CPG Agency’s Guide to the Perfect Event Management RFP

When the topic of creating the perfect event management RFP arises, Tom Cruise asserting “Help me help you” instantly comes to mind. As the party selling the business, we understand that the onus is on us to provide your company with a proposal that’s a cut above the rest. We’ve got ideas, capabilities and teams eager to win your business. Taken together, there’s an endless possibility of what we could accomplish . But when a company is hesitant to share expectations, set clear goals or communicate effectively, it hinders our ability to give the best proposal north of the equator. We need transparency and consistency to produce truly compelling stuff, and that burden falls on the brand-side. Help us help you.

How to get the most out of your Event Management RFP

The RFP process is truly never as simple as it sounds on paper, and there is bound to be a wrench in things when the decisions become increasingly difficult. However, if you map out every unique objective, communicate your needs effectively and set clear expectations, the agency can give you a creative roadmap to making that a reality. You’ll get the most ideas, inspiration, options and clarity for your event. On the flip side, we’ll get the most complete opportunity to display what our agency is truly capable of. In sales, that’s all we can ask for.

Define the project first

Listen, you didn’t get this far in life without knowing that you need to set clear and achievable goals to see success. The trick with event management RFPs is that a lot of variables might not even be on your radar early on.
Many companies distribute RFPs without defining important aspects of the project. That’s like seeking out a real estate agent without knowing your maximum spend.
Producers need information in order to design an experience that matches your vision. This has as much to do with strategy, messaging and purpose as it does logistical information like location or attendee numbers.

5 Questions to help define your project’s RFP:

  • What are your meeting’s goals and objectives?
  • Do you know the parameters of your event in terms of size and scope?
  • What are your priorities and criteria for selection?
  • Who within the organization will be involved in the decision process?
  • Is there internal agreement on these questions?
If you don’t set these in stone from the get-go, you’re sailing foggy waters without a compass. Get your process and priorities straight early and reference them as a guide throughout the process.

Be clear about what you want

Effectively communicating your needs is equally as important as understanding them in the first place. Account executives at experiential agencies are incredibly talented, but they aren’t literal mind-readers (at least not yet, we’re running some tests internally. Check back to the Connect Hub for more updates).
The RFP should clearly specify the information you need most based on your priorities. For example, if the budget is the most important aspect of your decision, be sure to ask for detailed budgets as opposed to price ranges.
You can also make your life easier here by providing templates for agencies to complete. This would allow a much more apples-to-apples comparison that could fuel decision-making.

4 Questions to make your RFP clearer:

  • Do you need spec creative? If so, do you want to see rationale? Drawings?
  • How many copies do you need? What format?
  • Where do you need them sent and by when?
  • Do you want to see agency bios? Case studies? Client references?

Be transparent with your project

First of all, it is the industry standard to sign an NDA before negotiations kick up a notch. Have each agency agree to keep all information confidential, thus eliminating the worry your business intel will be leaked.
Legality aside, the scope of your project is sometimes a card you’d like to keep close to your chest. Once that cat is out of the bag, it could change how agencies design their proposals. But I’m here to tell you that is a good thing! 
The agency you choose to bring in will function as an extension of your team, a steward of your budget. During your RFP process, you should be screening how effectively each candidate will optimize your project within its perimeters. For us, it’s common to find “This is confidential and shouldn’t be shared until after a selection is made” within an RFP instead of crucial information. Without knowledge of each in and out, we can’t tailor your proposal response as uniquely as we’d like, thereby decreasing the value of all your proposals.

Helpful information to include in your corporate event RFP:

  • Pictures of prior conventions (stage, graphics, audience, etc.)
  • Meeting agenda (breakouts, general session, receptions, etc.)
  • High level information about the content and key messages
  • Venue and date information
  • Audience demographics and prior meeting surveys
  • Detailed needs for AV, Production, Creative, Entertainment
  • Budget parameters
  • Selection process and decision criteria
  • Key success criteria for your meeting and desired results (i.e. attendance, emotional engagement, motivation, sales performance)

Finally, give the agencies room to gallup

Agencies are horses. Some purebred, some not, but horses nonetheless. They deserve to roam free on the range.
Give them your specs, allow them to access your team and share your story. Then set them free to do what they do best – get creative.
Of course, just because the RFP is out the door doesn’t mean your job is done. Agencies will likely check back often with questions essential to their project. Remain in communication with everyone, make sure you give each agency a fair shake.

The right agency will take you across the finish line.

Now you get to kick back, relax and… OMG this is the hardest decision to make ever!! Don’t panic – just give your agencies a timeline for decision making and stick to it. Weigh your options carefully, get red stamps wherever needed and move on to the event. We put together these best practices because we believe being helpful is more than just good business. If you’re putting your event out to bid in the near future, we want to make that go as smoothly as possible for you. We embrace competition, because it means our wins are with clients who are a perfect match. Let’s see if we’re a match for you. Follow the link below to schedule a brief discovery call. We look forward to earning your trust.