Having been on both sides of the equation - agency and client, I know what works best for a relationship. It is a partnership that works for both sides.
Recently, I have read a few articles about RFPs (request for proposals) and how some agencies are apprehensive about them.
Don't get me wrong, there are good reasons to write up a RFP and get a few agencies pitching for your account. Sometimes it make sense, when the project is long-term and demands huge things.
Many agencies charge pitch fees for a large-scale presentation that demands sizable manpower, financial and time resources. It is reasonable as a prospect is expecting a functioning agency that is working on real paying accounts to dedicate time, money and people to work on a pitch, squeezing the best ideas out of them. If a prospect is willing to pay the pitch fee (which sometimes become part of the retainer fees once the agency is engaged), it makes the prospect appear as serious as he says he is to the agency. Everyone wins.
For small projects, frankly, there is no real necessity to ask for a pitch with many agencies. The fees are small, the projects may be ad hoc, and the decision to appoint an agency is not all that difficult. Rather than write up a RFP and then asking all the agencies to pitch, a study of the background and portfolio of the agencies, and even meeting up for a nice chat, is more than sufficient for a prospect to discern if the agency in question is suitable or not.
Agencies exist as businesses - serious businesses that employ people who intend to produce good results and support their families, serious businesses intending to make a difference, however small, in the fabric of the community, serious businesses that intend to return a profit, and not run to the ground. Likewise, clients exist also as businesses - also serious businesses that employ people who want good results and also support their families, and every bit as serious in making a difference in the community and returning profits.
Therefore, an equitable partnership where both sides take care of each other, by fees on time, in exchange for products and services, is what turns the wheels of the economy. It is good business. It is like a marriage, it demands commitment from both sides, and both sides working for each other in an equitable manner.