Outsourcing your marketing can be a daunting task. From marketing tactics to workplace culture, marketing agencies have various characteristics that make choosing the right one challenging. However, there is a solution: using an RFP.
An RFP stands for a Request for Proposal. RFPs are sent by businesses to multiple agencies to give background information on a project they are working on, the goals they want to achieve, and how they will determine who to work with. Based on the information given in the RFP, each agency develops a proposal that details how they would help this business achieve its goals.
However, this does not mean that all RFPs are created equally. Often, businesses will choose to write an RFP that asks agencies to provide a full marketing strategy with specific tactics. That should not be the case. Instead, you should be evaluating each agency's approach to your problem, their team dynamics, their expertise, and whether your company culture melds with theirs.
If you still don’t know what to do, there is no need to fret. In this blog, we’ll give you the ten most important RFP questions to ask your business and the potential agencies you’ll be working with.
Before you even begin writing your RFP questions and sending them out to agencies, your decision-makers should ask themselves a few questions to know if they're prepared to write your RFP in the first place.
Without goals, sending out RFP questions to potential agencies wastes your and the agency's time. Be sure to set clear goals. What revenue goals do you want to achieve? How much do you want to grow year over year? How many leads do you want to generate in a specific amount of time? Getting down to the nitty-gritty of what you want to achieve gives agencies a better perspective on what they need to do to effectively help you reach your goals. Here is a helpful guide for setting SMART goals for your business.
This is a big one. If you don’t have an idea of what your budget is, it can be inefficient to start asking other RFP questions. One, without a clear budget, agencies don’t know the extent of the strategies they can implement nor do they know if your budget will even be sufficient enough to meet your goals. Two, without an extensive budget, there is no need to send out an RFP in the first place. Be sure to have both a clear and extensive budget before you start sending out RFP questions to potential agencies.
You also need to know how complex your project is. For example, if you are looking for an agency that only works on SEO to improve your e-commerce traffic, you might not need to ask RFP questions to whittle down your agency choices. But, if you’re looking for an agency that pairs SEO with PPC, needs social media management, a full visual overhaul, and a thorough brand messaging guide to solidify your brand identity, developing a few RFP questions is probably necessary.
Another thing to ask you and your team is who will be making the final decision on what agency to work with. If it ends up being you or one of your coworkers who gets to make the decision, you may not need to send out any RFPs. But, if many stakeholders or board members need to reach a decision together, sending out an RFP with strong RFP questions ensures that everyone is on the same page in the information they have to work off of.
Finally, you should ask yourself and the people who are choosing what agency to work with what you are evaluating agencies based on. Whether it's culture, approach, size, etc. make sure you and your team share an understanding of what are the most important values to you and your company.
After you’ve completed a thorough examination of your needs, it’s time to learn about the potential agencies you’re thinking of hiring. Here are some of the most impactful questions you can ask to ascertain how you might work with an agency.
While you may be interested in the numbers of what an agency can offer you right out of the gate, it’s way more important to gauge what their company culture is like first. This is important for many reasons. One reason is that agencies with a strong culture are better to work with in general. Having a solid culture improves employee engagement and productivity internally, which makes the work that gets done for you all the better.
Another reason is that learning about an agency’s culture can help you quickly determine whether you are the right fit to work with one another. Here is Bin Cochran, VP of Marketing at Marketwake with some of his thoughts:
VP of Marketing at Marketwake
It may seem like a no-brainer, but asking about an agency’s team size can help you effectively understand its full capabilities. For example, you may need to choose between the capabilities of a boutique agency and a large agency.
Boutique agencies are often able to give more personalized attention to their clients. With fewer people and less red tape to cross through, boutique agencies are usually more flexible and can change strategies much quicker than large agencies.
However, large agencies have their advantages too. While you may not get the personalized treatment you do at a small agency, large agencies can specialize in many different areas of marketing and can offer a full-service approach. This can be helpful, especially if you were planning on dealing with the ensuing chaos of working with multiple agencies at the same time.
Yes, budget has to be a primary concern in an RFP, especially for marketing. Too many times, agencies see the goals of a business attached to an unrealistic budget and have no choice but to decline. But, if you ask an agency whether the budget is realistic, they can give you an honest answer. Or, more importantly, based on your budget they can give you one tactic to hone your strategy in on and maximize it to its fullest potential. Either way, you’re learning about the capabilities of the agency, and whether they're promising you too much with your proposed amount.
If you’re beginning to ask RFP questions and have just started looking around at different agencies, you’ve probably noticed that many of them have pages or sections on their website where they show off their work and the impact it had on their clients. But that might not be a comprehensive list.
If you ask an agency in an RFP what work they have in your field, they may have a stash of stats and testimonials from previous work they’ve done that has been unseen from the public eye. And, even if it is not related to your specific industry, it may be at the very least related to your type of business: e-commerce, SaaS, retail, etc.
If an agency doesn’t have proven work it can either mean that they are extremely new or they aren’t as experienced and don’t have the proof necessary to back up their promises. You should put a good amount of stock into an agency if they have client testimonials, stats, and social proof of their work.
Although you shouldn’t request a full digital marketing strategy in your RFP, you can ask about an agency's thoughts on your proposed tactics. Often, you’ll have an idea about what strategies work best for your business. But, when you outsource your marketing to a third party like an agency, they may have a team of experts that can see your strategy in a whole new light.
If they give advice about what you may be missing out on in terms of your marketing strategy, it can help you develop a more holistic marketing plan. Plus, it truly shows the level of expertise an agency has to be able to immediately spot where your strategy could improve. It’s a win-win for both sides.
Finding the right agency to work with is tough. But Marketwake makes it easy. Send us any of your RFP questions! Our team of experts is ready to answer any inquiries you may have. Our full-service approach has helped countless businesses maximize their ROI and see revenue growth year over year. If you’re ready to get started, contact us! We’re here to chat at any time.
Good RFP questions are ones that help you understand an agency’s approach to marketing, what services they offer, and whether they are a good culture fit for your company. Some examples include:
An RFP questionnaire is a document that gives potential agencies the information they need to develop a proposal. This document usually gives background information on the business, the challenges they are facing, the goals they want to achieve, and any RFP questions that they have for potential agencies.
Agencies should respond to RFP questions as honestly and accurately as possible in the form of a proposal. To do this, agencies need to understand what the client wants and what deliverables they can provide to meet the client's goals. Agencies can also respond in the form of a presentation that they give to the business that sent them the RFP.
Some questions you should ask in an RFP are:
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