Starting the RFP process can feel overwhelming – it requires time and focus that you might feel like you already don’t have. So, we’re here to shed light into making the process feel less overwhelming and more enjoyable as you seek to create your company’s next brand experience RFP. Whether your proposal quest is for brand activations, trade shows, retail, pop-ups, or corporate environments, this insight should be instrumentally helpful.

1. Be selective

It might seem like a good idea to include 7-10 agencies in an RFP process; however, having more than 4-5 agencies participate can be too much information for you and your team to sift through. Depending on your process, that could be hundreds of pages to read and analyze. Most brand directors, trade show managers, creative directors, and sourcing strategists we know are strapped for time, so this selective step helps to alleviate an abundance of meetings and time spent reading.

Including 4-5 agencies requires more research on the front-end to determine the companies that you know – or are fairly certain – will be a good fit with you and your business objectives. However, the downside to this is that it takes quite a bit of up-front work. But we promise, the upside is much greater. In the long run, this approach allows you more time for your day-to-day work vs. emailing 7-10 agencies, answering their questions, and reviewing 7-10 proposals.

The selective approach vs. casting a wider net almost always produces the best results as your time will be spent reviewing proposals from agencies that you already think might be awesome partners.

2. Share measurable objectives

It’s important to establish and share your business objectives in a qualitative and quantitative way. You will want to hear from your brand experience agency how they have helped others in this manner and how they can help you. Trade show programs, pop-ups, and other brand activations can and should have firm metrics to strive towards and measure. If your current program doesn’t have metrics, ask the agencies participating in your RFP to submit recommended ways to measure your program based on your ideal outcomes.

3.  Provide details

As it relates to everything in the proposal, the more details shared with the agencies, the better. You will want to share with the participating agencies your company’s unique selling proposition, core values, target audience(s), ideal experiences, and more. In this case, the more, the merrier.

4. Include the budget

When sending a proposal, it’s best to always share a budget. A detailed, exact number is better than a range because then the agencies submitting proposals can recommend programs that can be implemented to achieve your goals strategically. We can promise that sharing a budget does not limit creative thinking; it helps to maximize thinking to stretch and optimize within a client’s financial parameters. Every project or 12-month plan has one – so sharing it is always beneficial.

5. Give adequate time

The most stressful projects on both the brand and agency side are often rushed. With that, we recommend allowing 3-4 weeks for an adequate beginning-to-end RFP process. If your team is seeking design, we recommend adding a week or two to this timeline. Generous timelines allow both the agency and brand to be most successful and thoughtful.

6. Ask for feedback

The proposal process allows brands to ask the question, “if this was your brand experience or trade show exhibit, what would you do differently?” Hearing an outside perspective on a program can positively change the trajectory of a current program and optimize it in ways that you didn’t think would be possible. Our team, for example, excels at hearing an idea and recommending ways to maximize it because of the variety of projects we work on each day. Our team has endless ideas for stronger programs. So, gather feedback during your RFP process; it’ll help you be more strategic and creative with future campaigns.

7.  Get to know the people

People like to work with people they like. Before hiring an agency, spend time with them. Whichever company gets awarded your business will be working side-by-side with you, and you want to be sure you enjoy the collaboration. We believe it’s important to build comradery before selecting the right agency so that when the work starts, there’s already a personal connection.

8. Make time

Agencies are investing their time into creating the best possible brand experience proposals that deliver on your business goals. And one of the most productive ways to work is in collaboration. So, during the RFP process, make sure to leave space to connect with the agencies to answer questions, provide feedback, etc. The impact of these types of brief calls can make a world of difference in the proposals you receive.

If it’s you, a colleague, or friend who’s about to embark on a brand experience, trade show, retail, pop-up, or corporate environment RFP, we hope your process feels fun, strategic, and results-driven.

Our team specializes in helping our clients stand up and out, and we’d love to start a conversation with you.