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Here's how it plays out in many companies, state agencies and other entities today. The would-be client sends out a confusing, ambiguous document that suggests that they might be open to working with an outside vendor. They ask you to answer 328 questions and you must number them in the A1, A2, B1, B1.4 order, according to appendix 1.8.

Do not vary from the format or you may lose the opportunity. Do not stand out. Do not demonstrate that you can articulate a brand differential. Or show them how you could truly help them.
You can't actually speak to anyone to get any sort of clarity. You can, however, submit your questions in writing but then they will of course, send the answer to your question to everyone. Or talk about it with everyone at the bidder's conference. Either way, your hope to have a fresh idea is pretty much squashed.
Oh's the part they can't tell you. It's mandated that they issue an RFP. But they already know which agency they want to work with. They just have this pesky "must get 3 bids" rule.
Or...they don't actually intend to hire anyone. Somehow they budget is going to magically disappear. But they got 5 companies to give them their best thinking. For free.
No one in their right mind would look at that process and argue that it is effective. I can't imagine it's fun on the client side.
So what did agencies do or what are the clients afraid that agencies might do that makes an RFP the best choice?
If you're on the client side - how do you select your agency partners? If you're on the agency side, what's your stance on RFPs?

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image of Drew McLellan

Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, a company serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

LinkedIn: Drew McLellan

Twitter: @DrewMcLellan