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How to Get More RFP Responses

giphy (2)Media sellers have a complicated relationship with the RFP process. It’s a spreadsheet-laden, antiquated process that you just have to power through. But every RFP is an opportunity to build business.

Agencies and media buyers look at RFPs through rose-tinted glasses. In a perfect world, they create a competitive environment. A tougher RFP process can weed out vendors who aren’t worth your time.

This is a tempting idea, but don’t fall for it. If you want to promote competition and innovation, you will benefit from an increased RFP response rate. It’s not the most glamorous KPI, but it’s one that can have a big effect.

The Basics

Nothing is worse than receiving and reading through a proposal that you can’t work with. Prequalifying your media purchases will help weed out assets that simply won’t work for your campaign. Here are some tips to get more relevant responses.


  • Detailed info on campaign goals & objectives. This helps vendors know what you’re expecting and what you want, and makes it easier for them to put together a proposal that specifically addresses your needs.
  • Detailed technical requirements. Provide as much detail as you can. This is the part of the RFP where you get to tell vendors exactly what you need. A thorough requirement section can save you a lot of headache down the road.
  • Budget. While it’s not a dealbreaker, and many vendors will still respond to an RFP without a budget, many buyers are pushing to include one in their process. Again, it helps vendors understand what you need and create a better proposal.
  • Limit “Legalese.” Yes, it’s a necessary evil. But don’t make your RFP any more arcane than it has to be.
  • Deadlines. If you have hard deadlines, especially ones that might weed out some vendors, include them here.

The Biggest Mistake Media Buyers Make in RFPs

Not all media vendors and assets are created equal. Media buyers have gotten good at RFPs for traditional out-of-home media. But when it comes to alternative media, don’t treat them the same as any other media asset.

Remember why you’re sending out an RFP for alternative media. It’s different, people pay attention to it, it has unique and distinct advantages over traditional media.

Media buyers too often ask the same questions of alternative media vendors as they would of traditional vendors. It is a good idea to tailor your RFP to the media you want to buy.

You may have your RFP process for billboards down to a science. But ask yourself, do the questions you’re asking make sense for the alternative asset you’re looking at? You want your RFP to be a simple information exchange, with vendors competing with the best information about themselves and their assets.

When a vendor sees a question or a field that they can’t answer, they’ll be frustrated and more likely to give up on your RFP. And by the nature of alternative media, there may not be a lot of similar vendors you can choose from.

Avoid the Simple Mistakes

Believe it or not, the other major complaint we hear from vendors is that columns are duplicated in an RFP. When a vendor sees the same basic location question twice in the same 80-column RFP, it can be really disheartening. It’s not a cardinal sin, but it’s an easily avoidable one. Taking the time to correct it will get you more responses from happier vendors who are more interested in your business.

The bottom line in getting more RFP responses: Devoting a little extra time to the process can help you create the engaged, competitive environment between vendors without alienating important business partners.

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