A Request for Proposal (RFP) can take on many forms. They run the gamut from one page to hundreds of pages. Some are short on details, while others spell out every aspect of a project. Most will answer questions for clarification, but the answer to your question about budget might be: We don’t have a budget at this time. The more RFPs you do, the better your feel for what’s expected. Over time, we’ve landed on some standard approaches that save time and get results.
One of the biggest time savers is an RFP template. It’s important to keep it updated and broad. Include EVERYTHING on your template and then tailor it to each RFP. This enables you to respond to last-minute bids. It also means you put in the hard work once for 80% of your response and then you can customize the remaining 20% to the specific RFP.
Some of the general info we keep on our template includes:
- company background/profile
- employee bios
- company work methodology
- services offered
The work you’ve already done is the most important part of a video RFP. A client wants to see that you can tackle their project by seeing you’ve done something similar in the past. Draw as many parallels as you can to the bid. Pull examples with a similar format, length or style. Use something from the same sector. Have you created a video for a competitor that you can include?
Explain your example. Write up a short paragraph that clearly draws the line between the proposed project and your example. We’ve gotten good feedback with this approach.
Most bids ask for a timeline or work plan. Even if they don’t give enough specifics to enable you to create a timeline, many places like to see an example so they get an idea of your process. We have a template with standard animation and live action timelines. These can be adjusted if the project has stated target dates.
Talk Up Your Team
Every time we have a new hire, we update bios so they’re ready to go. We keep both short and longer bios in our template. Some proposals ask for complete resumes, while others are just interested in a short synopsis of team members. Remember to give these bios some personality. Judges want to hear that Emily is a good editor with a solid education, but the fact that she does volunteer work making adoption videos for the SPCA on the side makes her stand out. Some RFPs will also ask for an org chart, so have one on hand.
References can be tricky. Many of the proposal reviews we’ve had told us they never consult a provided reference. Others, in the minority, say they always contact the provided references. If you can, tie the references to your examples. And keep your references updated! There’s nothing worse than having a client call for a reference and the contact either doesn’t remember your work or the contact is no longer with the company.
Always ask for a debrief, as you may only be given one by request. Getting feedback will help you do better the next time. We see the same clients, or clients from the same sector, issue RFPs repeatedly. A chance to learn where we fell short in our proposal means we have a better chance of landing future projects.
Put Your Best Face Forward
Sometimes we get RFPs that aren’t geared to video production. We may be asked questions that don’t apply to our industry or we may want to provide information not requested. When this happens, we roll with the punches and try to ask questions or explain any anomalies. In the end, you can only be awarded an RFP if you submit a proposal—nothing ventured, nothing gained. We also like it when clients call us directly for a free quote.