For trade show exhibit production companies the first step in winning business is often to respond to an RFP or request for proposal. RFPs are put together by a company looking for a new trade show booth design or custom tradeshow display. This means that a lot of what you will get back in design proposal responses hinges on your ability to create an effective RFP, or in other words, to effectively convey what you are looking for to trade show booth designers.
There is much to be said about crafting an effective RFP. And there are some general thoughts on how to make yours more effective. Let’s start at the beginning by clarifying what a RFP should and should not do.
First of all, it’s essential that you not think of your RFP as the be-all-end-all of design direction. You don’t need to draw a blueprint for the exact trade show booth design with your RFP or get mired in endless details. If you know exactly the tradeshow display you want to this level of detail, you could probably build it yourself.
Instead of thinking of the RFP as a blueprint for the exhibit, think of it as a starter for creative thinking about your trade show booth design. As designers, our job is to take your goals plus the constraints that you’re working with (space, budget etc.) and translate them (ultimately) into a finished tradeshow display.
Another excellent idea for putting together an RFP is to share a draft version with as many influential people in your company as possible. Ask for and consider feedback and then integrate it into the final proposal.
By doing this you get a more comprehensive picture of what the company as a whole desires and not just one person’s take on the situation.
Remember, just provide the guidelines and the goals. You let us know what you want to achieve and we’ll show you how to go about getting there.
Don’t Dispense With All The Specifics
No you don’t need to dictate everything in your RFP, but there are some areas where it is important to go into some detail about what you need. Most of these have to do with the constraints under which exhibit designers will have to work.
For instance, it is crucial that you provide your exact budget so that the tradeshow display company knows what is, and what isn’t within your budget. As desirable as they may be, most clients cannot afford to commission the biggest and most detailed custom exhibits. We need to know what you can afford so that we can match it with what you need.
Other details that are crucial include any other constraints placed upon you by the venue or venues in which you will likely be exhibiting and contractual requirements such as intellectual property rights agreements. It is also a good idea to provide at least a little bit of direction for the design. Some marketing materials or a general idea of what you are looking for are usually fine.
Understanding What Responses To Your RFP Will Look Like
If you understand what to expect in design proposal responses to your RFP then you will be better prepared to choose the best company and the best design for your needs.
First, it is important for exhibitors to know that you should not expect responses to your RFP to be fully fleshed out designs. They are merely ideas based on the limited information in the RFP that will very likely change once you choose your exhibit design partner and start the process of working with them. This is a good thing, the more designers learn about your needs and how you work the better the end result will be.
Finally, it is crucial to understand that when you choose a trade show booth design proposal in response to your RFP, you are not just picking it for the tradeshow display, you are also choosing that company as your desired partner for this job. So, don’t just go off of the design proposal itself. Make sure to look at the company’s profile, history and past works. You’ll be working closely with any company you select, so it is important that the relationship can be a mutually beneficial one.
Go Forth And RFP
Now that you are prepared with what you should (and shouldn’t) put into your RFP and understand what to expect in response, you are ready to put together the most dynamite RFP the world has ever seen. That perfect RFP that will ensure that you get exactly what you want, which you probably didn’t even know you were looking for until you see it. So, go forth and RFP!