RFP = Really Flawed Plan

Pintail An RFP or “request for proposal” has long been one of the standard ways that clients look for business partners.

I can only conclude that businesses and government departments continue to use them because they can’t figure out a better way.  It’s a lot like playing pin the tail on the donkey.

The RFP process is flawed from the get go.  Its very structure forces the bidding companies to either blow smoke up your skirt or actually be brave enough to be honest about how little they can tailor their answers to you — because they don’t know anything about you yet.

Of course, I’m coming at this from the marketing/advertising agency’s point of view, but I suspect the same could be said about any service provider RFP. 

No one wants cookie cutter solutions, but the RFP process begs for them.  I don’t care how much factual information your committee tries to pack into the RFP, it is no substitute for sitting in a room with you, picking your brain, talking to your customers, interviewing your employees and observing your processes.  We learn more in the interactions, discussions and exploring process than you could ever capture in the “current situation” section of an RFP.   

There are nuances and uncovered truths about your marketing challenges that need to be discovered before any good agency can truly impact your business or your bottom line.

Would you send a prospective physician a written document, describing a pain in your neck and expect him to accurately diagnose your ailment and prescribe a treatment?

Why is choosing a business partner any different?

Flickr photo courtesy of  eszter

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