Things You Should Include in Your Marketing RFP
A request for proposal (RFP) is a project declaration made public by an organization or business that indicates they are seeking bids from various service providers. It is often distributed at the commencement of every project. For both parties, the corporation that sends out the RFP and the agencies who respond to it, the RFP process provides a complete primary understanding of the project. The RFP explains the project, its goals, and the hosting organization, as well as the bidding procedure and contract terms. Most state agencies, and several private enterprises and organizations, have been using the RFP process.
In other words, when a company needs to outsource a provider to perform a service that they can't handle themselves, they'll prepare and submit an RFP (request for proposal). Most companies do it because they lack technological expertise, time, and resources, internally. It can be anything from marketing RFP, to web services-related RFP.
According to surveys, on average, 44 percent of companies win their RFPs. 15 percent of the companies said they won 59 percent of their RFPs. Surprisingly, 7% of the organizations received between 80% and 100% of their bids, which is incredible and demonstrates the full potential of using a professional RFP for commercial initiatives and projects. RFPs are not written randomly within organizations. A good 42% of the companies have a systematic structure for it. They have the personnel assigned to write, manage, and own the proposal process and the team is usually comprised of no less than 8-9 people. Another team handles all the queries and proposals received regarding the Request for Proposal and answers them in such a way as to save as much profit for the company as possible.
Averagely, it takes just two days to finish the RFP writing process if all the information is available on hand. Organizations have reported that they respond to more than 137 RFPs annually. The vendors that are known to perform well in the market are seen to be responding to more requests for proposals than the others.
What is Marketing RFP?
Businesses often lack internal resources during their growth phase and have to move towards outsourcing specific skills. These skills vary with the nature of the business. It can be anything varying from web services, marketing, or a combination of digital services.
Regardless of the type of business, marketing is a critical component of success. There are numerous marketing agencies available. The marketing RFP is a composition in which there is complete information about the RFP issuing company and its marketing requirements. It highlights details such as project management, the scope of the project, the company’s allocated budget, and so on. The service provider companies then submit their bids based on that marketing RFP to the issuing company. A marketing RFP is a simplified yet efficient method for identifying potential vendors and picking out the best one.
Importance of Marketing RFP
Reduced procurement costs
The expense that is mostly forgotten to consider is the procurement cost. It is the amount that is paid at the time of acquiring goods or services, usually for business purposes. One aspect of the strategic sourcing approach to procurement includes issuing RFPs which helps with the overall RFP process. Essentially, the goal is to lower overall procurement costs by identifying the greatest long-term marketing associate rather than the most cost-effective alternative at the time. As a result, RFPs offer a time-saving, cost-effective, and predictable method that is ideal for that type of search.
Examine vendor experience
Acquiring marketing agency services is not the same as purchasing any grocery item where all the ingredients are mentioned in the pack. Different service providers have different approaches and visions for their marketing campaigns. The RFP process helps companies get in touch with multiple vendors, know their work mechanism, and understand how they bring about the targets that they are assigned. RFP process leads to one-to-one meetings and interviews before diving into any working relationship which is beneficial for both parties.
Improved fairness and transparency
As the digital world prevails, it does not take long for many service providers to replicate the ideas of others and use them in their own work. This leaves very small room for transparency. However, RFP gives a fair chance to every service provider by giving them an equal number of opportunities to win over the competition.
Things to Include in Marketing RFP
Invitation to Tender
This section in the RFP is basically the project overview. It must contain all the basic information about the project requirement, scope, objectives, and expected results. The invitation to tender should make everything clear and contain a call to action as well. It does not have to be too long but must contain everything important.
This is the section where the RFP issuing company builds its image into the vendors’ minds. It contains the company's vision and unique side to help service providers distinguish the company from the rest. This section also tells the reader what is the ideal service provider that they are looking for. Companies need to make sure they are accurately conveying their vision to the vendors as it will help them get an idea of which approach would be best for their marketing campaigns.
Companies need to double-check that they have mentioned the request for proposal submission deadline, address, and all the relevant information. It is better to write these details in a way that they are highlighted and easily readable inside the document.
A good approach is to share a contact number or email address where the service providers can send out their queries regarding the RFP. This not only saves the company’s time from receiving unnecessary RFPs but also observes the queries to know if their request for proposal sends out any diverted message. It minimizes the number of misinterpretations of the company’s goal.
If the issuing company is sure about the timeline of their project then it is recommended to share that as well. This is to help vendors decide if they are available within that timeframe or if they have other parallel projects going on.
If the project timeline is unclear due to any reason, the company can also prompt the proposing vendors to share their availability and timeline and the company authorities can adjust the proceedings of the project accordingly. As another option, both parties can discuss and set a timeline with mutual consent.
This goes both ways, similar to the timeline. The budget is an important element for both parties - the company and the proposing service provider. Each one should be clear about one another’s financial capability and respective requirements prior to moving further with the project. It is ideal that the company should mention their budget but if the company is somehow not sure about the estimated cost of marketing, it is recommended to cue the marketing agencies to share how much they will charge for their services as they can better understand the process.
