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A request for proposal – or RFP – is a document that a company creates when they want to buy a product or service and have its specifications be available to the public. This typically happens when funding is available for a project and several companies place a bid. This invites more competitive prices. However, RFPs can be a headache. Many turn out to be lowball offers that don’t address the important questions, such as if the product can be delivered on time or if a backup product is available.  

Below are five tips for preparing a winning promotional product RFP that will deliver the value you’re looking for.

1. Give a Brief Overview

Start by introducing your organization and the purpose for your RFP. Explain what you want the vendor to do and why. Avoid describing the potential solutions and instead stick to the problem or “pain points” that your organization wants to solve. With so many solutions available, you can’t possibly think of them all. By focusing on the problem, the vendor can focus on the solutions.

2. Describe Your Background

Another important part of your request for proposal is a friendly background of your organization. What do you do? Who do you serve? What makes you unique? It’s highly likely that the person reading your proposal hasn’t heard of you before, and your website may have limited information. By describing your background and values, you can find a supplier that will meet your branding goals.

3. Define Your Goals and Target Audience

State what you hope to achieve with the promotional products. Are you looking to generate more foot traffic in your store? Increase brand awareness? Build trust and credibility? Promotional products can help grow your business in a number of ways, but you must be specific about what you want to get out of the process.

4. Be Clear About Your Timeline

Although it’s difficult to know exactly how long something may take, be clear about your timeline and when you expect things to get done. Do you have a deadline you need to hit? A new product launching that will align with the items? A trade show you’re planning on attending? Be sure to mention all key dates to the supplier.

5. Include Your Budget

It’s extremely helpful to include your budget, even if it’s just a guess. You can even include that you’d like to spend a certain amount but will extend your budget for the right proposal. Promotional items are available in all price ranges, so you can meet your goals with lower- or higher-end products. Also, by stating exactly what you want to pay, vendors can compete with each other.

A lot goes into a successful request for proposal. When done correctly, RFPs offer better prices and stronger partnerships. Look at your proposal through the vendor’s eyes. Don’t be vague about who you are, what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to pay. The more specific you can be, the better. This will connect you with the right vendors that know you’re taking the project seriously and want to work with you!