The Three Tenets of Strong RFPs

I recently breezed through a blog entry by Joe Grant entitled RFPs: The Right Way. When reading it, I couldn’t help but to fall into the trap thinking to myself, “Yeah, we already do that.” Yet, even though I may consider these points to be table stakes, every time we receive a new RFP we’re constantly challenged to flex our strategic, creative and technical muscles and to do so at lightning speed. With competitors nipping at our heels, constantly improving the way they approach proposals, in order to get that coveted pitch, how do we bring the WOW factor consistently within each proposal, every single time? There are three tenets I live by when approaching any proposal:

1. Determine the key problem this potential client is trying to solve: If we can focus on that, everything within our response can have greater meaning.

2. Tell our story in one consistent and unique voice: Separate team members might answer some of the questions. All answers should sound like they are coming from one person, but consistency applies to key takeaways as well. Our culture, our differentiators, our work, while maybe not directly addressed, should be peppered throughout and touched upon enough, where at the end of a 50 page booklet of information, the recipient of our proposal could recite what MCM is about, who we are and what we stand for.

3. Deliver our point of view in the most creative, interesting and unique way: I scour the RFP for open-ended questions or any leeway to shake things up a bit. If there is a cool way to present information that simultaneously demonstrates our culture and distinctiveness, be it in the way we present case studies or team members, then we give the recipient better insight as to how we think and how we might approach their business.

Even though most RFPs seem to follow increasingly similar forms, following these three tenets ensures the way we approach each one will be as unique as our potential clients.