Great advice for marketers and agencies – read both and take notes!
This just popped up in AdAge Thursday February 23rd and I have to say, it’s one of the best, most common sense approaches and executions of an agency review I’ve read in a long tome. It’s great fodder for client and agency alike and certainly highlights the time, energy, financial investment and necessary dedication it takes to participate in an agency review. Feel free to comment if you have something to share.
by Michael Fanuele – Before becoming a client, I spent more than a dozen years at ad agencies around the globe, working as a brand strategist, trying my best to help our clients crack opportunity wide-open. But honestly, most of my time was spent diving in deep on dozens of pitches. That’s one of the many secrets of ad agencies: their shoulders are generally pushing against the Sisyphean boulder of new business, doing everything to win bigger and braver clients. It’s thrilling, exhausting work.
And so I knew very well the massive commitment of time and treasure I was demanding of ad agencies when, as chief creative officer at General Mills, I called a review of our creative partnerships last year.
Although McCann and Saatchi & Saatchi had served our brands so well for so long (more than half a century in the case of the former), a shake-up seemed in order. The brutal stress of our business … (Continue Part One and Part Two below)
Every agency wants an easy way to find new clients. And apparently clients think agencies are just waiting for them to post a juicy RFP (as in Request for Proposal). If you don’t share that opinion, try Googling “Advertising RFP’s”. You’ll find hundreds if not thousands of RFP’s of every kind for every industry and for every budget. However, look closely and in many cases, you’ll find the budget mysteriously missing. That’s because on close inspection, there is no committed budget, there is no structured outline for the assignment, and the client (often lead by someone in the Procurement department) expects your agency to conduct both the research and analysis to identify the necessary budget. In the end (if you ever get there), you’ll be lucky to discover the client has or is willing to spend what you’ve identified. And if you’re willing to wade your way through their obligatory legalese and agree to their terms (they own everything, you own nothing and you’ll get paid when), then maybe the RFP route is for you.
Now to the real point of all this … There is no precision or particular logic to the RFP postings themselves or the agency audience that will see them. Many of the posted RFP’s are accompanied by historically littered “rules & regulations” copied from those that preceded them, and they reek of mandated conformity. In particular, they include the admonition that any attempt to contact anyone at the company (imagine that – talk with someone at the client) will result in removal from consideration. In general and given any choice, agencies avoid these RFP’s like the plague! So what happens? Most who posted the RFP’s experience a modest or otherwise minimal response, and the picken’s are slim. They find themselves selecting not the best from a group of great candidates, but the best from a lot in which there may be no “best.” In some cases, the incumbent retains the account because no other agency was prepared or willing to penetrate the shield. And everyone loses.
You might think a Master RFP site is the answer. I say politely you are crazy – the RFP is NOT THE ROUTE TO GO! I started this piece as an “expose” on the ridiculous state of the RFP situation without anticipating where I’d end up. I honestly had no self-interest in mind but I’m now heading to the conclusion that the best solution would be a SUPER AGENCYFINDER– an agency search and matchmaking service that represents all the marketing firms in the US and then that fact is made known to every client that might ever need an agency. This process turns the RFP around and enables clients by giving them the power and precision to find and evaluate firms that fit their needs – for experience, services, location, size and more. That’s a gigantic undertaking beyond our current capacity (staff, facilities, capital) but it’s an idea that demands to be built. We’ll need some partners with genius, brilliance and deep pockets. If you’d like to be involved, let me hear from you. Even your thoughts are welcome.
P.S. February 2019 – The topic is still alive and of interest. Any contributors or takers?