Why automating your RFP responses will save you serious time and money
RFPs – Requests for Proposals – are an intrinsic part of doing business in any Out-of-Home market. The RFP or Request for Proposal signals the beginning of a potential new relationship between buyer and seller. Here in the UK, the buy side of that relationship is dominated by the five major Specialists: Talon, Posterscope, MediaCom, Kinetic and Rapport. All of whom are live (or close to it) with automated systems that help them plan targeted campaigns across multiple media owners using Route data. These campaign plans or RFPs are then sent to media owners and the race to respond begins.
But the reality is that for media owners, responding to RFPs is more a marathon than a sprint and those three letters spell opportunity and cost in equal measure. Pulling together a response is a hugely time consuming and expensive exercise for media owners. Briefs are interrogated, availability and prices checked and schedules tweaked. Traditionally, it can take weeks for a buyer, not to mention a client, to receive a completed response. Further still, as D/OOH sets its sights on omnichannel advertising budgets, media owners can expect briefs to become increasingly complex and be under greater pressure to deliver on speed, efficiency and cost.
But responding to RFPs does not have to be so labour intensive for media owners. Whether you’re a top tier media owner or a challenger brand, it’s possible to respond to RFPs almost instantly with the precision and efficiency that will make your competition weak at the knees. Using automation.
The benefits of automating your response to RFPs
Media people are savvy. They’re always on the look out for a way to get an edge over their competition. There’s a golden opportunity in OOH right now where some media owners are embracing technology to their advantage, while others wait to see how it all lands. In some areas this is a sensible move, but when it comes to automating RFP responses, there are a multitude of benefits to be had, without the need to dive in at the deep end.
It’s no secret that, for media owners, responding to RFPs is painful, time-consuming and expensive. Every unsuccessful RFP response is a big cost that must be recouped elsewhere. So, it’s pretty clear that one of the biggest benefits of automating this process will be to media owner’s bottom line. Smart software, purpose-built for Out-of-Home companies can relieve sales teams by translating a request, check live pricing and availability, applying the buyer’s specific business rules then sending back a proposal almost instantly. This not only saves time and money but also frees up your sales team to focus on closing, upselling and fostering client relationships.
Respond almost instantly
It’s likely that when it comes to sales, you know what you’re doing. So we don’t need to extol the benefits of striking while the iron is hot. By creating a live connection between your inventory and your top clients, it is possible to automate a near instant initial response to an RFP. Before your competitors have even had a chance to open the email.
Respond to last minute RFPs
More and more brands are beginning to use DOOH in a more dynamic, context-relevant and dynamic ways. This means the days of long lead times are numbered and last minute RFPs will come in thick and fast. This isn’t a problem if your responses are automated. In fact, by consistently responding and delivering on RFPs with short lead times, you’ll be given more opportunities to fill those last minute spaces before you need to discount them.
Respond 100% of the time
Once a live connection between your system and your buyer’s is established, it’s no more work for them to send you every RFP. Not just the ones they choose to send and filter you out of before you’ve even had a look in. Better yet, because your response is automated, you can respond to all briefs – no matter how big or small – rather than needing to prioritise those your team has the resources to deal with.
Future proof your business
It’s clear there are big gains to be had by automating your response to RFPs now. But the biggest gain is one that will be reaped in the future (and that future is probably closer than you think). In the UK, the five specialists buy around 85-90% of D/OOH media. Four out of five of those specialists are now live and trading through an automated planning and buying system. The pace of change and investment going into these systems tells us that it won’t be long before 100% of their transactions are automated. When that happens, it’s likely those still running on a manual RFP process, will be left in the cold.
How do I automate my RFP response process?
The first step to automating the RFP response process is to move your inventory from a spreadsheet to a live, online system. This system doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles, it just needs to be live.
The second step is to create a live connection between your system and automated buyers. With very little standardisation happening in the world of OOH, this one is a little harder and it’s where software, purpose-built for OOH, can help. While with the right team it can be done in-house, given the time, resource and technical capabilities required to build and maintain this connection, most media owners choose to work with a technology partner. Finding a partner who can not only build this connection, but manage and maintain it as your automated business grows, is critical.
At Signkick, we believe that automating your OOH business shouldn’t be overwhelming. Connectivity+ is designed to first arm independent media owners with a lightweight system for managing automated booking and placing manual ones. For top tier media owners who already have their own system, there’s Signkick Trading Bridge. Both then set you up with a friction-free connection between you and your buyer, managing all translations and changes in between, to allow information and bookings to flow instantly between you.