The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to identify a fully integrated marketing and communications firm (“Agency”) to further ACCS communications and marketing goals. The ACCS intends to enter into a contract for a period of one year with an option to extend the contract each year for an additional four (4) years. The Agency will work with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) to achieve its marketing goals in support of the ACCS mission, vision, and strategic goals. Chief goals of our marketing strategy include:
• Increasing awareness of Alabama’s community colleges as high-quality, affordable, accessible and supportive institutions of higher education, which prepare students for lifelong success.
• Increasing enrollment by motivating students to consider and enroll at one of Alabama’s community colleges
• Increasing awareness of Alabama’s community colleges as engaged community members with resources for all Alabamians.
• In addition to general awareness efforts, the ACCS is seeking to promote opportunities related to apprenticeship and manufacturing careers statewide and in specific regions of the state.
The selected Agency will be required to demonstrate its ability to work in all communications channels – traditional media and digital, paid and nonpaid, and promotions – in addition to providing an effective long-term strategic platform and flawless marketplace execution, all at a competitive cost to ACCS. The estimated time frame for this proposal will start on January 20, 2020 and continue through January 31 2021. It is our expectation that, upon selection, we will develop and agree to a scope of work to be delivered by the Agency, keeping in mind that we are held to stringent cost-control measures and always seek to be good stewards of the state’s resources. The scope and subsequent staff requirements to support ACCS are dynamic and volatile, always influenced by state budget fluctuations, local, state and national events, and other unforeseen circumstances. While every effort is made to define and follow a specified scope of work, there is no guarantee that such scope or budgets will be maintained.
The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is Alabama’s gateway to world-class, affordable education and technical training for the necessary skills to compete in a constantly evolving workforce. The system consists of 24 community and technical colleges, including the Alabama Technology Institute, and Marion Military Institute – one 3 of five junior military colleges in the nation. The Alabama Technology Network is a part of the ACCS and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Tuition at Alabama’s community colleges is less than half the cost for the same core, academic courses as those taught at four-year universities in the state. More than 168,000 people choose to study through ACCS each year. Our student body extends well beyond “traditional age” college students, prospective high school graduates and their parents. We also serve adults, including displaced workers, career-changers, those who never attended college or who are returning to meet a particular career goal. Our dual enrollment programs engage current high school juniors and seniors in college credit-bearing courses they can take as part of their high school curriculum. Our marketing audience is broad in demographic attributes, educational background and aspirations. The Agency will need to understand our audiences: who they are, what are their characteristics. This will include understanding the population of each region served by the colleges, as well as other audience characteristics (age, economic status, prior educational performance and plans). With limited funds, we need to consider which audience segment(s) we should focus on and what are the most effective strategies to reach and influence them. ACCS is governed by the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. The Alabama Community College System provides:
• General education and other collegiate programs at the freshman and sophomore levels prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions to complete baccalaureate degrees.
• Adult Education focuses on improving individuals’ skills, productivity and training with GED preparation and testing, basic skills, and English as a Second Language.
• Workforce development initiatives provide customized, flexible, short-term training programs that are responsive to industry needs—from highly specialized training to programs that help prepare entry level employees to meet growing
Scope of Work:
The ACCS is seeking a fully integrated marketing and communications firm to increase awareness and enrollment at Alabama’s community colleges. ACCS seeks comprehensive services from planning to execution and assessment. Elements will include, but not necessarily be limited to:
• Perform or subcontract to perform statewide market research to gain insight into what is most important to students, how Alabama’s community colleges are perceived, and any gaps between perception and reality. Research should include current students, AL parents with soon-to-be college-age students, as well as the general public. As the research will inform campaign messaging, it is the desire of the ACCS that this effort begin immediately upon the execution of a signed contract.
• Perform or subcontract to perform a statewide economic impact study of the state’s community colleges to help quantify the System’s benefit to the state.
• Develop messaging based on market research for various stakeholder groups to include: potential students, parents, counselors, elected officials, and business and industry leaders.
• Develop and implement marketing campaign to include: digital and social media platforms, radio, television, out-of-home, and print.
• Develop creative for all aspects of campaign including television and radio advertisements.
• Produce promotional materials to include promotional items, posters, and brochures.
While the ACCS System Office will be the primary client, we are interested in linking the two levels of existing marketing (central/statewide and college-specific) and will look to the Agency for effective strategies to foster coordination between these levels. The twenty-four community colleges are part of a system but are also individual colleges with their own brand, identity, distinct campus features, array of offerings, and regional attributes. There is an overall community college value proposition that all twenty-four share, which includes affordability, transfer, education aligned to careers, local convenience, and a supportive college environment. Each college funds its own marketing and acts independently of the System in their current efforts.