Commonwealth of Virginia Issues RFP Seeking Marketing in Canada

Commonwealth of Virginia Issues RFP Seeking Marketing Consulting Services in Canada

The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to solicit a proposal for a PR agency to assist with marketing and promotional activities for Virginia-produced products in Canada for an initial two (2) year term (with three one-year renewal options) for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Background:

VDACS helps Virginia companies develop export opportunities throughout the world for products including, but not limited to, agricultural commodities, processed foods and beverages, seafood and aquaculture products, and forest products. Agricultural products are critical to Virginia’s economy; the annual value of Virginia’s agricultural exports exceeds $3 billion. These exports help support jobs related to farming, transportation, and other service sectors in the Commonwealth. Through the use of staff based in Virginia and the utilization of in-country consultants in various markets, VDACS is able to maintain daily contact with buyers and gather trade leads for Virginia-produced products. VDACS’ Office of International Marketing (OIM) also works hand-in-hand with region-specific or commodity-specific trade organizations, such as the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA), to provide export opportunities to Virginia companies.

Scope of Work:

VDACS is seeking an in-country consultant to assist with marketing and promotional activities in Canada for Virginia-produced products, and to research and advise regarding the labeling and other regulatory requirements for certain agribusiness products entering Canada. VDACS’ preference is that the Contractor be a marketing firm rather than a self-employed individual. The Contractor will work with assigned VDACS marketing personnel. VDACS will utilize an in-country consultant in Canada to identify the best opportunities to promote Virginia-produced food and agricultural products. This work will be accomplished by building trade relationships, determining the challenges the trade faces in importing Virginia-produced food and agricultural products, and increasing awareness and interest in the procurement of Virginia-produced food and agricultural products.

VDACS marketing staff works with many U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperators, such as SUSTA, the American Hardwood Export Council, the US Grains Council, and others. These organizations are a valuable resource to VDACS as a source of market intelligence and foreign contacts. Additionally, in some cases, Cooperator funds are available for VDACS to use for export promotion activities to assist Virginia companies directly.

Canada is an important growth market for Virginia agricultural and forestry products. The Cooperators mentioned above, and many others are already active in the Canada market and OIM is already benefiting from these relationships. The purpose of this contract is to build upon the work that VDACS has already done in Canada and to secure new export business for Virginia companies. The ultimate success of this contract will be measured in new sales for Virginia businesses. The Contractor will work closely with VDACS staff, to prioritize the products and segment the Canadian market to ensure the best possible chance for sales. A secondary purpose of the Contractor’s work will be to keep VDACS and Virginia agricultural and forestry exporters well informed of tariff and non-tariff barriers that impact the competitiveness of Virginia exports, as well as the overall market conditions in Canada. Strategies will be developed jointly to address trade issues and economic conditions.

The Contractor should provide recommendations and strategies for improving the competitiveness of Virginia exports in Canada. Special projects (trade shows, trade missions, in-store promotions, trade servicing, etc.) may require extended travel or additional work hours in a given week.

The Contractor and or the Contractor’s representative is expected to be located in and reside in the country of representation. If the Contractor’s primary point of contact plans to spend more than thirty (30) consecutive days outside of the home market, he or she must notify VDACS in advance and provide an explanation as to who will be serving as the primary point of contact during the absence.

Specific responsibilities include:

Assistance to Virginia Companies

A key responsibility of the in-country consultant (Contractor) in Canada will be helping Virginia companies export their products to Canada by providing local market assistance. Many of these companies are small or medium-sized in nature, thus they need significant attention and assistance. The associated services that will be required of the Contractor may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Assisting Virginia exporters in making contact with potential Canadian importers, distributors, and retailers by developing matchmaking opportunities, providing interpretation and translation services, as necessary. Services may also be used for developing and delivering promotional material, correspondence, meetings, trade shows, and escorting foreign buyer missions in Virginia;
  2. Assisting with travel for Virginia agribusiness exporters to Canada including arranging meeting and developing itineraries for VDACS and Virginia companies traveling to Canada, making hotel arrangements, and arranging transportation details;
  3. Maintaining on-going contact with foreign buyers, including buyer selections and escorting buyer missions to Virginia;
  4. Advising and assisting with distribution that includes finding importers, warehousing, and other distribution facilities and partners;
  5. Advising on import ingredient restrictions, labeling regulations and other relevant regulations in Canada;
  6. Reviewing market reports and other sources of information on the Canadian market that will lead to better market intelligence and understanding of export opportunities for Virginia-produced products. Information should include issues of trade policies and changing economic conditions in order to provide VDACS with the most salient information;
  7. Corresponding directly with Virginia companies to keep trade leads active and obtaining necessary information. In all cases, VDACS should be made aware of this contact through being copied on the correspondence;
  8. Advising on obtaining payment for export transactions;
  9. Advising on marketing and public relations activities for Virginia-produced products; and
  10. Recruiting a minimum of five (5) new companies annually to participate in promotional activities.

