Will agency pitches and RFPs be a thing of the past and if so, what will take their place for best practices that better benefit both clients and ad agencies?
This is a guest post written by Jaci Russo, Partner and Chief Strategist for The Russo Group, a small ad agency (full time staff of 19) in Lafayette, Louisiana, that is having explosive new business growth by leading prospective client conversations with social media. In this post Jaci raises some great questions and hopefully will facilitate dialogue from both agencies and clients.
The advertising industry is rapidly changing. One of the questions that plagues all agencies is how to get more new clients. There are lots of theories about inbound vs. outbound marketing.
I received an email the other day from JC Fantechi in Sweden. He is the founder of Icebreaker which helps ad agencies in Europe win new business. He emailed me because he heard Michael Gass’ interview of me on Fueling New Business about the new business wins we have had this year. I thought his question was great, so I wanted to answer it here:
In your opinion, are pitches/should pitches be a thing of the past? Are they really necessary in order to gauge an agency’s output, or wouldn’t a “chemistry test” be better, to meet a potential agency & its work team to see if there is grounds for a good marriage, then work together to solve the strategic and the creative? Maybe that’s the way you already work, but I’m tired of getting my clients into pitches, getting half decent briefs and only one performance in order to get things right”.
JC Fantechi Founder, Icebreaker
Most companies that work in the B2B space are expected to put forth some sort of outbound effort to gain new business. Most often, that outbound effort involves one of the following:
- RFP – Request For Proposals – Potential client creates a 10-100 page document detailing everything they want to know about their new prospective partner. In the construction industry, a contractor then spends hours researching the blueprints and creating a very detail proposal including costs. The final written documents could at times rival the size of War and Peace and the cost would be enough to purchase a house.
- Pitch – An incredible investment of time and resources dedicated by anywhere from 2 to 20 companies is made at the behest of the client and much like the Olympics, there is only one gold medal winner. The companies involved completely engross themselves in the client and learn everything they can about the brand and the category. Since this is typically done in a vacuum with little or no input from the client there is no guarantee that the research and analysis is on target.
I completely agree with JC. If a sample project were the third option, it would be the best choice every time. A project would allow both sides to really get to know each other. A project is like actually dating vs the RFP/Pitch which is more like a first date where you only know what they want you to know about them.
There is another option though.
We work with our B2B clients to generate inbound efforts. This is the same way we develop our own business. Using a myriad of tools, from social media through speaking and writing engagements, we are able to establish ourselves as knowledgeable experts and that is why we are experiencing unprecedented growth (Q1 09 net profit up 118% compared to Q1 08).
Inbound marketing is great for a lot of reasons, most of which, once the relationship is in place, there is much less competition for the business.
If you believe pitches and RFPs should be a thing of the past, then what practices would better benefit clients and agencies? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Previous interview with Jaci Russo: Ad agency having explosive new business growth by leading with social media