[q&a] Vickie Szombathy VP, Media Director, Starlink
q: Is there a need for a new RFP format?
a: I suppose that depends on the agencies, but within ABM, the publishers felt there was a definite need to elicit information that was critical to help them put together a better response for an RFP. We had a lot of conversations about that at the ABM media advisory board. I was stunned at the lack of info these guys were getting.
The RFP currently says the client’s name, how long the campaign runs and for publishers to submit their proposals. They were dealing with young planners who really did not have the information. So we asked the AAAA to sponsor the new format.
The new format asks the agency the client’s marketing goals and the goals of the campaign. Tell us about the target audience. What is the objective of the campaign? What are the key factors in the competitive environment? And one of the most important questions: How is the campaign going to be measured for success? They told us that these are the things that will help publishers put together a better RFP.
q: Why has the RFP been so poorly done?
a: Young planners are being told to send an RFP and they are not getting background at all on the client. Sometimes a client does not want to release information and that is understandable. We should be having conversations around these issues. If you can give any of this information you are going to get back a much better RFP.
q: How acute is the problem?
a: Based on what I heard in these meetings, it runs the gamut from "We get this sometimes" to "We never get this." There is a problem in the industry on b-to-b accounts. Quite often the newest people are thrown on these accounts and they don’t know how to handle it all. It happens because people are time-crunched or don’t have the answers to the questions raised by publishers. Someone is responsible for that information. Maybe at small shops they don’t understand the need.
q: Is there a bigger issue here: Media companies being lazy and not doing their homework in preparation for a proposal?
a: Quite often that is the case. There are a lot of media folks out there who feel all this other information is secondary. ﾑIt’s making me think too hard,’ they say. I think it is true on both sides.
q: Do you anticipate adoption?
a: I do. There is nothing out-of-bounds here. You are going to get better responses to your RFPs.