The number of marketing technology solutions available today is overwhelming. Given this complex landscape, how can you find the right martech platform? It can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are the standard when it comes to helping companies gather the info they need to make informed decisions. But they present another challenge: how do you prepare an effective RFP; one that’s not bogged down with redundant, cookie-cutter questions? What will help you find the ideal vendor and give you the confidence you need to make your choice?
Here are some key steps to take to make sure your martech RFP is on target: laser-focused, centered on your real needs.
Before you even start to prepare and write your RFP, take the time to specifically define your goals. Start from a pain-point perspective: what are you currently failing to achieve and what would a marketing platform ideally help you to accomplish? Maybe you need to get started on more personalized messages. Do you need to improve your omnichannel marketing, or begin collecting data for behavioral retargeting? Or maybe it’s time to make better use of location data.
Think about your needs and spell them out clearly in your checklist. Then consider your timeline: what must be delivered right away, within the coming year, and over the next five years? Don’t forget to establish a clear timeline for the RFP process itself, based on your projected go-live date. And make sure you realistically know what your budget is.
Personalize Your RFP
Just as you would when marketing to consumers, you should personalize your RFP. Think of your company as the consumer, and tailor your RFP so that it is relevant and personalized to your needs. It’s tempting and easy to grab an RFP template online or from a colleague or another company - but don’t. If you ask cookie-cutter questions, you’ll get rote, copy-and-paste responses from vendors that don’t provide the information you need. Make sure you develop questions so that they are particular to your situation and focused on your needs.
Maybe you’re focused on email and website personalization, versus someone else who may be more interested in cross-channel and omnichannel marketing. The more personalized your questions, the better visibility you’ll have to a vendor’s solution and approach.
Structure Your RFP
Now, it’s time to put it all together and develop your laser-focused questions. Here are a few of the key sections you’ll want to address, elaborating with more questions for each:
The Challenge: Present your challenge(s), requirements, and goals, and ask how the vendor will deliver and provide a solution.
Tech Capabilities: Ask the vendor to point out the technical aspects of their platform as they relate to your use case needs. This should include info on data, security, integrations, and more.
Marketing Channels: Which channels do you need: Email? Mobile? Website? Social? How does the vendor support each one and will their platform allow for easy creation of complex, multi-channel decision-based communication streams?
Service, Training & Support: How complex is their platform? Consider the competence and availability of your staff, as well, to determine what level of assistance you will need.
Reporting & Analytics: Know what metrics you need to provide to your stakeholders and find out how the vendor delivers.
Integration: Make sure they know what tech stacks you already have and ask them to be clear and specific about how their platform will integrate.
Implementation: This is critical! Don’t settle for standardized answers. Make sure they are specific about how they will install the platform; their methodology for implementation in light of your needs; timeline, etc.
Relevant proposals lead to accurate bids and, ultimately, a meaningful partnership that will help your business grow and recognize the invaluable benefits of marketing technology. We’ve shared here some of the basics of RFP development. For a deeper dive into each of these areas, and to see examples of some very targeted RFP questions, we’ve created a helpful resource that you can download for free. “How to Find the Perfect Marketing Platform” is a complete guide to help you run a successful RFP process. It’s specifically focused on helping you to identify a marketing automation provider, but the guide can easily be adjusted to match your specific martech needs.
Good luck with your RFP! We hope this helps you source and select the ideal vendor, to take your marketing to new heights.