For businesses that rely on clients and partnerships to generate sales and revenue, project proposals are must-haves. A polished, professional project proposal is one of the best ways to present the capabilities your team has and put your goods and services in the best possible light.
But a good project proposal is more than just a timeline and a budget. Adding visual flourishes like charts, graphs and other imagery can help elevate a boring proposal to the top of the pile. Learn how you can create a successful project proposal and take a look at several project proposal templates you can fully customize using Venngage.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is the use of a project proposal?
- What are the 6 types of project proposals?
- What are the contents of a project proposal?
- How do I write a project proposal & what makes a good project proposal?
- Project proposal templates and examples
What is the use of a project proposal?
The purpose of a project proposal is to describe the parameters of a potential project or initiative. Depending on the industry and type of project proposal (more on that in a moment), these documents can include things like scope of work, timelines, staffing, budget, capability statement and more.
Companies that receive project proposals from other firms or individuals use these documents to narrow down their options and make an informed decision about the best partner for them. And companies that create project proposals use them to make their pitch for the project.
Here’s an example of a project proposal to propose a new partnership:
It’s important to note that project proposals are not the same as business proposals, though there are some similarities. One of the biggest differences is that business proposals tend to be more general and expansive. Learn more about writing a great business proposal.
What are the 6 types of project proposals?
Because every project is unique, there are many types of project proposals, but these are the most common ones:
Solicited through RFP
RFP stands for Request for Proposal (they may also be called Request for Quotation, or RFQ).
These types of project proposals typically come with the most stringent requirements and obligations. The hiring company will usually list out the elements that must be included in the RFP as well as any limitations or conditions that apply.
From the vendor’s standpoint, being asked to submit an RFP is generally a good sign because it means that your firm (or yourself, if you’re an individual) has made it through the initial round of research by the hiring party.
Informally solicited project proposals are similar to RFPs or formally solicited proposals in that they may have just as many requirements, but because they’re outside of the formal RFP process, the requirements often aren’t stated up front. That could mean the vendor needs to do more research and ask more questions of the hiring party, or it could mean there actually aren’t as many requirements.
Another benefit of submitting an informally solicited project proposal is that the absence of a formal process likely means the vendor will be up against less competition.
Also called spec (speculative) proposals, unsolicited project proposals come from the vendor’s side rather than the hiring party.
These proposals are particularly difficult because the hiring party, well, may not be hiring at all. With a spec or unsolicited project proposal, the vendor believes there’s a need for their services and must not only convince the hiring party that the need exists, but that the vendor is the best one to fill that need.
Pre-proposals can be considered mini versions of RFPs. They are often sought by a hiring party that wants to avoid a lengthy proposal process — or simply doesn’t want to read a long pitch. These types of proposals are brief, usually a few pages at most, and depending on the results, the hiring party may make an offer or make a full RFP request.
Continuation proposals are common in multi-year projects or ones in which both parties may have agreed to certain conditions governing how the project proceeds.
With a continuation proposal, the goal isn’t to pitch your services but rather to keep the client up to date on the project, inform them of any metrics they need to know or that may be part of the scope of work and get their formal approval to continue with the project.
Renewal proposals are similar to continuation proposals, but instead of being created in the middle of a project, a renewal project proposal is generated once a project or contract has ended. They’re also called competing proposals because the vendor will need to make their case as to why the project or contract should be renewed.
It may be wise to approach these types of proposals as you might an unsolicited one, but the benefit to the vendor is that (if the project has been a success), they will have past results with that specific client to showcase in their new proposal.
What are the contents of a project proposal?
The content of project proposals will vary depending on the industry and the type of proposal. For example, while solicited, unsolicited and pre-proposals will typically include a budget that is negotiable, a continuation proposal’s budget has likely already been set. That said, here are the typical contents of a project proposal:
- Summary: An executive summary or project background is typically the first section of a project proposal. Most vendors use this as an opportunity to thank the hiring company for the opportunity, as well as summarizing what the client is about to see through the remainder of the proposal.
This template shows a complete executive summary for a product launch, which can be longer than a typical executive brief or project background in your proposal — something to keep in mind:
- Objective: An explanation of what needs to be done or what problem can be solved if the hiring party accepts the proposal.
- Solution: An explanation of what the vendor would do to solve the problem or how they would approach completing the needed task.
- Scope of work: A detailed description of what exactly would be done, when and how much it would cost. This section may also need to include legal information, though in most cases, contracts are separate from project proposals.
Here’s an example of how you can write down the scope of work for your proposed project:
Call to action: The final section of your project proposal (assuming there are no appendices) should let the hiring party know what to do next. Include a place for them to sign the document to show their acceptance, as well as contact information in case they have further questions.
- Appendix: Appendices in project proposals could include information that didn’t fit within the client’s requirements or that helps to further explain information in the main part of the document. This section is optional.
How do I write a project proposal & what makes a good project proposal?
Writing a great project proposal can be a challenge, even if there aren’t a ton of requirements from the hiring party. That’s because you need to craft the message specifically for the company or individual you’re sending the proposal to, and that may mean spinning facts in your direction.
