Government agencies and companies in need of professional services from media planners will often open up projects for bids with a document called a Request for Proposal, or RFP.
An RFP often serves as your company’s initial introduction to a media planning agency, its staff, and its services. Information about the work your company needs completed is also provided.
The document will typically include your company’s budget, timeline, and special requirements. It will also have a questionnaire asking media planners for information about their business such as:
- How the media planner operates structurally and financially.
- Its approach to media strategy for the proposed project and past projects
- The team that will be working on your project.
- A quote for how much media planners would charge to do the work.
How an RFP is distributed can vary. Sometimes companies post them on sites like BidSync, FindRFP, and GovDirections for mass reach. Sometimes they are sent directly to a small number of agencies.
To help you get the ideal match for media planning projects, here are five tips for top-notch RFPs.
1. Give Ample Response Time
According to Inc.com, an RFP can often range from 20-to-50 pages long, and a response can take several weeks to complete. A typical RFP uses a deadline of between four and eight weeks; offering media planners the longer end of that range allows them to respond to you with more thoughtful and accurate data.
2. Stick to the Essentials
Evaluate whether all the included information is essential to your decision. Remember that you or your staff will be ones who have to evaluate the mountain of data you receive in response. We suggest keeping your RFP shorter unless your business specializes in a very complex and technical subject. Also, consider what factors can be easily found online (i.e. clients, services, number of locations) and what pieces can only come directly from the company (financials, billings, strategy, media research capabilities).
3. Include Project Details
It’s to the advantage of the company putting out the RFP to give as much detail as legally and contractually possible. In many cases, understanding the full scale of the project, deadlines, and tentative budget expectations will prevent unqualified companies from responding.
Consider including minimum requirements like industry experience, subject matter expertise, and yearly billings to weed out these companies upfront. If you can’t include the exact budget or specific service expectations, provide a range. This is generally enough information for media planners to assess if a project is within their capabilities.
4. Offer a Timeline for Next Steps
Establishing the timeline provides you with milestones to measure your progress, and it tends to decrease the number of phone calls and emails from applicants inquiring about their status (it’s also a courtesy to the media planners that spend time and resources responding to your RFP.) Consider including the following information:
- What should applicants expect once their proposal has been submitted?
- When should applicants receive a response?
- Will there be multiple rounds of decision making?
- Will there perhaps be a presentation phase or second round of information gathering?
5. Give a forum to ask questions
In the event there is something you forgot to include or an issue you failed to address in the RFP, we suggest providing a platform of some kind where questions can be submitted and answered.
Depending on how many people receive and are interested in your RFP, this could potentially open the floodgates. One way to prevent that is designating a specific email box just for questions or by setting aside a live group call or chat where questions can be answered for the masses in one session.
RFPs can be mutually beneficial for marketers and media planners in developing business relationships. Create a concise, informative RFP to avoid wasting time on unqualified applicants, streamline your decision process, and make life easier for everyone.