I have a difficult time with the many gurus in the business coming right out and saying, “Don’t do RFPs.” Every week a document passes my desk on this very topic.
What bothers me is that most of these people who stand on the podium reading the anti-RFP riot act, have never run an ad agency and for them to make a generalized claim on what not to do, is ludicrous.
The insinuation seems to be that if you do RFPs, you’re scum. This is an insult to the many agency owners who have won and continue to win new, profitable accounts through RFPs.
I understand the pros and cons of RFPs and so do many other agency owners working in the trenches. But to say it’s flat out a wrong way to do new business isn’t a fair statement.
In working with over 60 ad agency owners who are members of CEO Stars, I’m observing a mixed reaction to RFPs. Some flat out don’t do it, and others say they win a lot of business by doing RFPs.
The lesson is simple: what works for one agency, may not necessarily work for another. The agencies that fill out RFPs are aware of the ‘risks’ and they’ve fine-tuned the process to limit the loss in man-hours. Some agencies fill out RFPs if and only if they first meet with the prospect and do a mini-discovery session.
In a recent CEO Stars session devoted exclusively to RFPs, while some agencies in the group denounced the process, others stood up and said they just landed a huge account because of the RFP.
Bottom line: Every agency has their own way of doing new business and for some it’s a way that works for them, for others it’s not their way. Yet, which ever way it is, it should be respected. Is there room for change, refinement and improvement to increase prospect to client conversions? Absolutely.
Is the ‘RFP’ way – whether you subscribe to it or not, the perfect way? Absolutely not. But then again, is there really a perfect guaranteed way?