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How to Write a Digital Communications Strategy RFP

Elisabeth Bradley

Vice President, Strategy, Forum One

Elisabeth Bradley (editor: Claire Massey)

A successful digital strategy needs to be flexible enough to accommodate changes in technology and organizational priorities over time, but specific enough to chart a clear course that the entire organization can follow. A partner can help you clarify goals, align stakeholders, and bring the expertise you may not have on staff into the process. 

The digital and technological landscape is changing incredibly quickly, and it is critical for mission-driven organizations to focus their efforts and investments on digital strategies that are rooted in their mission and goals, the needs of the people they serve, and the change they hope to see in the world. 

While there are lots of best practices out there, no two organizations’ digital strategies look the same, and it’s important to clarify your expectations and goals before picking an agency partner to work with. 

  1. Your problem statement –  Defining the problem that you are trying to address will help potential partners develop more thoughtful responses. The problem statement should focus on the impacts to your organization and your audience.
  2. Your organizational goals – State your organizational goals and your communication or marketing goals. Are you trying to grow a digital fundraising program or are you more interested in deeper engagement with major donors? The more specifics you include the more specific responses you will get.
  3. Existing research – If you have just done a rebrand and are sitting on lots of audience research, make that clear in the RFP so responses can focus on other areas.
  4. Your budget range – Most communications agencies can scale levels of effort up or down depending on budget, so go ahead and let them know what your expectations are (even if it is a big range). 
  5. Your terms – There is a lot of jargon in the digital space, and the same words can mean different things to different people. Write as simply and as specifically as possible, and when in doubt, define what ‘stakeholder’ means to your organization. 
  6. Any deal-breakers – Do you absolutely have to get a strategy finalized before a big board meeting next spring? Or is changing CRMs off the table because you just signed a 5-year contract? Get that information out early so that consultants can design a project around the things that are important to you. 
  7. Your internal capacity – Do you have an in-house creative production team, or are you a digital team of one? Knowing what kind of internal capacity and skill sets are available to support this effort will help steer the response toward the right level of effort. 
  8. Related projects – If you are replacing your CRM or rebranding at the same time as you are re-thinking your digital strategy, let potential partners know. 

By getting these details out on the table early in the process, you’ll get higher quality proposals and can hit the ground running with your agency of choice. 

About to get started on your next RFP? 

If you’re in process of developing a digital strategy RFP and are looking for advice on what to include based on your specific needs, we’d be happy to discuss it with you. Contact us today, and our digital strategy team will be in touch.

Written By

Elisabeth Bradley

Vice President, Strategy, Forum One