL —> NEGOTIATION —> CLOSING A DEAL
However, while delivering proposals, we used the old way of describing which Google banner positions and advertising, in general, we can offer to a client (long emails, full of text and plain numbers about statistics, etc.). This way turned out to be efficient enough for all our previous clients that would just prolong their long-term contracts from year to year, but it didn’t go hand in hand well with the acquisition of new clients (especially those bigger ones from which we could earn higher revenues).
After years of unsuccessful fishing and trying to make a contact with a pretty large company (the type of client that you are never good enough for, but they constantly ask for your proposals: We are meant for Wimbledon, and you are offering us Sarajevo Open) seated in one of our neighbouring countries, I decided to make a different proposal for them and put additional effort (which, later on, was not charged from them or rewarded by my employer).
Since I had pretty untied hands when it came to direct communication with clients, in terms of not needing my owners’ approvals every time, etc., I created a brand new product we didn’t even have in our pricelist at that time: 50% category sponsorship.
This would mean that 50% of the news in a certain (e.g. Lifestyle) category would be covered with multiple client’s banners/brand (meaning, millions of pageviews for client every month). In that category, we had huge unsold inventory/impressions, so I realised this decision would not hurt our future sales or my publisher’s brand in any way (safe brand rule).
I delivered my proposal in a PDF document with graphics and visuals, having already tested the campaign on our website, and included screenshots of all banner positions. I made a client visualise their brand appearance on our website and “feel” their brand from the position of an average user. Since I wasn’t able to use our in-house designer’s services of creating banners and visuals for a potential new client (without charging it), in a couple of nights and YouTube tutorials I learned how to use PhotoShop for the first time.
Turned out, the client absolutely loved the idea and signed up for a five-digit profit, I learned how to use Photoshop and made some skills for a lifetime, and we have continued using this approach ever since!