Advertising RFP Issued By State of Maine Department of Economic and Community Development

The State of Maine is seeking proposals from an agency to support and expand the tourism industry in Maine and promote the state as a tourist destination. The agency shall develop and execute a statewide, year-round tourism marketing program in key domestic and Canadian markets, and provide a full complement of marketing services including, but not limited to, strategic planning, market analysis, market segmentation, positioning, branding, creative/production services, media services, and web services. 

Background:

The Department of Economic and Community Development (Department) is seeking proposals to provide Advertising and Marketing Services as defined in this Request for Proposals (RFP) document. This document provides instructions for submitting proposals, the procedure and criteria by which the Provider(s) will be selected and the contractual terms which will govern the relationship between the State of Maine (State) and the awarded Bidder(s). The Office of Tourism is a division within the Department of Economic and Community Development charged with administering a program to support and expand the tourism industry and promote the state of Maine as a tourist destination. The successful Bidder is expected to develop and execute a marketing program that will increase visitation and boost visitor expenditures in Maine with an emphasis on driving non-resident, overnight visitors to both inland and coastal regions of the state. The Bidder shall provide a full complement of marketing services including, but not limited to, account management, strategic planning, market analysis, market segmentation, positioning, branding, creative/production services, media services, and web services. Additionally, the Bidder should be familiar with the Department’s Five-Year Strategic Plan (https://motpartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Maine_5Year_Strategy_Plan_2019- 2023.pdf) introduced in 2019 which guides our marketing efforts. Visitor research, annual reports and past advertising samples, along with other useful resources are available at MOTPartners.com.

Scope of Work:

Position Maine as a premier four-season destination in New England through development and execution of a statewide, year-round tourism marketing program in key domestic and Canadian markets that will sustainably increase overnight visitation and increase direct expenditures by those visiting Maine. When we talk about sustainable visitation, we are talking about distributing visitation more evenly across the state so as not to overextend the capacity of any one location.

Tourism is an important economic engine for Maine with winter and summer visitation of nearly nine million people and about $2.0 billion in restaurant and lodging taxable sales. In 2020, the Department’s tourism budget was approximately $17,000,000. However, Bidders should be aware that the budget is based solely on a percentage of lodging and restaurant taxable sales which experienced substantial losses in 2020. Therefore, the budget will likely be less than 2020 levels.

Maine will be in recovery mode in 2021 to gain back the estimated 40% loss in lodging and restaurant sales it has experienced due to COVID-19. Many Maine tourism businesses will be experiencing financial hardships in 2021 due to the loss of business in 2020. It will be incumbent upon the Office of Tourism to expand overnight visitation and extend length of stay, which in turn will generate traffic for the attractions, outdoor recreation providers, restaurants, retail shops, cultural venues, and historical sites throughout the state. While it will require a great deal of work to rebuild visitation to Pre-COVID-19 levels, we must continue to make progress towards our goal of becoming the premier four-season destination in New England. This will require us to develop programs to lengthen the peak season and expand visitation in the off-season. Given the diversity of Maine’s geography and product offerings, peak season is different in coastal regions versus inland regions, so adjustments to strategy should be made to address this. If we learned nothing else in 2020, we learned that we need to be nimble and adjust quickly to changing circumstances. While a long-term strategy is necessary for success, the ability to pivot based upon market conditions and customer preferences is a necessary qualification for the Bidder.

General Provisions 

1. From the time the RFP is issued until award notification is made, all contact with the State regarding the RFP must be made through the RFP Coordinator. No other person/ State employee is empowered to make binding statements regarding the RFP. Violation of this provision may lead to disqualification from the bidding process, at the State’s discretion.

2. Issuance of the RFP does not commit the Department to issue an award or to pay expenses incurred by a Bidder in the preparation of a response to the RFP. This includes attendance at personal interviews or other meetings and software or system demonstrations, where applicable. 

3. All proposals must adhere to the instructions and format requirements outlined in the RFP and all written supplements and amendments (such as the Summary of Questions and Answers), issued by the Department. Proposals are to follow the format and respond to all questions and instructions specified below in the “Proposal Submission Requirements” section of the RFP.

4. Bidders will take careful note that in evaluating a proposal submitted in response to the RFP, the Department will consider materials provided in the proposal, information obtained through interviews/presentations (if any), and internal Departmental information of previous contract history with the Bidder (if any). The Department also reserves the right to consider other reliable references and publicly available information in evaluating a Bidder’s experience and capabilities.

