a piece of paper and a pencil on a table next to coffee

writing an rfp
– updated for 2018

August 17, 2018

written by
Barbara O Stephenson

When you’re looking to hire someone for a project, save some time (and hair-pulling) by being prepared with a basic set of requirements. A request for proposal, or RFP, is an industry standard used to outline those requirements. Not only does this document help organize the process, it makes you a good client and helps you reach your set goals. Wishy-washy direction is one of my worst nightmares.

Let’s go over the basic set of questions you should know BEFORE you start the bidding process. We’re going to put in some of our standard procedures here at 300FeetOut to give you an idea what you should expect from any reputable agency.

1. Who you are- your name and contact information. (duh)

2. Why this project needs to happen. Write down your 3 main goals, listed out in order of importance.  This keeps everyone’s focus on the outcome.  And if you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve, how can you expect the anyone else to get it?

3. What’s your timeline? At 300FeetOut, a brand project can run anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months. The more bells and whistles you want, the longer it takes. Do you need a Honda or want a Aston Martin?

4. What is your budget? You don’t have to list this out in the RFP but it will help save time.  If you’re hiring an agency vs a freelancer, those costs differ but so do the services. Do you want a project manager to keep things on time and on budget? Do you want backup in case someone gets ill? Do you want to make sure that the left hand (UX design) is creating something that the right hand (development) can do within budget? Agencies cost more, but you also get more.

5. Does your brand work for you or is it lacking? Unless your brand fully represents who you are, creating a bandaid to make up for shortfalls will never work 100%. Duct tape only goes so far. Do you need to revisit your brand and make sure that it’s on point both in person and across channels? If it is working, do you have an actual set of guidelines?

6. Extra questions to think about: What’s your business strategy, who are your current and aspirational audience/ competition, and how your needs and your CX needs are different.

What kind of people are we going to need on your team? Ideally, you have everyone in the same place to create streamlined processes, integration, and a single strategy :

1. Do you need a brand?  Do you need a new name? Do you need to understand what your company personality is? Do you have a customer journey mapped out and does that have alignment with your internal team? You’d be surprised at how often a CEO thinks about their company differently than an account manager. That’s the job for the brand team.

2. What about your visuals? Icons, a typeface, or an image style? Diagrams, white-papers, PDFs, or conference collateral? Assuming you have a brand, do you need help bringing something like your logo into the 22nd century? That’s a job for user experience designers. UX design isn’t limited to websites, you should have awesome stuff in print too. 

3. Do you need something created online? Our UX design and development teams work collaboratively on all projects but that’s not an industry norm. Make sure you find out if development is outsourced or included.

4. What about marketing? Adwords and PPC. The fastest way to get found on a search engine is to pay for placement. Don’t forget that means optional remarketing and banner ads. Do you need search engine optimization? How much SEO do you need? If you’re expecting to be found on Google without paying for ads, you’ll need SEO. And reporting. Everything is quantitative now so make sure to expect data from your vendor. What kind of sample reports can they provide?

5. Do you have a social media plan? Remember that this is not just making sure your message is located where your clients are but also engaging them in the narrative. You’ll inspire loyalty and good word of mouth. Speaking of words, what about reputation management? What do people say about you behind your back?

6. What about assets? Do you have a content strategy? A copywriter or an editor? Creating a narrative is the #1 best way to use content. How does that content go from the beginning of the sales funnel, to purchase, to life cycle? Do you have photography or do you need to locate a photographer?

A few miscellaneous things you should find out about your agency during the selection process will help manage your expectations.

1. How many rounds of revisions are included? The standard at 300FeetOut is to allow two rounds of feedback for every major deliverable.

2. How do they handle third party costs? Do they mark them up?

3. How will the deliverables be handed over? There are tax implications here and you want to make sure you stay within the lines.

4. How will they handle scope creep? That’s usually something to prepare for because every project can always be improved upon during the course of implementation.

5. Make sure you check their references as you want to insure a good partnership. Do they have insurance in case something goes wrong? What are their professional qualifications?

6. How will they communicate with you? What type of project management can you expect? Our project management system is available to you online so you can review your messages, timeline, notes, goals, and project at any time. We send out weekly updates, have status calls, and make sure you understand every step of our process while we work with you. For a personal touch, we include a human project manager as well.

7. What is your measure of success? What benchmarks need to be met to make you happy?

And lastly if  you do want a website, spend some time thinking about functionality.  What does it need to do? Our websites come with a bunch of features from the start like speed, security, and analytics.

1. Does it need ecommerce- are you selling something? Do you have a POS or do you need one?

2. Does your website require security or compliance of any sort?   We implement cloudflare for backups, speed, and security like https. What about GDPR or WC3? If you don’t know what those are, we’ll help you.

3. List out your requirements – should it be responsive or adaptive? How fast does it need to be? SEO is heavily dependent on these factors and specs are automatically included in all our builds.

4. Do you need a content management system (CMS)? This allows you to control the content on your site without constantly asking your web agency to make changes. 300FeetOut only builds on a CMS platform because we want you to be in control of your marketing. Not only does it offer you, the client, control but it makes changes to the site quicker for the agency as well, if they continue to maintain the site updates on retainer.

5. Do you know what needs to be included? Forms, booking engine, salesforce, downloads, videos, etc.

6. How big do you imagine your site to be? A sitemap will be created during the strategy phase of your project but knowing if you have a 20 page site versus 200 pages will make a substantial difference.


At 300FeetOut, we create immersive brand experiences  to our own personal set of standards. We’ve developed these practices to make sure that you not only get the best possible product but one that will stand up to the test of time (or at least until technology requires us to make updates).

Although there are many more questions you can include in your RFP, this should give you a running start.


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