New Year, New Needs: Writing a Strong RFP
Congratulations. You’ve survived 2019! May your new year be filled with eager students, a collaborative team and WCAG-compliant web designs.
Facing this new calendar year (and rapidly-approaching new fiscal), you must ask, “How does my university marketing team accomplish all of the lofty goals we’ve set for 2020?” There may be many initiatives your marketing or university relations team can manage internally. However, there are those which require external talent, expertise and perspective. Generally, these projects tend to exceed a certain dollar amount, and you’ll need to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP).
There are many resources, mostly procurement-based, that can walk one through the RFP process. But, have you ever considered what agencies might advise regarding creating an RFP that generates good, efficient and assessable responses? The BVK Higher Ed Team provides 4 key steps for developing an effective RFP:
- Always include the situation/scenario. Where does the university stand currently? And although you don’t need to share proprietary data in the RFP, it’s critically important to identify what you have available upon awarding a contract. Have you ever read the Q&A addenda attached to most RFPs? Agencies repeatedly inquire about available resources after reviewing it.
- Next, clearly identify the need for an agency partner? And, what precipitated this need. It is no secret that higher ed is evolving and most universities are experiencing this impact. Therefore, you may require external support in a variety of areas such as brand positioning, market research, creative development, production, SEM etc. The list goes on and on. But through this specific contract, what problem do you need solved? Crystallize the objective. If you don’t, you will receive such a varied response, making a proposal comparison will be impossible.
- Importantly, don’t overly define the deliverables that are required as a part of the proposal work. Some of the most challenging RFPs, for potential agency partners to respond to, are those where universities attempt to be specific but may ultimately convolute responses. For example, it’s okay to state that you will need paid advertising as part of your request, but short of having a media strategy and plan in place, it’s unnecessary and inaccurate to state the exact sizes of the assets needed. Start broad, then become more specific once you’ve seen the plan recommendations.
- Finally, understand what you’re seeking from each phase of the process. Is the RFP followed by an in-person presentation? If so, what are the distinctive questions you would like answered during the meeting? Perhaps the RFP covers an agency overview and structure for similar projects, and then the pitch is used for discussions of process, answers to particular scenarios/problems, or something else that’s different from the RFP response.
Want to know more? We’re happy to share our perspective with you. Give us a shout or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information.