About a year ago, I wrote an article with guidelines on writing a website design and development Request for Proposal (RFP), which received a great response. Now I think it’s high time to do the same thing for those wishing to engage an agency for Social Media Marketing and other Online Marketing and Advertising consultation and implementation.
Below are my suggestions of how to prepare an RFP for social media projects, retainers and campaigns. I also suggest doing research online and viewing other Request for Proposals to see what works best for your organization. Keep in mind that whatever format you choose will determine not only how long the responses are, but also what type of focus you are looking for from the respondents. Each section of the RFP is outlined below, along with some explanation and suggested questions. Have fun!
Information about your organization and project
The purpose of this section is to give a brief overview of the company issuing the RFP and the social media project or desired work relationship between the company and the vendor. Provide as much information as you feel is necessary to allow vendors to prepare an accurate proposal. If you feel that there is certain proprietary or other information that you do not wish to make public, require a Non Disclosure Agreement be signed before receiving that information. This may limit the participation of vendors, but it is oftentimes necessary to protect private information.
1. Company Overview
Your business objectives
Your company’s history using social media or reasons why your organization intends to begin to participate in social media
2. Overview of Project
State the project objectives and how they relate to the business objectives stated above. Explain the type of vendor relationship desired i.e. Project-based, Agency of Record, etc. Explain the current involvement your organization has with social media channels and how they relate to both your organization’s primary presence and any related campaigns
Explain the social media channels you wish the campaign to involve, unless you are looking for suggestions of which to use, then please specify that to the vendors
Explain how the project fits into your overall marketing strategy (online and offline) and if there is another vendor involved in other aspects of your Advertising and Marketing initiatives
Explain the measurable outcomes you would like to see
Explain the duration of the work – is it a temporary campaign, or an ongoing organizational marketing platform?
3. Overview of Audiences and Stakeholders
List primary audiences for the company, i.e. demographics, psychographics, etc
List primary information needs of each audience group
Identify if any market or audience research will be necessary in the execution of the campaign
4. Overview of Response
Make it clear the type of response you are looking for:
Are you looking for a hypothetical approach, or an explanation of the vendor’s process of how they will come to create your campaign. Many times a hypothetical approach is not the best way to approach an RFP process simply because a vendor will be missing several key pieces of information that might negatively affect their ability to propose a specific solution. We suggest looking for more general responses and weighing the effectiveness of past client work heavily
Guidelines for Proposal Preparation
In order to give all qualified vendors a level playing field, it’s important to set up an easy to follow schedule for both when your RFP is issued, when and to whom questions are allowed, and when and in what format responses are required
Specify the date the RFP was issued (Month, Day, Year). If your RFP is publicly listed, it will help those searching for RFPs on Google or by other methods to find relevant Request for Proposals
An optional requirement is to specify that all interested vendors register their intent to submit a proposal by a certain date – usually within 1-2 weeks of the RFP issue. This is a good way to limit the potential number of vendors who respond if you anticipate a large volume of proposals and would rather receive a smaller amount
We recommend allowing a question and answer period that ends at least 1 week before the proposal is due. It is up to you whether to allow questions by email, conference call or individual phone calls. We do recommend that you share all the questions (and answers) with all interested vendors in order to keep things as equal as possible. Always specify which format -phone call, email, and to whom these questions should be addressed. We recommend identifying a single person in your organization to be the point of contact. Just make sure vacation schedules, etc don’t interfere with this process, and if there is any other reason why the primary point of contact might need to be out of town during the process, specify a secondary point of contact
Responses from issuer to be sent by 20XX in the following formats (specify whether electronic submissions, hard copies or both must be either emailed, mailed or hand-delivered)
On the basis of the replies to the RFP document, a short list of potential vendors will be selected and this group will be asked to present demonstrations of their capabilities and vision for the project.