Love them or hate them, requests for proposals, or RFPs as they’re known in our circles, are part of our lives.
I hate them.
They take tons of time, there’s no guarantee of a return on that time and energy, and a huge number of them are really badly written.
And yet they persist.
You can’t always avoid them, but there are methods to make them a smaller part of your business life, as well as ways to protect your time when you do have to respond.
RFPs are usually a waste of everyone’s time and money, but in the 14 years I’ve been running my own agency, we’ve developed a better way to do it.
What an RFP should include
Let’s say a municipality distributes an RFP to create a three-year integrated marketing communications program for its recycling initiative. It’s right up your alley, and your team is perfectly suited for it. It sounds pretty good at this point, right? Maybe, maybe not.
In a perfect world, RFPs would be well organized and would explain the scope of work, the specific requirements, the timeline, how the decision is going to be made and, most important, the budget.
You know, all the things you’d think would be obvious, but often aren’t.