If you’re starting to look for a new creative marketing and advertising agency, writing the right agency RFP can help you find a great partner (not vendor) to execute your vision.
Navigating this process is no joke. Just in 2022, there were 88,000 advertising and creative agencies. So finding the right one requires both an understanding of how to pick an agency, and a clear understanding of your own project and scope.
At Slam, we’ve experienced the agency RFP process from both the client side and the agency side for decades. We respond to 50+ every year and see hundreds. With backgrounds in nonprofits, tech companies, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies, we've gained insights on what makes a really amazing creative agency RFP, and how the best marketing agencies respond to them.
In this agency RFP guide, we’ll walk you through:
- What’s an agency RFP?
- Most common mistakes companies and nonprofits make when filling out an RFP
- What you need to compile and find out to fill out the marketing agency RFP
- How you can find partners to respond to the agency RFP
- Slam’s free creative agency RFP template
- How to share your agency RFP with Slam!
What’s an Agency RFP?
An Agency RFP (Request for Proposal) is a process where an organization (startups, nonprofits, universities, etc) invites outside agencies or partners to submit proposals for a specific project.
The goal of an Agency RFP is to find the best agency or partner to work on the project and achieve the desired results.
Most Common Mistakes in Marketing & Creative Brand Agency RFPs
When filling out a marketing agency request for proposal, companies can make several common mistakes. We can only speak for marketing, advertising, brand and creative agency RFPs since this is our jam.
Here are some of the mistakes clients make when filling out an agency RFP:
- Lack of understanding of your own project
- Sharing a one-size-fits-all proposal without adding specific requirements
- Overcomplicating the Agency RFP
- Ambiguous pricing
- Unclear or unrealistic timelines
- Unclear stakeholders
- No clear channels for marketing agencies to ask questions
- Lack of evaluation criteria
- Asking for client references TOO early
You’d be surprised at the amount of mistakes we’ve seen in creative marketing RFPs. But don’t worry. In the next sections, we’ll cover what you need to collect, and how you can use Slam’s agency RFP template. Make sure to download it!
What to Compile to Make the Right Marketing Agency RFP
As you can imagine, clearly communicating your project requirements and needs will make a big difference. Here’s our quick brand and marketing agency checklist to get comprehensive proposals from agencies:
- Articulate your project needs and goals clearly
- Share a reasonable timeline
- Define your ideal marketing agency’s traits
- Limit the number of partners responding to your agency RFP
- Provide a budget range and how much you’re willing to spend
- Share your decision-making criteria
- Embrace honesty
Clearly articulate your project needs and goals
Steer clear of buzzwords and instead state specific, measurable objectives. Add context. Example: I am looking to re-do our brand (logo, fonts, colors) and build a new website on Webflow. We previously had a site built on WordPress, but it was too slow and bad for SEO.
Include inspiration and audience information
Share examples, case studies, or creative references that align with your vision and brand in your RFP. This will give agencies an idea of what you’re looking for. Plus, if you have information or data on your audience, this will be helpful, as they can reference how they’ll reach your customers.
Share a reasonable timeline
Give your potential creative marketing agency partner enough time to put it together. Don’t rush it, because those agencies are likely busy and want to spend time giving you a comprehensive proposal back. We highly recommend including a timeline that has deadlines, when you’ll be interviewing, and when you’ll be making a decision.
Define your ideal marketing agency's traits
Outline the qualities you seek in a creative marketing agency partner. For example, you may prioritize having a dedicated project manager that is based in San Francisco, so you can meet them in real life.
Limit the number of partners responding to your agency RFP
Overwhelming yourself with numerous options can make decision-making challenging. Our suggestion is to carefully select 10-12 marketing agencies and engage with them in a pre-RFP process. After assessing their level of engagement, narrow down your choices to 5-6 agencies and invite them to submit a formal proposal.
Provide a budget range and how much you’re willing to spend
Transparently communicate your budget expectations. Without this information, proposals may fall outside of your budget.
Sharing a budget range in the RFP ensures that you attract marketing agencies capable of working within your financial constraints, saving time for all parties involved.
Share your decision-making criteria
Shed light on the factors that will influence your agency selection process. Specify who will be involved in making the decision, and provide an estimated timeline for reaching a conclusion. This transparency promotes a clear understanding of the decision-making process.
If you don't have all the answers or are open to collaborative discussions, make that known in your marketing agency RFP. Express your willingness to engage in conversations and explore different perspectives.
Strategies to Find the Perfect Partner for Your Creative Agency RFP
Don’t be overwhelmed by how many options there are out there. The secret to finding the right marketing agency to respond to your RFP is by looking in the right places. Here are some of our recommendations:
- Referrals by partners or founders in your industry.
- Share it on LinkedIn and tag your colleagues. This will spread the word
- Use agency platforms like Clutch, which have comprehensive verified reviews by clients and are filtered by location and type of work
- Find top-rated agencies on Upwork. We have found freelancers and agencies to collaborate with us.
At Slam, we take immense pride in being recognized as a top agency for web design, SEO, brand development, full-service solutions, SMB support, and for our commitment to diverse leadership.
Slam’s Free Creative Agency RFP Template
You’re ready to start the RFP process. You can download Slam’s free creative marketing agency RFP template and example here.
Once you download it, you’ll find the following:
- An agency RFP template with 7 sections
- A real life example of completed agency RFP
- Walkthrough video of how to fill the agency RFP
- An email to ask Slam questions on the agency RFP process and the template
You can watch the following video for a preview:
How to share your agency RFP with Slam
Now that you’ve completed it, start sharing it with agencies that fit your needs. And if you’d like to partner with Slam, read on to find out why we could be a great match.
We're not your average agency. We care, move fast and at your pace, and craft creative and fun solutions that truly make an impact. We believe in treating our clients the way we want to be treated - as partners, not just as service providers or vendors.
As a dynamic marketing and design agency based in the heart of San Francisco, the epicenter of Silicon Valley and innovation, we are fueled by a simple mission: to help you elevate your business, leave a lasting impression, and conquer the online realm! With our extensive experience and proven track record, we've honed our expertise in various areas that drive success in the digital landscape. Our dedicated marketing and creative agency services include:
- Web design & development: We bring your vision to life through captivating and user-centric websites that not only look stunning, but also drive conversions and enhance the user experience.
- SEO: Our team of SEO wizards works tirelessly to boost your online visibility, improve organic rankings, and attract targeted traffic to your digital doorstep. We know the secrets to conquer the search engine game!
- Content writing and marketing: Engaging content is the backbone of any successful online strategy. Our talented content creators craft compelling narratives that resonate with your audience, while our marketing prowess ensures your message reaches the right people at the right time.
- Brand identity & strategy: Your brand is more than just a logo - it's an experience. We help you define and refine your brand identity, ensuring consistency across all touch points. Our strategic approach builds a strong foundation for your brand to shine.
At Slam, we're not just about delivering exceptional results. We're passionate about building long-lasting relationships with our clients, becoming trusted partners on your journey to success. So, whether you're a nonprofit looking for a refresh or a startup looking to make a splash, or an established business seeking to level up your online presence, we’re here to unleash our creativity and expertise to help you achieve your goals.
Reach out to proposals[at]slammedialab[dot]com with your agency RFP!