5 Questions to Ask When Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP


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Before preparing an RFP for a distributed marketing platform, be sure to know these 5 questions to ask to get the most out of your RFP.

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5 Questions to Ask When Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP

  1. 1. Saepio Learning SeriesQUESTIONSto Aska DistributedPreparing whenRFP Marketing Platform
  2. 2. QUESTIONS to Aska Distributed Preparing when RFP Marketing Platform IntroductionEach year, Saepio receives a large number of Requests for Information (RFIs) and Requestsfor Proposal (RFPs). These documents differ dramatically. Some are too simplistic, someoverly complex. Some too narrowly define the need, while others are too broad.This document explores five questions the Saepio RFI and RFP response team recommendsa company ask before creating the RFI or RFP. These are: 1. What do I want to accomplish? 2. Am I making a mistake by defining things too narrowly or too widely? 3. What comes first, a prospective partner short list or an RFP? 4. Will an RFP process hurt more than it helps? 5. Can I ensure competitive pricing without an RFP process?While this booklet is not intended to serve as a definitive guide on authoring RFPs, thequestions explored and insights and recommendations provided by the Saepio team willhelp you and your team create a strong solution review process that will lead to a strongand lasting distributed marketing management solution for your organization.
  3. 3. Chapter One What Do I Want to Accomplish? What do I want to accomplish? It seems like such an obvious question to ask. Too often, though, it isn’t asked at the depth it should be. Unfortunately, many RFPs focus heavily on surface-level features/functions but do not address the underlying issues and objectives. How can you make sure that isn’t the case in your process? First, organize your answer to the “what do I want to accomplish” question. Create a matrixACCOMPLISHMENTWORKSHEET that looks something like this: WORKSHEET Items Why it will be important Why it is important to me. important now in 3 to 5 years Consistent brand messaging in the local market Easy access to content by local marketers Reduced time demands on the corporate marketing staff Reduced ad agency fees for both corporate and local marketers Quicker time to market for new messages Easy way for local marketers to use corporate analytics A way for local marketers to opt-in to turn-key local campaigns Better customer engagement that is jointly managed by both the corporate marketing team and the local marketer. Next, apply a “laddering” research methodology to your answers. For each answer, ask yourself the question, “Why do I say that?” Write down your answer. Then ask the question again of your new answer, “Why do I say that?” Write down your answer and once again ask the question, “Why do I say that?” It sounds simple, but applying this process will help you truly under- stand the answer to the question, “What do I want to accomplish?” With this known, your chances for a successful selection process go up immensely. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  4. 4. Chapter Two Am I Making a Mistake By Defining Things too Wide or too Narrow? The answer is “Yes.” Very few RFIs/RFPs find the right balance. They either fail to ask a broad enough set of questions to weed out solutions that may not meet the organizations needs as the use of the platform grows, or they ask for detailed responses to every conceivable use of a plat- form, whether relevant or not. Additionally, many documents provide little latitude for the responding company to suggest best-practice ways to approach an objective. The Challenge of a Broadly Defined RFP It is understandable how RFPs can become overly defined. A company doesn’t want to fail to ask for a feature it may need down the road for its solution. Thus, the RFP writing team scours the websites of the various solution providers, reads analyst reports and creates use cases to create a master list of potential features and functions with some methodology for weighing their importance. On the surface, it makes sense. On the receiving side of the RFP, however, are companies that have an immense amount of knowledge about distributed marketing management platform solutions. They may, as in the case of Saepio, have served hundreds of brands and millions of local marketers. From experience, these companies know the best-practice features and functions that will matter most and, frankly, which ones might seem important during the RFP process that will not likely be that important post-implementation. Feature sets offered by solution providers may be reflective of this knowledge. When an RFP arrives that is very wide in its definition for a needed solution, the responding company knows that no distributed marketing management platform provider can honest- ly answer yes to all of the requested features and further knows why they’ve chosen not to develop their own product in a manner that would result in a “yes” answer to some features. But they are stuck answering yes or no, and the too broadly defined RFP becomes a lose- lose proposition.REFER TO The RFP recipient is unable to lend a best-practice, consultative response to theCHAPTER 1 “what do I want to accomplish?” exercise outlined in Chapter One. Meanwhile,ACCOMPLISHMENTWORKSHEET the issuing company often becomes fixated on the process and on the long list of yes/no answers and can begin to lose site on the fundamental objective which is WORKSHEET what solution provider is most likely to help them define, implement and main- tain a successful program. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  5. 5. The Challenge of a Narrowly Defined RFPThe too narrowly defined RFP creates many of the same challenges as the too-broadlydefined RFP.The primary concern with a too narrowly defined RFP is that important considerationshave been missed in the process. Chapter Three will explore this in more detail but a toonarrowly defined RFP minimizes or completely negates the consultative value the leadingsolution providers can and will willingly bring to your selection process. In a too narrowly defined RFP, those issuing the RFP feel they have narrowed the definition of the RFP in a manner that will narrow the field of prospective pro- viders. But if they are asking the wrong question or an incomplete question, the best potential solution provider might be missed.The RFP answer “checks the box” but not all “yes” answers will mean the same thing. Un-asked questions can be checked “Yes.” Experienced, leading solution providers know whatmatters most. Don’t let a too narrowly defined RFP negate your access to that value. