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How to Develop an RFP for Marketing Services

Our agency has engaged with many local municipalities, government entities, corporate clients, and small businesses. After these engagements, we spent time evaluating what went well and what could be improved on both sides. Our ultimate key takeaway would be that you would want to start by understanding that any body of work related to marketing needs to start with strategy. A la carte marketing deliverables without a strategy will not help your organization reach its goals. Having a strategy will enable your organization to do the following:

-Identify the purpose of the campaign(s) -Evaluate internal talent that can be leveraged to complete deliverables within the body of work -Develop a timeline for deliverables -Establish a budget

The agency or agencies that you decide to engage with should start with a marketing strategy. You will want to view the strategy with the agency as consulting work and or your guide. A budget should be designed to cover this strategy before you engage with an agency. Next, the strategy should clearly outline what deliverables are needed to identify costs and the people within your organization that can execute those deliverables. There should be a point of contact for each group of deliverables, and all point people should agree to and adhere to the established timeline for deliverables. Your organization will also want to be honest within themselves about skill-level and expertise in their ability to complete those deliverables per the timeline and at a high-level. Whatever deliverables or bodies of work that cannot be met internally should be outsourced to the marketing agency. Bringing the department heads and decision-makers that will be impacted by your campaigns' goals (s)/initiatives together and getting them on the same page is vital before you solicit support. All departments should be involved in outlining needs, establishing what a vision of success looks like, and the realistic amount of time their people can support the marketing strategy and implementation.

Depending on your initiative's budget (s), you may choose to go with a large agency, smaller agency, or independent consultant. In most cases, bigger doesn't always mean better. In addition to the factors listed above, you will want to validate that any candidate(s) being interviewed to fulfill the project have the knowledge and capacity to do so. When shopping agencies, the differentiating factors that you will want to consider are experience with the demographic and audience you are trying to align with, a proven track record around the ability to provide analytics against performance, fit with your organization's culture overall professionalism.

In conclusion, by working internally to design what success looks like for your organization's goal, it will create clarity and have your team on board before engaging agencies. Once that vision has been established, work with a consultant or agency to map out what the marketing strategy is and the deliverables needed to support it. Next, determine what deliverables can be executed in-house and what would be best to outsource. Finally, come to consultants or agencies with a clear vision of what deliverables are needed, the time you would like to have them completed, and a realistic budget for what you have to work with. This will allow the agency to decide if your organization's goals align with their ideal client.

If your organization needs support in analyzing your existing positioning, clarifying what success looks like, and developing a strategy, inbox us or email me at

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