Archive for “March, 2011”

Should the RFP Die? Probably. Will it? Probably Not.

Colleague Todd Defren posted yesterday his wish that the RFP would “Die, Die, Die!” He kindly linked to the Social Media RFP Template, noting that we’d likely helped to make the process a little easier, though not necessarily shorter.

Todd’s main argument was that RFPs take too much time and energy – they’re a huge time-suck, largely because the folks issuing them don’t know, or don’t bother, to make sure they’re asking the right questions. He asked if there was a better way. Could RFPs be reduced to ten simple questions? could they be done away with altogether?

Time-suck, poorly written RFPs were the primary reason we issued the first Social Media RFP Template in 2010. That first iteration was comprehensive – we wanted to ensure that anyone issuing an RFP didn’t have to be a social media expert in order to be able to get quality respondents and find the right partner. The problem? It was too comprehensive – too long, too detailed, and in many cases clients were just cutting and pasting the whole thing, without thinking about what they actually needed. We might possibly have made it worse.

So we started again. This time, we dramatically shortened the RFP, and broke the questions into two sections – RFP response questions and in-person presentation questions. We also added an “RFP Bill of Rights”, to set the stage, and released the new template in December of 2010:

RFP “Bill of Rights”
In every sense of the word, responding to an RFP should be a partnership. You (as the issuer) are offering an opportunity to win new business. They (as the respondent) are investing in that opportunity with no certainty that their investment will pay off. As a client, you do have obligations to vendors who respond to your RFP. The following “Bill of Rights” is intended to encourage fairness and acknowledge this investment and the mutual respect that should be observed in all business relationships.

I will not issue an RFP “Cattle Call”. Issuing an RFP to more than six or seven agencies is overkill. Instead, identify agencies you would like to work with and be selective in whom you invite to respond. Fifteen or 20 responses are too many to be able to truly judge relative merit, and it’s wrong to ask agencies who are not a good fit to waste valuable resources on an RFP they are unlikely to win.

I will be thoughtful. This and other RFP templates are intended to provide guidance, but don’t simply cut and paste the contents. Think about what you actually need and edit accordingly. Information overload will only winnow out quality agencies that are too busy to wade through all the unnecessary details.

I will do my own homework.
Asking agencies to identify their own competition is only going to get you two things: a list of second-tier competitors that is of dubious value and respondents annoyed that you essentially asked them to undermine their own competitive advantage.

I will be flexible. Yes, we know you have a timeline. We also know (even though you might not) that it is going to slip. Don’t ask vendors to meet your timelines or else. There are significant cost savings in being able to book flights in advance (and you want an agency that keeps an eye on the pennies, right?). Give respondents at least a week’s notice and be flexible in your dates.

I will keep you updated. Nothing is worse than the “black hole”. A response is prepared at great effort, submitted and… crickets. Let respondents know that their RFP has been received, and what the next steps are. When the dates slip, let them know that, too. They put a lot into their submission – show them the respect that this effort deserves.

I will give you feedback. You can’t win ‘em all – any agency team who responds to RFPs knows this well. What they don’t know (magic crystal balls being in short supply) is why they didn’t make it to the next round or win the brass ring. Acknowledging vendors’ efforts and letting them know why their response didn’t meet your needs helps them improve, and is more than a fair trade for the cost and effort invested on their part. It also ensures good feelings – you never know what your needs might be next; maintaining good vendor relationships is good business.

At the end of the day – are RFPs ideal? No. Do clients often ask for “free ideas” as part of the response (sadly, yes). Is there any liklihood that a typical RFP could be reduced to ten questions, as per Todd’s post? Perhaps in some cases, but I also think mutual respect for effort invested and some tools to help guide clients will also go a long way to reducing the time-suck that a poorly written RFP can so often be.

What do you think?

4 Reasons Internship at SMG is Awesome

Don’t miss out on an internship like no other. Social Media Group’s deadline to apply for spring/summer internships is March 31, 2011.

4 Reasons Internship at SMG is Awesome

  1. Make a valuable contribution to the business and our clients right out of the gate.
  2. Work at the leading edge of social media marketing and digital communications.
  3. Use your passion for digital media to get a great start in your career.
  4. Become a member of our incredible team and learn from some of the best in the business.

Interested? Read on.

About SMG Internship. Start Your Career with a Market Leader.

Social Media Roundup for March 11, 2011

Today, our thoughts are with the people in Japan. We expresses sympathies and condolences to those who have been devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

Earthquake rocks Japan – photos on CNN.

Here are some things that caught our attention from around the ‘net this week:

Updates for apps we love

From SMG analyst Brandon comes news that a few popular apps were updated this week. All of which included major social/sharing related features and improvements.

  1. Flipboard now supports Instagram:
  2. Linkedin launches LinkedinToday and updates iOS app to include functionality:
  3. Instapaper updates to 3.0 includes native article sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinboard and a whole whack of other social features:

Music aficionado Brandon adds, “Oh and SoundCloud’s “local focus” was Toronto yesterday.”

Paula Deen embraces her eponymous meme

[Paula Deen Rides Bambi]

Speaking of fans, it was very cool to see celebrity chef Paula Deen respond in such an enthusiastic way to the ‘Paula Deen Riding Things’ meme.

Via The Daily What:

As if you needed another reason to be madly in love with Paula Deen, it seems the Butter Queen is not only aware of her Internet meme, Paula Deen Riding Things, but is actually quite fond of it.

“I think its great to see how creative my fans are!,” she recently told Bites on Today. “I feel like I’m the new ‘Where’s Waldo.”

Not a Viral Video

Michelle’s submission this week comes from AV Club with a critique of a recent “not-a-viral-video” campaign featuring Jennifer Aniston. Given the focus we’ve got on content strategy with our clients, this resonates with us big time.

Genevieve Koski writes:

vi•ral vid|e|o (vi´rel vid´ē ō) n. a video that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through internet media sharing websites.

not a vi•ral vid|e|o (not a vi´rel vid´ē ō) n. a video that’s been brainstormed and test-marketed by a well-paid ad agency, which stars one of the biggest, beigest celebrities in the world slumming with a bunch of viral-video shorthand, released to a bunch of media outlets via a press release titled “Jennifer Aniston sex tape” that urges them to help make it the next “Internet sensation” along with a gentle reminder to mention Smartwater.

Read the rest of the column and watch the video at AV Club.

True blue Fan sites rule.

The cult following of Disney’s Haunted Mansion caught Maggie’s interest this week.  Chef Mayhem, the creator of explains the site “…is a celebration of imagination — it’s as simple (and as complex) as that.”

SMG-ers at SXSWi

Steve, Jeff and I (Leona) are enroute to Austin. We are all looking forward to catching up with friends and making new connections. See you there!