Requests for proposals (RFP)s. They bear a striking resemblance to awkward older relatives you haven’t seen “since you were in diapers”. You love them because, hey, who doesn’t love the opportunity to gain deeper connections? But they also have a way of making you feel slightly frustrated and a tiny bit inadequate … yeah that’s the right word. But if we’re smart, we relish their potential opportunities because, who knows, they may even leave you that gorgeous brooch when they finally kick … I mean you could possibly gain a new client, is what I meant.
Anyway in my completely humble opinion these 5 tips can help anyone get through the “cheek pinches” of RFPs:
1.) Take advantage of the opportunities to ask questions
- Now, I’ve only been assisting with these for a couple of weeks, but what I’ve noticed about these puppies is this: no one edits these documents at all. If someone did, there would be so much less hair pulled out around the office, I can guarantee it. Therefore, if something is confusing you to the point of baldness, RFPS generously allow bidders to send in questions. It’s just like you’re back in school: if you have a question just raise your hand.
2.) Read, re-read and re-read again … and one more time just to be sure
- Like I stated previously, it is obvious that a third party never reads the actual RFP document before it goes out making the whole process such a headache. So read the whole thing like 10 times until it makes sense to you. Do what you need to do: highlight, underline or draw boxes around things etc. Just make sure when you begin compiling and writing, everything makes sense to you, and, what doesn’t, you can save for questions.
3.) Make a statement … add your company’s personality where you can
- It’s easy to get bogged down when you’re reading an RFP, and you just see paragraphs and paragraphs of bizarrely worded text. But don’t forget, you are trying to get noticed among a sea of other applicants vying for the same bait. Don’t hesitate to be fun and add some color and possibly images. Think outside the box. There are many different ways to represent text: a chart, a graph, a diagram … think about it.
4.) Be selective
- Being open-minded about RFPs is just good business sense because they have the potential to bring in more money … and we like money. But if you truly want to call yourself an integrated marketing company you have to make sure the RFP you’re responding to meshes with your company. Research the company or institution that is putting out the RFP and make sure your values and mission statement match up with theirs. If there is some discrepancy, it might be a difficult partnership down the road if you are selected. You want everything to be seamless and make sure that whatever you’re working on expresses one cohesive message for your client and also for yourself.
5.) Deadlines are gospel … don’t mess around
- When an RFP states a due date, pay attention. If you’re a person or a company that is good at procrastinating … well good luck. Again just get things in on time. It’s courteous to those on the RFP committee, even though they drove you crazy with inane writing. And yes, current clients and projects need to take precedence over prospective clients, but if that happens too often you’ll find yourself missing out on some incredible opportunities.
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