As a solo practitioner, I can't compete with the resources of large firms. They can put together slick proposals and work products and the client is going to assume that glitz equals quality.
I understand your concern but disagree with the premise. First, you would be surprised to know that more than one client has disparaged these glossy, graphics laden reports. In fact, federal government procurements actually prohibit elaborate or expensive proposals. Just as people joke that they know they are paying the overhead that goes with expensive furnishings in high rent building for their lawyers, they also are uncomfortable paying for sizzle without the steak.
Second, your relationship with your client and their trust in you usually carries more weight than your work products. If your client is more wowed by a PowerPoint spectacular than the weight of your conversations, questions, analysis and your change management outcomes, then you might ask yourself whether you have the right client. This does not mean that your work products should be sloppy or unprofessional. Give your clients exactly what they need and don't try to cover any deficits with fluff.Tip:
If you want to feel better about the pretty masking the real, check out this now famous Dove commercial
showing what is behind the attractive image.