How to write an RFP

How to Write an RFP for Digital Marketing

Writing a Request for Proposal (RFP) is a key step to laying out your marketing plans. It can be a good exercise for a client to prioritize marketing activities and think in terms of both big-picture goals and tactical budget allocation.

What makes an RFP stand out?

When you send an RFP to an agency it kicks off a number of things, the agency is trying to determine a good client-agency fit. At Media Cause, we determine “fit” in terms of how much impact we will be able to create for an organization. An RFP that excites us typically demonstrates four things:

1. A sense of enthusiasm – This can come across as eager to do something new, a high-stakes project or passion for the people an organization serves.

2. Goal-oriented – It nails the “What are you trying to do?” question in human terms. It is broad enough for an agency to get inspired in their RFP.

3. Thoughtful, practical – This shows that the organization is serious about their RFP. This can come across in a level of detail, breaking out short and long term goals or in listing out previous tactics and learnings an agency can factor in.

4. Appropriately funded – It tells an agency a) whether it is possible to deliver what the client is looking for; b) how to prioritize services to deliver success for a client.

So, how do you write an RFP that will excite an agency?

First, introduce yourself.

No need to be formal or stuffy. Give your prospective agency a sense of what your organization does and what you’re trying to accomplish. Speaking human is more compelling than speaking in marketing jargon. At the end of this, we are working person to person – we want a sense of what a working relationship will look like.

About Your Organization

  • What you do and whom you help
  • What you’re trying to do through digital marketing
    • Recruit applicants/volunteers, raise awareness, re-engage donors, implement a digital fundraising system, etc.
  • A quick summary for what makes a good agency partner for you:
    • Why are you looking for an agency?
    • What does a good working relationship look like for you?
    • Is experience within a subject matter, organization size or comparable campaign important?
    • Scope/Timeline – a one-time project, a two-year contract, monthly strategy, execution or consulting services, etc.
    • Specific goals you are trying to accomplish.
  • Key stakeholders for the project
    • Tip: A single point of contact helps in any agency-client relationship to facilitate communication
  • Digital Properties (websites, social media channels)

Then, lay out what we are working with.

Give your agency a frame of reference for what resources they will need to pull. This helps your agency give you the most accurate quote.

Budgets

Think about your total budget for three key areas – strategy, advertising/media and design/development. Each area should have allocated budget, so your agency can properly scope their proposal to best deliver on both your goals and your budget.

It helps an agency to see how you are thinking about execution:
  • Are you looking for a strategy and then a big media blitz?
  • Do you need an in-depth market research project?
  • Do you basically have the strategy down and need to focus on building a website?
Break it out into four sections:
  • Strategy
  • Advertising / Media
  • Design / Development
  • Total

Digital Assets

This is how an agency knows what they’re working with. This does not have to be a big section; a few links and a quick sentence or two that speaks to the following will do the trick.

  • Resources on-staff or other agency partners
  • Photo, Video assets and how up-to-date or accurate they are
  • Digital infrastructure (website, intranet, ticketing system, on-staff IT, etc.)
  • Regularly produced content

Next, state what you’re trying to do.

Try to think through each of these questions and incorporate them into your RFP. You may not know all the answers, and each situation may not apply and that’s ok! Lay out the aspects that you know, that you need guidance in and that you expect your agency to figure out for you.

Tip: Most agencies will want to do a “Discovery Phase” to dive into all of this.

Audiences

  • Who are you trying to target
  • What do you know about them
  • What successes/learnings have you had in the past with them

Big Picture Outcomes

  • In human terms, what you want your organization to be able to accomplish through this project.
  • Hard goals for number of dollars needed, membership goals, new applicants, etc.

Marketing Outcomes

What parts of the funnel do you want your agency to focus on?

Awareness Goals

  • Who are you trying to introduce yourself to and why?
  • Who do you consider competitors?

Engagement Goals

  • What do you want people to do when they learn about you?
  • What digital platforms are the most important to you?

Activation Goals

  • What is the long-term ask?
  • What digital actions can your community take?
    • i.e. Signing a petition, participating in a poll, sharing an article, etc.

Nurturing Goals

  • How do you want people to stay connected to you?
  • What regular communications do you produce if any?
    • i.e. social media posting, weekly newsletter, etc.

Key Performance Indicators // Metrics

  • Are there numbers you need to beat?
  • What metrics will indicate success throughout your organization?
  • Do you need help setting up a data measurement plan for your anticipated KPIs?

Additional Information

This is open-ended and custom to each organization. Think along the lines of:

  • Long-term planning
    • Success within your organization – what programs are you trying to support
    • Launch dates, areas of urgency
  • Explain previous campaigns and/or learnings in accomplishing any of your goals, i.e.
    • We ran a FB ad campaign
    • We have an active blog that gets 2,000 readers every month, but we think we could have more.
    • Our last CPA was $267.13, we are looking to lower this.
  • Technical documentation if applicable
  • A specific timeline if applicable

Looking for a real example?

We can email you one. Fill out the form below to receive an example of a real RFP, of which one senior strategist said: “This is the best RFP I’ve ever read”.

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