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  6. 6. Chapter ThreeWhat Comes First? A Solution Provider Short List or an RFP?If you’ve read Chapters One and Two, you pretty much know what Saepio’s answer to thisquestion will be! Pick your solution provider short list, and then let them help your teamwrite the proper questions for your RFP. The knowledge established providers can bring to your process of determining the fundamental, underlying objectives for your solution, as well as the best-prac- tice guidance that comes from implementing multiple solutions for organizations similar to yours is both extremely valuable and readily available.Distributed marketing management platform providers are no different than any other solu-tion providers. They want your business and know they have to earn it. They will help you.Further, by working with multiple providers in this process, you will get a balanced view ofthe market space to help you ensure an objective process and avoid an RFP that appears tobe written for a specific solution provider.At Saepio, we believe there are three primary considerations you should make when creat-ing your short list: domain expertise, trade/industry knowledge and longevity/best-practiceexperience.Domain ExperienceThe marketing technology world is crowded and confusing with a lot of technologiesoverlapping one another in features and functions. If you need a distributed marketingmanagement solution, find a distributed marketing solution platform provider. Digital assetmanagement companies may claim to provide the solution. They don’t. Marketing automa-tion vendors will say they can provide localized content. They can to a small degree, but notto the level you’ll need. Print service providers and agencies will offer solutions. Be wary, asthe technology breadth often will only extend to the extent it helps you use their services.An email marketing provider may tell you they can version emails locally. Of course theycan. But they don’t help you manage your network, monitor cross-channel performanceand ensure brand compliance in all mediums too.Again, if you need a distributed marketing management solution, find distributed market-ing management platform providers. These providers alone have the domain experienceand expertise that will guide you to a strong RFP and solution. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  7. 7. Trade/Industry ExperienceAt the risk of being labeled “Captain Obvious,” the Saepio team suggests you look for com-panies with experience providing solutions for your industry or special needs. These solu-tion providers obviously can’t share competitive insight, but they will leverage their industryknowledge on your behalf.If you’re a health care system, look for a company that serves leading health care systems.If you’re in automotive, look for a company that has a broad range of automotive clients. Ifyou’re QSR, ask about experience there.If you have a special need such as robust co-op fund integration, ask about the provider’sexperience there. If your dealer network has a global footprint, ask the provider candidate’sabout the knowledge they can lend on that front. Do you have a complex network of fulfill-ment partners, ask if the provider has experience there.Established Providers Versus New Kids on the BlockExperience and a proven track record are really important when selecting a solution pro-vider short list. That said, less-experienced companies can also deliver effective solutions.Including at least one newer company is probably important to the balance of your process.A couple of key considerations to keep in mind as you select your short list of providersis how many customers a company has and how long customers have been driving thetechnology roadmap for the solution. While your organization will no doubt have uniquedesires for your solution, many of these desires will have been previously expressed byother companies that an established solution provider has served. This experience, and thebest practice knowledge that develops from it, will provide value in your RFP developmentprocess. In tandem with that, a solution provider with a longer timeline of serving custom-ers will simply have a deeper history of customer needs and a more developed best-practiceknowledge base.In summary, creating a provider short list prior to developing your RFP can help ensure thatyour RFP is developed in a manner that best addresses your long-term need. These provid-ers want to win your business. To that end, they will gladly lend their consultative expertise.The strongest RFPs come from organizations that take this approach. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  8. 8. Chapter FourWill an RFP Process Hurt More Than it Helps?The purpose of an RFP process is to bring structure and objectivity to the selection of a dis-tributed marketing management solution provider. Whether the issuance of an RFP hurtsmore than it helps depends on how the issuing company runs the process.RFP processes that are rigid, limit discussions between providers and those who will man-age the solution and have been developed in isolation without the input of potential pro-viders can be harmful. The previous chapters outline these risks.Governance of a selection process is obviously important. But a rigid process presumesthat the right questions are being asked and that full potential solution is being explored. Ifthis is not the case, your RFP process may guide you to a less than optimal, or even wrongoutcome.If your organization requires a structured process, get out ahead of it. Do your homework tocreate a prospective provider short list before you begin the RFP process and engage thesecompanies to develop a subject matter expertise before you initiate the RFP process so thatyou can serve as an informed advisor. In many tightly governed organizations, once an RFPprocess is launched, your ability to engage prospective solution providers to grow yourpersonal knowledge is shut off. In these cases, a lot of important insight can be sacrificed inthe