There seem to be a number of mixed messages about the current state of the industry floating around out there right now. However, current RFP activity is up and there appear to be a lot of accounts on the move.
While doyens of our industry like Sir Martin of WPP and Michael Roth of IPG, continue to deliver tales of doom about the current state of the industry, actual RFP activity seems to picking up. The trend appears to include a broad mix of accounts, from the large multinationals all the way through to the smaller regional players. One midsize agency I spoke to last week, told me that they had five RFP’s come in over the transom in the last 10 days. Three of which came from the pitch consultants. Interesting to note, not one of them were the result of outbound agency prospecting efforts.
As expected, the pitch consultants continue to be very active in this arena. However, an interesting twist, is the trend for these consultants to take on smaller regional agency searches that historically they would not have been involved in. In addition, they are becoming increasingly involved with agency searches for large stand alone projects versus the traditional AOR type assignments. Competition is tougher than ever for these accounts, with as many as 30 agencies being invited to partcipate in the first stage RFI process and, as many as seven or eight going through to the final round. For example, there is currently an RFI out in the market for Digital AOR of a large multinational client. In this instance no less than twenty digital agencies have been invited to respond to the initial RFI.
Currently, there appear to be just as many agency searches being handled directly by client companies. These range from regional hospital groups searching for a brand strategy agency, to searches for social media specialists.
This activity seems to line up with a recent survey finding published on emarketer.com. According to a recent ANA survey, the marketers surveyed in summer 2009 were more than twice as likely to expect a budget increase in the next six months compared with January-February.
If your agency has not experienced an upturn in new business activity over the last 60 days, you might want to take this opportunity to review your new business strategy and outreach efforts.