Some of our clients come to us as seasoned veterans of dealing with creative firms. Some come to us as babes in the woods. Most fall somewhere in between. That’s OK. I’ve always felt that a big part of our job is to help educate our clients on how to best use our talents and skills, from the beginning to launch.
That’s right- this one’s about how to get the best project bidding process, so you end up choosing the right company for your project.
First, almost all RFPs suck. I don’t blame the RFP writer- more on that, later. But I’ve yet to find an RFP in its initial form that allowed a client to truly compare apples-to-apples, and make an informed and educated decision.
It’s often even worse when there’s not even an RFP to go on. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I was asked to prep a bid for a promotional video for a company. The sum total of information they gave me was “I’d like it to sort of look like this competitor video”. How lazy! How lame! No project description, creative brief, script, or storyboards. Just “tell me a price”. That’s like showing up at an auction and being told to yell out random numbers, bidding for items you can’t even see (kudos to Kathi for that analogy).
When we get an RFP or bid request that doesn’t show a lot of forethought from the client, my first inclination is to toss it in the garbage. And it’s not just me who thinks like this- most good agencies do.
There’s got to be a better way, right?
I’ve found one of the best ways to up the quality of the bids you get is to work with us, or someone like us, from the beginning- someone in your pool of agencies under consideration. You’re an expert at what you do. You’re the point person for your organization. But unless you’re very, very uniquely special you do not have the technical or creative chops to adequately explain and flesh out the nuts and bolts of what you’re looking for.
Think about it- a house built on a weak foundation cannot stand. But by working with an emissary from the pool of agencies you’re considering from the start, you’ll get a solid foundation and a much better experience all around. You’ll be able to speak our language from the start. And you’ll notice the quality of responses you’ll get will go through the roof.
What’s more, by doing a “test run” with an agency you’re considering, you’ll get a good feel for what the working relationship will be like, should you hire them to do “the big project”. Yeah, paying someone like us to work on your brief/RFP/script will cost money. But it’s an investment that will result in a much better end product for you.
In the end, you want bids that generally match in scope and quality, and which give you a solid estimate on pricing. You want your project to succeed wildly and impress the heck out of your peers and customers. We want the same thing. And we, like you, want a relationship- not a one night stand. By working together from the start in a cooperative way, we can make you look amazing.