Marketers need to work on issuing more detailed briefings to agencies throughout the new business search process, according to recent findings that inspired a new set of agency search guidelines from both the ANA and 4A's.
The guidelines -- which show an increased willingness between the leading trade group for marketers and leading trade group for agencies to align their messaging to members -- are a follow-up to a similar, two-year-old set of best practices by both advertising organizations.
When the 4A's and ANA recently revisited those guidelines, they discovered that their members were not adhering to the suggested practices, said Tom Finneran, exec VP of agency management services at the 4A's. So after conducting another study earlier this year, they produced a new, more specific set of best practices throughout each stage of the search process, including the RFI, RFP and finalist stage.
"We tried to find out what were the areas of weak adherence," said Mr. Finneran. "What we found, first and foremost, is there were inadequate briefings. They were lacking details about the marketers' business and guidance, he explained.
That's why the ad trade groups are suggesting, in the new best practices, that "each review phase warrants different types and levels of client briefing information."
"Marketers are strongly encouraged to take the time to provide proper and detailed briefing guidance throughout the agency selection process or otherwise risk a 'garbage in, garbage out' result," said Bill Duggan, Group Executive Vice President of the ANA, in a statement.
Request for Information
In the RFI stage, the guidelines suggest marketers "share enough information about the search and your expectations as a client to allow the agencies to make an informed decision about whether this is a good fit."
Marketers are also missing out on basic but valuable information when they skip the RFI stage and jump straight to the request for proposal -- especially if they're considering a long list of agencies, according to the report.
During the earlier, long-list phase of an agency search, "Clients weren't using RFIs to do the preliminary screening," said Mr. Finneran. "RFI's are more simple. They're easier [than RFPs] as prescreeners for both clients and agencies."
Request for Proposal and Semi-Finals
Although the most common pitfall was "inadequate" briefings, Mr. Finneran also also cited "RFPs from hell."