RFP – Website development and Digital Marketing services


Website development and Digital Marketing services
for Bennington, Vermont Tourism Lure site

Proposal Due on 5/3/19



The town of Bennington seeks to draw visitors from throughout the Northeast travel market to visit Bennington and to patronize its many cultural and recreational attractions, shops and galleries, lodging establishments, restaurants, and wedding providers.

In year-1, the cornerstone of these efforts will be the launch of a tourism lure site along with ongoing digital marketing efforts to drive traffic to the site. By providing meaningful, visually appealing content, and promoting that content through SEO and digital marketing efforts, our goal is to draw users to the site and in turn, drive tourism traffic to Bennington establishments and attractions.

Context and Background

A few years ago, the town received a grant to conduct branding work that resulted in a BENNINGTON VermontBeginsHere campaign.  The surrounding campaign was primarily economic development focused and resulted in 3 high quality videos, a printed lure brochure and the beginnings of an economic development focused website that was created on SquareSpace. Due to staffing changes and a lack of focused funding the site was never fully built-out and no further promotional efforts were made.

In 2019, The Bennington Select Board recognized the need to designate focused marketing dollars into attracting tourism to Bennington. The Select Board voted to designate funding in the 2019/20 budget to support a plan to create a tourism lure site along with surrounding digital marketing efforts.


Funding of project is sourced through The Town of Bennington Community Development Office.



Website Development:

  • Work to commence 6/15/19 or sooner.
  • Site launch 8/15/19 or sooner.

Mail Chimp Set up: Complete on or before 7/15/19.

Digital Management: Ongoing monthly


In order to establish a long-term working relationship with a partner, the deliverables are broken down into three categories: setup, ongoing marketing and training. The town will have internal resources for some tasks like content migration/curation, photography and image manipulation, so we seek to partner with an agency that will be able to focus more on building and strategy and analysis than on simple tasks where we will be able to save costs.

  1. Setup
    a. Build a WordPress website as specified in Exhibit A attached.
    b. Design and set up an email template for future mailers. Integrate Mailchimp list with the website for signups.
  2. Ongoing Digital Marketing Support
    a. SEO management – All new content produced by town representatives should be optimized before publication. Estimate one blog post per month.
    b. Pay-per-click marketing – create and test ads and messaging across multiple channels
    i.Budget recommendations – agency should regularly advise on budget allocation for funds available for each of the following channels:

    1. Paid search text ads
    2. Social media ads and boosted posts (Facebook, Instagram)
    3. Google Display Network and YouTube
    4. Remarketing
      ii.Proper Google Analytics tagging should be used for all campaigns for accountability, and event tagging should be set up to record micro conversions (i.e. email signup, return visits, engagement signals).
      iii.Regular recommendations on split testing should be made, and analysis provided in monthly reports to show learnings and to discuss strategy.
  3. Training and ad-hoc assistance – in addition to the above, applicants should provide an hourly rate for training and/or assistance with:
    a.Email creation, segmentation and tracking
    b.Social media account setup and training for organic posting and strategy
    c.Managing and publishing content in WordPress
    d.Reading and analyzing data in Google Analytics
  4. Set Key Performance Indicators for analyzing digital marketing effort (i.e. number of email sign-ups per quarter, etc.)
    NOT included in scope of work: photography procurement, directory content procurement, blog content procurement, influencer outreach, email content procurement, social posts, custom event calendar development, PR, logo development. 


Submission Requirements

All responses to the RFP shall include the following information:

  1. Cover Letter – A letter of interest and a summary of qualifications, recommended approaches, scope of work, processes and deliverables for the project.
  2. Scope of Work – Describe the approach to the project and proposed methodology including:
    a. detailed scope of work with associated list of tasks broken down by task and team member
    b.description (and possibly similar examples) of the proposed deliverables.
    The consultant may also propose additional supplemental items to the scope of work or creative approaches to the project.
  3. Proposed Schedule – Provide a schedule that includes completion of work tasks and deliverables including key meetings and complies with the timeframe provided above.
  4. Project Budget – Provide a detailed budget broken down by task and team member. Include your overhead and hourly rates for the individuals involved.
  5. Qualifications and Staffing – Provide a qualifications profile of the lead consultant and sub-consultants, including indication of the lead consultant, the role of each consultant on the team with organizational staffing chart and percentage of time devoted to the project by each consultant. Also provide detailed information on each consultant, including contact information, the name of the firm, year established, including a description of relevant experience on similar projects for each firm and listing of their individual work experience in this role on similar projects.
  6. References – A minimum of two (2) professional references for whom a similar project has been completed within the last 3 years.
  7. Page Limit – The proposal, encompassing items 1-6 above, shall not exceed 15 double-sided pages (30 total pages) including cover letter, table of contents, project lists and contacts.

