In today’s digital space, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for freelancers and agencies to close deals. I’m not talking small, unexciting projects with modest budgets, but instead those which are rich with opportunities to learn, make a difference and generate a solid income.
In short, the problem stems from a crowded market where it’s difficult to differentiate. Not to mention, many companies with web and software needs have difficulty articulating their requirements and understanding exactly what it is they’re looking for.
In spite of the competition and confusion, freelancers can make their proposals standout by focusing on how to tell their stories in unique and compelling ways.
Telling a compelling story
The vast majority of proposals are uninspired and focus exclusively upon answering what. I.e.,
- What services will be provided
- What tools will be used
- What personnel will be involved
- What deadlines will be met
- What costs will be incurred
However, what prospective clients care about most is not what will be done, but instead why it will be done. Answering why lends itself to constructing compelling narratives around value propositions and facilitates strategic thinking. Moreover, from the service provider’s perspective, answering whyjustifies pricing and increases the likelihood of landing impactful, rewarding and longer-term projects.
All of that being said, in order to successfully write compelling stories to market service offerings and differentiate, one must understand their audience’s persona, perspective and mission.
Understanding audience persona, perspective and mission
As human beings we have a tendency to loosely categorize people and businesses into groups and taxonomies. We do this — seemingly without knowing — to try and rationalize why people make the choices they make and act the ways that they do. It’s a reflex, and in spite of giving it little thought, it ultimately helps shape our view of the world and how it works.
When it comes to writing proposals and marketing our services to prospective clients, it’s important we first research and gain insight into their socially constructed views of the world. I.e.,
- How do they characterize their priorities?
- How do they perceive themselves in the marketplace?
- How do they differentiate?
- How do they respond to certain choices?
Upon garnering a thorough understanding of a prospective client’s worldview, we’re then well-positioned to construct narratives that speak directly to them. We can do this by using language that they themselves employ (i.e., words, diction, acronyms), along with addressing specific industry-related trends, competition and concerns.
This sense of social awareness will further advance our storylines and ensure they will resonate with the perspectives of our prospective clients.
That said, understanding and indulging the sensibilities of prospective client’s will be in vain if it is not genuine and authentic.
Being genuine and authentic
When constructing proposals, being genuine and authentic is instrumental. Yes, we’re using words like “story” and “narrative”, but the stories and narratives applied must be grounded in truth and sincerity. This means actually believing in what you’re promising and supporting what you’re espousing. Doing so will ensure your client relationships have healthy foundations, and significantly increase the likelihood of long-term success.
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In today’s competitive landscape, closing deals can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding the value of storytelling and capably employing it will help differentiate your value propositions and positively impact your client relationships.
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