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By Jeremy Dobrish

If you look up “raconteur” in the dictionary, you will surely find a picture of Michael Thompson, the Vice President of Strategic Communications at Nuveen. And if you look up “super-duper-organized”, there you shall find Proscenium’s Senior Manager of Growth and Administration, Bethany Potter.

We met Michael when he was with Lowe’s and was part of the RFP team who ended up going with Proscenium. And, if you listen to the ProCast regularly, you’ll recognize Bethany as the voice of the always-on-it “Behind The Scenes Bethany”. I was really excited to talk to the two of them together. Michael understands the RFP process from the agency side, and Bethany manages almost all of Proscenium’s RFP responses. So, this was a real chance to learn about the RFP process from multiple perspectives.

I started by asking Michael what makes a good RFP, to which he replied:

"You have to write it in a way that everyone you're inviting to participate in will understand and be able to give you the information you need in order to make that apples-to-apple, comparison. It sounds simple on the surface and then it gets really difficult, really fast. The real secret to a good RFP is writing it in a way that no matter who they send it off to, they're going to understand what it is you're looking for."

I asked Michael, if that’s the case, why not give a budget number for the agencies to hit?

"If we find a firm in this process, that's double the price, but gives us a show that’s 10 times better isn't that worth the money."

Bethany, however, argued that:

"Having even a range or some sort of anchor point to shoot for can be really helpful so that we have the best chance of giving you what you're trying to accomplish with that event."

I asked Michael what he found in the proposals that helped him make his final decision:

"In the end it was unique ideas and a level of creativity"

Next, I asked Bethany what she does to try to make sure her response will win:

"The word value, I think, is really important because you could go based off of who's going to give me the cheapest show, but you're not going to get the best show that you could."

Then I asked Michael why stand-ups are important:

"You get a chance to see how they support each other. How did they treat you? If they treat each other with respect, then they'll likely treat us with respect as well."

Then, he dropped a terrific nugget of wisdom:

"I want the varsity on my show and the way I treat my agency, and the way we treat everybody on site is going to go a long way towards ensuring that if we didn't get the varsity in year one, we're going to get them in year two. Because that word's going to spread, oh, that's a show you want to be on."

And why does Bethany think stand-ups are important?

"It's a chance for us to see how the client and how they operate and to get a better feel for them."

She also added,

"Companies should be hiring agencies for their thinking for their alignment on how they work. We can't read your mind, but if we work with you we can really tailor something that hopefully you would love."

The three of us talked for a good long time, and the quotes above just give a small taste of the sort of wisdom that came out in this episode. If you’re interested in the RFP process, If you're interested in the RFP process, I highly recommend listening to the full episode to hear more stories, and gain more insight. To listen head to the episode page or download it anywhere fine podcasts are found.

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