All information submitted becomes property of the Town of Bennington upon submission. The Town of Bennington reserves the right to issue supplemental information or guidelines relating to the RFP as well as make modifications to the RFP or withdraw the RFP. Once submitted, the consultant team (including specific staff assigned to the project) may not be changed without written notice to and consent of Town of Bennington. The cost of preparing, submitting and presenting a proposal is the sole expense of the consultant. The Town of Bennington reserves the right to reject any and all proposals received as a result of this solicitation, to negotiate with any qualified source, to waive any formality and any technicalities or to cancel the RPF in part or in its entirety if it is in the best interest of the Town of Bennington. This solicitation of proposals in no way obligates the Town of Bennington to award a contract.

Submission Requirements

Respondents should submit one (1) digital copy (PDF) and 6 printed copies of the proposal by 5/3/19 to:

Town of Bennington
Shannon Barsotti – Community Development Director
205 South Street, Bennington, Vermont 05201

Please expect a confirmation email upon receipt of the proposal by Town of Bennington within 2 business days of receipt of proposal.  If you do not receive a receipt you can assume your proposal was not submitted. If this is the case, please contact Shannon Barsotti at the number above.

If you have any questions about this project or the RFP, please address them in writing via email to sbarsotti@benningtonvt.org .We will respond to all questions in writing within 2 business days.

RFP Schedule Summary

RFP on file at Town Office: 4/9/19
RFP notice in Bennington Banner: on or before 4/12/19
Proposals due Friday, 5/3/19
Consultant selection on or around 5/17/19.
Project Work to begin 6/15/19 or sooner.
Complete project:   Website launch: on or by 8/15/19
Mail chimp set up: on or by 7/15/19
Digital Marketing Management: Ongoing.

Proposal Selection Proposals will be reviewed by the Marketing Task Force which includes the Town of Bennington Community Development Director. A short-list of consultants may be selected for interviews.

Proposal Evaluation
Respondents will be evaluated according to the following factors:

  1. Consultant Qualifications (experience with similar projects, ability to work with task force to attain desired outcomes, and knowledge of the topic) – 40%
  2. Scope of work, fees, methodology and schedule – 30%
  3. Ability to share workload and collaborate with town reps on hourly work – 15%
  4. Proposal quality, completeness and clarity – 15%

Interview Framework
The Town of Bennington reserves the right to select the top two to three highly scored consultants and invite them for an interview prior to awarding the contract. In this process, the selection committee may ask the respondents to give an oral presentation of their respective proposals. The purpose of this oral presentation is to provide an in-depth analysis of certain qualifications, experience in performing similar services, and an opportunity for the consultant to clarify or elaborate on their qualifications without restating the proposal. The interview and presentation is merely to present facts and explanation to the review committee and allow the selection committee to ask targeted questions of the consultant team. The interview and presentation, if deemed necessary by the review committee, will be held at a location to be determined in Bennington Vermont. The day and time will be notified to the respondents at least 1 week(s) prior to the meeting. Each interview will last 60 minutes, and will be comprised of a presentation and Q&A. The interviews will be conducted by the Community Development Director and the Marketing Task Force. All costs and expenses incurred in traveling for the purpose of interview and presentation shall be the responsibility of the consultant. If mutually agreed upon, a phone interview may replace the in-person interview.

Final Consultant Selection

Following the selection process, one team will be selected to negotiate a final agreement for services. The final scope of work with specified deliverables may be modified through negotiation of the final agreement. The final project team may also be modified through negotiation of the final agreement. Any expenses resulting from the interview and proposal process will be the sole responsibility of the consultant.



