No doubt, selecting a qualified, creative, and experienced Exhibit house is a crucial part of a successful exhibiting strategy, but how does one go about finding such a partner? It all starts with a good RFP.
An RFP, or request for proposal, is the method used by a client to determine which exhibit companies, or other vendor, is best able to meet their needs for service, products, or other solutions. More than just a request for incoming proposals, a well-crafted RFP should read like a proposal of its own. A proposal of what you, the client, would like to realize out of your trade show exhibit experience.
If you think of the exhibit company as the architect and builder who uses a detailed blueprint to construct your exhibit, then the RFP is your blueprint for what you want to see in their building. Similar to specifying the square footage, roofing material, and budget you’d like to see in the plans for your dream house, your exhibit’s RFP provides the responding exhibit companies some guidelines and criteria to model their proposals around. The more information you provide in your RFP, the more likely you are to receive design proposals that are detailed, accurate, and meet your needs. Ultimately, an RFP should help steer you towards an exhibit company that understands your business, your objectives, and how to best exhibit your company.
Consider the following when creating your next RFP for submission to an exhibit company:
- Company Info – Make sure your RFP begins with a detailed portrait of who your company is and what makes it unique. Describe your products and/or services, the markets and industries your company sells to, demographic research you’ve done, and a list of your competitors.
- Objectives – What do you want your exhibit to accomplish? Is it sales you seek? Capturing qualified leads? Introducing new products? Reaching new customers? Whatever your goals or objectives are for your design, make sure that the exhibit company knows what they are and how they factor into your overall marketing strategy.
- Design Requirements – What do you want you’re exhibit to look like? This is the part of the RFP where details can make the difference between receiving an exhibit design that meets your expectations or misses the mark completely. Make sure that you identify specific design requirements, components, or materials that you’d like to see in your booth. Not sure? No problem! A good exhibit company will work to translate your rough vision into a detailed layout.
- Timeframe – List all the important dates associated with your proposed exhibit. This includes the deadline for the proposal, presentation dates, final decision date, exhibit shipping date, exhibit set-up date, and the date and hours of your trade show.
- Budget – If you’re reluctant to disclose your budget within an RFP, you’re not alone. There’s a common fear that if a company releases its full available budget for exhibiting, the bidding exhibit house will take the opportunity to use every last available dollar of it. It’s important to remember that the role of the bidding exhibit company is not always to show what’s most practical or economical for your budget, but what’s possible for the look, feel, and experience of your exhibit design.