Product showcase events — whether they’re a regional auto show or something as big as CES — are some of the most important events for any manufacturing company. If your team has been working long and hard to develop a new technology or product, an industry event is your chance to get people fired up and start moving some product.

Most often, the task of showcasing a product at such an event comes down to the marketing team. The marketing team is responsible for developing and sending out an RFP, and collaborating with the selected product design and engineering studio to develop a showcase property that puts your product in its best light.

This entire process starts with the RFP, which is why it’s so important to develop an effective RFP that proposes a clear, realistic timeline. We’ve written a complete Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Realistic RFP, so feel free to check that out for more in-depth information, but today we wanted to focus specifically on when you should send your request for a display property proposal.

The timeline is a crucial step of RFP development that many businesses and marketing teams miss, and it can make or break the success of your display property. When given adequate time, a product design and engineering firm can develop a property that makes a big impression. Without that time, however, your marketing team may struggle to make the impact you’d hoped for.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding when to send out your request for product showcase proposal or RFP:

When Is Your Event?

First and foremost — when do you absolutely need the product showcase property? The date of your show or event is the first place to start. And from our experience, if that’s the day you plan to have the property, you’re probably going to be late. If your show is in April, you might want to start thinking about what your RFP will look like before people leave in December for the holidays. That way you can ensure your RFP is sent out with plenty of time for development.

Depending on the size of your company, it can take weeks to write the RFP document, decide who you’re going to send it to, and then you’ll still have to wait for people to respond. No matter the size or scale of your project, you should start writing an RFP at least 12 weeks ahead of the event date, if not more. That may seem to overshoot the time required, but trust us, there are a lot of moving parts and the show creeps up on everyone.

What Is The Scale Of Your Project?

Think about the scale of the property you’re requesting. If your marketing department is responsible for developing and sending the RFP, along with spearheading property development, it’s worthwhile to talk to your engineering and design department first. Speak with the people who’ve spent the most time developing your product or technology, and ask them how long they’d estimate a showcase property taking.

Every product showcase proposal is different — some require the seamless integration of multiple technologies and products, while some function to display just one project. Your engineering department can help you get a better idea of the scale of your project. From there, you can adjust your timeline accordingly. If you need a large-scale project, consider extending your proposed timeline by a few weeks.

How Much Support Do You Need?

Every company works to develop product showcase properties differently. Some companies may want their own engineers and designers to have input and collaboration on the development of the new property. Other companies may hand the showcase project entirely over to a marketing department with little engineering support.

A marketing team that’s tasked with developing a display property on their own will need more technical support and should add a bit more time on to their RFP process to accommodate for that additional support.

A Few Additional Considerations For Your RFP Timeline

Production timelines can be slippery. The best way to keep them reasonable and on track is to plan ahead and consider any potential roadblocks that could occur. A few time drains that are often forgotten include:

The time it takes to review and complete the proposal process.

The process of sending out an RFP takes time. Not only does your team have to research relevant industrial design and engineering firms, but you have to wait for their responses and then choose a top candidate. From there, you’ll have to agree on a contract and set a new production timeline for completion of the project. 

Depending on the size of your company, and the workload of the firm you hire, this can take anywhere from 2 weeks for a very small company to as much as 3 months for a large corporation. That’s a big chunk of time that could hurt your end product if it’s not considered when sending out your RFP.

Potential holidays that could cause an obstruction of development.

 Holidays have a tendency to disrupt product development timelines. If your product showcase event is coming up directly after the holidays, or if you’re sending out your RFP just before the holiday season, you may need to pad in a bit of extra time to your RFP timeline. In the first situation, you risk a missed deadline if both teams haven’t considered missed time due to holidays. In the second, you may not get responses to your RFP if everyone’s out of the office.

Your Product Design And Engineering Firm Is Your Partner

In the end, it’s important to remember any product design and engineering studio you choose to develop your product showcase property is a partner. You should consider them not as an employee, but as a collaborator working with you to create the best product showcase property possible. You wouldn’t want to stretch your own team too thin working to create a property on an unrealistic timeline, and you shouldn’t hope to hold a product design partner to that unrealistic timeline either.  

In the end, the best way to ensure you see quality responses from your RFPs is to start by setting a timeline that makes sense for the amount of work you need to be completed by the date of your event.

If you’re considering sending out an RFP for a display property, let us know. Not only do we regularly design and engineer display properties for a variety of industries, but we’d also be happy to help if you’re having trouble determining a timeline for your RFP. Leave us a message letting us know a little bit about your project; we’d love to help!

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