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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I Dislike RFPs 

There's nothing I dislike more than receiving an RFP form from an agency. Some of them, especially ones I've received from agencies representing tech companies, are abysmally long and complex, and very mechanical in their intent and approach--stacking my magazine or conference against the competition in terms of quantitative factors only.

By the same token, I'm sure that most agencies and clients dislike receiving a standard generic sales pitch from media--you know, the templated cover letter explaining why media brand X is number one, the media kit, also explaining why media brand x rocks, and the rate card, explaining how much the client will have to pay for the privilege of snuggling up with media brand x.

My preference is always to talk thoroughly with the client, understand his or her marketing needs and plans, and then present a customized proposal designed to show how my media answers those needs and contributes to those plans.

But I'd guess that most clients and agencies don't get customized proposals. (In fact, many agencies actively discourage us from dealing with the client to understand the marketing strategy.) What they do get is a blizzard of sales materials and sales calls, each of which is focused on the strengths of a given media property.

So RFPs exist, to try to organize that blizzard into something useful and usable.

I applaud American Business Media and the 4As for jointly designing an RFP form intended to meet the needs of both media and agencies/clients. The RFP form can be found here.

Comments MediaPost:

In the end, ABM and AAAA hope the new standard RFP form will prevent the "train wrecks" that result from conflicting client and agency expectations. "Ironing out expectations, and agreeing on methods, lets you finally have accountability," according to [ABM's Steve] Ennen. "And it's accountability for all parties."

This RFP form isn't perfect. In fact, there are elements (especially those related to the treatement of rates) that make me cringe a bit. But it's far better than most other RFPs I've seen, and represents a great start in forging more alignment between the client, the agency and the media brand.

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