Connect with us

Marketing

How to Write a Request for Proposal with Template and Sample

Published

on

How to Write a Request for Proposal with Template and Sample


Whether you’re working for a small agency or a major marketing firm, you’re probably eventually going to need to fill out a Request for Proposal, or RFP.

Your company can’t do everything internally, and when your business needs to purchase a product or service from elsewhere, you might need to shop around. An RFP allows you to collect offers from various vendors and select the vendor that best meets your criteria, both in regards to skill and budget.

Any time you outsource work to a supplier, there’s a potential for issues such as miscommunication around the scope of the work and the compensation. What a good RFP does is eliminate gray areas so that both parties understand what needs to be delivered, when, and for how much.

RFP Template

Here, we’ve provided an RFP template you can follow for initial structure, as well as a sample RFP for further inspiration. But it isn’t one-size-fits-all — you’ll need to tailor your RFP to best articulate your company’s needs.

Free editable rfp request for proposal pdf template

Download a free, editable RFP template.

Not that you’ve seen the template, how do you actually write an RFP? We’ve got you covered.

1. Define your project, scope, and budget.

Before issuing your RFP, take the time to define the project you’re looking to complete, its scope, and how much you can afford to spend. This information provides the framework for your RFP and helps ensure that it strikes a balance between too general and overly detailed.

2. Provide background and introductory information.

With budget and scope in hand, you can start crafting your RFP. While it’s tempting to dive right into the details, it’s a good idea to provide some background and introductory data about your company. This helps set the stage for potential partners by giving them a sense of your current market, business goals, and current challenges.

3. Describe the services you’re looking for.

Now it’s time to get specific about the services you’re looking for to help achieve your goals. For example, if you’re building a website, you might look for a company with both front-end and back-end development experience. If you’re creating a mobile app, highlight the need for specific skills in that area, such as expertise in responsive design and building applications for multiple mobile platforms.

4. Detail your selection criteria and timelines.

Next up are the selection criteria and the timelines for your project. Here, you can highlight what skills, services, and market expertise are required for consideration. This is the time to get specific: Clear descriptions of selection criteria will help reduce the risk of sorting through multiple RFPs that don’t meet your needs.

It’s also important to be up-front about your timelines. Give potential partners an end date for RFP submission, a date for final selection, and a clear start-to-finish project timeline so companies making a proposal can fine-tune their bid.

5. Proofread your RFP and go live.

Last but never least? Proofread your RFP — then proofread it again. Why? Because even small mistakes could derail project timelines. Consider a zero missing in your budget details, or a miscommunication about the dates that proposals are due and selections are made; both could force a restart of the entire RFP process and waste precious time.

Once you’re satisfied that everything on your RFP is accurate and complete, it’s time to go live. Send out emails and post links on your site to start the process of finding your best-fit provider. To streamline this process, consider proposal software to publish and manage responses to your RFP.

Now that you understand the basics of writing an RFP, you can build your own template and then fill it out so that you can start accepting bids. We’ll use a fictitious company, Caroline’s Websites, Inc., to illustrate exactly how each section should be executed.

RFP Sample

rfp sample template with tables and headingsProject Name or Description: Marketing Services

Company Name: Caroline’s Websites, Inc.

Address: 302 Inbound Ave.

City, State, Zip Code: Boston, MA 29814

Procurement Contact Person: Caroline Forsey

Telephone Number of PCP: 227-124-2481

Email Address of PCP: [email protected]

Fax Number: N/A

Next, we’ll go into each of the elements of the RFP with information using the same fictitious company.

1. Write your background and introduction.

In your introductory paragraph, you’ll want to include useful background information about your company — who founded it, what product or service your company offers, what sets you apart from competitors, and where you’re located. If any vendor is serious about working with you, they’ll want this information before moving forward.

Example

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. is a web design firm created by Caroline Forsey in 2010. Caroline’s Websites, Inc. prides itself on a team-oriented, solutions-based approach to web design. We provide our clients with web design services including coding, development, and branding. Our staff is located in two offices in Massachusetts.

2. Define your project goals and scope of services.

Next, you’ll want to outline the project you need completed, and the goals you expect to accomplish from the project. It’s important you get as specific as possible — even outlining individual tasks and criteria involved. You’ll want to include phrases such as “The award will be given to X firm,” with the “X” establishing how you’ll determine the best candidate.

