When I started my first business, well also when I started See Jane Work, I had little to no capital (sounds better than saying money). You may know the ending, I was fairly successful despite my humble beginnings, but what you don’t know is how. Well, it took a lot of hard work and creativity and many other things that I don’t have time to go into today. You know the saying “Fake it, till you make it.” Well I did. Whether it was client proposals for my first business or a press kit for my second I spent as much time on the contents as I did the overall package.
Back then it was hard to find portfolios and report jackets that accurately reflected my brand. A simple manila file folder was not going to send the right message, but custom printed folders were out of my budget. Fortunately, times have changed. You don’t have to spend hours at the craft store like I did, unless of course you are crafting. There are now off the shelf products that you can quickly customize to market your business or yourself.
First consider what should be included in your presentation, press kit or report.
• Does it make sense to include a computer file on a DVD or thumb drive?
• Always include your business card.
• How long is the report? Are there multiple sections?
• Be as brief as possible, but provide enough information to close the deal.
Once you know what will be included you can select a folder designed for presentations or use a file folder, portfolio or string envelope.
• Select something that matches your logo and complements your branding.
• Select something that makes the contents easy to access and easy to review.
(If you shove a thick stack of papers into an envelope don’t expect the recipient to read past the first page.)
Of course I recommend these See Jane Work folders at Office Depot. Choose between single or tri-fold to separate out quotes, graphics or contracts.
Next you need to order the contents in a way that makes sense.
• What do you want to call attention to first? Make sure that page is prominent.
• Move things around to ensure nothing important is covered by a folder pocket.
Use add-ons as needed.
• Sticky notes or arrows are great for calling attention to important points.
• Add a Smead Document or CD Pocket.
• If your folder doesn’t have a cut-out for a business card, add a Smead Business Card Pocket.
Here are some add-on options.
Finally, attach a hand-written note with a fancy clip. That is my secret ingredient for a successful proposal. It sends the message that this isn’t a random proposal sent to 200 people from a purchased mailing list. You took the time to write a note to the recipient and now maybe they will take the time to read it. You wouldn’t believe how many responses I’ve received simply because of unique clip or hand-written note. You have to set yourself and your business apart and if you don’t have a lot of money, or maybe even if you do, winning can be in the details.
Here are some note cards to try.
Some fun clips.
1. Attach documents 2. Attach business card 3. Attach personal note
The finished product.
When you're feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty getting started, it helps to make a list. Get all that stuff in your mind down on paper. Limit yourself to one line per item, if you have a due date include that next to the item. Don't worry about priority or additional detail at this time, just get it on paper. Once you've finished, group items into categories by priority, then type, for example errands, calls, urgent, etc. Relief will come as you work through the list and cross things off. To read past Quick Tips click here