Method

RFPs Suck. Here’s How to Fix Them & Respond.

RFPs Suck. Here’s How to Fix Them & Respond. 560 280 Ryan Northcott

In the world of creative and video production every so often we are asked to respond to an RFP (Request for Proposal). To break it down a company is seeking to find a vendor to do work for them, be it architecture, web-design, creative services, and video production to name just a few. Generally companies want to get a few quotes to kick around and some concepts from outside their organization to use in a campaign, design etc. So the company will pick a group of companies or put out an open call for applicants, just as you would with a job opening. This seems like an interesting and cool concept, even one where the playing field can be levelled for competing companies, but in reality it is a terrible, terrible way to go about business.

Some companies are governed by ethics rules, in many cases brought on by the Sarbanes Oxley rules (SOX) which came to be after the Enron debacle. For some companies, they are required to get multiple quotes to avoid any ethical hiccups which in and of itself is not a bad idea at all, but the RFP takes it a step further to the point of absurdity.

At MEDIAPOP we now have a strict policy that we will not respond to RFPs…for these reasons:

  1. The RFP came to you out of the blue.
  2. The RFP is way too vague.
  3. They won’t respond or are very vague to critical questions about the RFP.
  4. The man-power and time it takes to respond may not equal the budget.
  5. The competition will always be cheaper.
  6. The company is justifying an already chosen vendor.
  7. You don’t know who the competition is.
  8. You don’t know who is evaluating your proposal.
  9. The client already likes someone else.
  10. Chances of an ongoing relationship are very low.
  11. The RFP is unrealistic.
  12. Your knowledge is limited to what’s in the RFP.
  13. Companies may default to an RFP for everything.
  14. Cookie cutter approach.
  15. Your creative service isn’t a commodity.
  16. Circumvents relevant communication.
  17. Without meaningful scope, how can you accurately quote?
  18. They have no idea who you are.
  19. RFPs are an invitation for competition, not suitability.
  20. The client’s budget is woefully ridiculous.

 

The reasons above seem pretty obvious, especially in the creative realm. For owners, marketing teams, and managers this is a lazy and uninformed approach to finding someone to fulfill those creative needs. The companies that rely on the RFP for creative will no doubt get 75% of responses that are bottom of the barrel both in price and skill. Creative skills cannot be considered a commodity. There aren’t barrels of this, or piles of that, Creative is concepts, ideas, and thoughts that aim to shift perception or enlighten an audience to something. Sure, you can go to the creative factory and get subpar concepts churned out for bottom dollar, but will they truly make the impact you’re hoping to achieve?

So if the idea of an RFP, specifically for creative services, is asinine and counterproductive then what is the alternative?

The first step for any company is research. Specifically for creative/video head over to Vimeo and see what the creatives in the area are doing. What grabs your attention? What gets you emotionally? What project changed the way you see something, that shifted your pre-conceived notion? Pick vendors that speak to you and what you’re trying to achieve. Once you’ve found those people, give them meaningful information about what you want…be as specific as you can, and open to change. Once ideas have come to the forefront have collaborative conversations with the utmost honesty. Here are some more alternatives:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Find vendors that are inline with your vision.
  3. Have a vision.
  4. Communicate often with the vendors.
  5. Be specific about your goals.
  6. Be upfront and honest about who the vendor is in competition with.
  7. Don’t let cost guide your choice.
  8. Don’t let cost guide your choice.
  9. Be open to new ideas and concepts.
  10. Don’t expect oodles and oodles of work for free.

 

This approach to finding the right vendor will most certainly elicit the greatest results. The fact of the matter is you’ll get greater results by searching for the best fit, rather than highest amount of responders. As in life, you attract what you project as a business. If you blindly put out RFPs it seems clear you’re not truly interested in the end creative project you get. You’ll certainly get responses, but there’s a difference between “we want the money” responses and the very few “we care about what you’re doing” responses that you probably won’t get.

RFPs suck. Stop doing them. Find your voice. Have a vision. Be better and reap the rewards.

Advertising in a World of Ad Blockers

Advertising in a World of Ad Blockers 1280 720 Ryan Northcott

I hate ads and I make them.

On every device, every browser, every possible way I could be advertised to – I block them. Why? Because advertising, in its current form, sucks. The majority of advertising lacks basic creativity, spams the pages you read with big bulky ads, tracks your movements with invasive scripts, interrupts the beauty of the web, and bores me to death with incredibly bland videos. Mostly we’ve been accustomed to ignoring them all together. I’ve gone so far to learn that if you can’t skip a YouTube ad, simply refresh the page and it’ll go away the next time you press play.

