We’ve all heard “there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” but a sloppy statement can derail a meeting. Recently you may have heard a politician citing statistics incorrectly during a speech, or the performer who gave a shout out to the wrong state during a performance. And who hasn’t gotten the odd email with your name spelled wrong or other scary typo?
Getting the facts right the first time can make your agency the “smartest people in the room” when competing for a new account. Sometimes research – even when it presents the potential client in a less than favorable light – is the difference between winning and not. Clients usually do not want an agency of “yes men (and women)” and sharp research can provide that edge.
Spend time learning as much as you can about the potential client, their industry, their competitors, etc. Here are some must-have tips for getting the research you need for a thoughtful, winning proposal:
Ask questions. If you have the opportunity to meet with/speak to the potential client before starting the proposal, ask them as many questions as you can. Learn as much about their company, their successes, their challenges, even their personal life as you can, directly from them. Importantly, ask what has worked and not worked in previous campaigns and what their expectations are this time around.
Conduct a media audit. By reaching out to media who cover the client and related industries, you can learn volumes from the people you would actually be approaching should you win the business. This approach can also help strengthen a relationship with a media contact.
Survey “friends and family.” Depending on the client, it can be helpful to ask friends, family and co-workers for a perspective on the company’s brand. This can help inform a sense of the company’s reputation and may help guide you as you write the proposal.
Google News. A simple search is the best way to quickly get an idea of the coverage the company is already receiving, industry coverage, and even competitive positioning and perception.
News Monitoring Service. After the initial Google News search, take an even deeper dive by using a news monitoring service such as Factiva or TVEyes. With these paid services you can search for print and broadcast coverage, which often doesn’t show up in a Google News search.
Social Media Platforms. Check out the company’s social media platforms to get a better idea of their company culture and what’s important to them. Often a corporate Facebook or Twitter page will give you a better idea of what that company is like day-to-day. Also check Linkedin, Tumblr, and YouTube to see if the company (and the principals) have a social media footprint.
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