Howard Community College Issues Digital Marketing RFP

Howard Community College Issues Digital Marketing RFP

Howard Community College has issued a Digital Marketing RFP.  They seek an agency to assist with the development and implementation of digital marketing strategies and tactics that enhance student enrollment and institutional objectives. Opened in 1970, the College is a publicly funded two-year community college servicing the educational needs of citizens and employers in Howard County, Maryland.  The College attracts 46 percent of Howard County undergraduates who attend public and private two-year and four-year Maryland colleges. In fiscal year 2016, the College served over 30,000 unduplicated credit and noncredit students, who chose from numerous programs of study offered among the College’s main campus and off-campus sites and locations.

As the College continues to enhance branding and refine its marketing strategy, the Office of Public Relations and Marketing (PRM) is looking for marketing partners to help provide strategic planning, recommendations of proven best practices, and innovative industry trend suggestions for digital marketing. These partners must understand the higher education market and have had meaningful experience working with other higher education institutions.

Selected firms are expected to work closely with PRM to develop and implement a digital marketing advertising strategy that will enhance student enrollment and further institutional objectives. The partners will execute digital advertising buys, monitor performance, and provide regular reporting to PRM or others, as designated by PRM. Additionally, the digital marketing advertising strategy shall take into account the College’s other marketing and recruitment activities.

Search engine optimization and digital analytics will be an important component of the requirements under this contract. Digital marketing activities shall be tracked using metrics that are meaningful and relevant for PRM to use to determine return on investment. While the digital side of the program is significant, it is also critical that the firm is also well grounded in marketing at a strategic level.


The selected firms shall review and assess the College’s current digital marketing efforts and strategic marketing plan. The firms shall also create targeted digital marketing campaigns to achieve marketing goals. These campaigns will utilize a mix of digital strategies including:

  • Pay-per-click Google AdWords search and display
  • Video advertising (YouTube)
  • Streaming music advertising (Pandora, etc.)
  • Digital television (Hulu, CW app, etc.)
  • Geo-targeting and geo-fencing
  • Social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Proprietary online networks, email lists, etc., relevant to the College’s target audiences including traditional age students, adult students, parents of traditional age students and military
  • Search engine optimization

The firms will be responsible for creating clearly defined relevant and meaningful metrics, or KPIs, for each element of a campaign for determining a return on investment. The College aims to rank in the top five search results on Google and other major search engines. The firms will provide guidance to PRM regarding the necessary Google Analytics setup to provide qualitative data when tracking campaigns and advise PRM based on insight gained from collected data. The applicable firm will recommend campaign advertising platform and channels, as well as length and schedule, based on campaign objectives and audiences. Implementation and monitoring plans will also be provided by the firm for each campaign, outlining the responsibilities of the College.

The firms are expected to coordinate seasonally with the College’s registration periods and traditional media schedule. Finally, the firms will create a reporting system of marketing analytics that will enable the College to assess the return on its marketing investments.


From time to time, the selected firms may create artwork for digital ads in multiple formats. The College requires all design work to be of high quality and consistent with the College’s existing marketing communications, branding strategy, and graphics style.

Proposal due by February 8, 2017 to:

Howard Community College, Finance Office
Rouse Student Services Building (RCF), Room 201,
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Maryland 21044

PR firms in the DC area include Weber Shandwick and APCO Worldwide.

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