Creating winning event proposals is a great way to build your event business and your success in the industry.
The first proposal I applied for was awarded to another (larger) company, but during the interview process the client met with me to review my submission, and I learned so much from that meeting that helped me with future proposals.
My Big Mistake
My biggest mistake was outlining all the requirements and giving the client one total fee instead of breaking down each component of the event and pricing them separately. I never made that mistake again!
When companies and organizations are looking for an event company, they’ll often release a RFP (Request for Proposal), which is a formal document that outlines their event needs and requirements.
To bid on the job, you must submit an event proposal, which outlines how you or your event company will meet the client’s needs and why you’re best suited to the job vs. your competitors.
Getting Hired or Not
In today’s competitive event industry, how you share your unique skills and talents in your event proposal could indicate whether or not you get hired.
Addie Graham Kramer of The Event Company in South Dakota suggests assigning various parts of the RFP to different team members so they’re working in their strengths. Addie takes the lead on creating the budget because she’s great at it and Kimberly, her senior event designer, is strong at day-of design and setup so she develops the details for that section of the RFP.
5 Common Elements of an Event Proposal
Depending on the size of the event depends on the amount of information you need to include, but there are five common elements that every proposal needs:
#1 – Event Overview – in a professional and organized way, provide an overview of the event showing that you understand the event requirements and offer a few suggestions based on your meeting or conversation with the client.
It’s important not to give too many suggestions and give away all your best ideas. The key is to get their attention and show that you understand their event needs.
#2 – Event Outline – Succinctly outline your event experience and include pictures, if appropriate, and describe your team’s organizational chart. This is an important section in your event proposal because it tells the client about you, your experience, and highlights your area(s) of expertise.
If you’re a new event planner and don’t have a lot of event experience yet, point out your event training and any internships or volunteer experience you have.
#3 – Showcase Your Services – this is your moment to shine so describe your services and offerings, including the hours you’re available for consultations, i.e.: 9-5pm Monday-Friday. Your proposal is a sales document so reinforce your strengths and address any reservations the client might have about hiring you vs. your competitor.
If your competitor is a larger company, present your areas of expertise and demonstrate how you’ll solve the client’s problem(s) and/or how you specialize in the client’s field.
#4 – Event Budget Presentation – the ‘bottom line’ is essential to making the event happen. Before adding dollar values to each component of your event proposal, identify each part of the event that incurs a cost.
Your event budget helps paint a picture by first outlining cost estimates, misc. expenses, contingency fund, and then the actual costs of each event component. Get your event budget here.
#5 – Finishing Touches – Before submitting your event proposal, finesse the document by reviewing it and ensuring it fulfills the needs and requirements of the client’s RFP. Have someone proof read the document so it’s void of spelling and grammatical errors, it reads logically and it addresses your client’s concerns.
Once it’s ready, print it on high quality paper or create a landing page with a specialized URL specifically for that event proposal, and include an introductory video and a PDF download of the document.
Writing a winning event proposal begins with a clear understanding of the client’s problems and their requirements. Read the RFP thoroughly and ask yourself:
- What are the event goals or objectives?
- How will I achieve those goals for my client
- What is the event time-frame
- Is the budget reasonable for the event needs, and,
- If I’m hired to plan the event, do I have the right resources and expertise to handle the event?
Tip: If the RFP outlines the format, follow it exactly as specified.
Now, we’d love to hear from you…
What’s one specific tip you’d add to this list that’s helped you write a winning event proposal?
Let me know in the comments below…
And remember, write as much detail as you’d like. Thousands of event planners read this blog for insights and information, and your comment may help another planner win their dream event!
If you know another event planner who could use these tips, forward this email.
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Thanks so much for your insights and for sharing,
These are some great tips. Being good at event planning is just half the battle. Being able to express what you know in words is another
Thanks Hazel! If you’re having trouble expressing your ideas and thoughts while writing, ask someone else to review your work or write the proposal for you. Some people are great et expressing themselves in person, but struggle to get those thoughts on paper so it’s advisable to find people to help. 🙂
Great advice. I will try to work on doing a pretend proposal. So far I haven’t had to submit one. The non-profit that I do events for keeps asking me and recommending me to to others based off the events I’e done for them in the past. I know that I need to work on expressing myself in words
Referrals are the best way to get and grow your business so kudos! If that’s working for you, keep doing it and don’t worry about proposals for now. 🙂
These are some great tips. Being good at event planning is just half the battle. Being able to express what you know in words is another I will try to work on doing a pretend proposal.
Doing practice proposals is a great idea, Kristen!
Thanks for sharing this useful tips. Will definitely give it a try.
you’re welcome, Adam
I’m new to this, do you the proposal before being paid ?? Do you just put ideas or concretely say what you would do ??
Proposals are sent before you’re hired. You’re proposing your ideas and plan of action for your (potential) client’s event. The steps are outlined in the article above.
I always push myself to learn more and refine my skills every day. This article helped, even though it’s the basics. But great work
Glad you enjoyed it. The post and video were created for people who are getting started so we always start with the basics so new people can learn and refine their skills 🙂