Well, this year started with a bang! In our neck of the woods, we welcomed extreme weather not seen in California for dozens of years, a recession that continues to persevere and gain steam, and our usual large wave of RFPs.
As we reflect on the end of the first quarter of 2023, here are a few emerging trends we have noticed:
- Government marketing RFPs being re-issued
- Automation tools are becoming easier to use and more mainstream
- Private sector products and services marketing needs are still stagnant
Read. Write. Submit. Repeat.
Typically, the first quarter seems to be when we see the majority of requests for proposals (RFPs) for new public outreach contracts, but this is the first we have experienced a record number of organizations canceling RFPs mid-stream or even after finalist interviews, only to then re-issue them weeks or months later. This trend puzzled us at first until we were able to get some feedback.
One organization we talked to identified staffing turnovers as one of the struggles that caused their organization to reissue an RFP. In fact, an overwhelming majority of businesses nationwide are reporting difficulty hiring workers and retaining existing employees. This has been the phenomenon since the pandemic, which opened up the world of a virtual workforce. Today, people living anywhere are able to apply for jobs almost anywhere. This continues to influence how employers work to retain and attract employees.
So what does a re-issued RFP mean to an agency like ours? It means more work!
We have to scrub that newly issued RFP to understand even the smallest changes and adjust what we previously submitted to a new scope of work or set of standards, and then re-submit. Think of us as the chefs when the dinner gets sent back to the kitchen but not because we over-cooked the steak, but because the menu changed!
Using AI Technology As a Tool
Many of you may have heard of artificial intelligence (AI), but the functionality of new automation tools is starting to make it’s way into the marketing industry. Take, for instance, OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Although it launched in November 2022, the world’s eyes took notice in the first quarter of 2023. Using this tool, you can enter a question, quote, or series of words or phrases into the simple chat box, and this website (powered by AI) writes content about what you have entered. It can write a cover letter, poem, song, social media post, essay, or just about anything.
One organization we talked to identified staffing turnovers as one of the struggles that caused their organization to reissue an RFP.
For marketers, this is new territory. Suddenly the world can be a halfway decent writer. This same technology is behind DALL·E, which allows the user to create realistic images based on a written description provided in natural language. Yep, AI is not just tapping into copywriting, it’s making it’s mark on graphic design, too! Our industry is taking careful notice of this technology and working to understand how to leverage it strategically.
Supply and Demand of the Private Sector
The pandemic certainly affected more industries than we can fathom, but what we are seeing in first quarter of 2023 is that many are still not able to bounce back. Inventory challenges coupled with continued staffing shortages, as we mentioned earlier, have private sector businesses not wanting to advertise or market. Basically, they are struggling to handle the business they currently have. When demand is still high, and supply is low, businesses don’t see a need to market. This is our current situation. Compare this to when supply is high, and demand is low, businesses work with agencies like ours to create perceived demand and hopefully sell their supply down. When supply is high, and demand is high, businesses work with agencies like ours to out-sell their competition.
So, as the waters of the private industry remain stagnant, we are using this time to look internally and ensure we are positioned for future growth. With that being said, keep an eye out for big things to come at JP! 🤫
Michele Meisch | Client Services Director