Running a Media Agency Pitch: How To Produce A Quality RFP

Media Agency Pitch

May 20, 2022 | Philippe Dominois

Running a Media Agency Pitch: How To Produce A Quality RFP

Writing a world-class Request For Proposal (RFP) isn’t easy. But mastering this skill is crucial, especially for challenger brands. An effective RFP will turbocharge your chances to find a media agency that will act in your best interests and champion your brands as you take the fight to more established competitors.

If you’ve been researching RFP templates, or searching for best practice approaches to writing an effective RFP, your work stops here. In this article, we’ll outline why you need a comprehensive RFP and detail six essential elements, including 29 supporting details, of an industry-leading RFP that will help you get the agency you deserve.


First, the basics. Here’s why you need a professional and comprehensive RFP.

In today’s media landscape, overwhelm is around every corner. Successful media agencies simply do not have the time, resources, or inclination to respond to every RFP that passes through their doors.

For challenger brands, that means the pressure is on. Only an RFP that exudes knowledge and quality will likely tempt the best agencies into action. But if you can show you know what you’re doing by producing a full, thorough and intelligent RFP, the best agencies are still in reach – and much more likely to want your business.


How to structure your RFP

Your aim with a comprehensive RFP is to create a document that answers all possible questions. Take time to include everything required of your agency. RFPs that simply prompt more queries are the first to be discarded by time-poor media agencies.

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the six essential elements we recommend you include in your next RFP.


1. Background information

The opening section of your RFP acts as a scene setter. Media agencies considering whether to respond need to first understand where you sit in the market, your strengths, your weaknesses, and what you are trying to achieve. We recommend three clear sub-sections:

  • Current situation, which outlines why you are seeking to pitch your media planning and buying needs, and describes your current media planning and buying set-up.

  • Goals and objectives, which declares what you hope to achieve with your chosen agency.

  • History, which provides background information about your company’s size, growth, target audience, and market share. 


2. Pitch information

The second section of a best-in-class RFP outlines the specifics of the process: what’s involved, when, and with who. We recommend six clear sub-sections:

  • Timeline, which details each specific milestone and an overall pitch process calendar.

  • Pitch team, which outlines which members of your team will be involved in the assessment of each agency.

  • Contact details, for all the key personnel responsible for communicating with each agency.

  • Decision-making process, which casts light on the scoring methodology you will use during the pitch process.

  • Meetings schedule and venues, which should outline both dates and locations of all anticipated meetings. 

  • Brand attendeeswhere you detail which of your staff will attend which meetings throughout the pitch process.


3. Scope of work

In the next section of your RFP, you will begin to outline the extent of the collaboration you are aiming to build. We recommend six clear sub-sections:

  • Markets, which details each territory in which you wish to advertise.

  • Media channels, which details whether media planning and buying will be required for both offline and online channels. Be upfront about any in-house media buying requirements.

  • Detailed scope of work, which covers everything from account management and media buying through to strategic planning and reporting.

  • Service expectations, which determine your minimum requirements from the winning agency.

  • Reporting requirements, which covers the specific reports (and their frequency) that you expect as part of the contract.

  • Media budgets, which gives your agency an indication of the spend you are willing to commit to achieve your goals.


4. Deliverables for the chemistry meeting

A key part of any pitch process is the chemistry meeting. This section of your RFP outlines how you anticipate that meeting being structured. We recommend four clear sub-sections:

  • Agency requirements, in which the agency introduces itself, its business, and explains its media planning and buying needs when it works with its clients.

  • Proposed agency team, in which the agency introduces each of the key members of staff it will allocate to your account.

  • Agency presentation, in which the agency delivers a short overview of its history and current strengths.

  • Q&As, in which each agency can ask questions about the strategic exercise that needs to be presented during the pitch presentation (see section six).


5. Deliverables for the written response

The penultimate stage of your RFP outlines your requirements from each agency’s written response. We recommend six clear sub-sections:

  • Media planning and buying process, giving step-by-step details of the agency’s approach and its process.

  • Media documentation, which demonstrates the quality of the strategies and reports used during the planning and buying process.

  • Remuneration proposal, which should be supplied with full transparency of all individual costs.

  • PRF value proposal, which gives details on the maximum value of the bonus and malus percentage based on the annual base fee.

  • Commitments, which allows each agency to outline its commitments in terms of media pricing, media quality levels, AVBs/cash rebates, and digital media technical costs/rates.

  • Tools and systems, which gives the agency an opportunity to highlight its full suite of tools across planning, reporting, analysis, and customer research.


6. Deliverables for the pitch presentation

The final section of your RFP gives media agencies the opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking capabilities. We recommend three clear sub-sections:

  • Planning tools, including how they work and the benefits they bring to the agency and its clients.

  • Strategic planning and critical thinking, which gives each agency the opportunity to present its recommendations and insights around achieving your objectives.

  • Campaign performance measurement and optimisation, in which each agency can outline its approach to negotiations, media buying, measurement, and optimisation.

The key to success is in understanding RFP best practices

Attracting interest from the best media agencies is a difficult task, but challenger brands adopting RFP best practices are seeing the rewards for adopting a methodical approach.

As with most things, detail is essential. The detail you include in your RFP impacts its quality and, in turn, the quality of the responses you receive. Yet these fundamentals are often ignored.

Most advertisers running media agency pitches tend to meet with several agencies. During those meetings, the agencies talk predominantly about themselves. With little more than chemistry by which to judge each agency, advertisers award the business acting on little more than a glorified hunch.

Clearly, this approach is not thorough. It has also been proven to lead to huge disappointments. That’s why having mechanisms in place first to test each agency, and secondly to hold the chosen agency to account, is so crucial. Without those mechanisms, advertisers are flying blind.

Abintus is one of the key media consultancies promoting a strategic and systematic approach to RFPs, agency management, and maximising the effectiveness of media spend. 

Its founders have more than 40 years’ experience in international media, and together they have helped challenger brands around the world make up ground on more established competitors.

Get in touch today for a free consultation and find out how our expertise helps you run best-in-class media agency pitches, improve media performance, and get the best possible return from your media investments.

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