We love it when new RFPs land in our inbox. As researchers and data geeks, few things excite us like the fresh opportunity to share creative ways to answer your biggest business questions. And after crafting responses to thousands of RFPs over the years, we’ve found a few helpful tips along the way.

Getting your RFP right is a win-win for everyone. It helps you find the best research partner for the job, and it helps us design a tailored approach that’s right for the challenge and aligned with your organizational needs. At MarketCast, we pride ourselves in our collaborative, high-touch working style, and we thought it would be useful to share our thoughts on what it takes to create a kick-a$$ RFP.

1. Collaboration is key 

Research projects aim to solve critical business problems. Therefore, it’s vital that the right internal stakeholders on the client side are engaged during the RFP writing process. A collaborative approach ensures that the people most impacted by the work can help define the challenge, outline what success looks like and set the right questions that need answering.

2. Curate a variety of purposeful questions

Not every RFP will look the same, however, there are a few themes you can carry over from project to project. By curating a library of questions and RFP templates to tap into, you’ll accelerate your process and hopefully establish some consistency.

Common Question to Ask

Why this research now? 

  • What overarching business goals, market trends, competitive contexts, or upcoming decisions are driving urgency for this study?  

Who will use the findings and what does success look like?  

  • Knowing which functional teams are involved and what decisions they’re looking to make from the findings helps focus on the appropriate methods ensuring everyone gets what they need. 

Is there prior research we should build upon? 

  • An approach that starts from scratch will look quite different from one that has a running start. Providing a sense of what relevant prior research and strategy work exists helps everyone get farther, faster by designing a study that builds on what’s already known. 

Does your team have hypotheses that should be kept in mind? 

  • Sharing your initial hunches helps align thinking with where you’re heading internally – and allows for a more sophisticated research design to be put together (e.g., fine-tuning sample plans, markets, and research exercises that creatively unpack your hypotheses) 

What are your timing considerations? 

  • Are there internal meetings or milestones you need to have insights for? Establishing an understanding around what is needed and when helps determine what methodological compromises might need to be made to achieve speed, and whether scoping for extra interim reporting touchpoints might be necessary.

3. Value transparency 

Most RFP respondents would agree that one of the most frustrating things is unclear expectations. When you write the RFP, aim to be transparent whenever possible. 

Do you have a budget in mind?

It’s always an awkward question, but trust us, a range or upper limit allows for the crafting of a study that offers the most bang for your buck. Breaking out core study components and recommending add-ons can always be provided, highlighting what each component adds to the overall research, giving you control over the final scope and investment. 

What will help drive internal buy-in of study findings?

What internal socialization techniques work best for your organization to ensure teams actually see your findings and put them into action? Our in-house creative team works hand-in-hand with our researchers and can include options for an array of creative collateral, videos or other immersive experiences.

4. Avoid template traps

Don’t let your RFP template trip you up – always give it a close inspection before getting started. If it’s been around long enough, it’s likely grown to include a kitchen sink’s worth of company information that doesn’t always apply, or worse, it contains errant specs from prior work. And, if you typically copy and paste from prior proposals, then this advice is even more critical!

 5. Examine and review  

Writing a great RFP is a skill that takes practice, and like any project or process, never overlook the importance of evaluation. Make time annually to diagnose which of your RFPs resulted in the strongest vendor responses, and which missed the mark. Ask yourself what worked well, what could be improved, and whether you’re effectively answering the key ingoing questions noted above. And, of course, seek out and share best practices with other RFP writers at your organization!

Of course, everyone has their own views of the perfect RFP. But, we do believe that these are important items to address and take into consideration when responding to any RFP. Now, get writing!