Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The RFP and The Agency - Part II: Let's Talk About Money

This is Part II of our take on how to use an RFP to find an ad agency or creative firm. Part I was posted February 14.

Writing a good creative RFP doesn’t mean leaving price out of the equation. (After all, almost by definition, an RFP is about money.)
It only means asking different kinds of price questions.

Like maybe instead of asking what an agency will charge to do specific things, laying out your marketing problem and a budget figure (even a hypothetical one) and letting the agencies tell you what they can do for that budget.
Let them flex their minds a bit and show you what good stewards of your finances they can be.

I’m not talking about spec creative or a comprehensive plan (which is asking them to give it away and I am not in favor of that by any stretch). I’m talking about broad strokes. Maybe a general budget allocation. You’re bound to have a budget figure in mind. If not, better do that before you even think about looking for an agency.

Of course if you give an agency a budget figure, they’re going to spend it, and if you don’t give them a figure they just might come in way below your actual budget. Which makes you a hero, right? OK, that’s true. But they also might come in way over what you can reasonably spend and even way over what they’d be willing to take to handle your account. So you rule them out for no good reason. And nobody wins.

Your goal with an RFP should not be to see how cheaply you can get it done, but to see who can do the best job with what you have to spend. Please note that there two parts to that question. The point is, nobody can really give you a good picture of what they can do for you if they are flying blind – that is, they don’t know what you are willing to spend to do it. Give us a dollar figure – if only a range – and see which one of us makes the best use of it. Even if it’s a made-up dollar figure. Just don’t make us guess at it. You have a figure in mind; you know you do. What you want to know is which agency can give you the most for it.

The question should not be “How cheaply will you do what you do?”, but “What can you do for our budget?” Or even “This is our budget and this is what we need done. Can you do it or not?” Then move on to the next question.

Next: Creative

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