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How to Write a Video Production RFP the Smart and Simple Way

With hundreds of successful projects in our portfolio, we have some advice for teams trying to write a video production RFP. It might be surprising advice, but please hear us out. If you’re trying to write a video production RFP that will help you find the perfect company to execute your next video project on deadline and on budget with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of creativity, here’s what you should do: Don’t write an RFP at all.

We’re not just saying that to be edgy. The truth is that publishing a formal request for proposal can actually slow down the process and lead you astray. Unless your company is working under a government policy or other regulation that requires you to create an RFP to solicit bids from the public, don’t bother. There’s a more effective way to find a video creation company to fit your needs and project.

Two Reasons Why Not to Write a Video Production RFP

Many organizations write requests for proposals because it’s what they’ve always done or because they think they’re supposed to. If either of those describes your organization, you might want to consider these two compelling reasons not to write a video production RFP.

1. Writing a Video RFP is Labor-Intensive

How many work hours will you devote to writing an RFP? How many edits and reviews will it go through? How many approvals must it earn before you can publish it? If your organization is like most, the answers to those questions are all high numbers. You might already be feeling overwhelmed.

Writing a video production RFP is labor-intensive. It requires you to plan and write a complex document, then edit and publish it. All of that takes time. Once responses start rolling in, you’ll spend even more time wading through documents before you can start talking about the specific project you’re trying to accomplish.

When you write a formal video RFP you give your already busy team a ton of extra work. Unfortunately, that work might not pay off.

2. It Might Not Lead You to The Right Vendor

A compelling and well-written RFP response doesn’t necessarily prove that the responder is great at making videos. All it shows is that they’re skilled at responding to RFPs. Many companies hone their RFP responses to be exactly what you’re looking for. But these responses, often created by a marketing professional or even a freelance RFP response writer, don’t necessarily reflect the team who will actually work on your project.

3. The Best Might Not Apply

RFPs are time-consuming to respond to, and often require time and attention from the people that are least able to spare them. Also, rightly or wrongly, many studios figure that if you are publishing your requirements you are probably distributing them widely – potentially to dozens of vendors. Many of the busiest studios will simply pass rather than sink resources into a bidding process that often means a contest for the lowest price. 

By now you’re probably wondering: if RFPs are so problematic, how do I go about finding the right video creation company for my project?

Here’s What To Do Instead

Instead of spending a lot of time and resources creating a complex document, do some research. Skim through the portfolios of video production companies that might fit your budget. You can often find these on platforms like Vimeo, Behance, or on the company’s website. Look for videos that match the style and format you’re after. Bonus points if the production company has created videos for others in your industry. It may mean they’re more in tune with your needs.

They say a video is worth 1.8 million words. That’s more than any response to a proposal could ever include. So pick out a couple of companies that look like they might be a good fit and send them a message. If they’re responsive and open to talking with you, they’re probably a good prospect.

The best template for creating an RFP is no template at all. Instead, start by assessing their portfolio, then set up a meeting. A direct conversation with two or three video production teams who have done work you admire will move your project along more quickly. You’ll probably end up with a better video in the end, too.

But How Will They Learn About Your Project?

Professional production companies will ask you all the right questions. They might even ask you about things you never would have thought to include in your RFP in the first place. The quality of their questions is another good indicator as to whether they’ll be the right fit for your project.

Expect to answer questions like:

  • What are your goals for the video? How will you know if you’ve achieved them?
  • Who is your audience?
  • Do you have information about audience demographics and psychographics you can share?
  • How do you like to represent your brand?
  • Do you have branding guidelines? How about style sheets or video branding guidelines?
  • How do you intend to distribute this video?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is your timeline?
  • Do you have an internal review process we should be aware of?

If you don’t have answers to all of these questions, the right production company should be able to help guide you in the right direction. By the end of the conversation, you’ll know what they can offer. You should have a good sense of their process and what it will be like to work with them.

If You Absolutely Must Write a Video RFP

With all that being said, we know that sometimes you have no choice. Maybe you work for a government agency or a large organization with strict rules about how projects must be run. An RFP may be a non-negotiable part of your process. If that’s the case, follow your company and organizational guidelines but also make sure that you include everything on the list above. It will save time in the long run.

Keep the RFP as brief as possible. And ask the proposing organizations to keep their answers brief as well. Reviewing responses to RFPs can be a time-intensive process. If you have four or five members of your team taking time out of their regular work to review a dozen RFPs, that can add up to a lot of lost productivity. Keep RFP requests as short so you can make your decision quickly.

Most importantly, ask for samples. Ultimately, the goal of an RFP isn’t to find a company that’s good at answering requests. You’re trying to pick a video production partner. Samples of previous work speak louder than any written response ever could.

Is it okay to ask for spec work? Some studios will do a creative proposal for no charge, but if you expect a very elaborate presentation know that you will usually only get it in the higher price ranges: higher five- or six-figure jobs. Also, keep in mind that there’s really no such thing as a free lunch. The cost of that elaborate pitch (and failed pitches to other companies) will be included in their fee structure.

If you are worried about the company’s credentials, be sure to ask whether they have worked with companies of your size and sector before. Sometimes, client references can help you find the true professionals.

When in Doubt, Reach Out

At IdeaRocket, we’re always happy to discuss projects with potential partners. We create videos in 2d, 3d, whiteboard and live action techniques for a wide range of industries, including technology and healthcare. We make videos not just for marketing purposes, but also for internal, employee-facing communicationReach out to set up a conversation.

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