5 Red Flags to Watch Out For in a Marketing Proposal

With over 13 years in this business, we can safely say that we have sent out a lot of marketing proposals of our own, as well as seen a ton from other agencies.

So, based on our experience, here is a list of 5 things that you should make sure to double check in the next marketing proposal that you receive and why they are so important.

1) Strategy

Believe it or not, marketing proposals often lack a section on strategy. Many jump straight into channels, tactics, and activities, without any mention of the overarching strategy of the campaign.

At Metacake, we make sure to start any marketing proposal (and before that, any conversation with a potential client) by examining the clients’ business goals. Then we determine and divulge a comprehensive strategy to influence these business goals.

It is important that any marketing proposal begin with this. It’s not enough to say “we’re going to do a marketing campaign” without saying WHY.

The strategy is the WHY of the campaign that you must determine first, because it leads directly into the HOW (which channels, tactics, and activities to use).

2) Goals

Then, based on the strategy set forth above, the marketing proposal must include the specific goals that the marketing campaign is meant to achieve. Are we driving revenue? Leads? Qualified traffic? ROAS? You must set a target and then work backwards from this to determine what the messages are, what channels to send them through, and in what amount in order to best hit this goal.

If you don’t set goals, then there is no clear way to determine if your marketing plan worked, and no way to make sure that your entire team is aligned and working towards the same objectives.

3) Metrics

The next step is to understand and outline what key metric (or metrics) to attach to your end goal, and what metrics influence this key metric. The proposal should answer the questions “what metrics drive your business goals?”, what metrics can we influence?”, and “what metrics do we need to be observing to indicate positive or negative campaign performance?”.

We’re not talking about vanity metrics like hits, impressions, follows and likes…we’re talking about metrics that matter. Of course, increasing impressions or likes is valuable but only in the greater context… they have no value on their own and may or may not lead to achieving your stated business goal.

Instead the metrics that are highlighted in your marketing proposal should be metrics that drive your stated business goal. For example, if you are looking to increase your revenue by 200K this year, you may consider metrics like clickthru rate, ROAS, average order value, and purchase frequency.

4) Ad Budget

The ad budget set forth in a marketing proposal should not just be an arbitrary number, or exactly the number that you have offered. It, like the rest of the proposal, should flow directly out of your stated business goal. It is a function of the strategy and should be based on math, not a number picked out of thin air.

Being able to accurately predict the necessary ad budget to reach a certain goal comes with experience and industry knowledge.

Not anyone can accurately tell you what ROAS you can expect to achieve in this particular industry with this particular product at this particular time of year…

…but an experienced marketing agency should.

So make sure to ask them targeted questions about the ad budget and that there is sound reasoning behind the propose number.

5) Creative

Creative is a major differentiator, not only in terms of marketing proposals, but also in terms of agencies. Traditionally fees are based on a percentage of ad budget (and are typically used for the management of that ad budget).

Creative, such as ad design, copy writing, landing page creation, etc. are key to your marketing success, but may or may not be included or available. If creative services are something that you need, make sure to check with each potential agency you work with to make sure they excel at creative and to check the price that you will pay in addition to the management fee.


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