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Writing an Effective Request for Proposal and Finding the Perfect Agency

Digital Amplification
June 29, 2023
Two business colleagues conducting a search on a computer for an adequate agency partner
Digital Amplification
June 29, 2023

 Is it time to find that outside agency resource to augment your inhouse team with additional bandwidth or with specialized skills? Then congrats! It can be both an exciting and overwhelming time. A successful search can propel your marketing efforts to the stratosphere but selecting the wrong partner can be not only painful but expensive, effectively wasting your marketing budget while slowing overall brand growth. So, this is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. So, let’s get started.

Putting Together A Team

Begin by pulling together an internal team of multidisciplinary stakeholders that understand marketing and hold a shared vision of what is possible with a new partner. When this team has skin in the game, they bring unique perspectives to the process from framing up the request through evaluation and the eventual selection.

Start By Defining Your Goals

Focused specifically on marketing, KPI’s, media expectations. What do you hope to achieve with this project? Decide up front what success would look like. Once you know your goals, you can start to develop a scope of work.

Be Clear About Your Budget

How much money are you willing to spend on this project or annual campaign? Be as specific as possible so that you can get accurate proposals. Don’t be coy, be honest, everyone has a budget.

Define Your Timeline

When do you need the project completed? This will help you narrow down your options and get proposals from agencies that can meet your deadline.

Identify Your Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach with this project? This information will help you select agencies that have experience working with your target audience.

Research Potential Agencies

Once you have a short list of potential agencies, take some time to research them. Read reviews, look at case studies, and talk to other businesses that have worked with them. With those inputs, you’ll have a reason to invite those specific agencies to your pursuit.

Write A Clear and Concise Request for Proposal (RFP)

Your RFP should be easy to understand and should provide all of the information that potential agencies need in order to submit a proposal.

Share Evaluation Criteria

What is most important to you – from just expanding your team to awe-inspiring creative or a long-track record or work in your industry. Is it important that they hold Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) status? Whatever IT is, share this with the agencies. 

Spec work requirements can take several forms, most commonly creative examples of what a campaign or a webpage might look like or potential strategies for channel selection and targeting. These indicate that you expect investment on the part of the agency. This is totally fair, but be clear in your expectations. What do you as the client need to get to a shortlist of potential partners?

How Much is Too Much to Ask in a Search?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the amount you can ask from an advertising agency will vary depending on your specific needs and budget. However, there are some general things to keep in mind when determining how much to ask from an agency.

First, it is important to be clear about your expectations. Second, it is important to be realistic about your budget. Agency fees can range in price from a few thousand to millions of dollars. It is important to share at least a budgetary range that you are comfortable with and that will allow the agencies to get a tangible feel for the scope of the work. Third, it is important to be flexible. Advertising agencies are creative businesses, and they may not be able to meet all of your demands. The most successful agency/client relationships start during this phase, so begin the collaborative approach here and now.

Here Are Some Specific Things You Can Ask From An Advertising Agency:

A Detailed Proposal

This should include the agency’s fees, scope of work, and timeline.

Case Studies

 These should demonstrate the agency’s past work and their ability to achieve results.

References

Talk to other businesses that have worked with the agency to get their feedback.

A Meeting With The Agency Team That Would Be Assigned To Your Account

This will give you a chance to get to know the people who will be working on your campaign. 

Don’t Forget To Include A Detailed Timeline

Specify if you will entertain questions and if so, when they are due to you and what your commitment to responding will be. To the best of your ability and planning, describe how you plan to see the search play out. Such as, you will review responses for 10 business days and then expect to select three agencies to present in person, etc. 

Get Feedback

Once you have written your RFP, ask someone outside of the search team to review it. This will help you catch any errors or omissions.

Send Out Your RFP To Potential Agencies and Review The Proposals

Once you have received proposals, take some time to review them. Meet as a team. Compare the proposals and select the one(s) that best meets your needs.

Meet The Finalists In Person. Nothing Is A Good Substitute For This

It is important to remember that you are hiring an advertising agency to help you achieve your goals. If you are not comfortable with the agency or their approach, it is okay to walk away. There are many other agencies out there, you just need to find yours. The intangibles, the vibe in the room will help you find the fit you need. 

Negotiate The Terms

Once you have selected an agency, you will need to negotiate the terms of the contract. Be sure to get everything in writing so that there are no misunderstandings later on.

By following these tips, you can write a Request for Proposal that will help you select the right agency for your project.

Here Are Some Additional Tips For Writing A Supportive RFP Tone:

  • Use positive language and avoid negative statements.
  • Be clear about your expectations, but be flexible.
  • Be respectful of the agency’s time and resources.
  • Thank the agency for their time and consideration.

By following these tips, you can write an RFP that will help you build a positive relationship with the agency and get the best possible results for your project. Good luck!

Want to talk about your business development process? Gail, our expert in the field, is here to answer your questions, share valuable insights, and guide you towards mastering the art of crafting winning RFPs. Contact Gail at gail@digitalamplification.com

People ask why an elite digital agency would share key insights about essential marketing techniques. The answer is simple, if you are reading this and it helps you become a more effective marketer…connect with us because we would love to get to know you. Likewise, if it helps you see the gaps in your marketing efforts and you need a partner that can move the business forward…contact us  because we can deliver breakthrough results.

An AI writer assisted in drafting this blog. It was curated, fact-checked and optimized by Digital Amplification’s team of marketing experts and professional copywriters. It’s written for marketers and business leaders looking for ways to improve the performance of their marketing investment.

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