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Writing Your Video Production RFP: Everything You Need to Know

Writing up an RFP for your next video production can help save you (and prospective studios) lots of time. The problem is often knowing what is worth putting in your RFPs, and what to keep. This guide will walk you through everything you might want to include in a vide production RFP - and whether you even need one in the first place.

So you want to get some video content produced for your brand. You’ve seen the stats:

But we’re going to be honest with you: Getting a video produced that matches your brand’s vision can be tough.

  • There are subtleties in your messaging that need to be done just right.
  • Your product's most important features might only be obvious to your niche's users.
  • You might have wiggle room with your budget but not with your deadline, or vice versa.
  • On top of this, the creative process itself can get messy and disorganized and straight up frustrating.

Without clarifying your goals and constraints beforehand, you could end up with video content that went over-budget and over-time, that doesn't even come close to what you had in mind.

[Graphic representing failed project gone overbudget??]

The best way to get over this is avoid is to write a video production Request For Proposal (aka an RFP) beforehand.

In this guide, we'll walk you through all information that you might want to include in a video production RFP. By the end, you'll know exactly what to write to get the video that captures your organization's vision.

What is a video production request for proposal (RFP)?

Briefly, it's a document you submit to video production agencies where you:

  • Explain the background, goals, and constraints of your video project
  • Clarify any formal requirements you might have
  • Ask the agency to give you a quote or proposal for your project

Think of it as hiring someone new.

The first step is to create a job posting to find the perfect candidate. You describe the role you’re trying to fill, state any requirements you have, and describe the ideal candidate.

[Graphic: Job posting mock-up blurred out with sections: “Job requirements”, “Ideal candidate”, “Apply now”]

This gives potential producers a good idea of what you want.

Can they meet your requirements? Should they toss their hat in the ring? The RFP will answer that question.

What to include in your video production RFP

You might have a general idea of what you're looking for with your video project, but it can be challenging to communicate this clearly.

If you have video scripts & storyboards or other creative - do send it in.

If you cover all the points below, you'll be well on your way to helping video production companies create proposals that are in line with your vision and goals.

You'll want to include all the points we cover in your request for proposal. However, the level of detail will depend on the complexity of your video project and the formality of your organization. (If you're just a small startup, writing a key ideas in a Google Doc is fine. On the flip side, large government organizations will typically have detailed, multi-page requests for proposals that go through multiple round of review before even asking for the first bids!)

The first ‘who’: Your business or organization

Just like with a job posting, you want your video production RFP to give the applicant an idea of who they're going to be working with.

Most agencies will do some digging into your business before submitting their bids, but this lets you clarify what's most important to you.

You'll have to use some intuition and judgment on what to share. Consider including things like your mission statement, your unique values and positioning, and what sets your product apart from your competitors.

Not only does this help the agency start to zero in on how to create the perfect video for you, but experienced producers will even know if certain things don’t line up.

They might know that your target audience might not respond well to videos at your budget. Or they might be able to recommend a company with more experience in your space.

The ‘why’: What is your goal?

Next, you'll need to specify what your video project's goal is.

Is it part of a larger company-wide marketing strategy? Are you trying to leverage social media to build awareness for your organization's next campaign? Increase conversions and sales on your business' landing page?

This helps the video production company evaluate whether they have the experience to do a good job, and maybe even assign their in-house subject matter expert to your project.

The second ‘who’: Your target market

It's important to specify the audience your video will be targeting: B2B explainer videos aimed at C-suite executives need a different level of production than quick marketing clips for social media.

There are a few ways to describe this.

If your company already has a definition of their target market, use that. If you’re targeting one big ticket client, say who it is.

A classic way is to describe your ideal Customer Personas.

[RW Graphic: What is a customer persona?]

The ‘how’: What style do you want?

You can include any style requirements your video might have.

This can be as simple as sharing whether you want 2D animation or 3D animation, live action, hand-drawn whiteboard, screencasts, etc.

You can also get into specifics like the voice, the style, the tone, the colour scheme - anything that’s important to your vision.

The easiest way to communicate these is using visual examples like:

If you’re not sure what you are looking for, don’t fret.

The agency’s experience and expertise can go a long way. They’ll have creatives to work with you to develop ideas that match your organization’s goals.

The ‘how much’: Your budget (and other numbers)

Next, tell the video production company the specific numbers for your project. This can include any number of details:

  • Your budget
  • How many videos you need
  • How long you want the video(s) to be
  • Video frame rate

You can also clarify which numbers are more or less important. You might want to squeeze as many videos as possible out of a limited budget, or be willing to spend a little extra to get the absolute best production quality.

The ‘when’: Key dates and deadlines

Be specific on any important dates. You can include:

  • Deadline for the final video
  • Deadlines for drafts and revisions
  • Any project milestones
  • Your deadline for accepting proposals

[Graphic: Timeline with flags, targets]

Your organization's selection process

We just covered the essentials of a video production RFP. If you skip these, you’ll be getting lots of proposals that are simply off-target.

Next, you might want to cover some points about your company's selection process.

They’re really just boring logistics, but they help the agency fine-tune their proposal to your situation.

How many RFPs are you sending out?

Some agencies don’t have the resources to compete on every RFP they receive. If they don’t know how many competitors they’re going against, they might not respond.

Do some research and reach out to the agencies you are most excited about first.

You may feel like you’re limiting your options, but this could save hours of proposal reviews and sales calls down the line.

What criteria will you use to select an agency?

Knowing which criteria matter most will help the production company fine-tune their quote even more.

Plus, it will help determine if you are a good match.

Some studios will prefer not to work on projects that are more focused on quantity than quality. On the other end, some agencies might be focused more on volume and speed rather than quality.

A great way to communicate this is to break down your priorities by percentage points.  

[Graphic: Example criteria to see if an agency is a good fit: price 20 pts, completion speed 5 pts, portfolio size 10 pts, portfolio quality 25 pts, experience in the industry 25 pts, communication 15 pts]

Clarify your selection process

Will you have a multi-stage selection process with the best options shortlisted?

Will you be contacting all the agencies when the final decision is made?

These details can help the agency know whether they should be closing up your account in their CRM, or if it’s worth sending a follow up email just in case.

Include legal requirements

Lastly, if there’s any important legal requirements, include them in the video production RFP.

This part is going to be super boring, so just get your legal team to write it (for some reason they love this stuff).

The last step: Send out your video production RFP

Congrats! Now you have a thorough, high quality RFP.

The final step is to send it out to some video production agencies. There's a few places you can look to find the right talent that will deliver the video content you need.

The first place to look is just a Google search. You can add specific search terms to find companies that specialize in a certain style of video content, or narrow your search to work with only local companies.

Next, you can search business directories like clutch.co to find even more companies.

Lastly, you can post your video production RFP on any directories or forums that your organization might use to solicit bids.

Before you hit 'Send', it can be a good idea to check out the company's website. You can look through their pricing and their portfolio to get a better idea of whether they'll be a good fit for your project.

This seems like a long process, is it really worth it?

It can take a long time to write all these details into a formal video production RFP. Whether it's worthwhile depends on your organization and the size of the project.

For smaller projects, you might just want to go through this guide and briefly note your project's requirements. Then just reach out to a few video production companies whose portfolios resonate with your vision.

But for bigger projects, the stakes are higher. You'll want to reach out to a larger number of companies to make sure they have the capacity and quality you're after. At this point, it's best to formalize your video project's key requirements by writing up a video production RFP.

Send this off to a large swath of production companies, and the next thing you know you'll have a range of bids personalized to your brand's needs.