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How to Develop a "Winning" Proposal
By Michael Cruz


Are you ready to get down on your knees and pop the question? In business situations, we essentially get on our knees every time we propose or pitch an opportunity to someone with whom we are attracted. In a marketing relationship, proposals are used to involve outside clientele to create a mutually beneficial marketing campaign.

A proposal is a sophisticated sales tool that presents persuasive marketing and sales opportunities to a variety of recipients including potential sponsors and promotional partners. Publicity also requires the development of a similar sales tool called a media kit, it however uses a different format.

When involving the business community with your attraction, you need to create a proposal. I say the word need because writing a proposal documents what you are offering and how everything is to work. This will save you headaches in the future. Whenever you pitch an opportunity, someone is bound to request you "send it in writing," and now, you'll be prepared.

The key is to develop a winning proposal, not just an acceptable one. To accomplish this, you must first understand the needs and desires of the potential partner. To take greatest advantage of the opportunities, you must learn the recipient's goals and objectives. This will allow you to customize your proposal to their needs, and to demonstrate how your attraction is capable of meeting or exceeding their goals.

Characteristics of a winning proposal

  • Demonstrate your understanding the recipient's situation.
  • Present a program or strategy which ensures the client of the desired results.
  • Provide documentation of your event's qualifications and capabilities for carrying out the program/strategy.
  • Include convincing reasons for the client to choose your event over the competition.
  • If its an established event: Provide past evidence that will add credibility.
  • If a first-time event: Stress management's ability to meet the promised goals.
  • Ensure a professional appearance, by using quality format, graphics, printing and binding.

Components of a "winning" proposal

A winning proposal combines the research you have conducted and packages it in a manner that brings you a favorable result. There are two necessary components to creating a winning proposal, which will bring you the desired results, however, each may have sub-assignments which must be conducted to get the most from your proposal package.

Content. It is what's inside that counts. Utilize verifiable facts from your research to make your proposal tangible and realistic. Proposals that are not substantial or accurate are worthless to recipients and thrown into the wastebasket. Don't let this happen to you!

Presentation and Packaging. Send a positive message, but avoid using "fluff" or "fill." Brevity and clarity are the hallmarks of a successful event marketer. Your packaging should be professional. The proposal, after all, may be the recipient's only example of your capabilities.

Many events are so consumed with their proposal, they neglect to stress the benefits for their recipients. Develop strategies that focus on the potential partner's perspective.

As you put together your proposal, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. The research on each potential sponsor, the brainstorming you have done, and the variety of unique opportunities you can offer must now all come together in your proposal. In the outline below, I have italicized certain items, which may be applicable only to sponsorship solicitations or possibly large-scale exclusive promotional offers.


Proposal Outline

I. Cover Letter
proposed event
managing organization

II. Executive Summary
Who, What, When, Why and How scenarios
promotion overview
Sponsorship price(s)

III. Fact Sheet
name, location

IV. Target Audience(s)

V. Proposed participation (opportunity)
Type and level of sponsorship
Type and scope of cooperative promotion
Event amenities offered

VI. Sponsorship fee
Return on investment
Optional payment plan
Decision deadline

VII. Marketing Plan
Previous marketing strategies include results
Proposed media coverage
Proposed sales promotions

VIII. Participation procedure/deadline
Contact name/address
Decision date

IX. Collateral Enhancements
Clippings of media coverage
Videotape of attraction in operation

Let's take a closer look at each one:

• Cover letter. Briefly explain why you're submitting the proposal for their consideration.

• Executive summary. Should be a one or two page overview of the proposal.

• Fact Sheet. Contains information including name, location, history, attendance (previous/expected), event producer.

• Target Audience/Expected Attendance. Inform the recipient of the marketing research you've performed. Discuss the importance and significance of sharing information about your demographic constituency with the recipient. Sponsors, promotional partners and others will be paying serious attention to this section of your proposal.

• Proposed participation/opportunities. The recipient will want to know the specifics you are requesting they provide. Give a presentation of the ideas you have developed. Remember, you may not want to give away all your secrets . . . you may wish to save some special offer for the face-to-face meetings and presentations.

Your proposal should contain an outline of the specific opportunity in a simplistic format. Present your offer detailing each party's obligations to the other. Detail how your haunt will provide greater resources to the promotional partner. Spelling out what you will provide, and what is needed in return, establishes a foundation for creating an effective offer.

• Sponsorship Fee. Sponsors will need to have a means of gauging the true financial scope of your event. Your total budget will be important to them even though they may not be funding the entire operation.

• Marketing Plans. Provide detailed plans regarding your marketing strategy.

• Participation procedure/deadline. Clearly state the deadline for a decision from all sponsors so you may begin event preparations in a timely fashion. Many of your needs for sponsor resources may come long before the event, so plan accordingly.

• Collateral enhancements. Be sure to include a complete set of your collateral materials including brochures, news clippings, photographs, videotape&emdash;anything you have developed for the event which will help the recipient better understand the event's dynamics.

Don't forget those event amenities
The hard work is about to pay off because a majority of these event amenities are used primarily to persuade and sell your event to the business community to gain further in exposure and sales for your attraction. To get the most out of your proposal, added value makes a greater sales pitch for advertising, promotions and sponsorship.
Providing added value features for customers will bring additional sales and exposure for your haunted attraction. Once you have decided what event amenities you are capable of offering, you should determine which of these items will be incorporated into your proposal.

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