Example

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. is seeking the services of a full-service communications and marketing firm to develop and execute a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that increases our SEO presence; attracts more social media followers; and effectively completes a lead generation campaign. The award will be made to a responsive and responsible firm based on the best value and professional capability.

The selected firm will be responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive and cost-effective marketing plan.

Tasks include but may not be limited to the following criteria:

  • Lead generation campaign
  • Paid media strategy
  • Production of creative material including collateral and direct mail
  • Online marketing campaign
  • Website enhancement
  • Search engine optimization
  • General account management
  • Other communications and/or marketing-related assistance as required

3. Detail your anticipated selection schedule.

It’s crucial you include a detailed schedule so vendors know if they can meet your deadlines. You’ll also need to give vendors a window for when they can ask questions regarding your project.

Example

The Request for Proposal timeline is as follows:

Request for RFP: June 1, 20XX

Deadline for Bidders to Submit Questions: July 5, 20XX

[Company Name] Responds to Bidder Questions: July 20, 20XX

Selection of Top Bidders / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: July 31, 20XX

Start of Negotiation: August 5, 20XX

Contract Award / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: August 31, 20XX

4. Describe the time and place for the submission of proposals.

Similar to paragraph #3, this is important information you’ll want to clearly present, so vendors know how and where to submit themselves for consideration.

Example

The RFP will be posted on our website, Carolinewebsites.com, and can be downloaded from there directly as of 10 a.m. on June 1, 20XX.

Respondents to this RFP must submit one original and five copies of their proposal. Responses must be received no later than July 25, 20XX. Responses should be clearly marked “RFP-MarketingServices” and mailed or delivered to the contact person listed above.

5. Clearly define your timeline.

By including a time frame in your RFP, you’re able to eliminate any vendor who can’t work within your time constraints. If you’re flexible on your time, you can write something like, “Our company hopes to finish the project within six months, but we’re open to negotiation for the right candidate.”

Example

Caroline’s Websites, Inc. needs the project completed within 8 months.

6. Specify the key elements of a proposal.

If you don’t outline clearly and specifically what you expect bidders to include in their proposal, you can’t necessarily fault them if they don’t include it. It’s critical you outline a checklist so vendors know which elements you’re expecting to receive. It’s also a good test for who’s capable of handling your demands — if a vendor can’t complete all elements of your proposal, you probably can’t trust them to finish your project, either.

Example

A submission must, at a minimum, include the following elements:

  • Description of the firm that includes a general overview, names and credentials of creative team, number of full-time employees.
  • A one-page narrative outlining the firm’s strengths and distinguishing skills or capabilities as they might relate to Caroline’s Websites, Inc.
  • A representative selection of social media ads, direct response material, collateral, and website development created for current and past clients.

7. Make your evaluation criteria clear.

Outlining your expectations will help eliminate vendors who don’t meet them. For this section, you’ll want to do some brainstorming with your team to come up with a mandatory list of items you feel are the best indicators of impressive candidates. Your list could include samples of past work, a proven success record with companies in similar industries, the expertise and technical skills to meet your demands, and a cost of services within your price range.

Example

The successful respondent will have:

  • Experience working as a marketing agency for a minimum of 24 months and possess full-service, in-house capabilities for marketing, creative services, production, media planning and placement, direct response, and research.
  • The education, experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications of the firm and the individuals who will be available to provide these services.
  • The competitive cost of services.
  • The expertise of the firm in working with similar customers.

8. Describe any possible roadblocks.

Here, you’ll want to outline any roadblocks, such as limited resources or a custom website, that might prevent certain vendors from successfully completing the project. This allows you to eliminate unsatisfactory bidders, and it will also help you determine which vendors have the skills and expertise to tackle those challenges.

Example

At this time, Caroline’s Websites, Inc. currently has custom coding on our website, of which bidders should be aware.

9. State your budget for the project.

Any vendor needs to know how much you’re able to pay them for their services before they’ll move forward with their bid.

Example

Caroline’s Websites, Inc.’s budget for the project is $8,750.00.