Look, it's a typically good stock family. Ugh.

Look, it’s a typically good looking stock family. Ugh.

Thing is, we need advertising. If we didn’t have advertising I wouldn’t know that Fluevog was having an amazing sale on that great pair of boots I want, for example. Advertising works, when done correctly, and when it focuses on one simple principal that we at MEDIAPOP adhere to…

Make advertising entertaining.

I've watched this ridiculous Old Spice ad ten times because it's hilarious.

I’ve watched this ridiculous Old Spice ad ten times because it’s hilarious.

You’ll see many examples of entertaining advertising, but these are the exception and not the rule. Why is that? Because companies are afraid to go to the line. When a company plays it “safe”, the message becomes noise lost in the void, stuck in the dead space. That dead space is where the viewer’s eyes gloss over, the brain shuts off, and misses all the action triggers. At MEDIAPOP we deploy a really simple factor that most advertisers miss.

MAKE THE VIEWER FEEL SOMETHING.

In every project we do we try as hard as we can to make an emotional connection between you and the viewer. We look at the intended audience, gauge what kind of emotion will make them act, and form the content around that emotion. The result is something unique me and others have felt; I want to watch your advertisement. Sell me something! We live in an age of Netflix, Hulu, Shomi, HBO Now – I’ll watch what I want, when I want – make your advertisements something I WANT to watch.

The top comments tell the story...

The top comments tell the story…

I’m not being biased here, but rather gleaning from my own experience as a viewer, the only effective ads that get me to act are videos that tell me an entertaining story. Not just any story, a story that gets my emotions involved. The beauty of video is for the most part isn’t blocked up by Ad or Content Blockers. So the real question of effectiveness is: Are you going to make video content that people want to watch? One of the best categories is Branded Content/Branded Short Films – The Intersection of Art & Commerce.

Branded Content is a simple formula:
• Get good story
• Tie it to brand
• Produce it
• Show it off

So why aren’t most advertisers or companies doing it? Fear. Yet, the people who are doing it are reaping the benefits. This is PRADA presents “CASTELLO CAVALCANTI” by Wes Anderson

This is an ad. It’s unabashedly an ad that is entertaining and memorable. It works.

We can apply this theory to absolutely anything.

Clothing retailer? Let’s write a script about how a more confident outfit leads to a more spectacular night of adventure.

Renewable Company? What does your technology do for the vulnerable communities in our world?

Construction Company? What happens to a neighbourhood when it’s transformed into a destination?

These are the type of stories we conjure up and produce when we follow the theory that every project must make an emotional connection.

Content and Ad Blockers are the new norm, get used to it. The whole advertising industry is flipping their lids trying to figure out how to deal with this new world of web and television advertising. Video is one avenue to beat this shift, but if it doesn’t do anything remarkable or entertaining it’ll fall into the dead space.

MEDIAPOP is one of a few companies that produce Branded Content. We’re a new generation of advertising companies flipping the normal upside down and calling a spade a spade; the old guard doesn’t get today and the future. We do.

Fibonacci, The Golden Ratio, Video & Film

Fibonacci, The Golden Ratio, Video & Film 956 396 Ryan Northcott

Influences in the way we shoot our productions range from directors we like, movies we cherish, and math. Math? Yes, math.

If you’re not familiar with Leonardo Fibonacci, he was an Italian mathematician born in the 12th century. He is known to have discovered the “Fibonacci numbers,” which are a sequence of numbers where each successive number is the sum of the two previous numbers.

e.g. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 21+34=55 etc.

There is a special relationship between the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence, here is a surprise: if you take any two successive (one after the other) Fibonacci Numbers, their ratio is very close to the Golden Ratio:

1.61803398875…and so on.

So how on earth does this relate to what we at MEDIAPOP do for our clients? First let’s begin with how that Golden Ratio and Fibonacci numbers can be visualized.

The Fibonacci Spiral:

The Fibonacci Spiral is evident in art, nature, and architecture to name a few –

The Rule of Thirds:

With those ratios visualized we can now start to see how that can be applied to video and film, and subconsciously it makes for a more visually appealing frame when you’re watching. Ali Shirazi put together a wonderful video about the mathematical cinematography in one of my favourite movies, “There Will Be Blood” Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

Just as important as the robust content we aim for when shooting for our clients, is the visual beauty of any given frame. Using the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci sequence we can mathematically calculate the beauty of a frame.