In the USA alone, there are 73.3 million freelance talents and about 71% of employees are making plans to freelance. As millions of talents are becoming freelancers, a way to spice up your freelance proposal is important, and that can be achieved with storytelling. Everyone can tell stories, but effective storytelling is not stories told, it's stories that resonate with the audience.
Stories similar to Burt’s Bees' philosophy which is entirely different from the usual "corporate style - business focused" philosophy resonate with the audience. Burt’s Bees' story around using nature’s most effective ingredients to replenish and strengthen our skin barrier embodies their core philosophy and everyone wants healthy skin. Who wouldn't? When they educate us about natural ingredients beneficial to our skin, embodying their core philosophy in it. Some of us, tired of chemical ingredients in skin care, search for Burt’s Bees retailers near us to make a purchase or order online. Why is that? Because we can relate to the wonders of nature and its magic on our skin, the natural ingredients they used, and even how to apply them. But what could freelancers learn from Burt’s Bees?
As a freelancer, you can tell stories that resonate with your potential clients from many angles. For example, some freelancers have scammed a lot of employers and project owners, while some could not launch when expected due to some freelancers excuses. Remember, people are tired of damaging their skin with chemicals, and now choosing natural alternatives created room for Burt’s Bees to come in. This is an opportunity for you too. Be the freelancer they can trust by drawing on your unique background, experiences, and skills. Highlighting your career journey - where you were, where you are now, and where you envision yourself to be can build trust among your potential clients. Your years of freelancing with a PROVEN track record are a good asset. Therefore, use them in your storytelling. Develop a consistent customer-centric image by prioritizing the needs of your clients and target audience when telling those stories and sharing them on social media.
Tesla is one of the brands building a positive image around its electric vehicles with storytelling. An example is the Tesla impact report; an illustration of how they painted a vivid picture of the future and the advantages of their products over gas cars using real-world examples and statistics. Tesla's marketing materials include videos of its car owners talking about their experiences with Tesla cars, such as how they save money on gas and maintenance and how the cars have improved their daily lives. The brand tends to make its audience believe they are saving cost and the same time our planet. The stories they tell consistently rewired our thinking in a way that some of us end up being Tesla's brand evangelists. The lesson to pick here is all clear.
Our attention span has decreased significantly to 8.25 seconds. On freelance networks, social media platforms etc, potential clients are often overwhelmed with hundreds of proposals already received. Therefore, your freelance proposal has just 8.25 seconds to live rent-free in the client's head. Just like some of us are passionate about saving money and the planet, most project owners and employers are passionate about their projects and saving costs, let your proposal come from a place of passion. One way to do that is by understanding the project brief and writing a tailored proposal. Reducing your price quote isn't helping here. In fact, the cheaper you quote, the more likely they will believe they will receive subpar work done. A tailored proposal looks new and fresh. Spicing it up with some not-too-good reviews or negative ones from clients helps and it’s more realistic and relatable.
Other brands are using remarkable storytelling strategies to up their game in fast-changing markets, the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple, Red Bull, Starbucks, Airbnb, etc. They all share a similar pattern in their storytelling. How, when, and where they place these patterns do not matter. What matters is that they effectively work best when used together. These patterns are:
Experts agree that there are four main types of consumer behavior: complex buying behavior, dissonance-reducing buying behavior, habitual buying behavior, and variety-seeking buying behavior. A freelancer needs to know a particular consumer behavior or a combination of more than one that matches the potential client. Know the elements that influence their hiring decisions including environmental, psychological, technical, and societal factors. E.g. If you are a software engineer, factors such as the security, stability, and scalability of the apps or websites clients want to build influence their hiring decision. It is important to explain how you build highly secure, stable, and scalable apps or websites when writing your proposal. If you're a digital marketing consultant, you need to know the areas your potential clients are lagging in their online visibility. You could start with that in drafting your proposal.
Align your goals and purpose to the specific customer and their needs. You need to know the needs of each potential client and tailor your proposal to those needs. Demonstrate you understand their industries and your ability to add value. You can start by emphasizing their specific industry trends and insights and describing how your services can help them compete favorably in those areas. By putting their needs and goals at the center of your proposal, you are creating a narrative that is both relatable and compelling. Your story does not have to start with "Once upon a time", find your voice.
Storytelling strategies do not only work for giant companies. They work for any freelancer if well strategized. For proposals, it increases the possibility of landing new clients by 69% according to Hourspent CEO during the launch of "On-becoming a Unicorn Podcast". In summary, conveying your value proposition using real-world examples, showcasing results, and evoking emotions can remarkably get your foot in the door, stand out in a crowded market, and establish trust.
Have you tried using storytelling in your proposals? What are the results? Did any of them increase your chances of landing a good contract offer? Let me know in the comment section.