Trade Servicing

The responsibilities of the Contractor in carrying out trade servicing include, but are not limited to:

  1. Visiting with potential importers, distributors, retailers, and food service companies and food ingredient buyers, and developing lists of these companies that are the most reputable, experienced, and in the best position to purchase Virginia-produced products;
  2. Developing and maintaining a database of potential Canadian importers and buyers, their contact information, and their product interests;
  3. Liaising with Foreign Agricultural Service Posts on a regular basis;
  4. Informing VDACS of market development opportunities that arise throughout the year;
  5. Traveling to the United States for meetings with VDACS personnel and clients when requested;
  6. Generating and following up on trade leads after an event;
  7. Following up with key buyers from trade missions and other special projects;
  8. Ascertaining problems which may be inhibiting export sales;
  9. Obtaining evaluations or participant feedback following each activity;
  10. Tracking sales and other performance measures resulting from all events;
  11. Assisting, on an ongoing basis, in generating export success stories; and
  12. Providing information regarding trade servicing in the weekly report that outlines the trade servicing completed and any results achieved.

Market Research, Development, and Promotion

The responsibilities of the Contractor in carrying out market research, development, and promotion include, but will not be limited to:

  1. Undertaking industry and/or sector studies as requested;
  2. Identifying and recommending promotional opportunities in the food service, food retail, and food ingredient sectors of the market;
  3. Identifying and implementing opportunities to utilize social media to support promotional activites; guidelines specified by VDACS, including negotiating promotional terms, assisting with in-store merchandising and display, and developing promotional concepts and materials;
  4. Submitting a report on each activity and providing any required evaluation results; and
  5. Performing other specific consulting work as requested by VDACS.

Trade Shows

The Contractor will notify VDACS and Virginia companies of the best opportunities to exhibit at trade shows in Canada, providing them with the information and support they need to be an effective exhibitor at these events. In addition, the Contractor should provide value for importer/distributor, and realizing sales from the show. Ultimately, by being adequately prepared to do business at the show, companies make the best possible use of the trade show environment and improve their chances for achieving new sales. Trade shows and activity dates will be determined after award and on an on-going basis in conjunction with VDACS OIM staff.

The types of services considered for each trade show should include, but are not limited to:

  1. Identifying and providing details on food trade shows in the Canadian market to include the number of exhibitors, key buyers attending, and recommendations on which shows to exhibit;
  2. Conducting pre-show product research regarding pricing, import regulation, and competitor analysis;
  3. Targeting invitations to qualified buyers for exhibitor booths, providing buyer-seller instructions, and setting up pre-arranged appointments for each exhibitor;

Inbound Trade Mission

The Contractor should provide the best opportunities for Virginia companies with key Canadian buyers by providing matchmaking one-on-one meetings during inbound trade missions which:

  1. Identify key contacts in the market to travel to the U.S. for one-on-one meetings with Virginia companies;
  2. Create invitations, and invite key buyers;
  3. Schedule one-on-one meetings for each buyer with Virginia companies;
  4. Work with VDACS to identify and secure a location for the one-on-one meetings;
  5. Work with VDACS to organize and coordinate all logistics for the one-on-one meetings;
  6. Organize and coordinate market tours in each location; and
  7. Prepare an agenda for each Virginia Company to meet key Canadian buyers.

Outbound Trade Missions

The Contractor should provide the best opportunities for Virginia companies with key Canadian buyers by providing matchmaking one-on-one meetings during outbound trade missions which:

  1. Identify key contacts in the market for one-on-one meetings with Virginia companies in the Canada market;
  2. Schedule one-on-one meetings for each buyer with Virginia companies;
  3. Work with VDACS to identify and secure a location for the one-on-one meetings;
  4. Work with VDACS to organize and coordinate all logistics outbound trade missions and one-on-one meetings;
  5. Organize and coordinate market tours in each location; and
  6. Prepare an agenda for each Virginia Company to meet key Canadian buyers.

Due Date:

August 15th

Address:

Commonwealth of Virginia

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Procurement Office

102 Governor Street, Rm. 240 Richmond, VA 23219 USA

Edelman PR and Shift Communications have operations in Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *