How to Write a Great RFP for Video Production
What is an RFP?
An RFP or 'Request for Proposal' is one of the most useful documents for any person, brand or business that is planning to hire a video production company.
Sure, it's easy enough to fill out a quick contact form with a line or two about the video you want to create - but you may discover the need to spend a lot of time going back and forth with multiple companies to get each of them to really understand the project and send over a proposals.
There are two reasons for this:
Video production can have a wide variety of complex costs and most video production companies won't be able to provide a quote without a clear understanding of the project background, goals and budget.
Video production companies have learned to be more apprehensive about inquiries that provide very little detail, as many of these inquiries come from "tire-kickers" who are not very serious about video production.
Enter the 'Request for Proposal' (RFP) A single document that can solve BOTH of the above problems. On the one hand you can eliminate a lot of wasted time trying to explain, clarify and re-explain the project. And on the other, you will find video production companies will respond much more quickly, your response rate will increase and with a higher quality of proposals.
RFP vs Creative Brief
It's important to understand that an RFP is not the same thing as a Creative Brief. While an RFP is submitted to video production companies to request proposals, creative briefs are usually developed by video production companies and focus more on the creative guidelines of the project.
How to Create an Effective RFP
In order to create a concise and effective RFP you are going to first make sure it has the following three qualities:
Neat, On-Brand Design
The first impression of any visual plays a major role in how you are perceived. This is always true, but it's even more so relevant when dealing with video production companies, as they literally live and breathe 'the visual.'
In order to ensure that creating a proposal for your project stays top of video production agencies 'to-do' list, create an on-brand design template that makes use of your main brand color, font and logo.
Take a look at the two samples below. Which one would you pay attention to first?
Clearly Organized Sections
As you see in the above example, by breaking down and organizing your RFP into clearly marked sections you are able to communicate a good deal more information without it being overwhelming. This allows the producer, agent or rep to easily focus their attention and better understand the overall request without having to feel any fatigue.
Probably the most common issue I've experience when receiving request for proposals is a lack of clarity. It shouldn't take more than a few sentences per section to get a single point across. If it does, that is a clear sign that your language may need to be more concise.
That is not to say that more elaboration is necessarily a bad thing - I’ve just found that since the purpose of an RFP is to get a proposal for accomplishing a clear goal, the language in the RFP should stick to only what is relevant to achieving that goal, and nothing more.
What to Include in Your RFP
A good RFP is going to include the following sections:
You’ll want to include some basic company information to give the company a frame of reference for the project. In addition to the company name and point of contact info - it’s important to provide a paragraph or two that defines the brand. This can be taken right from the company’s mission statement or website, as it’s most likely already written.
Next you’ll want to include the project information. Starting with a clear title for the project that will prevent any confusion if multiple projects will potentially exist in the future. We find it’s good practice to include the date or at least season/quarter in the project title as a clear reference.
For the project background you want to define, in a few sentences, the reasons WHY this video is going to be created. This is not the background of the company, but rather the background that lead to the project itself.
Most video productions exist to solve a specific problem and deliver a targeted result. This is where you briefly explain what created the need for this video in the first place.
Project Goals & Target Audience
Next you want to clearly define the goals of the project. It’s important to be as specific as possible. What is the specific result you want to see as a result of creating this video? Why does it need to exist?
You should be able to define this in only a few sentences. Once you’ve defined the goals of the project, you want to clearly define the target audience. WHO is this video for? The more specific you can be here the better.
This is where you denote where the video is going to be distributed. Understanding where you are planning to distribute the video is vital when putting together a production plan. Different networks and platforms have differing technical requirements, formats as well as expected production quality.
For example, if you are creating a promo that’s meant ONLY for social, it will not need the same production value as a national TV spot - and the planning will reflect that accordingly.
Managing expectations is one of the most important aspects of any video production agency's responsibility. There’s no better way to make sure expectations are being met than to understand what they are right from the start.
On your RFP you’ll want to clearly define the final deliverables you expect to have when the project is complete. Without making this clear, this might not come up until well into development, at which point it can create a nightmare.
It’s wise to make all key dates relative to both the proposal process as well as the final product deadlines are made clear at the start. If a video production company will not be able to deliver on deadlines due to other commitments or a wide variety of logistic concerns, it doesn’t make sense for them to waste anyone's time creating concepts or proposals.
These key dates will allow everyone to be on the same page and will dramatically increase the quality of the proposals that are submitted, as you already know that the timeframes you are requesting are logistically realistic.
If you don’t receive any proposals, it might be a sign that the key deadlines are too ambitious. Whatever the case, including the key dates here allow these issues to come out very early, before any time is wasted on further negotiation.
Total Project Budget
It is so important to provide a total budget up front so that the video production agency can access what is possible right from the start.
Larger video production companies will likely have a minimum production budget required for every project while others may be able to work with smaller budgets - but will need to know up front what resources are available in order to come up with concepts that are logistically possible given those resources.
Keep in mind that any provided budget is not in stone, nor are any official agreements made by providing it. But if you want to get quality proposals from high quality video production agencies, it’s important you provide a starting budget.
You’ll want to include any requirements you have for those video production agencies from which you are requesting proposals. You may want them to include some background information about their company, why they believe they should be hired for the project, information about their standard production timeline or perhaps details about their revisions process.
Each project may have different requirements given its scope and specific details - so this may change on a case by case basis.
The bottom line is if there are specific requirements you have for the video production agency you are looking to hire, you should make those requirements clear on the RFP so that any companies that don’t meet them can “pre-qualify” themselves off of the list.
And finally, you’ll want to include clear instructions regarding the next steps to submit the proposal. If there is a specific person to contact, a unique form or submission method for the proposal or any other details related to next steps, make them clear in this section so there is no confusion.
Also keep in mind that each video production company may have a different way they prefer to handle creating proposals. As video production is a creative process, it’s often impossible for a video production company to create a proposal without first confirming at least some of the creative aspects of the project.
To do this, an Intrigue Studios proposal will likely include a creative brief, which will serve as the jumping off point for project development.
I hope that this post was helpful in understanding how to create a great RFP for video production. If you have any additional questions or think anything should be added, let me know in the comments!
If you are ready to talk about your video project, contact us now.