Approaching The RFP Process With Confidence

Props to you!  After hours of deliberation and strategizing, your business and marketing plans are complete.  Time to sit back and relax.  WRONG!  Implementation is a key aspect to success and advertising is a crucial portion of that.  Maybe you are an established company and it is time to go through a rebranding process, possibly you are launching a new company or product line or perhaps you just aren’t getting the service or results you need with your current partner.  Regardless of reason, the RFP process can be time consuming and overwhelming.  Knowing what is important to you, so that you can ask the right questions during the initial meetings will leave you feeling more confident in your decision-making process.  

  1. Does your team mesh with my team?  
    The right fit is everything and that begins with company cultures.  An agency should be a true extension to your existing team.  Discuss purpose and values in initial conversations.  Select a team that that aligns with your beliefs and has the same desirable qualities you use when hiring your own employees.
  2. How much experience does the team have who will be handling our account?  
    Notice I said handling your account.  Often times the people who pitch the business are not the ones that you will interact with on the regular.  Will you be putting a piece of your company in the hands of a group of seasoned veterans, or a team of rookies?  You’ll want a perfect mix here.  Being led by someone who has been around the block is reassuring and yet a fresh face can bring new perspective.  The media landscape is constantly changing.  Be sure to select a team who is not only innovative and has proven success, but also capable of effective communication.  The ideal account team should be available to answer questions and help navigate strategy.
  3. What exclusive tools are available to best reach our target?
    Results.  That’s what it’s all about, right?  Lowest rates don’t always deliver the highest ROI.  Your agency should be data driven, analytical and have proprietary techniques that align with your goals.  Tools could be anything from software and access to research to having creative capabilities on-site.  Advertising costs are always negotiable.  Seek a partner who brings something special to the table in their offerings to deliver your message(s) in a unique way.
  4. Will you be totally honest or simply appease me?  
    All good relationships blossom and revolve around TRUTH.  Without being challenged through healthy debates there is no real partnership and most likely no increase to your bottom line.  Taking part in these conversations and putting aside pride will open up a level of productivity and build confidence in the lines of communication.  An agency partner should be more than just an order-taker, they should also bring ideas, opportunities and new approaches to the table for your consideration.
  5. Will we be charged a monthly retainer or percentage fee per project?  
    Pricing structures vary from agency to agency.  Being up front and seeking clarity on the costs associated with services is extremely helpful in managing expectations and making sure your account and the work associated with it remain a priority.  The financial aspect of the relationship should never be a barrier to success, but clarifying this upfront is imperative. 

In the end, there is no easy button for vetting out a new agency, but identifying your needs beyond budget and sales goals is a critical part of selecting a long-term partner.

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