These elements were written in a way to clarify the scope of the project that Caroline’s Websites, Inc. wants completed so that suppliers know whether or not to make a bid. Defining the project allows the bidder to determine if they’re a good fit and how much they’d likely charge. Being as transparent as possible serves to benefit (and even protect) both parties in the long run.

As the name makes clear, RFIs are about collecting information. They’re used by companies to get a sense of what solutions are on the market and how the companies that offer these solutions could help solve a key problem or complete a key task. RFIs ask companies to submit data about what they do, what they offer, and how they can help achieve specific goals.

RFPs, meanwhile, follow RFIs. Using the information obtained from RFIs, companies build RFPs that detail exactly what they’re looking for, how much they’re planning to spend, and how vendors will be selected. In effect, RFIs help narrow the scope of RFPs to help streamline the selection process.

Worth noting? There’s also another option if you know exactly what product or service you’re looking for: Request for quote (RFQ). Unlike an RFP, which asks potential partners to submit a proposal based on their expertise and experience, an RFQ is about cost: You’re asking a specific vendor what it would cost to deliver “X” service or solution in “Y” timeframe under “Z” conditions.

Realizing Best Results for Your RPF

Your RPF sets the stage for companies to bid on projects that are outside the scope of your internal expertise — but are still critical for your business to succeed.

As a result, it’s worth making sure your RFP is clear, concise, and captures the key details about your needs to help find the best-fit partner for your project. Not sure where to start? Grab a copy of HubSpot’s free RFP template, follow the steps above, and get your projects underway.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

rfp templates



Source link

Continue Reading
Comments

Marketing

Freshness & SEO: An Underrated Concept

Published

on

Freshness & SEO: An Underrated Concept


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

During my time in search, there are certain ranking factors that I’ve changed my perspective on. For instance, after coming to Go Fish Digital and working on internal linking initiatives, I started to realize the power of internal links over time. By implementing internal links at scale, we were able to see consistent success.

Freshness is another one of these factors. After working with a news organization and testing the learnings gained from that work on other sites, I started to see the immense power that content refreshes could produce. As a result, I think the entire SEO community has underrated this concept for quite some time. Let’s dig into why.

Reviewing news sites

This all started when we began to work with a large news publisher who was having trouble getting in Google’s Top Stories for highly competitive keywords. They were consistently finding that their content wasn’t able to get inclusion in this feature, and wanted to know why.

Inclusion in “Top stories”

We began to perform a lot of research around news outlets that seemed quite adept at getting included in Top Stories. This immediately turned our attention to CNN, the site that is by far the most skilled in acquiring coveted Top Stories positions.

By diving into their strategies, one consistent trend we noticed was that they would always create a brand new URL the day they wanted to be included in the Top Stories carousel:

As an example, here you can see that they create a unique URL for their rolling coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Since they know that Google will show Top Stories results daily for queries around this, they create brand new URLs every single day:

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-16-22/index.html

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-21-22/index.html

    • cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-05-23-22/index.html

This flies in the face of traditional SEO advice that indicates web owners need to keep consistent URLs in order to ensure equity isn’t diluted and keywords aren’t cannibalized. But to be eligible for Top Stories, Google needs a “fresh” URL to be indexed in order for the content to qualify.

After we started implementing the strategy of creating unique URLs every day, we saw much more consistent inclusion for this news outlet in Top Stories for their primary keywords.

However, the next question we wanted to address was not just how to get included in this feature, but also how to maintain strong ranking positions once there.

Ranking in “Top stories”

The next element that we looked at was how frequently competitors were updating their stories once in the Top Stories carousel, and were surprised at how frequently top news outlets refresh their content.

We found that competitors were aggressively updating their timestamps. For one query, when reviewing three articles over a four-hour period, we found the average time between updates for major outlets:

  1. USA Today: Every 8 Minutes

  2. New York Times: Every 27 minutes

  3. CNN: Every 28 minutes

For this particular query, USA Today was literally updating their page every 8 minutes and maintaining the #1 ranking position for Top Stories. Clearly, they were putting a lot of effort into the freshness of their content.

But what about the rest of us?

Of course, it’s obvious how this would apply to news sites. There is certainly no other vertical where the concept of “freshness” is going to carry more weight to the algorithm. However, this got us thinking about how valuable this concept would be to the broader web. Are other sites doing this, and would it be possible to see SEO success by updating content more frequently?

