Client Proposal

The Client Proposal is an research proposal that articulates a plan for carrying out research on a problem.

Your prevailing purpose is to secure approval to research a problem that matters to you. IRL this involves money because your time and the resources (e.g., a salary, office, computer, health benefits, and retirement) needed to support your efforts are expensive. Really expensive.

This project aims to help students


The Client Proposal is the second project in an eight-week long group project that involves a Consultancy Simulation.

In business contexts, rhetors pitch proposals

  • to secure business opportunities (e.g., business plans);
  • to propose services (e.g., management, sales, or educational services);
  • to propose basic research (e.g., scientific proposals written to the NSF, National Science Foundation or NIH, National Institute of Health); and
  • to identify best solutions to real-world problems that matter to clients.


Representing your consultancy, write to your boss at your consultancy company or to your colleagues at the company a preliminary proposal seeking approval to use time, resources, and funds to research a potential problem and to identify potential solutions to that problem.

Ultimately, for the final group project, you will a team to

  1. Identify a client and define a business need or problem*
  2. Research potential solutions for the problem
  3. Analyze your research findings
  4. Synthesize the findings into conclusions
  5. Identify and evaluate solutions to the problem based on the conclusions drawn from your findings
  6. Present your solutions in a recommendation report directed to the client.

However, for this exercise, it it sufficient for you to succinctly identify the key highlights of your idea. The goal of the Client Proposal is provide a preliminary sketch of your idea. This is a thought exercise. Yet is it much more than a freewrite or some personal reflections. It is a memo to your boss or colleagues in your consultancy that identifies a potential problem/solutions.

Rather than 15 to 30 pages, the size of your final recommendation report, the Client Proposal should be about two to three pages long so brevity matters.

At a minimum, in terms of content, your Client Proposal should

  • define the problem, its causes and; in a client-centered way;
  • identify the stakeholders who care about its solution and the consequences of the problem;
  • elaborate three potential solutions to the problem the quantitative and qualitative criteria you will use for choosing the most impactful solution(s);
  • lists references.

In terms of design, your memo should

  • employ memo format for internal consultancy simulation
  • employ letter format for external consultancy simulation
  • provide a visual representation of the problem;
  • use a style template (e.g., headings and bullets should be consistent); and
  • provide a visual to illustrate the severity of the problem, the stakeholders, and three proposed solutions.

Recommended Schedule

Schedule Assignments & Suggested Activities Required Readings
One Week
To draft your Problem-Definition Heuristic, you engaged in a bit of preliminary research. Now, provided you received the go-ahead from your boss at the consultancy (or, perhaps the client), you want to dig into that research. Now your audience expects much more than the identification of a potential problem the consultancy can solve for business purposes (or academic knowledge in the case of researchers associated with think tanks, universities, etc.). For this task, you’re moving beyond a thought experiment to suggest there’s some substance there, a way for the consultancy to develop new business. What are the key texts? Who are the innovators in this space?

Proposals are persuasive texts; thus, to begin it makes sense to review Rhetorical Appeals, particularly Logos, Ethos, and Pathos.

To begin, to adopt a you-centered style, take a moment to research your client.

Clients care about substance— i.e., logos. So, how can textual research or interviews or surveys help you substantiate the problem or solutions? What are the pain points related to the problem and potential solutions?

Regarding ethos, you can demonstrate your credibility by

(1) providing a thoughtful, well reasoned, proposal.

(2) having a solid plan for further researching the problem and potential solutions.

For this thought experiment, you’ll want to engage in searching as strategic exploration and identify the current status of the conversation about the problem you are exploring.

Information Literacy

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Research as Inquiry

Scholarship as a Conversation

Searching as a


Writing with Sources

Submission Guidelines

  1. Upload the memo to the course management system.