I have conducted agency searches for companies such as Jacuzzi, Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets and also spent years developing successful New Business programs for agencies. I have seen life from both sides of the street and I believe the RFP process is broken.
I don’t know who homogenized who first but when I talk to clients they tell me that all agencies are the same. I was somewhat skeptical when I heard that but now I believe it is true. Advertising and PR firms have largely commoditized themselves. How did it happen?
I am sure that years ago clients got a copy of a traditional RFP. Please tell us about the size of the agency, relevant experience in the sector, key people that will be assigned to the account, etc, etc, etc. Not much has changed in years. The dance is the same and most agencies have learned the dance and perform the same way.
What I see in most Capabilities presentations that I receive in response to the first request for capabilities is submission to conformity. The majority of these capabilities decks have the mandatory logo page of current and past clients. Then you get their Org Chart. This is followed by the page of team profiles mentioning the largest agencies the individuals have worked at and the largest clients they have worked on even though it was probably somewhere else long ago. Then you have the agency discovery process which is mostly mumbo jumbo in the end. The acronym to describe them may be proprietary but the content is basically the same and the process is largely derivative. Interspersed are some cases which may or not be relevant. You see one you see them all.
When I send out my RFP to a list of agencies I don’t tell the agencies how to present or the order but it rarely changes no matter where the agency is located or the spec of the review which is always dramatically different each time. I tried to change the process by only sending out short 2-3 page RFP’s but while the input may be different the output is the same.
When we meet, the President or New Business person opens followed by the Research or insight person. Then the head Account person gets inserted in the process and then the Creative show. The media person may get some time with not enough time. And then the President closes. “We want your business. We’d be perfect for you. Yada Yada Yada.”
I think the RFP process is broken for both parties and it compromises the process. We need to do better today in an age where we have more tools.
What about a Request for Clarity and Interest Proposal. Please provide us with a one page summary of your agency matches our needs based on the following criteria we are looking for. If you are interested in pursuing our business and meeting you please provide a link to a You Tube video no longer than fifteen minutes on why we should meet. We look forward to your proposal.
The video will quickly make it apparent if these are the people you want to work with. One video is worth more than a thousand words these days.
Marketing has changed dramatically. Let’s change the dating process.
Hank Blank conducts agency searches for clients in a new and productive way and also helps agencies improve their New Business process and move it to today’s times. Hank speaks to agencies on Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business to help them change and to many companies and organizations. You can check him out by doing a Google search on Hank Blank or visiting his site at www.hankblank.com.
You can connect with Hank on Linkedin
Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank
Watch a video on this topic.