name of objectivity if you don’t build your SME knowledge first.If your organization does not require an RFP process, weigh the pros and cons. Governanceand objectivity can clearly happen without an RFP. When proper due diligence is applied tocreating a provider short list and allowing them to compete for your business, the free mar-ket will take care of the rest. Leading distributed marketing management companies areleaders for a reason; they’ve earned that designation through consistent product quality,distributed marketing management expertise and client service.On the other hand, you may wish to conduct a guided RFP process if you feel multipleparties within your organization need to participate in the decision process. In such cases,if you’ve drawn upon the prospective providers to create your RFP, the process can moveforward quickly and your confidence in arriving at an optimal solution can be high.Finally, many individuals and organizations believe that RFP processes are essential toarriving at the right price point for a solution. That’s not true. This is addressed in the nextchapter. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  9. 9. Chapter FiveCan I Ensure Competitive Pricing Without an RFP Process?If the purpose of an RFP process is to find the lowest price for a solution, you’ve alreadyfailed. The process has to be about finding the right solution. The right pricing will follow.Once you truly understand the answer to the question in Chapter One – “What do I want toaccomplish?” – you can begin to build the corresponding ROI objectives and model. Someof the elements such as maintaining brand integrity in the local marketplace will be difficultto quantify as you build the ROI model. Other items such as art production and projectmanagement costs will be relatively easy. Prospective solution providers have resources tohelp you with this process. Once you’ve completed this framework, you can now appropri-ately evaluate the price points of the optional solutions.As you begin a solution provider selection process – whether it involves an RFP processor not – keep value and efficiency top of mind. Too many selection processes start with apreset budget and a targeted features/functions list. Start with your ROI framework insteadand focus on value and efficiency first. This approach will enable you to better evaluatewhat features and functions are most critical to meeting the value and ROI efficiency youseek.This approach is also not dependent on a formal RFP process. Whether price/value compar-isons between optional solution providers takes place in or outside of an RFP process is notimportant. That value, efficiency and an ROI framework drive the process, is what ultimatelymatters. Thus, while many factors will go into a decision of whether to initiate an RFP pro-cess for selecting a distributed marketing management solution provider, optimal pricing isnot one of them and the right solution and right price can be determined with or withoutan RFP process. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  10. 10. Chapter SixSummaryA number of considerations should go into the creation of an RFP for a distributed market-ing management solution.First, take the time to really know what you want to accomplish.Asking “laddering” questions of yourself can help you get to thebasic motivations.Second, make sure you don’t under or over define what you want.Releasing an RFP that drifts to one side or another can lead to misin-formed selections.Third, use the prospective providers to help you develop your RFP.No one knows the market place and best-practices at the level theydo. Use these resources to your advantage.Fourth, be wary of over structured RFP processes. Well intentionedprocesses designed to ensure integrity and objectivity sometimes achieve these results atthe expense of well-informed decisions. If your company has a tightly structured process,use solution provider resources to develop your subject matter expertise before you initiatethe RFP process. If your organization doesn’t require an RFP process, consider an alternateapproach that brings the consultative resources of solution providers into the process.Finally, develop and use ROI models to ensure that you focus on value and efficiency notprice. Find the solution first. The right price will inevitably follow. 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP
  11. 11. About SaepioSaepio makes it easy for corporate and local marketers to build and run effective and en-gaging all-channel marketing campaigns. Saepio’s powerful MarketPort marketing platformstarts with easy … • Easy to Build and Run Cross-Channel Campaigns because everything – email, land- ing pages, social, mobile, digital banner ads, signage, print ads, direct mail, and much more – are all managed in a single, integrated digital marketing platform. • Easy to Maximize Brand Value at the Local Level because local and corporate mar- keters share a single platform but experience the same platform differently based on their roles. Brand control, speed to market, and content localization is all easily accom- plished whether messages are for local, national or global audiences and corporate marketers can easily assign campaign tasks to local marketers. • Easy to Engage Customers with personalized, relevant messages because corporate intelligence gleaned from CRM data, customer analytics, consumer actions and more can determine what content is served when, where and how. • Easy to Automate Marketing Fulfillment because robust workflow enables every cross channel customer touch point to happen automatically whether launched by corporate marketing, initiated by a local marketer or triggered by a customer’s action.This robust yet simplified approach to today’s complex marketing challenges is in use athundreds of leading companies and organizations, including many of the world’s mostpowerful brands. It is transforming the way corporations focus and manage their marketingefforts in a world that introduces new channels, new competitors, new regulations and newopportunities at every turn.Visit Saepio.com, email sales@saepio.com or call 877-468-7613 to learn more. For More InformationShare This Document with your Network Contact Us Saepio Technologies 600 Broadway Suite 400 Kansas City, MO 64105Follow Us: Email info@saepio.com Call Toll Free 877-468-7613 to learn more 5 QUESTIONS to Ask when Preparing a Distributed Marketing Platform RFP