As a marketing manager, you know how much effort goes into maximizing your impact at every trade show you attend. It takes a lot of time and money to set yourself up to succeed. That’s why it’s critical you choose the right exhibit design company for your needs.
When you work with a design company, you’re trusting them to deliver a booth that represents how hard you’ve worked to prepare for your event. It should reflect your budget and your goals for the event. Plus, working with them to get to that point shouldn’t be a struggle. It should be fun!
So how do you find a design partner that can do all that? How do you find someone you’re excited about working with, who can also deliver on everything you need?
In our experience, the best way to find the perfect partner in the trade show industry is to start with a revised Request For Proposal (RFP) process that benefits you and your potential exhibit vendor. That's because the key to success is to create a good partnership, not just complete a transaction.
Our new white paper takes a deeper dive into this idea by explaining the trouble with standard RFP processes. Download your copy below, or keep reading to check out an excerpt.
Why the Standard RFP Process Doesn’t Work
In theory, an RFP is a great tool for marketing professionals who are shopping around for a new exhibit house for their next trade show booth. It intends to secure concept and cost.
Ideally, it acts as a test drive, so the marketing team can get an idea of what different houses can offer. But in practice, the standard RFP process doesn’t work for a lot of reasons. Later, we’ll show you a revised process that does work.
For now, here’s why the standard process doesn’t help you or the exhibit house:
1. Too Many Participants
In most cases, an RFP goes out to approximately five houses. Those five houses can choose to devote resources away from their existing customers to compete for the job, or they can let the opportunity pass.
It’s a lose-lose situation. A marketing manager won’t choose a house that doesn’t respond, so they’ll pick a house that’s willing to sacrifice client resources for a relatively small chance at new business.
2. No Relationship Building
Designing the best possible exhibit rental is a process that should be shared by the supplier and the brand. All too often, marketing pros submit RFPs but aren’t available to discuss questions a supplier might have.
Connecting with a potential supplier’s team gives an exhibit manager insight into what a working relationship would be like. It also gives suppliers an opportunity to create a design that’s better aligned with your marketing goals.
3. The Wrong Questions
When you send out RFPs to nearly a dozen suppliers, comparing the responses becomes a daunting task. To digest that return of information, marketing teams resort to asking easily comparable questions.
But easily comparable questions, like how many full-time employees a house has, aren’t applicable. In addition to being off-topic, brands should be aware that these sorts of questions can lead to easily manipulated answers.
4. Blind on Budget
If an RFP intends to secure concept and cost, then providing a budget is a critical piece of information for suppliers looking to respond. By providing a budget, creative teams can do their best work in creating a final design that you can afford.
The result is a faster, more direct RFP process that results in fewer surprises for both the supplier and the brand.
5. Wrong People in Control
While having a budget is critical, financial teams shouldn’t lead the charge in managing an RFP process. Ultimately, booths are used by a brand’s marketing department to achieve their goals for the business.
RFPs that are led by procurement teams create problems further down the road because the wrong teams are talking to one another. They should have input from procurement teams to establish a budget and should be directed by the marketing team who will actually use the booth.
Ultimately, the standard RFP process fails because it focuses too heavily on a single event, a single booth, a single idea. Instead, it should help you find an ideal exhibit house partnership that you can rely on for every event you attend, year after year.
Beyond a revised RFP process, you need clear communication, established goals, and guaranteed pricing to develop a great relationship. Want more tips on finding your ideal exhibit design company? Check out our new white paper: How To Evaluate And Choose An Exhibit House.