There are myriad quotes about first impressions:
Proverbs, Rogers… Zane. Ok, so not all quotes are equal. And neither are all business proposals.
But that’s not how your prospect usually sees it. The proposal you give them is usually in a stack with a dozen others, which is why every proposal you send should make an unforgettable first impression.
And the first step toward being unforgettable is creating templates customized to your business, your customer’s business, and the business you hope to do together.
Customized templates: a logo is just the start
Apple, Nike, Shell… you see the logos when you hear the words. But it wasn’t always that way. These logos (and the companies they represent) became embedded in our collective consciousness through repetition, which is why every template you use for every quote, proposal, and communication you send should be customized with your logo.
The visual repetition of your brand across every contact with a client helps make you memorable and sometimes (like the Nike “swoosh”) unforgettable.
Keep the background at the forefront
If you don’t believe the background color scheme of your proposal matters, go ahead and customize your templates with a raspberry or lime background and see what happens: unless you’re in the sherbet business, your quote won’t make it past the first round. Or keep it white as hospital sheets or copier paper to ensure the proposal gets lost in the shuffle.
A subtle background image or color scheme can work wonders in setting the tone for your business. In healthcare? Go with blue. Landscaping? Greens and earth tones. Construction? Try adding a blueprint feel to the background. While the actual business benefit you’ll deliver to a prospect is best left to the content of the quote, the background sets the tone for those benefits and can convey volumes about your brand values.
Custom images: pictures worth $1,000 (words)
Save space for images in every custom proposal template you build. An image that represents a prospect’s business challenges and how you’ll address them—maybe a before/after from a previous and/or similar client, if you have one—will win every time.
Even if you don’t have the perfect picture that captures the nuanced business relationship you’re hoping to build, there’s always room for something that says one of a few things: we understand your business and marketplace; we’ve done the exact kind of work you need done; this is the building where your offices are located (maybe skip that last one, unless all other relevant images have been exhausted).
A proposal template with your logo and look/feel in the background, with a custom image targeting the prospect’s needs or line of business and populated by content stating their business challenge, their ROI, and the benefits they’ll enjoy is the best possible first impression you can make. A new client should see your quote and feel as if the partnership has already begun, and the key to that reaction is customization that represents both your company and their business.