Here are some tips when it comes to writing your project proposal:
Review the RFP (if you have one)
If there is no formal RFP, you’ll still need to start out researching as much as you can about your potential client. That means finding out not only about the problem you’re hoping to solve but the history of the client, their industry, their competitors and more. Getting to know them better will help you understand how to portray yourself or your company in the best light.
Create a project proposal outline
Whether you use the sections we listed above in that order, add or remove ones or shift things around, jot down a quick outline of sections to keep in mind as you work.
Highlight elements that may set your proposal apart
For example, if you know that your company will be able to complete the task more quickly than any competitors, make that the focus of your solution or scope of work section. Compare your proposed timeline with what your competitors are likely to propose to the client.
You should also make notes of any elements that you might be able to visualize through a graph, chart or other design element — visuals can help not only make your project proposal easier on the eyes, but they can make it more memorable and illustrate to the client that you are able to think creatively.
Here’s an example of how it can look in your project proposal:
Avoid overly salesy language
It can be tempting, particularly if you’re sending unsolicited project proposals, to use some of the same language in your proposal as you might in an ad, but you should keep such wording to a minimum.
Let the proposal speak for itself; if you or your firm truly are the best one for the job, it should be evident in your proposal. Being straightforward can also signal to the hiring party that you don’t want to waste their time with flowery language. It’s better to deal in facts rather than opinions for project proposals.
Establish a single point of contact
Some project proposals will include lists or even short bios of your staff members who will be involved in the project. But it’s a good idea to ensure that your project proposal makes it clear whom the client should contact to move the project forward or submit any questions. Include this person’s information at the beginning and the end of your document.
Write with one voice
While it’s common for large RFPs to be completed by many people on the team, ensure that whoever is responsible for bringing it all together has a chance to make the document feel cohesive. It should read as if one person put the entire thing together.
Project proposal templates and examples
Now that we’ve explored some of the background and purpose of project proposals, let’s take a look at some templates you can customize using Venngage for your own project.
Construction proposal examples
The construction industry is a complex one, and project proposals are critical for landing business and keeping projects on track. But there are many approaches a construction project proposal can take.
Taking the complicated and making it simple is a challenge, particularly in this field, but as this project proposal example shows, it can be done. By using simple, clear language and well-placed visual emphasis, this free project proposal template stands out for its simplicity.
Many hiring companies simply skim project proposals for things like budget and timeframe, and while you still need to craft an engaging proposal, it’s a good idea to put those types of elements front and center, as this construction project proposal does.
Remember that regardless of whether your firm is hired for the job at hand, every document you send to another business is a chance to establish your company’s brand identity. Use a template like the one below, update it with your logo and brand colors and fonts to keep it aligned with your messaging.
As you can see from the example below, a few color changes can make a huge difference:
To easily apply your brand colors and logos, simply have them automatically extracted from your website using Autobrand:
And apply them to your design in one click with My Brand Kit:
Design proposal examples
You might think it would be a no-brainer for a designer to create a well-designed project proposal, but it’s common for creative people to have difficulty when it comes to analytical thinking. That’s why having a couple of great project proposals in your back pocket is perfect for a designer.
Project proposals in creative fields tend to be a bit less buttoned-up than those in other industries, so use your proposal as an opportunity to make a bold design statement. The template below, for example, uses a striking color palette and minimalist imagery on the cover to make the proposal stand out, and those touches are reinforced throughout the document.
This example, similarly, uses creative color combinations to strike a design-forward tone. But as both of these templates illustrate, the bones of the project proposal must be sound, and all the information required should still be covered.
Work proposal examples
Not every industry requires a unique approach to project proposals, and, in fact, for most applications, a general work proposal template will suffice, provided that you do your due diligence in following any requirements set forward by the hiring party.
This template created for a consulting firm illustrates a straightforward approach to project proposals that you can easily adapt for your needs. Add or remove pages, insert charts and graphs or new icons and craft a compelling narrative.
This project proposal template is an excellent example of how companies can use established templates to create a unique proposal. Note how they’ve used the sections that apply to them and put them together in a way to appeal to their potential client.
Marketing proposal examples
Marketers and marketing agencies are regularly asked to submit RFPs, whether for individual projects or long-term engagements, so the average marketing agency will need to have several project proposals on hand that they can modify when new requests come in.
This social media marketing project proposal template is ideal for a single campaign rather than a multi-year engagement. In that situation, it’s crucial to make sure all dates and milestones in the campaign are clearly stated.
Ideally, a marketing agency or marketer will get a chance to pitch for long-term work. In that case, this project proposal template is ideal for outlining all aspects of the project proposal, including a timeline that extends to a full year.
A critical aspect of modern marketing success is doing a great deal of research on keywords, competitors and traffic, and many marketers include such metrics in their project proposals, along the lines of this example. Note how high-impact charts and graphs are used to help the audience absorb the data and make an informed decision.
In summary: Put your products in the best light using one of Venngage’s professional project proposal templates
Letting a potential customer know what you’re capable of is a critical tool in many fields, and project proposals can highlight your company in a way few other documents can.
Start with one of these templates or create your project proposal from scratch. Whether your company has just gotten an RFP or you want to land that big fish in your industry, Venngage makes it simple to create an effective project proposal without becoming overwhelmed. It’s free to get started.