American Bar Association Seeks Marketing Agency

American Bar Association


This request for proposal (RFP) provides to those interested in submitting proposals sufficient information to enable them to prepare and submit proposals for the Membership Division’s consideration on behalf of the American Bar Association.


OneABA is a plan to significantly grow dues-paying ABA membership by unifying and strengthening our membership product value. The new ABA basic membership will bundle components that were previously purchased individually, including specialty section memberships, continuing legal education courses, access to e-content and more. The new basic membership will be a higher value at a similar cost to the old base package. The OneABA strategy is informed by an intense quantitative consulting project conducted in 2017 by JP Dubé from the University of Chicago. The key findings of this study were that current and prospective members are looking for greater value in the membership product and that the incremental options were too complex.

Scope of Work:

Anticipated Scope of Marketing Services. The ABA will rely on our marketing and strategy partner to guide us through many efforts in pursuit of membership growth, including:

  • Brand and Market Assessment
  • Internal Systems and Structure Assessment
  • Marketing Infrastructure Assessment
  • Product and Services Assessment
  • Strategic Recommendations
  • Targets and Timelines
  • Board of Governors/House of Delegates Meeting Support
  • Implementation Recommendations
  • Tactical Marketing Plan
  • Marketing Asset Repository

Worth noting, the ABA is deep in a website relaunch project that is scheduled to go live in March 2018. The marketing partner will have some opportunity to affect the homepage messaging and aesthetic as well as a small portion of the top-level hierarchy of pages. That input may happen before and/or after the go-live date in March 2018.

Phase 1:  Strategic Recommendations

Timing: October 2017 – August 2018; Deliverables 1-3 should be complete by January 31; other work to be completed as determined by the parties

  1. Agency Onboarding: Review JP Dubé pricing study, OneABA strategic plan, previous membership research, current annual marketing plans, membership data, Master Creative Brief, historic membership trends, and other reports and data as helpful
  2. Brand Assessment:  Conduct research to understand the ABA brand health among American lawyers

a. Current (non-unified) ABA brand architecture

b. ABA and competitor favorable brand awareness among American lawyers

c. ABA and competitor brand territory beliefs among American lawyers

d. ABA and competitor brand communication channels and effectiveness

c. ABA and competitor brand advocacy among American lawyers

d. ABA and competitor brand aesthetic, logo and tagline comparison

c. ABA brand threats and disruptive possibilities

  1. Market Assessment: Conduct research to determine and validate market opportunities

a. ABA share of spend for association membership and continuing legal education among American lawyers

b. Market interest in joining the ABA with OneABA value proposition

c. Any refinements of the OneABA value proposition that would make it more valued

d. Predictions of membership growth and adoption rate with OneABA

  1. Organization Alignment: Conduct research to identify and develop internal messaging to build consensus towards OneABA

a. Leadership perspective

b. Staff (employees) structure, sentiment, and success barriers

c. Internal communication processes, tools and message ownership

  1. Marketing Infrastructure Assessment: Review, recommend and integrate technologies that enable our marketing (most of which is digital), including the selection and adoption rules and budget ownership

i. General technology including ERP and Ecommerce solutions

ii. Database

iii. Digital marketing (social, web, email)

  1. Products and Services Assessment: Conduct research to understand product and service opportunities
  2. Strategic Recommendations: Provide succinct and direct recommendations for changes to our brand and surrounding assets.  Include ROI and cost estimates when appropriate and possible.

a. Brand Dashboard:  Design a brand dashboard to monitor changes in brand strength

b. Brand Positioning:  Recommend defensible brand territory

c. Brand Aesthetic:  Recommend logo, tagline, and tone

d. Brand Threat Assessment: Explain potential for disruptions to affect membership

e. Organization: Recommend changes to oversight and organization to improve nimble and expeditious decision-making and marketplace action

f. Change Management:  Recommend approach and resources to manage brand changes

g. Communications:  Recommend internal and external communications plan

h. Timeline:  Recommend implementation timeline

i. Infrastructure:  Recommend changes to marketing infrastructure and any necessary training

8. Targets and Timelines: Suggest KPIs and targets as well as means to efficiently collect and report the data.  Recommend interim achievement milestones

Phase 2: OneABA Refinement and Approval Process February 2018 – August 2018

  1. Meeting Support: Our agency partner should be available to attend the three leadership meetings as an informed ambassador of the OneABA initiative including presentation duties and conversations with leaders

i. Midyear Meeting (January 31 — February 6, 2018) in Vancouver, BC, Canada

ii. ABA Board of Governors (June 19-23) in Denver, CO

iii. Annual Meeting (August 2-7, 2018) in Chicago, IL

  1. Messaging Strategy: Help prepare group and individual presentations, discussions, and handouts necessary to succinctly explain the compelling benefits and key risks of the OneABA initiative
  2. Communication Collateral:  Create assets to support the messaging strategy

Phase 3: Implementation (Timing subject to change) June 2018 – TBD

  1. Recommendation Implementation: Usher the implementation of the strategic recommendations developed in Phase 1
  2. Tactical Marketing Plan:  Create a detailed tactical membership marketing plan for OneABA
  3. Marketing Asset Repository: Guide development of a unified library of creative elements to be shared among the Association staff for their marketing efforts
  4. Collateral Creative:  Development of marketing materials

Due Date:

August 15, 2017 to :


American Bar Association

Paula Cleave

321 N. Clark St.

Chicago, IL 60654

PR firms with strong experience in corporate communications for litigation include 5WPR and SSPR.

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