Agency Trumpets Spec Solutions With Redefined RFP

Back in January, ad agency Trumpet tweaked the definition of RFP, amending it from request for proposal to request for problem.

The agency sent hundreds of Golden RFPs to CMOs, CEOs and marketing directors, encouraging them to fill out the revamped RFP form, comprising 19 questions (true/false, multiple choice and long-form queries) divided into two sections.

Ideally, the questionnaire should take 20 minutes to complete, summarizing the state of one's company, its brand situation, and current problem preventing the company from achieving the business status it strives to reach.

Trumpet then sifted through the responses, 70 to date, called the CMOs to further discuss the RFP answers, then provided possible solutions to the companies a few days after the phone call conversation.

"We were receiving a lot of RFPs and talking to procurement firms about projects and were anticipating a lot of pitches coming up," said Scott Couvillon, director of brand strategy at Trumpet.

"But where we have been successful historically is speaking directly with CEO- and CMO-level individuals about their needs -- because we get to talk about their real issues. The Request for Problem was born from the fact that the traditional RFP has agencies and clients starting in the wrong place -- it is less about substantive thinking and how well suited we are as a group of creative people, and more of a dog and pony show based on solutions for other people bent to the client you are pitching," he continued.

The ultimate goal for the agency, obviously, is to drum up new business, although CMOs can use the ideas provided by Trumpet to better their companies without hiring the agency. Trumpet does, however, retain the rights to use the ideas in a future case study.

The agency is currently in talks with an unnamed company slated to be its first case. According to the agency, it is "developing a plan for the company to sustain -- and even grow -- their brand amidst the upcoming recession."

"The Request for Problems replaced spec creative within a pitch and replaced it with spec thinking," said Couvillon. "Spec thinking doesn't preclude the best solutions -- whereas with spec creative, the outcome is typically pre-identified as a campaign or a line extension," he concluded.

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