Big Idea: Ryan Berman, I.d.e.a.

Ryan Berman, founder and chief idea officer, I.d.e.a., says Request for Clients is a better approach than RFPs.

Ryan Berman
Ryan Berman

Speaking on behalf of agencies everywhere, the RFP process needs a timeout. Not a 20-second break, but a full let’s talk this over timeout.

If I had to guess, I would say prospective clients do not enjoy the RFP process. Clients are not in the business of wasting hundreds of days, thousands of non-billable hours, and millions of their brand’s dollars just to familiarize themselves with a score of agencies they will never see again.

And truth be told, that firm jumping through seven rounds of spec work and four months of meetings just to be an AOR is doing so for the wrong reason – the money. After 120 days of pitching, can you blame them that their motives changed from when that first "opportunity call" came in? 

Not even RFPs run by search consultants hope they drag on. They pride themselves on swift marketing matchmaking.

Time to change
If no one’s truly happy with the RFP, why are we all still living it? If there’s an insight we can derive from this broken process, it’s that it takes immense time, money, and investigation to get into an AOR relationship. As a CMO, if you get it wrong, you are off to your next gig, while your recently departed company may end up back in the RFP process.

Hence the introduction of our CMO-friendly, time- and cost-saving solution, Request For Client. This process selfishly allows us to quickly see if you are a good fit for us.

What to look for
What are we truly looking for in a client? First, it is stated in our name – I.d.e.a. – what we value most. In a media-obese world, coming up with powerful ideas, then powering those ideas that get above the noise is our bread and butter.

Second, we are looking for  program of record opportunities versus AOR relationships. We aspire to try you out as much as have you try us out. Our Special Forces approach – apropos for a San Diego-based company – is best suited for powering these custom programs that move people, products, and culture.

Finally, we are looking for brand partners who take their work seriously, but not themselves too seriously. Our culture is our everything. We really do like each other, and we want to like those people or clients we work with as well.

But enough about us. Agencies, perhaps creating your own version of Request For Client will help you efficiently attract clients you would prefer to partner with. And prospective clients, maybe tiptoeing is the best way to test agencies while protecting yourself, your budget, and your roster of brands.

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