  1. Overall Objective:
    a. Create a Tourism Lure Site for Bennington at www.VermontBeginsHere.com
    i.Hosting: Coordinate direct line of hosting between town and hosting provider. Town will
    contract with hosting provider directly.b. Overall look and feel should be very visual / lifestyle oriented
    i.Town will provide original photography. Since this is a visually focused site, include 15 hours of
    photo manipulation in bid. Indicate hourly rate for any additional hours required for photo manipulation.
    ii.This is not a town meeting, town business, all-inclusive type site, but will have a sharp focus on drawing tourists (primary) and new       residents (as a residual benefit)
    iii. Leverage our strongest visual assets to create a vibe that will draw visitors
    iv. Copy: With the exception of blog posts or featured items (favorite hikes, drives etc), copy will be limited t primarily introductory copy.
    1. Marketing task force will draft copy for professional copy editing by consultant
    2. Marketing task force will draft copy for enhancement by consultants SEO optimization specialist.
    c. Leverage existing BENNINGTON || VermontBeginsHere messaging.
    d. Site to serve as a landing page for any future promotions (social/print/billboard/tv etc.)
    e. Structured as a visually appealing directory of tourism related attractions, dining, lodging, shopping, recreation, destination weddings.2. Technical Specifications
      a. https
    b. Rotating featured listing functionality on some pages (4-5)
    c. Template must allow for easy update of listings and blog posts by staff
    d. Template must allow for easy addition of promotional landing pages by staff
    e. Rich Google analytics set up with conversion tracking for all promos.
    f.  Scalable
    i. Categorize blog posts by topic (not chronological list)
    ii. Plan to eventually build out an event calendar application. (not included in scope of current project)
    g. SEO optimized
    i.Site must be optimized for SEO at launch
    ii.Work with reputable digital marketing firm to ensure ongoing SEO relevancy and to manage PPC / paid Social campaigns
    h. Integrate a Yoast (or similar) plug-in so that client can readily post content and updates in an SEO friendly manner.
    i. On site search.
    j. Applicant must be willing to share workload and collaborate with town reps on hourly work.






  • Structure / Number of pages


Directory with thumbnails, 25 word description and outbound links Photo plus short write up 2-300 words per item (per hike, drive etc). Simple text list Web Form Rotating

Featured Ad for category

Things To Do
Cultural Attractions X
Events X
Farms X
Recreation X
Favorite Hikes X
Scenic Drives x
Shopping X
Kids Camps X
Restaurants 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Full Service X Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Diner, Café, Deli X Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Pizza X Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Fast Food x Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Hotels –Lodging Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Hotel/motel/bnb X Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Campgrounds x Repeat 3 restaurant vendors (any category)
Booking.com calendar
Vermont Weddings
Venues Repeat 3 wedding vendors (any category)
Venue list X
Caterers Repeat 3 wedding vendors (any category)
Caterer List X
Photographers Repeat 3 wedding vendors (any category)
Photographer List X
Music Repeat 3 wedding vendors (any category)
Music List x
Flowers Repeat 3 wedding vendors (any category)
Florists List X
Ceremony Repeat 3 wedding vendors (any category)
Directory with thumbnails, 25 word description and outbound links Photo plus short write up 2-300 words per item (per hike, drive etc). Simple text list Web Form Rotating

Featured Ad for category

Link to town office JP list
List churches/Synagogues x
Meeting Space
List of meeting spaces x
Move to VT
   Showcase 3 ED videos x
   ED agencies w/link X
   Real Estate Firms X
Drug stores, x
Auto x
Clothing, other retail x
Medical, police x
   Bus, cab, car rental,      trains etc x
About Us ↓ (footer)
Advertise with us X X
       List of ad specs/prices X
   Contact Us Page

(w/ Google tour)

   Submit an Event X X
   Media X
   E-mail signup X
Blog ↓ (home page) TBD TBD
Activities & Adventures
Events & Festival
Fall Foliage
   Art, history, theater
   Outdoor Recreation
   Tour Guides & Itineraries
   Town News

4. Footer
a. Welcome Center NAP
b. “About us” as stated above
c.   Email newsletter signup (plus pop up box)
d.  Social icons
e.   Links to town of Bennington, BDA, Chamber and SoVT.com
f.    Mini Site directory

A Note on Events

Initially we will highlight 4-5 key events with photos and a short 200-300 word description. Long Term we will look to create a robust event calendar. Ideally, we would collaborate /consolidate other area event calendars but ensure that the primary calendar is a collection of tourist-focused, arts/entertainment events (vs. civic or school focused events).


Other relevant information:

  1. Current accounts/URLs:
    i. www.vermontbeginshere.com (main site)
    ii.@vermontbeginshere Instagram (set up by Lynn Green, but for benefit of town)
    iii. www.Vtbeginshere.com (town owns: not in use)
    iv.@vtbeginshere Instagram (currently inactive)
    v. Fb: vermontbeginshere
    vi. FB: vtbeginshere – currently inactive: was historically run by town