Evergreen content

Fortunately, we were able to perform even more research in this area. Our news client also had many non-news specific sections of their site. These sections contain more “evergreen” articles where more traditional SEO norms and rules should apply. One section of their site contains more “reviews” type of content, where they find the best products for a given category.

When reviewing articles for these topics, we also noticed patterns around freshness. In general, high ranking articles in competitive product areas (electronics, bedding, appliances) would aggressively update their timestamps on a monthly (sometimes weekly) cadence.

For example, as of the date of this writing (May 25th, 2022), I can see that all of the top three articles for “best mattress” have been updated within the last 7 days.

Looking at the term “best robot vacuum”, it looks like all of the articles have been updated in the last month (as of May 2022):

Even though these articles are more “evergreen” and not tied to the news cycle, it’s obvious that these sites are placing a high emphasis on freshness with frequent article updates. This indicated to us that there might be more benefits to freshness than just news story results.

Performing a test

We decided to start testing the concept of freshness on our own blog to see what the impact of these updates could be. We had an article on automotive SEO that used to perform quite well for “automotive seo” queries. However, in recent years, this page lost a lot of organic traffic:

The article still contained evergreen information, but it hadn’t been updated since 2016:

It was the perfect candidate for our test. To perform this test, we made only three changes to the article:

  1. Updated the content to ensure it was all current. This changed less than 5% of the text.

  2. Added “2022” to the title tag.

  3. Updated the timestamp.

Immediately, we saw rankings improve for the keyword “automotive seo”. We moved from ranking on the third page to the first page the day after we updated the content:

To verify these results, we tested this concept on another page. For this next article, we only updated the timestamp and title tag with no changes to the on-page content. While we normally wouldn’t recommend doing this, this was the only way we could isolate whether “freshness” was the driving change, and not the content adjustments.

However, after making these two updates, we could clearly see an immediate improvement to the traffic of the second page:

These two experiments combined with other tests we’ve performed are showing us that Google places value on the recency of content. This value extends beyond just articles tied to the news cycle.

Why does Google care?

E-A-T considerations

Thinking about this more holistically, Google utilizing the concept of freshness makes sense from their E-A-T initiatives. The whole concept of E-A-T is that Google wants to rank content that it can trust (written by experts, citing facts) above other search results. Google has a borderline public responsibility to ensure that the content it serves is accurate, so it’s in the search giant’s best interest to surface content that it thinks it can trust.

So how does freshness play into this? Well, if Google thinks content is outdated, how is it supposed to trust that the information is accurate? If the search engine sees that your article hasn’t been updated in five years while competitors have more recent content, that might be a signal that their content is more trustworthy than yours.

For example, for the term “best camera phones”, would you want to read an article last updated two years ago? For that matter, would you even want an article last updated six months ago?

As we can see, Google is only ranking pages that have been updated within the last one or two months. That’s because the technology changes so rapidly in this space that, unless you’re updating your articles every couple of months or so, you’re dramatically behind the curve.

Marketplace threats

The concept of freshness also makes sense from a competitive perspective. One of the biggest weaknesses of an indexation engine is that it’s inherently hard to serve real-time results. To find when content changes, a search engine needs time to recrawl and reindex content. When combined with the demands of crawling the web at scale, this becomes extremely difficult.

On the other hand, social media sites like Twitter don’t have this issue and are made to serve real-time content. The platform isn’t tasked with indexing results, and engagement metrics can help quickly surface content that’s gaining traction. As a result, Twitter does a much better job of surfacing trending content.

Thinking about the web from a platform based perspective, it makes sense that most users would choose Twitter over Google when looking for real-time information. This causes a big threat to Google, as it’s a reason for users to migrate off the ecosystem, thus presenting fewer opportunities to serve ads.

Recently in Top Stories, you now see a lot more “Live Blog Posts”. These articles utilize LiveBlogPosting structured data, which signals to Google that the content is getting updated in real-time. While looking for real-time URLs across the entire web is daunting, using this structured data type can help them better narrow in on content they need to be crawling and indexing more frequently.

Google seems to be aggressively pushing these live blogs in Top Stories as they often see strong visibility in Top Stories results:

This might be a strategic move to encourage publishers to create real-time content. The goal here could be increased adoption of content that’s updated in real-time with the end result of showcasing to users that they can get this type of content on Google, not just Twitter.

