The RFP process is the best chance you get at establishing the right up-front relationship with prospective agencies.

The process of finding the best marketing agencies starts by sending a set of agencies a request for proposal (RFP). Your RFP should include a number of different items.  Do your best to be specific up front, so nothing is lost when it comes time to sign on the dotted line.  

One of the most valuable things about using an RFP to begin the process is that you’ll be able to more easily compare and contrast the list of top marketing agencies that you’re speaking with. This has helped me rule out agencies that I loved (based on their website) fairly quickly.  It helps to expose gaps in service or capabilities. You’ll also uncover potential additional expertise that you didn’t see on the website.

This, of course, is a two-way street. By providing the scope of your expectations up front, the agency can make the call as to whether or not they want to participate in the bid.

At it’s most basic, an RFP should contain the following items:

  1. Brief Project Overview
  2. Your Organization’s Background
  3. Project Goals & Target Audience
  4. The scope of Work & Deliverables
  5. Timeline
  6. Technical Requirements
  7. Principal Point of Contact
  8. Budget
  9. Ongoing Support / Retainer
  10. Analytics Software
  11. Examples
  12. Criteria for Selection
  13. Format & Proposal Timeline

There are lots of RFP templates out there in the world. I would suggest starting off with a simple google search to find the one that fits your project.

Good luck!