University of Madison Needs Full Service Marketing Firm

University of Madison Needs Full Service Marketing Firm


The Office of University Relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is soliciting proposals to assist the University in refinement of brand strategies, developing marketing communications in various formats, and activating those communications for key constituencies. It is critical that these strategies take full advantage of the institution’s brand equity and existing brand platform and positioning while providing the type of messaging and branding flexibility needed by the University’s schools, colleges, key units and affiliated partners. Depending on the nature of a project, the Contractor may be asked to provide brand strategy, marketing research, marketing planning, marketing execution (including digital marketing and in-bound marketing), web development, creative services (including photography and videography) and other activities necessary to support University goals and objectives. Any individual scope of work will be negotiated for each proposer based on the needs of the University department. In general, the size and scope of these projects will range from $5,000 – $50,000.


The UW-Madison is a large university, both in terms of student enrollment (42,000+), and physical size (936 acres on the main campus). The University has approximately 16,000 employees and 2,000 faculty members. The web site contains many links that will help proposers understand UW-Madison.  The University of Wisconsin–Madison strives to be a model public university in the 21st century, serving as a resource to the public and working to enhance the quality of life in the state, the nation, and the world. The university will remain a preeminent center for discovery, learning, and engagement by opening new forms of access to citizens from every background; creating a welcoming, empowered, and inclusive community; and preparing current and future generations to live satisfying, useful, and ethical lives. In partnership with the state and with colleagues around the world, the university’s faculty, staff, and students will identify and address many of the state’s and the world’s most urgent and complex problems.

The Office of University Relations exists to tell the story of the University of Wisconsin-Madison through innovative and comprehensive communications with many internal and external audiences; by building and nurturing relationships with local and statewide communities, business and industry; and by fostering partnerships and relationships throughout the state and the world. Part of University Relations’ role on campus is to provide expert marketing and communications support to schools, colleges, departments, centers and other campus units. Given the breadth and size of campus, however, University Relations cannot adequately meet the demand from campus for these services. Thus, this RFP seeks to establish formal relationships with partners who can provide such services to campus units on an as-needed basis.

Scope of Work:

Lot 1 – Brand Strategy:

Any projects intended to develop a new brand strategy or refine an existing brand strategy. This may include brand and visual identity work across a variety of channels.

Brand strategy would not involve the creation of a new overall institutional brand, but instead would involve extending that brand (including already developed brand assets) into a strategy that could be used by individual units such as schools/colleges, departments or centers.

Lot 2 – Marketing Research and Insights:

Any projects that seek to capture and understand consumer insights into university programs, products and services. Projects may include research on audience awareness, audience perception, program/product/service differentiators, barriers to accessing programs/products/services and competitive analysis/bench-marking.

Lot 3 – Marketing Planning and Execution:

Any projects that identify a marketing goal, build a marketing plan to reach that goal, and execute the tactics of the plan.

Marketing planning involves working with a unit (school, college, department, center, etc.) to address an identified marketing need. Expected work product would be a marketing plan that could include, messaging strategy, media strategy, digital strategy, social strategy, etc. Additionally, some university clients may require assistance in the tactical execution of marketing plans, including lead generation (see Lot 5 – Inbound Marketing), message creation, creative production, media buying (see Lot 4 – Digital Marketing Services), and analytics reporting.

Lot 4 – Digital Marketing Services:

Any digital marketing services focused on generating awareness, interest, and consideration for UW-Madison programs, products and services.

Digital marketing services may include:

  • Digital marketing campaign strategy development
  • Paid media planning and buying in paid search, display advertising, pre-roll video advertising, re-targeting, Geo-fencing, and other tactics
  • Paid media plan management, tracking, and optimization
  • Creative development and execution of digital ads

Campus clients will pay media/advertisers directly, without commission or markup, unless otherwise requested. Google Partner certification is preferred.

Lot 5 – Inbound Marketing:

Inbound marketing services will include audience engagement and overall lead management via automated marketing; including marketing research, lead development, marketing development and deployment; potential and internal coaching on lead management.

Vendors will be required to effectively produce marketing tactics and strategies required to meet program goals, including:

  • Development of email templates and execution of email marketing campaigns
  • Development and execution of landing pages
  • Content marketing campaigns, including webinars and social content, for lead generation and to maintain interest and consideration
  • Event marketing to generate action
  • Lead analysis to ensure the right message is communicated at the right time

Lot 6 – Web Development:

Any projects that scope, design and develop a web site, including information architecture, content strategy, back-end development, front-end development and/or design and user testing. Implementation of third party software/technology (eg, calendars) as part of these projects is allowable. Projects outside of this contract would include custom CMS development, custom CRM development, custom software development (eg, apps or transactional software), or other software, hardware or systems development and/or purchases. Web projects on campus vary significantly in technical scope.

Campus clients and vendors are strongly advised to use the already developed, tested and freely available WordPress Themes found at Any web development project must meet UW’s minimum web standards, must comply with university accessibility standards and must meet WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility guidelines. Projects may require specific technology capabilities, including the integration of an open-source CMS (e.g. WordPress or Drupal) as well as HTML, CSS and Javascript code to support the site’s design and features. Site design should be optimized for a wide range of devices using responsive web design and progressive enhancement approaches. Projects may require content strategy and/or content creation. Projects may require SEO and keyword search experience; Google Partner certification is preferred.

Typically, UW-Madison web sites are hosted on internal university servers belonging to UW-Madison’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT), and client will handle all hosting and maintenance fees.

Lot 7 – Video Production:

Any projects that require the creation of video.  Video projects on campus vary significantly in scope, but typically range from :30 informational videos to longer form branded storytelling. Any videography completed as part of this RFP becomes the property of UW-Madison, with copyright belonging to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

Lot 8 – Photography Services:

Any projects that require the creation of photography. Any photography completed as part of this RFP becomes the property of UW-Madison, with copyright belonging to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

Due Date:

February 28th


Purchasing Services

21 N. Park Street, Suite 6101

Madison, WI 53715-1218

PR firms with university experience includes Ruder Finn & Finn Partners.

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