This Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued by the Office of Procurement Services (Procurement Services), Montclair State University (University). The purpose of this RFP is to solicit proposals for a qualified media buying firm with class-leading digital expertise and a proven understanding of the complexities of higher education marketing to serve as its strategic marketing partner.
Montclair State University (the University) is at an exciting time in its history. Over the last 20 years, the University has nearly doubled its enrollment, expanded facilities by 3.5 million square feet (in some 30 new or renovated buildings), launched over 80 new graduate programs, and attained Carnegie national research doctoral university status. The University has built a strong array of academic programs that capitalize on its close proximity to New York City. It serves a sizable number of first-generation and underrepresented minority students and is now New Jersey’s second-largest institution of higher learning.
The University now seeks to harness the considerable momentum it has built-in order to deepen and expand its impact, enhance its brand, further engage its stakeholders, and compete more effectively for students and funding. President Susan A. Cole, the board, campus leaders and the faculty understand and value the crucial role of communications and marketing in advancing the institution’s goals, and there is a widespread desire for broader name recognition, greater brand awareness, and sharper marketplace positioning.
In late 2018 President Cole established the Office of Communications & Marketing, formerly part of a consolidated advancement division, as a stand-alone unit under the leadership of the University’s first vice president for communications and marketing, Joseph A. Brennan, who started in January 2019 after a national search. Brennan leads a team of 20 highly-skilled creative professionals who are responsible for managing the University’s paid, earned, shared and owned channels.
This in-house team is tasked with a high volume of production: in the last year, it produced or managed over 500 print projects and 277 digital campaigns, issued hundreds of news releases and social media postings, and updated thousands of web pages as part of a massive, multi-month migration to a new hosting platform and design schema. As part of its effort to enhance the University’s brand, grow its enrollment and compete more effectively for students and funding, the University has made the strategic decision to supplement its internal capacity with external expertise and resources.
Scope of Work:
The Office of University Communications & Marketing seeks a qualified media buying firm with class-leading digital expertise and a proven understanding of the complexities of higher education marketing to serve as its strategic marketing partner. The awarded bidder will work in close collaboration with the University’s in-house staff and a small number of external service providers as it provides the following services.
1. Media planning and buying: The awarded bidder shall develop and implement paid advertising plans, inclusive of both digital and traditional media, to support institutional brand visibility and student recruitment. The University anticipates having a $1 million annual budget for the firm to manage. This budget is subject to the University’s approval process and is subject to change on an annual basis. Both digital and traditional media efforts will be ongoing throughout the year with fluctuations throughout based on the customer journey for higher recommendations that reflect a thorough understanding of the University’s business goals and target audiences–including but not limited to prospective graduate and undergraduate students, influencers, alumni, and external leaders. As changes in media platforms occur, the University and the selected bidder shall work in conjunction to potentially utilize them while performing the requirements stated above.
2. Campaign reporting: The awarded bidder shall provide weekly (at minimum) reporting that will track mutually agreed-upon key performance indicators (KPIs) for attribution and benchmarking purposes within ten (10) working days of all campaign kickoffs. The following services shall be included within Campaign Reporting:
• Provide regular campaign performance metrics, including industry benchmarks where applicable, at a frequency to be mutually determined;
• Provide recommendations for adjustments and optimizations to ongoing campaigns based on the performance metrics;
• Provide a final, comprehensive report of campaign performance for each University fiscal year no later than 30 days after the fiscal year close. The University’s fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30 of each year;
• Note: Reporting for student recruitment marketing should include lead attribution (at the level of individual program enrollments) so that the university can understand where the lead originated for each enrolled student. This will require the selected bidder to demonstrate technical expertise in the integration of data from (but not limited to) Slate CRM, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager for the purposes of campaign attribution, optimization, and overall reporting.
3. Market Competitiveness Research: The selected bidder shall prepare and provide, on an annual basis (with the first such report due within 45 days of starting the engagement), a report on Montclair State University’s competitiveness against six (6) competitors to be identified by the university (primarily higher education institutions in New Jersey and neighboring states). The purpose of the said report is to help the university better understand how others’ advertising strategies, tactics, and results compare to its own. The report shall include, but is not limited to the following kinds of data for both Montclair State and its competitors:
• Total advertising spend, broken out by channel/platform;
• Paid search engine marketing effectiveness, including keywords;
• Digital display advertising effectiveness, including where ads are placed;
• Social media effectiveness (both paid and organic), including engagement ratios; and
• Creative approaches, marketing mix and messaging, including samples.
4. Integrated marketing campaign collaboration: The awarded bidder must work closely with another agency partner (s) as a part of an Integrated Agency Team (IAT) on all strategic planning initiatives. The IAT will be led by the Creative and Strategy Agency and the awarded bidder shall contribute to the media buying strategy and tactical execution of any plans.
5. Turnkey service: the awarded bidder must regularly check-in with the University to keep up with its changing needs, proactively propose solutions, and manage University projects from start to finish, with minimum need for the University to provide project management
6. File/data sharing: the awarded bidder will be expected to have a way to securely share files and information with the University (for example, a shared database)
7. Quality assurance and make-goods: the awarded bidder must proactively check its work to reduce the risk of errors; must monitor and verify insertions for accuracy and correct pricing; and pursue “make goods” from media outlets in the event of errors caused by the media outlet. In the event of errors caused by the awarded bidder, the bidder must rectify the error and provide the University with appropriate compensation.
July 29th, 2019.
Montclair State University
Office of Procurement Services
1 Normal Avenue
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