As a small but mighty branding powerhouse in New York City, Viney Group receives a lot of requests for proposals, from sprawling city agencies to emerging startups. Over the years, we’ve opened the gamut of emails, including those that excite and delight us – and those that leave us stank-faced and cringing.
Hiring a creative vendor is a big step for any enterprise. For many, it’s the first step toward a full-scale branding transformation. But sometimes, without realizing it, multi-tasking, plate-spinning professionals miss the pitch. By a mile. Below are some helpful tips to ensure your next RFP entices the most competitive creative vendors to reach out to you for work.
- Know your needs: You may think you know what you want, but when you sit down to articulate your needs, how easy is it for you to describe your organization’s needs? Some people have a vague idea of what they want, but “I need some marketing” is a hard sell for a competitive creative vendor whose team is used to clear, concise expectations – or, at the very least, a few pointed goals. Creatives aren’t mind readers. So instead of leaving your needs and desires up to the vendor, sit with your team to discuss what you already have and what you know you want.
If you’re showing a clear budget to each vendor, you can shop around to see which agency has the most effective plan for your money.
– Ivy Newman, The Viney Group
- Stay flexible: At the other end of the RFP spectrum? Proposal clients who know exactly what they want – to a degree of rigidity that can leave a creative team boxed into a branding corner. While you may know exactly what you want, your expert team might see a bigger opportunity. Staying open to adjustments and new directions only strengthen your campaign strategy.
- Do your research: Don’t presume a proposal is too high in cost simply because you want to launch your campaign or complete your project under as little financial strain possible. By running a few numbers and calling around, you can learn the cost of your industry’s services by recording and comparing what other professionals in your field have spent on the same services.
- Stay realistic: Assuming every vendor wants to work with you simply because you’re providing their team the opportunity to serve your needs sets you up for disappointment – and a stark reality check. An experienced vendor can tell immediately whether your request for services fits within their strategic wheelhouse – and if you’re the type of client they’re excited to add to their roster. When you reach out, explain why you’re requesting a proposal from their team, specifically. Make sure you include what it is about their past work that makes you think their team could be a good fit for your needs.
- Budget appropriately: This step is a natural successor to step three. Once you’ve done the research and know what your needs and desires cost, you then can create a budget that reflects realistic goals. When proposal clients show us their budget, we then can get started helping them to maximize it. Pro tip: If you’re showing a clear budget to each vendor, you can shop around to see which agency has the most effective plan for your money.
- Follow up: Lastly, after you’ve received a proposal that you think may be out of your scope of work or budget, don’t assume that that vendor can’t do anything for you. Often time vendor list additional services in their proposal they believe will elevate your brand. Other times, they trump up there fees so that they have room to negotiate.
Staying informed and upfront in your RFPs will help you land the cream of the branding crop for your organization’s next marketing overhaul. A little time and attention can go a long way in ensuring your company receives the best proposals from the most competitive agencies.
by Ivy Newman
As a marketing consultant, Ivy concentrates on strategically working with executives and business owners on solutions for structuring and creatively implementing the right marketing plan to increase business. The brainstorming process is her favorite activity when engaging clients.