Suddenly it’s November. We’ve lost daylight savings time, and everything has started to taste like pumpkin spice. In agency life, one clear indicator that year-end approaches is that the RFPs are starting to roll in thick and fast: it's agency evaluation season.
If your company is using an RFP to help find the right partner, it’s important that your selection process empowers your future agency to stand out. The issue is that not all RFPs are created equal. Some neglect crucial information, and others omit necessary questions which can set you up for frustration from the get-go.
As a marketing professional, I’ve both written RFPs and also wrestled with my fair share of responses, including those that require bound, hard copies, in triplicate (please don’t do this!). Here are some quick recommendations to consolidate your search process and to help uncover a new PR partner that will take your communications program and brand to the next level.
Research, then shortlist: If you research and do due diligence ahead of time, there’s no reason to issue an RFP to 10+ agencies. Six responses (or less) from the right-size agency with your specific industry experience will speed up your internal review process.
Let us shine: RFPs are designed up to compare one agency with another in a line-item format. Allow your prospective agency the opportunity to stand out creatively, and allow them to deliver a response in the best possible format. Trust me—nothing stifles a creative team quite like specific instructions to use a word doc with Times New Roman and 12-point type.
Host [brief] introductory calls: You may have included thoughtful background information on your company, culture, audiences, competitive landscape, challenges and business goals, but your prospective agency will inevitably have some more questions to help them strategize, tailor the response and wow you.
Allow enough time to respond: This seems like a no-brainer but 2-3 weeks is the usual timeframe in order to receive a number of well-crafted responses to review. Less than a week may mean your RFP [sadly] goes unanswered.
Share your budget range: Providing your budget will help narrow your short list, and will allow the agencies to consider the scope of the relationship to staff your team accordingly. You’ll also get an apples-to-apples comparison.
Allow digital responses: An emailed PDF is easier to distribute and environmentally friendly. And no more collating triplicate copies. Simple.
Now that we’ve streamlined your process, here is a helpful template to get you started, with some questions to consider adding to your RFP. We’re happy to help you in your search for a lasting and productive agency partnership. Contact us if you’re looking to make a change.