Every year, there comes a time when you must consider whether to renew your brand tracking contract for the coming year. The majority of tracking RFPs we see are not for new programs, but rather to enhance, improve, and in some cases completely overhaul existing trackers. We find that just beneath the surface of that RFP, there’s typically a good bit of pain associated with the current program, often related to data quality.
The process of taking a tracker “out to bid” is not to be taken lightly, and we are always thoughtful when submitting RFP responses. We consider it imperative to commit to any new client’s business for the long term and to give them an improved brand tracking program. Here are the top 10 reasons new brand tracking RFPs come to us.
The brand tracking RFPs we receive often identify one or more of these issues
1. The study is generally “fine,” but their current vendor shows no interest in ongoing optimization
Has your tracker become less visible or prominent than in the past? Are stakeholders losing interest? Perhaps worse, are you and your team losing your tracking mojo? Tracking fatigue, anyone? Any of these – in even a slight form – spells trouble and a signal that an injection of significant freshness is needed. Think about whether you’re open to truly re-imagining and transitioning to a new and improved program, which may require a new partner.
2. The analysis/reporting needs to drive more action than today
Tracking your brand(s) and competitors should drive informed decisions on marketing strategies and tactics. But, if that’s not happening, it may mean that the analysis and reporting aren’t sufficiently informative and/or provocative. Worse, an absence of action is often a leading indicator of a tracking program that will eventually be seen as not useful. You can avoid falling into that trap with new thinking emerging from an RFP process.
3. The tracker needs fresh, inspiring ideas for improved analytics or visualization
Still relying on the same old drivers analyses with the same old bar and line charts? Not using network modeling of drivers? Not using infographics and microsites? Now may be the time to substantially improve your deliverables, which may or may not be within the capabilities of your current vendor. The RFP process is a great way to see what you’re missing out on today.
4. There is some question on the validity/projectability of the data; the data bounce around for no apparent reason
If confidence in and/or reliability of the data are lacking, your tracker is under-delivering against your company’s investment in it. It is incumbent upon you to assess the root causes. Is it the sampling plan? The data collection process? The questionnaire? Something in data processing? Taking your tracker to RFP and presenting this challenge will almost certainly produce options for improving upon your current state.
5. The supplier isn’t bringing true leadership
Is that because your supplier team are order-takers rather than consultants? Or perhaps because your study is staffed with junior people with little senior engagement? Regardless of the cause, situations like these should not fester, and indeed, should be proactively addressed in regularly scheduled account/program reviews. If your current partner is not capable or not willing to provide the support you require, then taking your program out to bid is wise. Minimally, it will demonstrate what else is available to you for the scope and type of tracker you have.
6. The tracker’s tech capabilities (e.g. dashboarding) need a real upgrade
Here, you will need to assess why and how improved tech will improve your program. For example, do you need to deliver greater data democratization, such that any authorized person in your business can access the tracking results? Or, to provide query/cross-tab functionality? If your current partner has not brought innovations to you for consideration, you should press them on their capabilities. If lacking, an RFP process may be called for.
7. QC and errors are a problem, eroding trust in the study
To err is human, but to have too many errors or repeating errors is very bad news for a tracker. The only minimally acceptable situation is one in which, when errors occur, the process breakdown that enabled them is identified and rectified. If your program is plagued by errors that you don’t fully understand – let alone have confidence that the root causes are being addressed – then you very likely should take your study out to bid.
8. The survey is not optimized for mobile; the sample is not as representative as it should be
Many legacy tracking programs seem to assume that all respondents are seated comfortably in front of their desktop or laptop computers when taking your survey. But of course, it’s 2021. We live in a mobile age, and your survey must be rendered for mobile phones and tablets too. Your current supplier should have this capability, but if not, you’d be wise to look elsewhere. Note that this would be a non-trivial change to your program potentially affecting trending, so it needs to be handled carefully.
9. No safeguards exist to prevent bots or fraudulent respondents from taking the survey
This may be a driver for #4 above. Bots and fraudulent respondents contaminate tracking data but often do so in insidious ways that are difficult to identify and address. Discuss this with your current partner to understand their capabilities for improving security. Anything less than a satisfactory answer should act as a red flag.
10. The agency’s turnaround times are too long; simple asks take weeks to complete … or doesn’t get completed at all
Speed to insights is a thing. A big thing. If your current partner is unable to expedite work in the ways you need, there is nearly always another supplier who can. Many RFPs we see for existing tracking programs name turnaround time as a pain point. Should you go out to bid, you can definitely encounter suppliers who have learned how to solve for speed without trading off quality.
There is no formula for determining whether taking your tracker out to bid will produce a reward that’s commensurate with your time investment. But you know whether your tracker is producing the value that it should be providing to your organization, and thus, whether it merits going out to bid. In a future post, we will explore best practices for building your tracking RFP to help you down that road. Stay tuned!
This article was co-written by Eric Ash and Scott Luck.