Thanks to our work on agency searches, we hear a wide variety of questions asking us for tips on how to fine-tune the process.

For all the companies looking to make the search easier and more painless, a surprising number overlook a critical piece of the foundation: their RFI. Before you start your next search, consider the following and construct the best RFI for your needs.

Fine tuenKnow What You’re Looking For

I’m guessing that for many of you reading this, this first point also strikes you as the most obvious. Far too often, however, we see RFIs that lack the focus to clearly define the project requirements and lead to a blurry first step and a wealth of unsuited candidates – wasting time on both sides of the table. It’s crucial that you know exactly what you’re looking for in an agency partner, and that this is clearly conveyed in the RFI document.

Allow Past to be Prologue

Chances are, this is not your first experience with an agency. You know what’s worked in the past and, more importantly, you know what definitely hasn’t. View the shortcomings of past agency partners as lessons, and use this information to inform future searches. You likely know more than you think about what you want in an agency, and every day you work alongside these partners, the more you learn about what you want (and don’t want) from the next one.

Don’t be Afraid to Dig Deep

So many RFIs we see stop at the basics. There’s nothing wrong with using general questions to start cutting the field down to size, but don’t be afraid to take your questions to the next level. The purpose of an RFI is to get to know the potential candidates, and your questions should reflect that. Make an effort to ask deeper questions about the agency, the thinking behind their past work, or the project at hand: questions that will call for agency candidates to step back, answer thoughtfully, and give you a glimpse of who they are and who they’ll be if/when you bring them aboard.

While some companies may roll their eyes at the prospect of altering their precious RFI template, an effective document will set the tone for the rest of the search and bring the field down to a manageable number. Take a look at your RFI document.

Does it represent you? Does it effectively seek your perfect agency partner? If not, you’re only asking for an ineffective search down the line.

Need help building YOUR better RFI? We’d love to hear from you. Give me a call at 513-559-3101, or email me at