You have a project coming up and you’re in need of help from an outside agency. You’ve requested proposals, either through a formal request for proposal (RFP) process or through more casual discussions. And now, you have a stack of responses to wade through, and it’s all a little overwhelming. You’re confused, and it’s okay. We’re here to help!
Understanding agency proposal terminology
Design options: Creative approaches to the project. At least two design options are often provided, allowing you to choose from more than one creative approach.
Rounds of revisions: Edits to the selected design, based on your feedback. Typically, Pita builds two rounds of revisions into our project estimates.
Outside expenses: Costs incurred by vendors outside of the agency. These may include photography licensing fees, printing costs, talent fees, web hosting fees, domain name purchases, shipping costs, media placements, etc.
Vendor management: A service provided in which the agency coordinates an aspect of the project with an outside vendor, such as a printer.
Layout & production: Once you choose a design direction, the graphic designer has to lay out the rest of the piece with the actual copy and images, and then prepare the file for printing or programming.
Project management: A service where a dedicated point person manages the project, both by keeping in contact with you and by coordinating the project team within the agency.
Understanding agency costs
Agencies typically determine costs based on the number of hours they’ll need to dedicate to the project as well as the services they’ll be providing in order to complete the project. Different services may have a different hourly rate (meaning that 10 hours of strategic consulting might cost you more than 10 hours of proofreading), or the project might be estimated on a rate that is blended across all services.
Outside expenses are usually not included, as they vary and often can not be predicted up-front. Once the project begins, your agency should always ask for your approval on outside costs before they are incurred.
Understanding agency scope of work
The services used to estimate the total cost are an important piece of the proposal, as they outline the work the agency expects to complete as part of the project. Your RFP should clearly define the goals, objectives and associated project or agency requirements to give the agency a clear understanding of what’s expected of them up front. Once you’ve received responses, be sure what’s included aligns with your expectations of what the agency will be doing. For example, you might realize you need copywriting services as a piece of your website project. Did you communicate this and does the agency’s proposal include this? Making sure the full scope of the project is correctly defined from the start will help the agency give you the most accurate estimate and avoid any changes in the midst of the project.
There you have it – the agency proposal demystified! We hope we provided some clarity and insight into an often confusing topic. Still have questions? Have a project you’d like to talk about with a Pita strategist? Contact me at