In my job evaluating RFPs, I sometimes see questions that don’t set prospective buyers up for success in choosing a data management platform (DMP).
Issuing standard RFP documents or asking a million questions is not going to benefit you or help identify your ideal partner. What works is identifying what your business cares about most and writing questions based on that theme. Every question you ask should ideally point to: why do we care? Identifying themes before crafting your RFP will urge your business to focus on what matters, force you to deepen your industry knowledge, encourage valuable preliminary conversations with prospects that can act as helpful advisors, and ultimately make it easier to identify which vendor suits you best.
Below are some themes to consider before crafting a DMP RFI/RFP.
- Vertical Experience Matters. A common question we get on an RFP is, “Who do you currently work with today?” What this question should really be asking is, “In what verticals do most of your clients operate?” There’s a reason why one DMP has financial expertise and another has lots of CPG experience. Most likely, it means they are better in this vertical than other vendors. It also typically means they have the most relevant experience, the best partnerships in place, aligned security measures, beneficial industry knowledge, etc. If you identify a vendor that works extensively with your vertical, they probably already know a lot of your business problems. Find your kindred spirit.
- Transparency All Around. Almost every DMP RFP asks about reporting and analytics, and eventually, pricing. While these sections typically touch on a vendor’s transparency, transparency seems undervalued in many RFP questions. If you are a prospective buyer who likes to know where your money is going, you should also be interested in transparency. Is this vendor going to show you how they do things and explain why? Are they going to be consultants, and if so, how? Is their DMP going to give you all the analytics you need? What is the vendor’s approach to transparency in reporting, pricing nuances or partnership model? Ask pointed questions that uncover the truth. Find your trusted advisor.
- Not All Roadmaps Lead to Rome. I understand checking boxes for specific features you may need. But at the RFP stage, roadmap questions don’t make a lot of sense. (It’s unlikely that you want a complete feature breakdown of projected product updates on timelines you can’t be sure a company will uphold -- many don’t). Don’t you really want to know whether the company is innovative, strategic, insightful, and hungry for growth? If so, chuck the roadmap question -- and ask direct questions instead. Most importantly, consider asking how this vendor is planning to work with you specifically on your future needs. Are they a company that will make roadmap changes for you? Find a partner, not a vendor.
- Big Data, Small Steps. DMP RFP questions are often asked around onboarding partners, syndication partners, data partners, tag management partners, audience building capabilities, forecasting, analytics, speed, scale, security, legal practices, etc. It’s important to remember that one of the main reasons to buy a DMP is to make sense of your data and gather audience insights that can revolutionize your marketing strategy. Keep in mind that while data is the means (and that you need to capture it, and centralize it), insights are the goal. As you craft questions, make sure you’re accurately weighing the importance of reporting options and analytics tools, as well as whether or not your future partner can gather unprecedented insights specifically for you. Ask for case studies and dig for information that can reveal whether the vendor will go the extra mile. Find a driven, curious team.
I know, I know, it’s all easier said than done. But a great partnership will be worth the search.