Can Marketers Afford The RFP?

Three-quarters of the world’s CMOs are under fire to increase short-term ROI from marketing, yet agency reviews continue at a blazing pace. That’s a clash of priorities most can’t afford.

With an average of six to 12 people involved in an RFP, the management cost can easily top $1 million. Brands can’t afford the lag time, either. Between the pitch and contract processes, when the incumbent is a lame duck and the new agency can’t start yet, there’s a three- to six-month period where no new ideas get hatched or pursued.

That’s unacceptable in a world that keeps changing faster. Marketers need a fluid hiring approach built for speed.

Change the consultant remit. Make the focus using, rather than choosing, an agency. You have to be willing to pay them to do this. Then you can learn what’s costing you the partnership you seek and learn from the relationships you cast off. What’s the old saw, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?



Create a development squad. Rather than turn projects into RFPs, as advertisers have done increasingly over the past five years, select an agency that meets your requirements and try them out. Treat it like the development squad. Develop a stable of potential agency partners by being fluid with project assignments. The perfect alignment and partnership reveal themselves in the course of daily work together. Selection is simple: Get a shortlist of agencies to show their best relevant work and talk with them about what your business needs and how they’d approach it.

Focus on now. Everything about the speed of markets augurs for always-on marketing. That means more attention from more people to monitor changes and react in real time, which requires energized, inspired client and agency teams.

Nothing about RFPs meets the fail-faster ethic. Expanding and nurturing continual project relationships that evolve into long-term partnerships does.

Leave marketing to the marketing department. Product development, operations, sales, and technology don’t invite marketing into the process of hiring their vendors, so leave other departments out of the agency selection process. They’re not qualified to determine the right agency and they will slow the process down. Marketing is the growth engine, and you own it.

When 51% of CEOs worldwide expect to decrease employee ranks in the next two years (KPMG CEOs Outlook), marketing organizations will be forced to find a better way to fuel the engine. A logical place to start is to replace the current agency selection process that’s draining the marketing organization – and your business – with a more fluid engagement that prioritizes action, focus, and proven expertise. 

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