Even in today’s competitive environment, where each and every new business opportunity should be approached with care, too many agencies still attempt to shoehorn tangential experience into an RFP response. When the odds are naturally against your winning any client pitch, it’s more important to be selective and to focus on your core strengths than it is to position your agency as something it’s not.
When you spend the hours it takes to respond properly to an RFP you have to be as certain as possible that you can win. If you aren’t preparing a proposal with confidence -- or find yourself squeezing your foot into that proverbial shoe -- perhaps the best bet is to take a pass and focus on serving the clients you have.
The agency search was down to four finalists. Each had provided stellar written responses during the proposal phase, and seemed ready to take the stage. Per the RFP Associates process, the finalists were asked to go beyond the contents of their written responses to the RFP, and to delve deeper into the important elements of our client’s global campaign.
Sure, there would be just one winner, but we all wanted this to be an even horserace, with equal odds for each of the finalist agencies.
Agencies have a love-hate relationship with requests for proposals (RFPs). Okay, it’s mostly hate. However, from our perspective, it’s not the RFP per se, but typically the process that lead them to abhor and recoil from what should be a clean, simple and honest method of evaluating one firm over another.
When done correctly, an RFP can effectively detail an organization’s PR needs and requirements. It provides a solid foundation for an agency search that will help brands and organizations to hire and retain an agency that constitutes the right fit.
So, we recently experienced a first – and not a positive one, from our perspective. A very respected agency pulled out from one of our searches because the RFP was "too elaborate.” We asked, but were not able to determine: Did that mean it was too thorough? Too detailed? Or did it require too much effort to respond?
It's true that most RFPs issued for PR services are recipes for disaster, and ask too much from competing agencies. But if an RFP is structured well, and is part of a transparent and unbiased process, then is it really too "elaborate" for the document to include comprehensive and detailed information so an agency may respond, smartly and comprehensively?
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