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Build a Better RFP for Your Trade Show Exhibit


If you’re getting ready to attend some big trade shows and events, you need an impressive exhibit that gets attendees’ attention. You also need to get this kind of exhibit without spending a fortune. Writing a good RFP (Request for Proposal) for your designer can make a big difference when you’re trying to accomplish these goals. When you provide designers with the right information, it’s easier for them to create a finished product that aligns with your needs. If you’ve never written an RFP, or if you want to level up your current RFP-writing process, keep reading. Discussed below are some of the most important things to include when drafting RFPs for trade shows.

Clear Expectations
A common mistake people make when writing trade show RFPs is failing to set clear expectations.

Obviously, you’re expecting an exhibit for an upcoming show. However, you need to include some more details if you want to get a positive response from a designer.

Some of the most important expectations to set are those related to timing. For example, you’ll need to include a clear timeline that explains the show date, when you expect a response, when an in-person presentation will take place, etc.

Company Information
Designers need to know more than your company’s name and what products or services you’re promoting. They also need to have a clear understanding of your brand positioning, your values, and the desired tone for your marketing materials.

The more the designer knows about who you are and what you’re about, the easier it is for them to decide whether or not they want to work with you (and whether or not they’re the right fit to fulfill your booth design needs).

Booth Design Requirements
One of the most important things to include in a trade show RFP is a detailed breakdown of your booth design requirements.

Designers need as much insight as possible into what you’re looking for in a booth so they can give you an accurate answer. If you want something custom-made, you need to explain that. The same goes for booth designs that may need to be updated when you go from show to show.

Be sure to include unique requirements that the show’s management team has to factor in.

For example, is the ceiling lower or higher than average? Are there specific electrical, fire, or lighting codes you need to abide by? How large is your booth space?

Budget Information
Detailed budget information will make a big difference in your RFP, too. By providing an extensive budget breakdown, it’s easier for designers to decide whether or not they want to partner with your company for this event.

Don’t just write down how much money you have to spend on an exhibit, though. You also need to specify what your budget includes.

For example, is the budget you provided just for the display itself, or does it include other things like shipping and A/V elements? Indicate, too, whether or not the budget is flexible at all.

Ethical Considerations
When you’re writing RFPs, make sure you’re taking ethics into account. In other words, you want this process to be fair for everyone. Every designer should get an equal chance to win you over and land your business.

The following are some specific ways that you can draft an ethical RFP:

  • Share the same information with all bidders
  • Give all bidders the same time frame
  • Only give one chance for each bidder to respond to the RFP (unless otherwise specified)

It’s also important to be courteous and follow up with all designers to whom you sent an RFP.

Let them know if you’re not going to work with them and provide some general information about why they weren’t selected. This is a polite and professional thing to do, and it helps you maintain positive relationships for the future.

Bonus RFP Writing Tips
In addition to including the right information in your RFP, it’s also important to think about how you’re presenting that information. If you want to get a prompt and positive response from the designer (or designers) you’re contacting, the following will help you make a better impression:

  • Keep it concise: Designers are busy, and they don’t have hours to read through an RFP that’s pages long
  • Use clear language: Be detailed when describing your needs and goals, but make sure you’re also using clear language that’s easy to understand
  • Use subheadings and bullets: These details make your RFP easier to read and less daunting to designers
  • Proofread: Always proofread your RFP (or have someone else proofread it) so you can eliminate spelling/grammar mistakes and wordiness

Start Creating Better RFPs Today
If you’re ready to level up your trade show exhibiting and show up with better booth design, a proper RFP can make a big difference. Remember the guidelines discussed above so you can nail the RFP drafting process and get high-quality, eye-catching designs without breaking the bank.