Utilizing these concepts moving forward

I think as an industry, sometimes there’s room for us to be more creative when thinking about our on-page optimizations. When looking at how to improve pages that have lost traffic and positions over time, we could take freshness into consideration. When looking at pages that have lost prominence over time, we might want to consider checking if that content is also outdated. Through testing and experimentation, you could see if updating the freshness of your content has noticeable positive impacts on ranking improvements.



Source link

Continue Reading

Marketing

Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand

Published

on

Build-A-Bear using data to make itself into an all-ages brand


Build-A-Bear is remaking itself for the 25th anniversary of its founding this year. This means using its experience and its data to appeal to older customers and create stronger online connections.

“The goal that was stated for us was to diversify our brand, evolve our retail portfolio and build stronger relationships with our consumers,” said Ed Poppe, Build-A-Bear’s vice president, loyalty and performance marketing for Build-A-Bear, in a presentation at The MarTech Conference.

That’s why they launched HeartBox, an e-commerce play which the company says will let it move into “the adult-to-adult gift-giving and gift box market which has been meaningfully expanding over the past few years.” This goes along with its new Bear Cave line of “adult” bears (in this case adult means they have alcohol in hand). The brand has also expanded through partnerships with film, entertainment and streaming TV properties like Harry Potter, Pokémon, The Matrix and the Marvel series WandaVision.

These efforts are designed to give more options to customers who buy online, and increase options for engagement. This has required integrating new teams and new sources of data.

Connecting customer data and teams

“Over half of businesses now say that they expect the majority of their revenue to come from digital channels,” said Loretta Shen, senior director, product marketing, marketing cloud intelligence for Salesforce. “To meet changing consumer behavior, marketers are adopting digital channels like video, social media and digital ads across search and paid media. But it’s not just adopting these channels, but how you use them, and in particular how you use them in tandem.”

Build-A-Bear adapted to customers’ increased digital use by adding new digital experiences while also reorganizing customer data to better understand what customers want.

“We have to understand our guests at Build-A-Bear,” said Bryce Ahrens, Build-A-Bear’s senior analyst, CRM, loyalty and performance marketing. “How do they engage with our email, our websites, our advertising and, of course, how do they engage and experience our in-store environment?”

They keep a large CRM database made up of loyalty program members, website customers, retail customers and sales prospects. Additionally, through access to the CRM, the organization is pulling together different teams: web development, analytics, marketing and also data privacy people.

These teams have to remain connected because data is coming through different systems. Build-A-Bear has a first-party data warehouse, a commerce cloud storefront, an order management system, marketing cloud, an email platform and different analytics solutions, not to mention ad platforms for campaigns.

“We need to be able to bring this information together, prioritize what we look at, and identify strategies to move quickly,” said Ahrens.

Read next: What you need to know to grow your e-commerce business

Count Your Candles

Data and digital experience come together in an ongoing Build-A-Bear effort called “Count Your Candles.”

The promotion is a special offer for customers to order a discounted bear (regularly priced at $14) that costs a dollar amount that matches their age.

The dedicated webpage for this promotion also allows customers and gift-givers to buy gift cards and become loyalty members. Additionally, there are a number of other ways that customers can celebrate birthdays, including in-store birthday parties and special birthday gift boxes that can be ordered and delivered.

These strategies came from marketers looking at the data and seeing what sparked their customers’ interests. In this case, it was birthdays.

“We’re lucky to have a team up here who wants to jump in and help drive our business forward,” said Poppe. “But it also brings us back to where it’s important to aggregate data, identify patterns, see your opportunities, and pick your path forward.”


Get the daily newsletter digital marketers rely on.


Optimizing digital experiences with marketing and commerce insights from Third Door Media on Vimeo.


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



Source link

Continue Reading

Marketing

How Local Business Schema Can Boost Your Company’s Visibility Online

Published

on

How Local Business Schema Can Boost Your Company's Visibility Online


You’ve started a website for your local business, but with so much competition out there, you may be struggling to make your website more visible online. That lack of visibility could hinder potential customers from finding your company. To improve your visibility in search engine results, local business schema could be the tool you need.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Liveseo.com