Sample RFP Responses – Volume 1

I know from watching the stats for this site (especially those associated with my recent post on How to Find RFPs), that there are a lot of people out there looking for samples of other firm’s responses to requests for proposals.

This isn’t surprising, of course, because there are a lot of things you can learn by looking at how other firms handle their proposals, even if they were prepared for a type of project very different from what you are pursuing. You can get some insight into how other people show project schedules, how much detail they include in descriptions of previous experience, what information they include in resumes, whether their scope descriptions are narratives or lists, how they organize their fees, and how closely they adhere to the technical requirements of the RFP.

Unfortunately, examples of previously produced RFP responses aren’t always easy to find. Even though most RFP responses for government/public projects become public information once they are opened, very few organizations have systems in place to make these responses available over the Internet. And even when they are available, it takes some creative searching (and a little luck) to find them.

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10 Examples of Sustainability Plans for Graphic Designers

With architecture and product design, it’s pretty easy to craft a sustainability or “green” strategy that makes sense. If you’re an architect, you design buildings that are more energy efficient, that promote transit usage, and that utilize sustainable materials. Product designers can create products that are more durable (less waste), require less energy to use or produce, utilize less packaging, or generally encourage greener living.

Most graphic designers, however, don’t produce as many artifacts with the potential to use – or save – large amounts of resources. This makes it a little more challenging to create a meaningful sustainability strategy, and even harder to explain that strategy to current and prospective clients and the community at large.

Sure, you can make a commitment to using recycled paper, but that only gets you so far, and what about the growing number of projects that don’t use paper at all?

The following ten firms, using varying levels of creativity, have managed to devise and present plans or statements that effectively convey their commitments to sustainability. Some of these are more detailed than others, but I think that all of them can provide some inspiration or guidance to other creative firms looking to formulate their own strategies for talking about sustainability.

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The Fine Line Between Persistence and Stalking

Some of you may be familiar with The List. They maintain a database of marketing decision makers at companies throughout the U.S. and Canada and sell access to this database on a subscription basis. It’s actually a pretty good service (although not cheap) if that’s your market, and I used to be a subscriber myself back in the days when we were doing more advertising and marketing communications work.

Yesterday, however, I was looking at the blog of The List CEO Todd Knutson and saw something that threw me a little bit. He had a post on 7 Voicemail Messages for Successful Ad Agency New Business Development. In it, he lays out a strategy for the information you should include in each of seven (that’s right, seven) voicemails that you might leave for a prospect without getting a response.

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A Rule of Thumb for Spec Work

Digital Artist Toolbox has an interesting post that asks six designers their opinions about spec work. They managed to get some pretty heavy hitters from the designer/blogger world to participate: Veerle Peters; Andrew Houle; Ryan Putnam; Jacob Cass; Jeff Finley; and Chris Spooner.

The responses – almost all negative – made me think more about my own opinions on this topic, which I touched on a few weeks ago in a post about responding to RFPs.

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Do You Have a Prospect Wish List?

I’ve talked in the past about the value of emphasizing content marketing over high-volume cold calling, but in that same post, I also recommended that you consider creating a “prospect wish list” that includes potential clients that you will proactively pursue. These are the companies that you would really like to work with, that are particularly rich sources of new work, or that have some unique quality that make them inclined to hire you. They are companies that you will research and monitor, and try to contact on a regular basis.

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Why do Designers Blog?

Why do designers blog? I’m not asking this rhetorically, and I’m not asking it in a pejorative fashion, like “Why do designers waste their time with blogging anyway?” I’m posing a serious question about what people are trying to achieve with their blogs, and how what they post actually helps them to accomplish these goals.

I’m certainly not here to suggest that designers and other creative professional shouldn’t be blogging. There are a lot of great reasons to do it. It sharpens the focus of your work, improves your writing skills, keeps you on top of new technologies and online marketing tactics, and helps you to find and land new clients.

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Understanding the Marketing Value of Pro Bono Work

Do you do pro bono or “low bono” work for non-profits? Many, if not all, creative firms do at one time or another. Designers and ad agencies will create identities or marketing materials for free, and architects will do work that, while usually not free, is certainly far from profitable. Firms that engage in this are typically doing it for some combination of the following four reasons:

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Guerrilla RFP Responses

Some RFQ/RFP processes are pretty involved. First, there are the qualifications. Then there’s a pre-bid meeting and/or site tour for the short-listed firms. Then the proposal. And then they want you to complete a “test assignment” and make a presentation. For these, there aren’t many questions about what you need to do. After all, they’re already asking for just about everything that you could do.

But what about the other end of the spectrum? The RFP that provides some background information, outlines a scope of work, and asks you to provide experience, team CVs, a basic work plan, and a fee. “Alright,” you think, “It’s about time I got an easy one.” (“Aboot time” if you’re Canadian.) Not so fast there, tough guy/gal. Remember that the goal here isn’t to get through the RFP, it’s to get the project. If that isn’t your goal, then maybe you shouldn’t be wasting your time with a response at all.

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Cold Calling Versus Content Marketing

For creative services firms, cold calling as a new business tool has always been a frustrating enterprise. Unlike people selling consumables, like office supplies or food; or services that are purchased on a regular schedule, like accounting; creative services marketers very rarely reach a prospect when they have a need for what they’re selling.

In the old days, though, you still had to do it. You did it to “get on people’s radar.” You would ask their permission to send some information, and if they liked your stuff they would hang onto it until they needed a firm like yours. In fact, they probably even had a file folder full of brochures and business cards for firms they might work with one day.

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Social Media Gurus – Let the Backlash Begin

Remember back in the days when it seemed like everyone in the world was on their way to becoming a social media guru? Blogs were filled with posts about building your tribe, and it seemed hard to find a Twitter profile that didn’t tout a person’s social media expertise, often in conjunction with their skills in “real estate investing.”

I remember that like it was yesterday. Oh wait, that’s because it was yesterday, and today as well, now that I think about it. But the heyday of the social media gurus may have reached its zenith, because there’s a new, contrary, position gaining momentum. It’s the “who the hell are these people to call themselves experts” movement, and it is spreading all over the web, in well-reasoned posts like this and this.

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