Turning the RFP Process Around: A Maverick’s Guide

How Creative Agencies Can Control Their Own Fate

You are a maverick. You have your own creative business or career. That’s a fairly intangible and subjective commodity. You survive and advance on guile. You succeed through desire — the greatest of all inspiration. You grow serendipitously, through good work and karma. At the end of every year, you wonder not only “how did it go by so fast?” but also, “how can i keep this up?” It’s no game for kids, selling creative ideas that sell. You understand the difference between creating content and communicating. You know how to communicate well and effectively for your clients. Yet you are too busy or modest to do this for your own business or career — often preferring to “let the work speak for itself.” It sometimes does but it often remains silent.

You are not a conformist. Yet, you conform to the rules of engagement for agency growth. You comply with the RFP process. This is unlike you. It quietly eats away at you — particularly in a pitch against agencies that you know you are a better fit than. You put yourself in this position. You played the game. You played by the rules. You allowed everyone to level the playing field. You allowed yourself to look and sound the same as everyone else. You are supposed to be a creative agency and yet you let creative “speak for itself” in the engagement process. You did nothing creative about the creative. Did you think all clients can tell the difference?

You have a chance to do something about it. You can begin by first vowing to take fate into your own hands. Then you can pick 5 – 15 companies/brands/clients you KNOW you can help and should be working with (no more than 3 in any one category). Then you can tell them why. But, as it stands now — you are just playing the new business game, responding to RFP’s, kissing consultants’ asses, bringing in some smile-and-dial monkey, or some of the new Twitterati to blog and tweet your way to fame and fortune. You realize tweeting for new business is just a technologically advanced form of “cold calling.” Whatever you want to call it — you’re at the mercy of unknown and therefore sinister forces. That is NOT the way to control your own fate.

You can tell them why they should be working with you in a creative way. You can tell them why in their own language, in their own format. You can send them an RFP. Why not? They have no problem sending you an RFP. Why can’t you return the favor? If nothing else, it will get their attention and you will stand out from the pack. And if the RFP is crafted and worded intelligently with relevant and insightful questions, you will score more points than directing them to your web site or blog. Your insights should be unexpected and dramatic based on the homework and research you’ve done on that particular brand and its category.

You are a maverick. Act like one.

Next: A Sample RFP Sent TO a Prospect

4 thoughts on “Turning the RFP Process Around: A Maverick’s Guide

  1. mikepalma Post author

    Hi Patricia. Thanks for reading. That puts a bit of pressure on mp.com but we thrive on it. The RFP won’t run until next week but feel free to call if you need help sooner.


  2. Bruno Elias

    Hi Mike,
    I found your website while searching for investment, new business.
    Interesting article. I used to have a Maverick ’76, your pics brought me good memories back! Thanks!
    Regards from Italy,



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