Requests for proposals (RFPs) can be something like a courtship, with the entity requesting proposals trying to appear as strong and professional — as desirable — as possible, and the entity/ies submitting proposals trying to appear as reliable and accomplished — as attractive — as possible.
There is no mold into which to pour the element included in an RFP, but direct marketing professionals offer tips for devising one that will save time and eliminate a lot of heartache on both sides of the table.
- Give enough information … There must be enough information that allows a responder to follow up, to get more information. It can be helpful to be aware of the other guy’s politics, market dynamics and history.
- … but not too much. Some agencies don’t want every point of data available. A nonprofit is better served by identifying two or three key objectives or problems that need solving. Each RFP should be unique to each project.
- Be open. Stating priorities should point in the direction but not be specific to the destination. The RFP should give the background of the organization, outline goals clearly, define the program or campaign under review and provide historical results, goals going forward and priorities.
- Do the research. Research agencies, but be prepared for agencies to research the organization.
Be honest, internally and with the partner, about why the RFP is going out and what is expected from the process.