Experiential marketing as a business is experiencing explosive growth. But with that growth comes added scrutiny. For brand-side marketers charged with partnering with experiential agencies to deliver breakthrough experiences for attendees, that means issuing more RFPs, more often, with more attention to the bottom line. But as the cultural landscape evolves, so does the search for the perfect agency partner. New priorities, such as inclusion and diversity, have surfaced. And the demand for standout creative has never been higher. Straight from the trenches at Salesforce, Accel, Facebook and Stripe, here’s how some of the industry’s most active event departments are reprioritizing their RFP processes.
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1. Think diverse and inclusive
In today’s business climate, diversity and inclusivity are increasingly a priority for brands, not just within their own company cultures but within the organizations they do business with. That certainly applies to the RFP process. “We are looking for a company who values diversity, who values equal pay and can demonstrate that when they come in the door,” says Karin Flores, vp-strategic events, corporate marketing, at Salesforce. Ask how many women or people of color are on the agency’s executive leadership team. Is the agency diverse in gender and ethnicity, but also in backgrounds?
2. Prioritize the creative
With every brand seeking to conjure up that “wow” moment for attendees and hoping to unearth the next big thing in experiential, delivering on the creative portion of an RFP has increased in importance in recent years. “Everyone is generally becoming more visual and we need to know that they can meet us on that same level of the creative that we’re looking for,” says Trista Myers, head of events at Salesforce Ventures.
3. Beware of the trend trap
The influence of the Instagram museum can be detected far and wide—even beyond the event industry itself. But marketers should resist the urge to apply a splashy trend to their events if it’s not going to help deliver on company goals. “Agencies can take cues from that, but it’s not going to work for everyone,” says Myers. “I’m looking for how we can take some of the really awesome parts of [a trend] and apply it to b-to-b environments or experiences that really drive sales.”
4. Be transparent with budget
“I don’t feel the need to hide something from someone just to see if they can come in under budget,” says Flores. Moreover, she recommends avoiding apples-to-apples cost comparisons. “It’s just not possible anymore, and I think that all agencies have different, robust talents. They don’t look at things in the same way, and that’s what makes them special,” she says.
5. Get to know the team
When meeting an agency in person, request to meet with the team that you’ll actually be working with on the project. “I don’t want people to come into the RFPs, especially if they make it into the stand-up …read more