Use numbers to your advantage in ad agency new business RFPs

Hello there, sports fans! A crisp, nearly Fall-like morning here in Chicago. But you aren’t here for a weather report. So, let’s get to it!

RFPs can be a real pain in the butt. There’s a core list of questions that seem to come with them. Today’s thought-starter is around the questions that focus on numbers. “Use numbers to your advantage” means having multiple answers available to answer a given question.

Let’s say, for example, you work on five brands at Kraft Foods. So, do you work with one client… or five?  Both answers are true. Which one do you use? Let your research, homework, and pitch strategy be your guide. But be clear what the number is in a footnote. Please understand I’m not suggesting that you aren’t transparent. Lying is not cool. Clarity can set you free.

Here are… a couple of other ways you can use RFP numbers to your advantage:

  • Agency size. Does the prospect specify what they’re looking for? But we all know there are differences between revenue, sheer # of clients, gross billings, # staffers, etc.
  • Client tenure. Does it help you to add a column that does the math for them? The average, sadly, is three years. If you’ve had one client for 20 years and the rest for two, perhaps you need a sentence that brings life to the stats. Clients stay on your roster an average of  “X” years – a number much higher two years.
  • Staff size. Full-timers, or can you include outsiders? What about your banker, accountant and lawyer. Do they count?

A great stat I once used at a mid-sized agency was staff tenure. We were full of professionals that had been there a long, long time. With clients that had been with us for years. That screams “relationship agency,” and, when appropriate, I would find places to put those numbers. Even if it wasn’t asked for. So, feel free to also add some context in an RFP that will help your cause.

Some of you may be looking at this post and feel there’s some tomfoolery going on. Do these examples “cook” the numbers? This is for you to decide. In any and all cases, however, I’m not suggesting you stretch the truth. (Again, use a footnote!) Just know you have multiple ways of looking at numbers, and should use them to reflect the reasons why your agency is ideally suited to work on the prospect’s business.

Should you have any thoughts about the above, feel free to share ’em! Thanks.