fall / 2012

The magazine of branded content

Is the RFP dead?

Sep 1, 2012

Michaelle Fasctlicht
CEO at Fastlight Media

“RFPs never really worked for us. For us, it’s been a process of really picking the ice, talking to clients, one on one, and we start those relationships by going to a lot of conventions. It’s very different than the general market.

We follow up with a visit, and during a face to face we’ll do a rundown of past projects, like DirecTV, General Mills, Blue Cross Blue Shield. And we’ll present what our vision is with renderings—mock-ups, prototypes, showing them how this actually looks in the eyes of the consumer, rather than a mental trip of how it looks in the eyes of the consumer. So we try to enamor a client with the eye. We’ll work up to four weeks on a project, and spend anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000. We just did that for Kraft, to show how the content looks on the iPad. For that we have content we can use, but we’ll make new graphics, with teams in the States and in Mexico, which helps us scale it faster with less expense.”

Marcie Avram
Content Marketing & Marketing Services Strategist

“Not at all. In fact, there is a growing need to approach every pitch or client presentation with the same demands of the best RFPs today.

If I’m a brand, I want you to tell me the big idea. But don’t get lost in your history. Tell me how can it be integrated into our own thinking, and what you bring to the table that we can’t get ourselves. And don’t forget the measurement plan. And don’t forget to talk to your people. Not just who they are and how you work, but what is your team’s secret sauce? Why are we going to make a good team together? In the end—almost all the time—there is a personal component that weighs in on any decision.”

Steve Channon
CEO at Mongoose Atlantic

“We don’t get a lot of business from RFPs. Maybe we do one or two a week, but I’ve always thought they’re not proactive.

We’re very much pursuing leads ourselves. We don’t necessarily market to a lot of the huge brands. Education is a huge area for us—health clinics, individual doctors. We sell ads for a number of big newsweekly magazines, special sections within these magazines, like an education section in Newsweek, for example. Eighty percent of the people we speak to, we’ve had conversations with in the past. Twenty percent are new leads. Every year, we tend to try new things, but all the salespeople cover thousands of leads. From the overall outreach, depending on the project, conversion rate could be as good as one out of fifteen, or as low as one in 100. Advertorial is appreciably higher—twenty five to fifty percent better. We’re good at discerning what sort of advertisers will respond to our overtures.”

Gordon Locke
CEO, D Custom

“The RFP is alive and kicking when it comes to a particular strain of content marketing—company newsletters and magazines, specifically.

We do see a lot of RFP activity, but it’s less than twenty percent of our business, because we don’t choose to answer many of them. Our own marketing efforts use every channel: RFPs, referrals, sales calls, trade relationships, and networking at the C-suite level.

As for pipeline, we try not to be presumptuous. The foundation of brand journalism is listening and asking great questions. You have to be a little cynical, and arrive at great insights that will offer solutions. This way we have something to talk to a brand or association about, rather than something to sell them. I wouldn’t want to waste a potential client’s time sending a salesperson, because what we’re providing is not a commodity. The client is aware of the problems and challenges they’re facing, and we have a process that can help them.”

Brice Bay
Chairman and CEO at EnVeritas Group

“I don’t think the RFP is dead. However, I do think companies are changing the way they look at solutions around content marketing.

My guess is this is pretty much the reality. Most brands or companies that desire our services have trouble putting it in an RFP to clearly describe what they need. It’s a consultative analysis. They’ll call on their favorite vendors. Specifically, in terms of building our pipeline, we’re getting more involved with companies that don’t clearly understand what’s involved. We signed a deal this week, a huge media company, very sophisticated in terms of content—they’re not just buying words. They had a particular problem, and they called us from a committee meeting.”