Is your company’s standard protocol to issue an RFP when you’re looking for a new agency partner? If so, why?
Does law or corporate governance require them or is it simply the way things have always been done?
If you’re issuing RFPs out of habit, read on to learn how to make this process much more effective and efficient.
A written RFP response and one pitch meeting aren’t enough to make a decision this important. It’s like marrying someone after swiping their Tinder profile, exchanging a few texts and having an impressive date at the latest craft distillery. Sure, good times, but do you know enough to commit to a marriage?
Whether you’re looking to settle down and grow old with an AOR or play the field from project to project, you can apply dating strategies to finding the right agency partner.
First, visit five or 10 agency websites and look for experience that matches your needs, creative you admire and case studies that prove results. If you see what you like, add that agency to a short list.
If you don’t think that an agency is a good match, there’s no need to communicate with them. It’s ok; you’re saving yourselves and that agency a lot of time and effort.
Once you’ve swiped right on three or four that you think you could work with, consider meeting with each of them. Visit their offices to learn more about their people, how they think, how they interact with each other and you, and how they work.
Early dinner and a plan B
Again, if you leave any of those meetings feeling like this agency might really be the right one (or the one right now), consider hiring them for a small project. You’ll learn a lot more about how they work and how effective that work is than you ever would from an RFP and pitch.
If you don’t click with any of those agencies, it’s fine. It only cost you a couple of hours and hopefully both parties walked away with a clearer sense of what kind of partnership they are looking for. And besides, it wasn’t the only date you had planned anyway.
Whatever your relationship looks like, it has to be built on trust
Whether this approach makes sense for your organization or not, consider ways to engage in face-to-face dialogue with the agencies you’d like to work with. Our industry prides itself on problem solving and creativity, so why ask for unoriginal thinking via RFP responses?
Expect your agencies to sell you on their value, but give them the freedom of an actual conversation. An RFP puts too much emphasis on cost, and you’re not buying a commodity. You’re entering into a trusting relationship that ultimately needs to help you achieve your business goals.
Want to have dinner with Borshoff? E-mail or call me at 317-749-0334.