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RIP the RFP

By Colin Reid | January 09, 2020 | 2 Comments

MarketingDriving Cost Optimization Across the EnterpriseMarketing Strategy and InnovationMultichannel MarketingTechnology and Emerging Trends

One way or another your success in selecting your martech partners will define your career opportunity.

Selecting new martech to integrate into your stack is a high stakes proposition. An incorrect decision creates financial risk for your organization, can damage existing systems and capabilities and even lead to increased staff turnover as top talent exits due to lack of opportunity. Conversely, continually selecting the right solutions and correctly integrating them will showcase how you underwrite the success of an entire marketing organization.

As we move into the 20’s marketing leaders are evaluating a wider variety of martech solutions from more providers and more frequently than ever before. According to Gartner’s 2019 Marketing Technology Survey martech leaders are increasingly selecting marketing solutions using a “best-of-breed” approach, where they source the “best” solution irrespective of the vendor. This is in contrast to an integrated suite, where the organization relies primarily on a single vendor for multiple interconnected capabilities to satisfy marketing’s needs. In addition, nearly 94% of respondents in the same survey stated that their martech roadmap did not extend beyond 24 months:

How Far Into the Future Martech Roadmaps Extend:

To be successful in a world where martech leaders are tasked with delivering superlative outcomes with declining budgets, in shorter timelines and with less wastage than ever before they need to kill the traditional RFP. RFP processes based on checklists of features and functions burn up time, consume valuable resources and rarely help martech leaders or buyers clearly understand and differentiate vendor strengths and fit.

 

The Credibility Gap

In a normal RFP you will ask a vendor if they have a certain feature and, if required, request a short explanation. These answers are then scored to decide which vendors proceed to the next stage. The sales team at every vendor wants your business and wants to get to the next stage. Unfortunately this often means they will say yes to every question, or pretty close, because with enough time and money their organization can deliver every feature you have requested. They are not incorrect, but there is a gap between the credibility of their opaque answers and your requirements because you are asking the wrong question. With enough time and money they could build you the perfect solution, but time and money are the two things you have precious little of. The question you need to understand, and you must ask is “For my internal and external audiences show me how you support me today, get me to tomorrow and make me more capable along the way”.

Moving Forward

As we move forward into a new year let’s work together to understand your internal and external audiences and get you meaningful insights from potential martech providers. Let’s not stake careers on an RFP process that was developed in the last millennia but rather move with speed and agility to get you the insights you need to be successful. Let’s use better ways to interact with technology and service providers to the benefit of all, especially the recipients of our marketing.

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2 Comments

  • If a brands RFP questions, scoring and method is in the right structure – a lot of problems are prevented.

    There is either no possibility they are just saying “yes” to a requirement, when they can’t deliver (because you ask how instead of if). Or there is no use to it (because it will be validated or the vendor disqualified on incorrect answers).

  • Kevin J. McCollum says:

    Colin assumes that the RFP process that was developed in the last millennium has not evolved to keep up with the needs of the business, and perhaps at many companies, it hasn’t.
    However, many Procurement professionals (but admittedly not all) who support media / martech / marketing have upskilled and left behind the traditional “Widget RFP” process that was fashionable in the 90’s and 00’s.
    I and many of my peers have worked hard to personally understand how martech works, the state of the space, what it is our internal clients are looking for, and why it is important to the business. This leads to a well-crafted RFP/scope document, complete with questions that separate the wheat from the chaff and requires relevant references to be provided to verify capabilities. Today’s scorecarding process that helps keep the business priorities in focus, while allowing the flexibility to weigh capabilities, product roadmaps, and confidence in success heavier than cost. We understand that the old adage can often ring true in the martech space: You get what you pay for.
    Ditching the old-fashioned “widget RFP” process? All for it!
    Ditching a time efficient, well crafted, collaborative, and balanced RFP process opens the door for marketing leaders to get caught up in chasing BSO’s (bright shiny objects) that litter the martech landscape, wasting that precious time and money we have so little of.
    As for an advertiser’s martech roadmap…of course only 6% go beyond 24 months. The industry changes too frequently. Just ask Sizmek and Criteo…