The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA) Marketing and Communications Division, which includes the Iowa Tourism Office, is soliciting proposals from experienced entities for the planning and execution of its strategic marketing and communication efforts. IEDA is seeking vendors to work with its professional and experienced staff to continue and advance the state’s integrated marketing efforts to achieve the objectives described below.
This RFP is designed to provide vendors with the information necessary for the preparation of competitive bid proposals. The RFP process is for IEDA’s benefit and is intended to provide IEDA with competitive information to assist in the selection process.
IEDA Marketing and Communications Efforts:
IEDA’s Marketing and Communications Division, which includes the Iowa Tourism Office, is charged with promoting Iowa’s business climate and its special places/experiences to help drive economic growth through both business development and visitor spending.
Historically, the Division’s efforts have spanned a variety of channels, including: advertising, web content and development, collateral materials, direct marketing (including direct mail, conferences and other special events), database marketing (including e-communication), social media and media relations.
- Support new and existing business growth by increasing awareness of Iowa’s benefits as a place to live, work and do business.
- Grow the state’s economic benefit from travel expenditures by inspiring more visits to and within Iowa.
- Generate support and advocacy for IEDA’s programs by increasing understanding of how they generate beneficial economic activity for the state and its citizens.
Target audiences for IEDA’s marketing and communication efforts include the following:
- Business influencers, including executives in target industries (biosciences, insurance/financial services, advanced manufacturing and information technology as it relates to these industries), either currently based in, or considering relocating to, Iowa; site selection consultants and service providers; and economic development professionals.
- Job seekers, including those who might relocate to Iowa (e.g., former residents or students in target industries, or veterans who would benefit from the Home Base Iowa program) and graduating students who would consider realizing their career in Iowa.
- Tourists, including current residents of, and those interested in visiting, Iowa as well as business influencer’s and job seekers investigating potential growth in, or considering moving to, Iowa.
- Iowa Taxpayers who utilize and pay for many of the business and tourism marketing efforts and incentives and have a stake in the state of the economy.
Scope of Work:
Planning & Strategy:
- Conduct, or support conducting, primary market research as needed to identify and characterize the most appropriate target audiences, strategies and tactics to achieve IEDA’s marketing and communications objectives.
- In partnership with Division, develop a comprehensive annual marketing and communications Strategic Plan to meet stated goals and objectives and including recommendations for key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Follow and recommend application of industry trends or insights to support mid-term adjustments to the strategic plan or take advantage of unique opportunities.
- Serve as a project manager for all initiatives within purview, including detailed and regular status and KPI reporting.
- Work with existing and help identify new partners with needed marketing and communications strengths.
Content Development, Marketing and Measurement:
- Recommend and manage an integrated approach to content marketing to ensure synergies between each aspect of the Strategic Plan: digital, social and media relations.
- Develop compelling content – across industries, business and tourism/lifestyle topics and trends – for the right audience and the right channel to make a difference against stated objectives.
- Work with the Division to measure and report on content performance against KPIs, recommending adjustments as needed to increase SEO, expand reach and attract the right audiences.
Media and Influencer Relations:
- Identify, monitor and build relationships with media – traditional and new – essential to reaching target audiences.
- Prepare and pitch proactive, positive stories that help meet marketing and communication objectives.
- Recommend and successfully broker contractual relationships with influencers whose third-party endorsement, authored/created content or reviews enhance the value and visibility of IEDA’s messages.
- Recommend and implement a media mix, including print, broadcast, radio, digital and social channels, that supports the Strategic Plan.
- Collect and analyze metrics (e.g., CTR, CPM, bounce rate, time on site, etc.) against KPIs and recommend mid-term adjustments to optimize overall advertising performance.
- Follow and recommend any adjustments to advertising based on trends, emerging products and/or unique opportunities.
- Working with the IEDA Marketing and Communications Division, plan, propose, implement and measure a cooperative marketing program involving multiple tourism and economic development stakeholders.
- Manage administrative aspects of media buy from negotiation to measurement, including the budget, timing, submitting artwork, meeting deadlines and reporting progress or adjustments in a timely fashion.
- Determine the best approach for different channels and audiences to deliver on KPIs.
- Develop creative concepts and executions for a variety of mediums, including graphic design for print, web and social, video production for web, social and broadcast and ad copy writing.
- Design and implement compelling, creative experiences, such as unique direct mail approaches/pieces; 360, VR, AR or time lapse video; memorable events or displays at conferences or meetings.
- Follow and implement trends, new tools and new technologies in creative services and design recommendations and applications.
Website Development and Digital Marketing:
- Work with IEDA Marketing and Communications Division to further develop and maintain IEDA digital presence that delivers on brand and supports the Strategic Plan.
- Review and recommend upgrades to digital assets, including IEDA websites, based on knowledge of latest trends and tools for reaching a variety of target audiences in a compelling way – keeping in mind, the need for lead generation, mobile responsiveness, SEO and content strategy.
- Develop, test and implement any changes to existing or new website content or capabilities; troubleshoot issues in a timely fashion. Recommend development model, including testing and support plan, after-hour updates, back-ups, etc.
- Manage and maintain back-end database that feeds tourism listings and direct marketing efforts as well as provide analytics that help better target audiences and generate business development leads.
- Identify opportunities to improve website functionality and digital tools, such as interactive maps and comparisons, route-builders, location services, and other features to improve user experience.
- Recommend an efficient and effective content management system and any third-party applications or any existing hardware/software vendor partnerships.
- Develop overarching social media governance recommendation, including voice, cadence and decision tree and support IEDA Marketing and Communications Division in implementing (e.g., social media monitoring, training/access to any new tools, etc.).
- Provide recommendations for leveraging social media in support of the Strategic Plan, including social media-driven contests and campaigns.
- Follow evolving profile of current and new social media channels and best practices for engaging; provide recommendations to IEDA Marketing and Communications Division regarding any adjustments to deliver on social media-related KPIs.
- Provide support developing both written and visual messages for social media as needed.
Jacque Matsen, Issuing Officer
Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309