You've just come from a meeting where you discussed the need for a new product launch/website/new logo/digital campaign/video, content marketing/or a relationship with a marketing agency that can provide you with strategic and tactical support. So, where do you begin?
Typically the best place to start is by reaching out to a trusted partner or short list of preferred vendors. If you don't have that relationship, you may want to start with a proposal and a list of agencies or potential partners that are qualified and meet your needs.
Where do you find agencies?
Depending on the size of your project and the degree of specialty, Google is a good place to start, as are agency lists on sites such as Clutch or Hubspot's partner directory. And if you're here on this page, you've found one. No need to keep looking!
All self-promotion aside, finding an agency responsive to your needs is critical. The right partner listens to your needs, adopts your goals as their own, and is driven to achieve them. You may want someone who specializes in your industry or, conversely, an agency that isn't boxed in by preconceived notions or cookie-cutter solutions. There's a fine line between expertise and "copy and paste," which can hurt your reputation and decrease your Google rankings.
Once you've determined a short list of who you want more information from, it's time to outline your project and what information you will need from respondents.
How do I write an RFP?
Writing an RFQ/RFP from scratch is tough. We've made it easier by providing you with guidelines and a few templates to work from.
But first, what's the difference between an RFQ and an RFP?
It's pretty simple. RFQ (request for a quote) usually indicates that the issuer is simply looking for a quote without all the details of a proposal, such as company information, employees involved, etc. They typically know what they want and have a budget range established.
An RFP (request for proposal) is more of an introduction to both companies (issuer and respondent) and elicits more open-ended responses. It typically asks for more information about the respondent's experience and approach and allows for more narrative and a quote.
Sometimes RFP and RFQ are used interchangeably. But it's usually pretty obvious from the document what the issuer is seeking.
OK, back to the original question. How do you write an RFP that doesn't make agencies delete your request? There are some best practices, but it really comes down to the information you need to make a decision.
The best RFP:
- States the problem to be solved, clearly
- States the goals to be achieved and details how success will be measured
- Sets clear deliverables
- Makes it easy to understand the directions and expectations
- Includes a budget or range
That last one is a little controversial/problematic, but it sets the tone as a good partner in that you are honest about your limitations and expectations. RFPs take a long time to put together and to read. By including a budget, you get better respondents who are within your budget or find out that you haven't budgeted appropriately.
How many respondents should I reach out to?
It depends on whether you have requirements (many public sector organizations do) or if you have no prior agency relationships. One to three responses are good if you have an idea of who you'd like to work with. If you don't, or if you're sharing the RFP/RFQ publicly, you may receive many responses, in which case your RFP process should be very detailed to zero in on the best partner.
What if I don't know how much to budget?
Feedback from others in your industry or through a discovery process with an agency can help you determine what a reasonable range is. Giving a number within a range is common, leaving you some wiggle room.
How formal should I be about questions and communications during the RFP process?
Unless you have restrictions that don't allow you to have pre-proposal conversations with potential respondents, it's helpful to both parties and can result in stronger responses. Most experienced agencies require a conversation before going through the RFP process. Some agencies won't respond to RFPs at all. Open dialogue where allowed provides better results.