Today I’m continuing Thursday’s post about finding good marketing vendors. In that post I walked through the first few steps in the process:
1. Know what you need
2. Identify your prospects
3. Think carefully about your success criteria
4. Make your first cut
At this point you should have a manageable list of companies or individuals who’ve made your first cut. They’ve answered your first set of qualifying questions and you know there’s strong potential to work together. And don’t rule out your gut – if something doesn’t jive, there may be a very good reason. Focus your energy on other prospects.
The next steps:
5. Analyze your prospects. Now you can invest more serious time in your discussions with your short list of vendors. You’ll probably meet in person or schedule a lengthy conference call to evaluate their services and your needs.
It’s easy to get sidetracked or overwhelmed with information at this stage. To keep things as simple as possible, keep your list of success criteria handy. Your mission is to evaluate each vendor against specific criteria, so keep the discussions focused on the items you need to address.
To better compare apples to applies, you could set up a rating sheet for each vendor. List your success criteria and rate their importance on a scale from 1-5. Then rate the vendor objectively on each criteria.
6. Request proposals. If appropriate, this is the time to ask each vendor to submit a formal proposal. If you’re looking for simple, straightforward services, you can ask bidders to provide their own proposal and quote.
But if it’s a more complex or intangible project, it’s better to create your own Request for Proposal (RFP) and ask bidders to respond to very specific questions in a consistent fashion. A standard RFP is especially helpful when
Here are some tips for issuing an RFP:
7. Evaluate, negotiate & award the project. If you’ve used an objective rating method, you should have a fairly clear ranking of your final bidders. If a few of them are close, negotiate terms and pricing with your finalists.
As you finalize your decision, pay special attention to these issues:
Choosing the right vendor can make or break your project, your budget, and your sanity. Put the time in, select a partner that can support your needs throughout the process, and you’ll set your project up for success!
Want more info on this subject? You may want to also check out these posts:
EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR YOUR MARKETING PROJECT