Responding to RFPs is one of my job responsibilities that I relish. It’s a sign of success (and relief) to know that our agency has been selected to bid on a project. And, it builds a terrific amount of excitement internally as our team creates a sales pitch that demonstrates a perfect balance of knowledge, expertise and, of course, personality to match the client’s needs.

Most RFPs issued by clients include the usual requests: qualifications, capabilities, process, costs and timing. But more and more, prospective clients are asking questions that probe a bit deeper, aiming to get a better idea of what our agency is really like, and a feel for what it’s like to work with SPM.

At the end of the day, clients are looking for the perfect eHarmony match. And, so is SPM. So, when we were recently asked to name the top 10 qualities for ideal client partners, here is how we responded:

#10:     They challenge us to continually break new ground. The SPM vision is to deliver What’s Next in Healthcare Marketing Communications®. Our best and most successful clients are eager for and expect new ideas.

#9:       They trust us, and we trust them. We win clients because of what we’ve done for others. We keep clients because of what we do for them. We know trust is earned and, like all strong relationships, only gets stronger over time.

#8:       They have support for marketing starting at the top. We do our best work when our marketing partners are empowered by their CEO.

#7:       They communicate openly and clearly with us. When there’s an issue, we want to hear it right away. When we’re doing a great job, we’d like to hear that, too.

#6:       They have something relevant to tell consumers that could mean the difference between life and death. Unlike virtually any other consumer category, hospital advertising IS “curing cancer” and IS “brain surgery.” We don’t take that mission lightly.

#5:       They are willing to take calculated risks. To stand out in a crowded competitive category, our best clients know they have to stand out—in a relevant, impactful, and motivating way.

#4:       They like to work collaboratively. We don’t work effectively in a vacuum. The more our clients make us a part of their challenges—all challenges, not just communications—the more effective we can be.

#3:       They know we’ll always give them an honest point-of-view. They don’t want “yes men.” In the end, we also know our clients have the final say. We respect that.

#2:       They give us access. They make us part of their team. We talk every day, we’re in meetings, we immerse ourselves (and stay immersed) in their organization. We get to know the marketing team, senior leadership, the docs, everyone.

#1:       They want to have fun, too. Great teams find time to laugh. To break bread together. To celebrate. To get to know one another. It makes all the difference!

Finding the right Client/Agency partnership is not an easy task. RFPs are a time-consuming, difficult task, so there’s a reason why they aren’t issued very frequently. The goal is to find and develop a positive, long-term relationship between both parties. Knowing upfront what both sides want and expect creates the recipe for success!

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