Objectives / Marketing Goals
For marketing RFP, the document should mention why the company is hiring and where does it intend to see itself by availing of the vendor’s marketing services. These objectives can also include running marketing campaigns across different locations, lead generation with respect to a certain product, SEO for a website, sharing maximum brand awareness to a targeted audience, etc. A clear goal will eliminate all hidden complexities.
Every business launches a project with its targets defined clearly. Hence, the RFP needs to describe the ideal client persona to the readers. This will help the marketing agencies better understand the psychology of the respective audience and plan a marketing pitch accordingly.
Sharing brand guidelines helps the prospecting vendors understand the business of the RFP issuing company. Especially with newer brands issuing requests for proposals, there is a high probability that it is the first time the service providers are looking at the brand. If the company is seeking marketing services, it means the company is not very popular in the common market which emphasizes more on adding the brand guidelines.
Scope of Work
This section needs time and a thorough inspection of what the company expects from the service provider to do in order to reach the desired targets. This may include the technical knowledge, working hours, working days, amount of work, and short-term and long-term goals for the service provider.
Things to Avoid in Marketing RFP
Long vendor list
A long vendor list does not guarantee that one will find the right one. This will, in fact, lessen the chances of coming across a potential marketing agency. If a company sends out RFPs based on RFP templates in bulk, there is a high chance that it will receive a large number of proposals, and going through each one of them in detail to find out the potent ones is a tedious task. It is always better to do research prior to issuing RFPs and limit the number. In this way, all the agency responses received will be aligned with the company’s marketing targets.
Wide list of questions
A large list of questions will lead to less number of potential vendors and will consume the company’s time more than it should. It is a misconception that asking too many questions will sort out the best candidate from the rest. The questions should be limited and the most relevant ones. Open-ended questions are a dangerous gamble which will lead the web development companies as well as the vendors exhausted. One must never include open-ended questions in marketing RFP as it leads to ambiguity and the vendors, even after writing long paragraphs to answer the question, are unsure if they have satisfied the client’s specific marketing concerns.
Order or length of the proposal
A better approach is not to define the order or the length of the proposal. Companies can let this be another deciding factor. The proposal will give software companies a good idea of how much time, effort, attention, and reliability they can expect from this marketing agency. It is up to the vendor how they customize a marketing strategy to align with the company’s targets and at the same time make the proposal concise and easy to comprehend.
Asking questions that can be answered by a company’s website
Including queries into the RFP that can be simply answered while exploring the company’s website leads to nothing but making the RFP process tedious. Sending out RFPs to every digital marketing agency that pops up in Google search results does not make any sense. If a company wants to invest in services for any project, the most important thing is to go through different vendors’ information and services to see if they align with the company’s requirements only to send out RFPs to the most potential ones.
This RFP process lessens the burden of interviewing each one of the digital marketing agencies. Often time when companies receive bulks to proposals, they tend to not go into the details and end up turning down the potential offers.
Using commodity acquisition template
Companies make the critical error of not giving enough time and attention to what they send out. Obtaining marketing services is not the same as shopping for groceries. In order to attract the right vendors, the organization must identify the desired marketing target as well as other necessary criteria. This is where government agencies lack in their RFPs and end up increasing the unnecessary workload of skimming through tons of irrelevant digital marketing agencies’ proposals. A wise decision would be to avoid such a situation by investing a little time prior to sending out RFPs.
Defining complete process
Defining the whole process is not encouraged while sending out RFPs. Companies should leave it until the one-on-one discussion begins. Since the marketing agency is hired solely because the company’s internal resources lack specific marketing skills, it is better to let the vendor propose a strategy in order to hit the target results. The company may take this stage as the deciding factor whether they want to work with this marketing agency or not based on the proposed strategy.
Everyone prefers working with companies that give them flexibility wherever possible. Keeping the timelines and deliveries strict with zero or little room for delays or unexpected errors may also result in scaring away the digital marketing agencies. Very few ones would opt for taking the risk of working with a strict timeline. Companies should keep various parameters flexible in their request for proposals taking into account all the possible delays and unexpected setbacks. If a highly potential vendor is available at only a little change in the schedule, this margin will allow the company to adjust to that as well.
Targeting the limited ones
A common practice of targeting only the high-performing marketing service providers for RFPs is not going to pay off well. Such digital marketing agencies already have a lot on their plates. Often the ones with little recognition prove to be the most suitable ones as they have more time to customize their services based on the client company’s needs but also put a lot of effort into their projects.
It is always a better approach to keep RFPs concise and transparent. Companies must take all the necessary steps to make their RFPs comprehensive and direct to gather more targeted agency responses. Even though it may appear that adding all of the above elements to RFPs takes more time, it actually saves time and gets people closer to their objective in the long run. The clarity in writing is an important factor in the success of any marketing RFP partnership.
Companies as an experiment can go for both approaches. In the first one send out RFPs with clear, concise, and researched content while in the second one use the predefined RFP templates and send out bulk RFPs. The results for both will be as different as day and night. The latter will be a hit-and-miss shot. The company may or may not be able to handle the bulk response and pick the best one out of those agency responses. Whereas, the RFPs backed by thorough research will bring in better bids to choose from and save the company’s time by leaving out the ones whose marketing visions are not aligned with theirs.