A. Brand Management Bidder shall possess a deep understanding and knowledge of the Maine brand, as well as extensive experience with brand management and brand strategy. Provide recommendations on integrating the brand into every aspect of tourism marketing activity including, but not limited to, traditional and digital paid media, web site development and SEO, strategic partnerships, travel/trade shows, and visitor centers.

B. Market Analysis Conduct on-going market research including, but not limited to, segmentation research, analyzing market trends, analyzing website trends, creative ad testing, web usability testing, capturing and understanding traveler insights and data, and using this information to develop targeted marketing programs designed to drive sustainable overnight visitation and maximize visitor expenditures in the state.

C. Marketing Plan Assist the Department in the development and implementation of an annual, statewide marketing plan that aligns with the current Five-Year Strategic Plan. The comprehensive marketing plan, which must address all major programmatic elements herein described, must include: 

1. Identification of target markets; 

2. Specific strategies that include measurable objectives for target markets;

3. Tactics to achieve the objectives; and, 

4. Measurement of campaign results. 

D. Account Services 

1. Provide a day-to-day point of contact for Department staff responsible for overall management of the account, including contracts, budgets, billing, quality control, and project management to assure projects are delivered on time and on budget. 

2. Attend and present at quarterly Department meetings, the Maine Governor’s Conference on Tourism and other tourism related conferences and events as needed.

E. Strategic Partnerships Identify companies or organizations with like-minded brand values/attributes to develop, manage and execute strategic partnerships to meet the needs of today’s visitors.

F. Media Services 

1. Research and evaluate media opportunities to identify media that will most effectively reach the target audience.

2. Develop a media strategy to maximize exposure for Maine, drive sustainable visitation and increase the state’s domestic and Canadian market share. This includes planning, purchasing and placement of all paid media.

3. Negotiate added-value marketing opportunities throughout media channels.

4. Report on campaign performance for traditional media, provide detailed tracking for all digital advertising and evaluate analytics for on-going optimization of campaign performance.

5. Check all paid media for accuracy, appearance and quality.

6. Verify all paid media ran as scheduled. 

7. Collaborate with the Department’s public relations contractor who has responsibility for the organic social media program.

G. Creative Services 

1. Provide creative services for the development of television, radio, digital/online/interactive, social media, out-of-home and print advertising, travel show exhibits and other marketing projects as needed. This includes photo/video shoot coordination, art direction, copywriting, scripting, proofing and printing. 

2. Conduct brand development and advertising work for the Department, as well as occasional projects for individual tourism regions/partners, as directed by the Department.

3. All original advertising material or specific rights to material created or negotiated for or on behalf of the Department such as copy, photography, illustration, artist’s layouts or design sketches, and storyboards are the property of the Department, unless otherwise stated in a Professional Services contract, once Contractor charges are fully paid.

H. Web Services 

1. Development of a strong web presence for the Department’s consumer-facing tourism web site, www.visitmaine.com with an intuitive, easy to use interface for visitors that allows for inspiration and easy vacation planning. This includes design, hosting and maintenance.

2. Evaluate the Department’s Tech Share program and provide a recommendation for how the Department can best align Department and Tech Share partner web sites. Tech share is an agreement that enables several regional marketing organizations to host their web sites using the Department’s content management system. The Department currently uses Elebase. Participating sites include:

· https://visitaroostook.com/

· https://downeastacadia.com/

· https://kennebecvalley.org/

· https://mainelakesandmountains.com/

· https://mainesmidcoast.com/

· https://themainehighlands.com/

3. Design, hosting and maintenance of the Department’s industry-facing tourism web site, www.motpartners.com

4. Design, hosting and maintenance of the Department’s Film Office web site, www.FilmInMaine.com

5. On-going evaluation of Department web sites for SEO and usability.

I. Industry Outreach & Education

Assist the Department with developing presentations for local, regional, statewide and nationwide groups. Bidder may be required to consult with and provide guidance to Maine’s regional marketing organizations as well as other state agencies. While the primary focus of this RFP is for tourism marketing, as a division within the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, work may also include projects positioning Maine as a place to live, work and go to school. While it is not a requirement for the Bidder to have an office in Maine, the Bidder will be required to attend meetings and make presentations in the state and must be prepared to travel to Maine as needed.

Due Date:

Thursday, March 18, 2021, no later than 11:59 p.m., local time.

Address:

Proposals@maine.gov

Relevant agencies to consider include Magrino PR and Peppercomm.

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