The First Date
Agency reviews have reached a new pinnacle in their demand for dollars and resources to effectively secure a piece of business. And the scary part is that the first date is becoming the most expensive relative to time spent with our potentially new partner.
It’s amazing that prior to even kicking off the courting period you are forced to re-cut cases, develop team videos (with our untrained actors and actresses, also known as the agency staff), and answer 50–100 questions about the agency and its unique set of experiences, skills, and capabilities. Now don’t get me wrong; if this is what it takes to get a date, well, let’s just say I chased my wife for 6 years until she would finally go out with me. So determination has never been an issue. However, it didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars in time and effort to get that date, even though the end result was still priceless.
Today agencies are at the mercy of the review process. The competition is tight, and you win by a whisker. From your first submission to your last follow-up effort, it takes time, money, and ingenuity of all orchestrated with complete PERFECTION. And remember, once you have clear sight on the prize, you are then forced to negotiate the value of your idea(s) with someone who will probably not be your direct client at the end of the day. So how do we start to bring this world into check and control costs? I am not sure that the approach of our friends in the Netherlands with their boycotting of reviews is the most productive to building a relationship.
What we can do is begin a process of identifying the assets for a meaningful first date. This is not to say we need to rule out videos altogether or even large RFPs; however, we should define which “one” would result in a stronger review for the client. We also need to take a closer look at the actual RFPs and answer key questions such as: Do they align with the ultimate brief and the decision-making criteria? Does each question have a purpose or is it potentially redundant? Has all information been collected for the RFP prior to its distribution to the agency? Have milestone dates been confirmed with the stakeholders? If an automated program is used for RFP/RFI submission, is this the best way to judge the agency’s chemistry with the client or company? By narrowly focusing on these key questions, we can potentially move closer to an efficient first date.
Until then, we will continue to build our 1,500-page RFP cookbook and log hours editing our teams so their inner beauty shines through. By the way, does someone know of a good acting coach?
Michael L. Miller
EVP, Chief Growth Officer