Thanks Judy. Gee, I guess RFP's are difficult for agencies because there are usually 4 management contributors, 3 studio contributors, two admins and none of them have enough time. SO the new biz person tries to mold it all together. that's just my experience. Everybody and nobody "owns" the document.
hey I'm in Boston tomorrow. Go Sox.
What constitues a well crafted client request (RFP)? and What Constitutes a bad client request (Rfp)?
What info should the client provide? etc
4A would welcome your thoughts and if you have illustrative client requests that you can share that illustrate best/worst elements please send them to email@example.com (Please delete reference to client name and redact any CI)
In my experience, there are two key elements to success with RFP's: one, to Michael's point, someone has to own it. Someone has to block out a strategy for how to win even at this stage and then use the RFP as the first execution of the strategy; two, never ever mail it in with a one-size-fits-all document. Before answering any of the questions, research should be done on the company, the brand, and the competitive situation. Only then can the answers truly be relevant to that particular client.
Most RFP's, while time-consuming, aren't difficult. The best elements are when they ask you provocative questions that require creative answers. The best one I ever saw was this: if your agency were a game, what game would you be? Loved that question. The worst ones are the ones that expect you to solve their problems in the RFP by serving up your strategy, your work, and your marketing plan for them, then mailing it off in a binder. We won't participate in those. They show no respect for what an individual agency and its talents bring to a more collaborative relationship.
If the first time you hear about an opportunity is when you see the RFP, you are already behind the 8 ball. When an RFP comes out, it almost always is because one of your competitors has been working the account and has convinced management that there is a good reason to change. Not only has that competitor convinced them to change, it is highly likely that they have shaped the RFP criteria in ways that benefit their agency.
I contend that blind RFP's are almost always a waste of time, $$ and scarce resources. If the client does not know you and like you before the RFP goes out, you are just column fodder. There are rare exceptions to this rule, but they are rare.
My advice is to respond to very few RFP requests, but do them very well. For the ones you choose not to respond to, provide the requester with a detailed explanation of why you are choosing not to respond. I have had a recent experience where my response about whey my agency was not responding ran the whole RFP process off the rails and got me some new business.
When you get a blind RFP and you really want to respond - then always do this first. Call the client and ask for a 1 hour FTF meeting with the principal decision makers. If they can't/won't do this then don't respond. If they won't meet with you, then they won't hire you.
OK, RANT off.
RFPs are difficult when the review process is broken and the client doesn’t even know it. I think there is a lack of true understanding on the client side (not trying to generalize) to have a well crafted RFP (brief, questions, etc...) enabling them to get the results they hope for. This isn’t the same old dog and pony show, the stakes have never been greater, the competition is really hungry, and some agencies will put it all on the line to try and win. Some clients know this, and this is when RFP’s get hard. When they treat the RFP like the dinner bell, it almost feels Pavlovian, RFP comes out and agencies will do anything to win the business.
So in light of this, we make it a practice to create dialog with the prospect as early as possible to see if all parties, questions, and expectations are in alignment before we participate in the RFP. Especially giving attention to the rapport being built around partnership and the relationship. If it feels right and we proceed I adhere to some of Diane’s comments above as well as Judy’s points, which as simple as they appear they are the foundation for success.