Regional Companies Can Be Big Losers from a Sterile RFP Process

Mid Market and Regional companies that operate in many individual markets never benefit from a one size fits all RFP.

When a media agency works with their regional clients, they will have numerous campaign discussions. The conversations focus on budgets, the targeted audience, timing of the campaign, areas of focus, media types, trackable analytics and what the goals of the campaign are. They’ll spend weeks, sometimes even months putting together all the information they have compiled for these clients to ensure that nothing is missed before reaching out to a media outlet for inventory and available rates.

Once an agency feels they have all the information they need, they’ll develop a “request for proposal” (RFP) that is sent to each of the media outlets in the respective markets. They do this to find out inventory availability and rates. Dozens of these requests will go out to all the relevant media outlets.

A great RFP is very detailed and leaves little to chance. They’re very thorough, informative and give guidance to the outlet and explain what the agency and client are hoping to achieve. Unfortunately, many agencies and planners have gotten very generic and somewhat lazy and their RFPs spell out very little. This is a true disservice to the client and their goals.

Most issued RFPs have short due date. Many of them will offer the outlet just a few days or less because the agency will have a tight turn around. This typically sends the media outlets into a frenzy to gather all the requested information and throw their hat in the ring with their “best rates.” The media outlets will send back their information and wait to see if they were chosen.

Many account executives have also gotten somewhat lazy and careless and will not actually follow the RFP and provide either incomplete information or incorrect information. This causes the agency to request a second completed RFP, which only make a tight time frame even tighter.

The problem with this process is that there really isn’t much conversation between the agency and the media outlets. It’s all very sterile with each request being exactly the same, no matter what important differentiating factors each media outlet may offer. The agency gathers the information and looks at inventory levels, impressions and rate. The decision as to where the advertising will run will be selected based on the information that is returned from the RFP.

By making selections this way, a regional company is missing out on unique opportunities in each of its individual markets that could pay big dividends. It also hampers negotiations. A good media agency sends out a detailed RFP and a great one takes the time to dig deeper, research, converse and look for the needles in the haystack that can change the game for their clients.

Author: Frank Gussoni

President & Founder of A3 media. We're Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.