Do RFPs For Digital Marketing Agencies Make Sense?
In a recent Six Pixel's podcast, Mitch Joel of Twist Image asked the question "Do RFPs For Digital Marketing Agencies Make Sense?" My short answer is, yes. But, to have a successful RFP process, the request needs to have some key elements, many of which are frequently lacking.
While the process should be slightly different for a project vs. agency pitch, the top line needs are similar, just the focus of the details change.
1. Don't go it alone (it's a crazy world)
In a recent post, we discussed that bringing in an expert to help issue an RFP is a great first step to a successful process. Even though the web (as we know it) has been around for over 10 years, there aren't a lot of people with the broad experience to think of all the questions to ask. So professional guidance is probably a good thing.
2. Outline a clear timeline for the process (and stick to it)
Responding to an RFP is much like going on a first date. Neither of you know each other very well yet and changes in the process may signal a problem or might mean nothing at all. There is nothing worse than sitting by the phone and not knowing why it doesn't ring.
3. Provide key background information
To receive the best responses, provide as much background possible on previous efforts (with costs) and any other history that might be relevant. Including a Q&A period is critical to getting good responses.
4 .Share your current goals and budget
In order to create the best response possible, an agency will want to know where you are trying to go in the upcoming year(s). Knowing the short-term and long-term goals for your company will help an agency formulate an appropriate plan. Providing goals also gives you a check to see if the agency was listening and fit their solution within your goals.
5. Create a level playing field (clear objectives for response)
In the end, a comparison between agencies and proposed solutions must be done. To make this as easy as possible, set clear objectives on what you are expecting. Do you want spec creative, do you need a high-level concept or an execution-ready plan? Most RFP's focus on the format of the document and miss out on including guidelines for the type of response desired.
6. Provide Feedback
If the business is won or lost, having feedback helps move the process forward. In addition to telling the agencies what they did well and where they may have slipped, ask them for feedback on your process. While you may not issue an RFP every quarter, you'll do it again sometime and knowing how to improve your process always helps.
For another engaging discussion of this topic, jump over to the AdAge Small Agency Diary for a discussion from a few months ago.