An article by a colleague that was written for a marketing newsletter for SMPS SF.
By: Andy McNutt
The RFP process, much like a shag carpet, is outdated and needs a good shaking up. RFPs are typically full of rigid requirements: page limits, text size, criteria to address, a due date, and other senseless directions. It’s enough to drive you insane (or more insane depending on your current situation). Is there any purpose for these requirements except to stifle creativity in the name of expediency for the client?
In the last column I asked what you’d do to make the whole process more interesting. Do you hear the crickets chirping? That was your collective answer. Perhaps I should have asked something more exciting, or maybe you were all just getting ready for the conference in Denver. Either way that opens the field up for me to fill the column with a list of really bad/genius ideas. I take absolutely no responsibility for you following these suggestions unless they work:
Text: Nothing proclaims the authority of your firm quite like Ye Olde English style fonts. It makes your submittal look like it was written by King Arthur. Didn’t Sean Connery play him in a movie? Who wouldn’t want to have Sean Connery on the project? Your RFP will sell itself on that image alone.
Graphics: Clip art is criminally underrated. People make a living developing those images. In the interest of keeping the economy going it’s up to us to use as much as possible. Select graphics that are topical to the paragraph they’re associated with. A rubber duck when discussing a pre-school is fine, a race car when talking about infrastructure is a rookie maneuver.
Project Descriptions: Face it, not every project is exciting. Sometimes the only description you can get from your staff is “Oh no, I’ve been trying to forget about that one” or a “You know, the usual”. Liven it up by writing the description in iambic pentameter. If you weren’t an English major, the default on this is haiku. If that’s still too much of a challenge then just make it rhyme.
Team Resumes: I can’t stress enough how important exclamation points and Random Capitalization are! Your chosen PM doesn’t have just 20 years of experience; he has TWENTY YEARS of Experience!!!! Include their headshot along with a word balloon of an inspirational catchphrase. For PM’s: The Buck Stops Here! For assorted team members: Reach For the Stars!!
The Interview: It could happen, and when it does you need to be prepared. The panel is usually most impressed by coordination so dress your team in a matching uniform. I don’t mean similar ties and jackets. Ever see a Devo video? There’s your inspiration. Stop by the local Army/Navy surplus store so you can also deck everyone out in medals. Explain that it’s for the Great OSHPD Campaign of ’06. Naturally, the PM will demonstrate seniority by wearing a cape and sword. And when it comes time for the Q&A period, forget the typical response of addressing the points that were raised. Engage their interest with interpretive dance. Remember to limber up ahead of time. Pulling a muscle would be a faux pas.
A PDH (Project Description Haiku)
Smoke control testing
It’s so dark in this hallway
Flashlight lost down duct
I didn’t say it had to be good. Just mildly relevant.