Agency Look in the Mirror

The agency new business proposal is a manifestation of you and your agency.

It is a reflection of who you are and how you operate.  Agency Look in the Mirror

Think about it in human terms.

You’ve seen them.  People who don’t care a great deal about the way they look.  More often than not the way they look is the way they operate throughout their entire life.  Two steps behind, never completely done right, always making excuses.

We’ve also seen just the opposite.  Well dressed, buttoned up…always looking good.  These folks likely have the rest of their stuff together.  Always thinking ahead, on top of things, well liked.

Ok…so a bit of an extreme.  Not everyone who is sloppy is useless and not everyone who is well dressed is the sharpest tool in the shed.  But chances are good that they will likely fall into their respective buckets based on how they look and how they present themselves.

I argue the same is true of proposal or RFP or RFI responses.

The agency that doesn’t follow directions, is verbose in their responses, misspells things, doesn’t make the engagement with the response entertaining and engaging…is likely to operate that way when they are hired by the marketing client.

Even if there is absolutely no truth to my hypothesis, think about this.  You’re 1 of 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 agencies involved in a review.  Your proposal is more like the sloppy dresser than the neat dresser.  Everyone else certainly isn’t sloppy – while they may not be the snappiest of dressers, their proposals are a bit more engaging, far less longwinded, and much more organized, making it easier for the marketing prospect to review its contents.

Who’s going to win?  And who is going to get knocked out?  Likelihood is you are if you’re the sloppy guy.

You need to take proposals seriously and while they may not be the thing that wins you the business, they certainly can help get you there.  Richard Saunders believes you shouldn’t do proposals.  I say hogwash to that.  Proposals are the first step to helping your prospective client see just how good you can be and how smart you are.

Don’t take it lightly.  Here are a few things you can do/consider to help yourself:

  • Take a step back and look at your last few proposals.  I recently did this for a client and found that there had been things carried over from proposal to proposal to the point where there were things in the proposal that made absolutely no sense being there.
  • Write it, step away from it, and then write it again.  Always good to put some space between your first writing and the final draft.
  • Change seats.  I do this when I am writing or reviewing documents.  A new perspective can be a mighty fresh perspective.
  • Always think:  Client first, me second.  Always think about why what you are writing is relevant to your audience.
  • Use 1/2 the words.  More than likely you can get the same idea across with 1/2 the number of words.  Your prospects are busy and they don’t have time to listen to you go on and on.





Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.