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Digital Media Proposals That Win

Monday, September 24th, 2012

What are digital media buyers looking for in proposals, and what gets them to say ‘yes’?

After speaking with over 100 interactive media planners and publishers this month, I was surprised to learn how much variability there is in the quality of digital media proposals. It was also a challenge to find the ones that were most effectively aligned with clients’ goals and objectives. I was intent on helping publishers respond more effectively, so I asked a subject matter expert (SME) on the buy side, “what are the top five things you look for in an RFP response?” Here’s what he said:

#1 Completeness — don’t expect to be considered if you neglect to provide a completed proposal with flight dates, impressions, rates and cost for all placements. This may sound obvious, but not all proposals come through with this required information.

#2 Rationale — publishers need to provide rationale for the campaign as a whole, and for all of the proposed pieces of the plan. Publishers need to answer the following question: “Why is the overall campaign and each placement a good fit for the advertiser’s target and goals?”

#3 Differentiation — make sure your points of differentiation are easily identified and clear. If you received an RFP, then it is likely that your competitors have received one too.

#4 Clarification — a vendor who does not ask questions is likely to be perceived as disengaged in the RFP. If you pay close attention and ask good questions, then you’ll be far more likely to address the core needs of the advertiser and subsequently have a much better chance of being accepted.

#5 Brief Sales Pitch — it’s not always true that buyers don’t want to be sold. Here’s what my SME had to say in conclusion of the top 5 things he looks for in an RFP response:

“You gotta sell me. If you aren’t into it, then I won’t be… but just don’t go on too long.” Joel Nierman, Marketing and Media Director at Critical Mass

In addition to these insights from Joel, I’d like to offer an observation of my own. While content is king, format is queen. Media planners have not yet embraced the applications designed to streamline digital media acquisition and ad trafficking processes, but continue on as Excel junkies suffering from spreadsheet substance abuse.

So the takeaway is this — be creative and differentiate from the competition, but NOT at the expense of changing format. Make the numbers portion of your proposal fit the RFP template and it will be easier for the planner to say ‘yes’ to everything else. If this is not provided, then ask the question (#4 above) “how can I best provide you with the numbers so you don’t need to transpose them on your end?”… now you’re helping the buyer on an individual level as well.