Business Development

Does Your Agency Have an RFP Checklist?

cindy2-260Several weeks ago, I posted “Why prospective clients sometimes don’t get what they ask for with RFPs” which outlined top items I think a prospective client should include in an RFP.

Then it occurred to me that agencies should also have a must-do list that they should follow when responding to RFPs.  So, below is my list of top 10 agency RFP response mandatories.

  1. Ensure It’s Error-Free. No excuses.  Your response should be flawless.  Hire a copy editor or proofreader if you need to.  Don’t leave out anything.  If something doesn’t pertain to you, say so.
  2. Include Agency Strengths. Even if it isn’t requested, work this into your response.  Remember, we are in the business of selling.  So, go ahead and toot your own horn.
  3. Punch Up Category/Relevant Experience. Clients need to be reassured you know their space and that you have experience in similar situations. This is an area where you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
  4. Show your personality. Every agency has a personality.  Let it shine through.  Whether it’s the hip downtowners, the old school mid-town folks, or the laid back suburbanites, let the client know who you are.  That way the client will know if it is a personality fit.  Hopefully you will have a close client/agency working relationship.  For that, a good fit is imperative.
  5. Do Your Homework. Even the most complete RFP requires the agency to conduct a deep dive into the client’s business.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the client along the way.  As long as you have a well-compiled list of asks and you limit the number of times you reach out to the prospect, most potential clients are happy to answer any questions you may have.
  6. Determine Who Will Be the Ultimate Decision Maker. Know who your audience is and who will be making the decision to hire the agency.  Knowing what the decision maker’s background is will make it easier for you to “talk to them” in your RFP response.  With all of the business Social Media tools available to us it’s easy to get background information on almost everyone in the business world.
  7. Avoid Assumptions. If you don’t understand something, ask.
  8. Speak Their Language. If there are certain key phrases, buzz words, and/or industry terms that are recurring within the RFP, try to mirror them within your response. This not only lends an “I get it” attitude but makes it easier on the prospect to understand your responses when you are using their terminology.
  9. Respond on or Before Deadline. Any submissions after deadline are an automatic failure.  Managing your time during the RFP process tells the client that you are serious about their business and are buttoned up.  The assumption becomes, “this is what we can expect moving forward from this agency.”
  10. Be Concise. Remember, your response is not the only one the client is reading!  Don’t get overly long and flowery with your response.  Clear, concise, and to the point will be appreciated by the evaluator.                              

Although the RFP process can be daunting if you keep the above things in mind, it should make the process go along much more smoothly.  Here’s to the exhilaration of the hunt and the reward for a job well done in the form of a new client to add to your existing agency roster.  Cheers!

With over 30 years of experience in Integrated Media, Cindy Seebeck is a formidable practitioner with her fingers in every medium from spot TV to Digital OOH.  She plans and executes holistic media campaigns for Underscore Marketing across a wide variety of clients.