Destination Marketing RFP Issued By City

The Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie (the City), is seeking a highly skilled and experienced marketing, public relations, destination market research and advertising team to work in concert with the Tourism and Community Development team to develop and implement multi-media, marketing strategies to keep Sault Ste. Marie top of mind for domestic and international target audiences. A critical aspect to achieving success will be to develop a strategic marketing plan that highlights Sault Ste. Marie’s competitive advantages.  

The purpose of this request is to prompt a response from Proponents to develop a marketing strategy to achieve the goals listed above. 

Your Proposal must contain recommendations to satisfy the requirements described in the “Terms of Reference” section supplied with this request.

During the period for Proposal preparation, any questions concerning the requirements or intent of the statements contained herein should be addressed (by email only) to Mr. Travis Anderson, Director, Tourism and Community Development 705-989-7915, General inquiries may be addressed to the undersigned.

If you are in a position to submit a Proposal for this requirement, the completed Form of Proposal and any required attachments and schedules must be returned, in a sealed envelope, to the Manager of Purchasing, Civic Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, prior to the closing date.  You are encouraged to make a full copy of the document for your file. 

Proposals are due and will be accepted no later than 4:00 o’clock p.m., local time (Eastern), Friday June 26, 2020.


Tourism & Community Development Sault Ste. Marie is in the “Build” phase of our marketing activity, and is prioritizing the development of internal marketing capabilities that will support regular and consistent marketing activity. It is expected that the successful agency will support this overall goal.

Specific marketing objectives are focused on:

I. Generating awareness for Sault Ste. Marie as a place where people want to visit, live and do business.  

II. Differentiating Sault Ste. Marie as a travel destination comparable to other more well known locations in Ontario, U.S. Mid-West and Canada.  

III. Attract people to Sault Ste. Marie to rejuvenate an aging workforce and increase population. 

IV. Present Sault Ste. Marie in a new, unexpected and cool way that changes the narrative of our community, and is appealing. 

V. Optimizing spend of our marketing dollars across different media platforms to maximize results.

There are two key audiences for marketing activities tied to the organizational objectives on destination marketing, and new resident attraction:

I. Destination Marketing: ‘Best Bet’ target markets. As defined by Destination Ontario, Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership’s 2017-2020 Northern Marketing Strategy, these include the following:

a. Connected Explorers: Looking to escape connected explores are youthful (18-34), travel without kids and enjoy authentic experiences. Strong interest in adventure, and a desire to escape the everyday.

b. Up-And-Coming Explorers: Young affluent families looking to explore and learn as a family. This group

includes a high percentage of visible minorities and new Canadians who are looking to explore attractions, adventure and the outdoors.

c. Knowledge Seekers: Couples aged 55 plus who are nearing retirement. These empty nesters are looking to expand their minds through cultural experiences and understanding the places they visit.

Scope of Work:

The successful agency will need to develop a comprehensive understanding of Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding region (East from St. Joseph Island to Lake Superior Park in the west, including Searchmont Resort and Stokely Creek Lodge) to effectively provide a wide range of marketing and communication services that shall include but may not be limited to:

I. Creative Strategy & Advisory Services:

a. Providing creative recommendations and direction to build upon Sault Ste. Marie’s brand and advance strategic marketing goals.

b. Provide strategic counsel on marketing tactics and media mix to the target audience(s) in order to maximize impact of advertising and marketing campaigns. Tactics could include, but are not limited to digital, print, social media, online content, experiential marketing and other forms. 

c. Based on items, a. & b. develop a creative Marketing Strategy to be implemented in concert with Tourism & Community Development Staff.

II. General Creative Services that shall normally include but may not be limited to:

a. Creative development of marketing & promotional materials, including writing, editing, graphic design and layout. Promotional materials may include things like brochures, newsletters, event materials, and branded merchandise, among others. 

b. Digital and content marketing, including website content, email content, social media and sponsored content opportunities.

c. Video production 

d. Photography   

III. Campaign Development: & Execution:

a. Managing the campaign development and execution process from planning and advice, creative concepts, design, content development, placement measuring results and developing reports. 

b. Providing recommendations on how to improve performance for future marketing activity.

Examples of potential projects that could be executed in the next 12-24 months include:

1. Enhancing Sault Ste. Marie’s positioning and key messages.

2. Building Sault Ste. Marie’s reputation and profile across all audiences (per above).

3. Brand Marketing campaigns to attract new visitors & residents to Sault Ste. Marie.

4. Social media influencer campaign to highlight key destinations, attractions, etc. in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding area.

5. Development of video and photography assets to support content marketing.

6. Development of advertising templates to support reactive marketing opportunities. 

Out of Scope 

Website work is not in scope for this RFP, and is currently handled by another agency. It is expected that the successful agency selected in this RFP process will work closely with the website agency to align marketing activity. Media Buying is also out of scope and will be managed by Tourism & Community Development Staff.

A comprehensive fee schedule (in Canadian Dollars HST extra) detailing the costs associated with development of the Destination Marketing Strategy must be included within the Proposal submitted. Disbursements and Expenses must be listed. All pricing is to be submitted on a unit basis in Canadian Dollars with HST extra. It is expected that 40-50% of fees should be allocated to general creative services, as detailed in the Scope of work.

A budget of approximately $98,500 plus HST has been allocated for this project. 

Additional pricing for items not on the schedule should be included with the Proposal on a separate schedule.

Due Date:



The City of Sault Ste. Marie Attn: Manager of Purchasing 99 Foster Drive – Level 2 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6A 5X6

Hunter PR and 5WPR are agencies worth considering.

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