Fall is quickly upon us, and with it, comes football season, cooler weather, and if you’re in my business, the onset of strategic planning sessions, research, briefs, request for proposals (RFPs), and media negotiations. In an effort to create more visibility behind the scenes as to what can be done to put your best foot forward to get on a pending media buy, the following are some tips you may find useful.
- Read. Media professionals spend a significant amount of time creating an RFP, ensuring the identification of client goals and KPIs are outlined so each media partner is aware of the overall success metrics. We also conduct in-depth research in order to better understand the target audience, position in the market, current marketing strategy, previous areas of success, etc. As strategic planners, we make every effort to execute the best possible RFP, in order to get the best proposal targeted to our goals. We strongly encourage you to take the time to read these documents, work with your planners, ask questions, and provide recommendations to ensure you are headed in the right direction.
- Follow directions. There are very specific reasons we ask that media templates be filled out with the proposed plans and/or spec sheets. Failure for a proposal to include this information can result in a media partner not being considered if there are specific spec requirements and tight timelines. When in doubt, include additional research, statistics, case studies, or information. This information can provide planners a better understanding of the elements in the proposal beyond a descriptor of “Custom Behavioral Segment Targeting, Adults 25-54.” Since behavioral targeting often works differently pending on the publisher or network, having an understanding of what you are recommending is extremely important. The additional information and screenshots you provide will make it into the recommendation if you are on the media plan, and it does set you apart from the competition.
- Customize. One of my biggest pet peeves is receiving a proposal with ROS/RON only on the media plan with a caveat that we need to have only run ROS/RON to see what works. While I realize ROS/RON is great to be able to cast a wide net and hone in on more granular targeting options, but unless you have a very direct response client who only looks at the low CPM or CPC, ROS/RON is not sexy. Presenting a media plan with general inventory, such as all ROS, is not engaging, looks unimaginative, and can lack when compared to other plans that have various elements to test and try.
- Differentiate. A few years ago, I hosted an IAB webinar, The 411 on Advertising Networks, about advertising networks and how to evaluate them. Prior to the webinar, our media team conducted a survey of nearly 30 of the top ad networks (there are more than 300 total) and asked them: What was their key differentiator or value proposition that sets them apart from the competition? We then did a word cloud of the responses. It was amazing how many noted the exact same points of differentiation – technology, reach, data partnerships, transparency, etc. Know the space, know what truly differentiates you and understand it. To say your competitive advantage is your technology platform, but not be able to explain it, negates any competitive advantage.
- Timeliness. Turn it in on time, or if you know you have a conflict, let the planner know as soon as possible. I like to allow at least a week for an RFP to be completed by media partners, as I want to ensure there is plenty of time allowed. However, regardless of the timeline, we are all human and all too often many deadlines hit at once. In an effort to avoid the appearance that you just started working on it the day it is due, inform your planners if you run into any challenges completing it, and then indicate when we might receive the final proposal.
- Follow-up. No communication or contact after the RFP is sent and then an influx of calls and questions the day before it is due gives me a pretty good indication of who’s waiting until the last minute to complete the RFP. The closer we get to the due date, the busier our lives get. The best time to follow up with questions is shortly after the RFP is sent, as this is typically down-time in waiting for the proposals, getting everything ready for evaluation and negotiation once they come in. After the proposals are submitted, there is always an urgent request to get some face time and present or review what was in the proposal. I recommend leveraging the down-time and brainstorm ideas on what to include in the proposal prior to the due date. Daily follow-up correspondence and cupcakes are unnecessary.
While you may find the above tips no-brainers and you are already following them; well then – bravo! However, in my day to day, we frequently encounter some of the above challenges that can make planning more difficult and wanted to share in hopes for an easier fall. Wouldn’t we all rather be watching a little football?