Picking the Best Partner for YOUR Needs

Jen Borucki | July 5, 2016

Welcome to July!

While many consider the Fourth of July holiday week to be the mid-point of summer, those of us involved in trade show and event marketing see this weekend as the beginning of that intense Q4 show season.

If your plans include seeking a new partner to help you navigate the waters for your end-of-year shows, here are some thoughts on making your RFP process work for you.

  1. Consolidate your potential partner list to no more than 3-5 exhibit marketing companies. While blanketing your RFP across a number of potential providers may seem like a good idea, formally evaluating too many companies can actually hamper your process. Not only will you face the logistical challenge of reviewing such a broad range of credentials – you may even lose some great prospects. Remember, developing an RFP response can be a costly process for a potential vendor. Some companies will opt out of pursuing the business if an excessive number of competitors are vying for the same business.
  2. Prescreen as much as possible to determine your short list. Seek the input of exhibitors you know and probe them as to the companies they have worked with in the past. Did they offer a full range of services in-house? Did they have superior client service? Were they exceptional at meeting deadlines? Did their estimates align well with the final bill? Then match those criteria to your business needs.
  3. Seek third-party verification before you send out your RFP. The Exhibit Designers + Producers Association (EDPA) offers RFP certification that objectively prescreens companies and ultimately saves you a lot of leg work and gives you greater confidence in the partner you choose. This rigorous process requires candidates to submit comprehensive data regarding their business policies, financials, staffing and so forth. This data is then verified by an independent auditor. To date, only 13 companies in the US have earned this certification. To learn more and obtain a list of RFP-certified companies, visit www.edpa.com/certification.
  4. Determine if your corporate personality matches your potential partner. Ask the “what” questions, but give equal credence to the “how” and “why.” Attempt to obtain dialogue in addition to the facts so you can see if this potential partner is really a good fit for the way your company does business.
  5. Never make a decision on price alone. While you should seek a partner who works to your budget, there is a big difference between price and value. And beware of suspiciously low pricing or your financials could take a real beating. Better to go into an agreement with a reasonable understanding of cost than to be surprised when the bills are due. Your exhibit marketing program is an investment – seek the best return possible!

Jen Borucki, HMCC is a Marketing Communications Specialist for MG Design, a global full service experiential marketing partner with complete turnkey design, fabrication, marketing, service and labor offerings to successfully create experiences that enrich our clients, our team, our community and our world. In addition to answering your RFI/RFP questions, Jen also provides copywriting services through MG’s internal marketing services agency, magnify™.