Marcus' Blog

[MI: Update 8] Pitches, Proposals and Presentations

April 15, 2016

What up, good people of the internets?

Here’s a quick rundown of the latest happening. I’ve put together a keynote document that now contains a template for use on future Modest Industries presentations.

It’s nice.

Clean, minimal, uses the modest icons and isn’t too word heavy (because who likes to read boring pitch fluff?). The first client document to use this new style is being used for retainer information. I’m still pushing for those monthly retainers.

The MailChimp email template is built and has already been sent out to a select few people. If you want to join this list – let me know.

Now. I want to share some wisdom on the perils of pitching for new business. Something I kind of had in the back of my mind but didn’t really think of as an issue until recently experiencing it first hand.

It’s no secret that putting a proposal together for a company and pitching it with a slick presentation is a long, drawn out process that can eat up valuable time and resource.

Development projects in-particular can quickly become a painful endeavour.

Research and scoping goes into putting an as-accurate-as-you-can-get price estimate together. Firstly there’s the initial meetings to outline the client’s problem. That’s step one. Now you need to figure out a solution before moving on to the process of exploring the right technology to use going forwards – which is great if the project is being built from scratch – if not, then you’ll need to dive deep into what currently exists…

You need to get into the nitty gritty bitty bits. The content, content management system, the database, it’s structure and entries, existing programming logic, what’s doing what, when and why, etc. etc. blah blah blah. It’s easy to see how someone can spend a lot of time delivering a quality estimate. Even then there’s no telling what hidden hurdles will unveil themselves when the project actually kicks off.

So what’s the solution?

In my eyes, it’s simple. Go after it if it’s worth it.

What’s worth it though? For me, if it’s something that I’m personally passionate about, and just the thought of pitching gets me dribbling with excitement, it’s worth it. Or if it’s the kind of client that with a little perseverance now, means I’ll reap the rewards of repeat business for years to come, then I’d say that’s worth it too.

Everyone’s different when it comes to valuing the worth of a project. It get’s complicated if you’re working with a partner company where a project means more to them than it does to you. Although it’s important to keep a good relationship, it’s also very important to stand your ground if you don’t think a project is worth going after. Perhaps recommend another company to take your place on that one.

Is that it?

Nope. There’s another solution which is common practice in other industries. Quoting for a quote. In practice I see this as having two routes:

  1. A free, very rough ballpark estimate on what you can look at and take at face value with pre-existing knowledge. This approach works best for visual jobs such as design, photography and videography.
  2. A quote for a quote. Meaning that the client pays, just to know how much they can expect to pay. It sounds counter productive, but when you consider what’s involved to supply a well researched timeline and cost, it makes sense.

Option 2 is best for bigger development jobs. The information needed isn’t usually visible by simply visiting an existing website (if one even already exists). It’s behind the scenes written with letters, angled brackets and passive aggressive developer comments.

There’s extensive technical research, knowledge and strategic foresight, sometimes needed from multiple people to pick apart the problem and forge an elegant solution. It’s a lot of time and effort and that deserves compensation.

What if – after paying for the quote – the project is too expensive?

If the project is going to be more expensive than the client can afford then it’s definitely better to know beforehand. Otherwise you’ll be looking at one of two scenarios:

  1. Spending far more than anticipated on something that may not be worth it to the detriment of your business, or worse…
  2. Running out of money half way through the project and having something half-built and useless that’ll never see the light of day.

I know what I’d prefer.

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