So your agency just spent about 200 hours frantically copying & pasting a written RFP response which you submitted a few minutes before the deadline. We all know the drill: assign sections of the response to a handful of senior managers and pour the ingredients into your RFP template. Then package it in a nifty custom binder and Fedex it off to the search consultant or client.
Then what happens?
Unfortunately, not much. I was quite surprised when I started running agency reviews 5 years ago how little of the written responses were actually read in the initial stage of the process. What I learned was that the voluminous agency tomes (many exceeding 100 pages) were perfunctorily glanced at, thumbed through or ignored entirely.
A video component has been a part of the RFP process for about 15 years. The first one I ever saw came from Boston-based Pile & Company around 2001 and it asked for a short agency “culture video.” Then a few years later, it evolved into a request for a 5-10 minute video of the agency team that would work on the account having a roundtable discussion about the opportunity. I always incorporated the latter into my RFP’s when managing a review.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. My clients were ONLY watching the
videos and when impressed, they requested to ONLY look at the creative work. They ignored the written responses. Instead, they would simply ask me some of the key questions like, “how many employees?” and “where are they based?” and “do they have experience in our category?” And, of course, “where did they come out on their cost proposal?” They didn’t read the written response until we boarded a plane to visit a semi-finalist agency!
Which got me thinking…the video format allowed for breakthrough creativity and opportunities to make emotional connections with the client. It gave challenger agencies the chance to out-hustle the big boys. The best ones entertained, educated and inspired. AND they saved everybody a ton of time. What if the RFP called for video response entirely?
I just finished my tenth ALL-video RFP review. We asked the basic 12 or so questions be addressed up front (employees, mission, process, etc.). And then we asked to meet the team. And then we gave them creative license to riff however they wanted: “Show us what you’re all about…”
Most of the videos came in at 10-12 minutes in duration, and were shot with a GoPro camera. The good ones made us laugh or cry or get goosebumps (the best ones, all three). With ten courageous and innovative marketing clients, I think we revolutionized the Agency Review process.
It’s not about saving trees…it’s about saving time.
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