6 Golden Rules of Responding to Impossible RFPs
Sitting at her desk on a late Tuesday afternoon, Amy was positively surprised by an RFP from the client she didn’t even chase. She rushed to open the attached RFP and after a couple minutes of reading, she closed her eyes and said: this is impossible to work with!
Getting an irresistible high-demand RFP
Amy works for a large publisher that serves as one of the top wedding planning destinations on the web. The RFP she just got was from a small travel agency. They wanted to run a campaign with the off
er of honeymoon deals for exotic locations. If that didn’t narrow down the inventory enough, they were also looking to target a certain type of couples with a determined household income, that is interested in an exotic destination, AND are likely to convert. It’s impossible to say no to such a high budget they were looking to invest, Amy was thinking, but it’s also impossible to avoid headaches while answering to this one!
What Amy has to do is come up with a media plan that will enable the advertiser to reach a specific type of users and reach them enough times and in a way that will get them to convert, with minimum impression waste.
She reached out to the lowest drawer and picked up a scraped-together copy of the company’s internal Sales Planner’s Bible. After opening the covers, she was greeted by an unusually fitting opening sentence written in the middle of an otherwise blank page: "This is not the end. Stay calm and follow these 6 rules to get yourself out of that mess". Lovely, she said to herself sarcastically, but gave it a shot anyways. She flipped the page and started reading ...
Awareness vs. conversions
The majority of campaigns will have one of these two as a goal, if not both of them. NEVER guarantee conversions if your audience is not aware of the brand. Even though this metric is much less measurable than the conversion rate, the advertiser should be aware of that it’s a must-have each time they’re tapping into a new audience. Depending on the campaign goal, the reach or frequency will position themselves as the main metric. If the advertiser is going for awareness, even though they’d like to build it among a highly specific pool of users, the larger the reach, the larger the possibility that more users will move down the marketing funnel.
Makes perfect sense, Amy thinks to herself. As this is a new agency she’s working with, it’s best to be honest and kick it off with an awareness phase. So, she starts by dividing the plan in 2 phases. She plans on doing additional research in order to recognize relevant users that are not determined by the RFP. By thinking outside the box, she’ll be able to offer a larger reach to the agency, which will definitely give her an edge!
Raising the value of the inventory
While the price of the inventory depends largely on the ad pricing models, there are always ways to increase its value. If you’re able to divide your audience into highly specific groups and provide detailed information on their past behavior, this will automatically raise the value of the offered inventory and enable a CPM pricing model.
Having in mind the large amount of data that the company is generously buying from 3rd party vendors, as well as the in-house compiled wealth of user information, Amy is happy to be able to provide both a specific user profile and add an additional layer of behavioral targeting. While reducing the audience pool, this also significantly raises the value of the offered inventory.
Deciding on an ideal frequency cap
There has been a lot of talk about the ideal frequency. Starting from the golden rule of 7 to the range between 6 and 10, the perfect frequency needs to be tested and researched. It will usually depend on the reached users, as well as the advertiser and the offer. You should always offer your view on the ideal number, along with some high-end analytics based on other advertisers’ success.
Well, that’s a great advice, Amy thinks to herself, imagining all the other advertisers she worked with that offered similar deals to their audience. If she only had time to work on the research, it would make such a difference!
Once the brand awareness is reached and you start aiming for conversions, going with rich media, custom activations, or section takeovers will usually have more impact. In the age of video, social, and smart native advertising, the appeal for standard ads is spiraling downwards.
Amy is aware of the impact that social media has, so she’s going for a Facebook and Instagram promotion, with gorgeous lifestyle images, as well as a custom created blog from one of the publisher’s best bloggers. Having video assets will enable a beautiful teaser of the exotic locations that their users could visit!
Let’s get creative
Having the right audience and activations can only get you so far. The advertiser needs to engage with your audience in a meaningful way! Sure, everyone likes a special offer or a deal, but offering additional best practices about the ad creative will help you seal the deal. Especially when it comes to targeting a narrow pool of users, running and a/b testing multiple creatives with different messaging and call-to-action is the right thing to do. This way, while the same user is seeing the message from the same advertiser, one could be a deal of offer (percentages shaved off the price), while the other could be educational, learn more CTA oriented creative.
As she read this part, Amy felt a bit overwhelmed. It would be amazing to have this kind of research to attach, but with the tight deadline, she just doesn't have time for this great step! Thinking that she already did a good enough job, she moved to the last golden rule.
Use all of the resources at your disposal
Taking that extra step could mean a difference between choosing a “Closed/Won” and “Lost” option on your sales sheet. Sometimes that means working for 36 hours within a single, 24-hour day. Divide the tasks between those that have to be done in-house, and those that can be outsourced. It’s always hard to part with your precious campaign but outsourcing tasks will leave you with more time to focus on the finer details or the next client. Working with an experienced agency which has experience with numerous different publishers will not only get the job done but will also result in additional inputs and solutions you didn’t even consider. The deadline is always “yesterday” so stop hesitating and start delegating!
That’s it! The shiny beacon of hope she was looking for. Without a moment’s hesitation, Amy reached out to the external support team. The next day, she wrote a witty email addressed to the client, explaining all the fine points for running a successful campaign along with custom execution solutions, research, and a bulletproof media plan.
Fast-forward 3 years later, Amy’s working with the same client and they now only have one request for every new campaign and that’s “Working with Amy”.