Creating a Science Marketing RFP: Best Practices [Plus Free Guide]

So you need to write a science marketing request for proposal (RFP). It’s often harder than it seems. The reason? Nobody tells you how to write them. There’s no textbook, no document for RFP best practices. It’s just assumed you’ll collect the necessary skills as you rise through the ranks.

If you’re choosing a marketing agency, you want to be choosing from the best. Although a standard RFP for marketing services will likely attract some bids, a strategically constructed and distributed RFP will be much more effective at netting you conversations with top marketing talent.

The Biggest Mistake in Life Science Marketing RFPs

For life science marketing RFPs especially, specificity is key. You have a very specific role to play within the life sciences industry, and a vague request for proposals makes the agency selection process difficult; you need to simultaneously evaluate their marketing skillset, as well as their ability to grasp the nuances of your science and sophisticated audience.

There are many causes of vague marketing RFPs:

Large swaths of text are copied from existing RFPs, even though they aren’t explicitly relevant to the project at hand

You haven’t determined your exact marketing need, and are looking for guidance from the marketing agency

People writing the marketing agency RFP are pressed for time, and rush through the process to get it off their plate

You don’t necessarily want to show your hand until the agency reports back with their capabilities

These are understandable problems, but investing the time to develop a strong life science marketing agency RFP will produce major dividends in the long run.

Adopt a Partnership Mindset When Choosing a Marketing Agency

When you submit a mass RFP for marketing services, it’s easy to think of each agency as a commodity. In reality, the best marketing work comes from developing a true partnership with your marketing agency.

If you need to know how to choose a marketing agency, that’s the answer: by taking a targeted approach that evaluates each agency for their capabilities, their expertise, and their ability to work with you to develop effective campaigns.

In the interests of that partnership, it’s probably best to avoid withholding information in the RFP. Similarly, don’t request free work. It’s akin to asking for free appetizers at a restaurant. Top agencies look for mutually beneficial partnerships—and so should you.

Finally, think small. It’s tempting to send your RFP for marketing services to every agency under the sun, but in reality this dilutes the pool with less-qualified or less-experienced agencies and makes it harder for you to evaluate each option fairly.

Instead, rely on industry reputation and personal connections to distribute your marketing RFP only to top performers. With all the cards on the table, you’ll be able to find the right partner for your needs.

Want more specific guidelines for selecting a marketing agency? Download our RFP Guide to learn exactly what information you need to include to grab the attention of top agencies.

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