As a marketer at a financial services organization, you solve unique challenges every day. You make shrinking budgets work to attract and retain clients. You create a heavy stream of content to build consumer trust. You work within the tight constraints of compliance and regulations. And, you swim against the current in a mature industry that is slow to adopt automated technologies.
Responding to RFPs is one of the many ancillary functions of your marketing role. Yet another multiple hat situation, the RFP response process is where you serve as the facilitator, editor, creator, and decision-maker.
Just like any other content you produce, RFP response involves content management. For your content to be impactful, you need to organize, review, and improve constantly. Below, a proposal manager at a financial institution offers several RFP content management best practices to help you succeed.
43% of marketers said controlling RFP content quality was their top challenge in a recent RFPIO survey. How is your organization overcoming that challenge today?
RFP content quality will always be a challenge, especially in the banking technology environment where things change every day. The first thing we did to overcome that challenge was to change software vendors and start using RFPIO. This solution has taken the middleman out of a lot of what we do to make our RFP response process more manageable.
Having unlimited users makes it much easier for us to bring in subject matter experts (SMEs) from across the bank to answer technical questions about our products and services—without worrying about additional licenses. Through automated email reminders, I’m able to keep track of stale content and the SME responsible for updating content.
Tell us about your experience with maintaining RFP content in the financial services world.
Our product management team is responsible for updating any questions relevant to their particular products. Team availability is a primary challenge with updating RFP content. However, it’s not enough to just have a product expert—you need to have people who know how to write well and review content.
The financial services industry is a moving target. Technology changes so rapidly and sometimes laws and regulations don’t keep up the pace. Your RFP contributors must have legal expertise or compliance and regulatory expertise to make sure you’re not talking out of turn in any of those areas.
How do you use tagging in RFPIO’s answer library to organize your RFP content?
Tagging within RFPIO’s answer library works so much better than organizing questions and answers with folders. We had a folder system with our old RFP software—when I needed to find a question a year later, I never knew where it went.
With banking proposals, the bulk of the questions and answers will fall under a certain product or product set. So you tag your RFP content in the answer library with the name of the product, in addition to its larger product group.
Tagging makes it easier to delegate questions to subject matter experts as well. When an ACH question comes in, I search for the ACH tag and assign these responses to the ACH product manager so she can review the content for accuracy.
Overall, tagging allows you to connect the dots with all of your RFP content. You find RFP responses quicker and keep your content up-to-date. It’s the difference between Outlook and Gmail when you’re organizing thousands of emails.
RFP response management teams tend to have different internal styles with tagging. Describe yours.
Generally, the tags you choose for your RFP content are pretty obvious. There will always be a few outliers, but the majority of the responses clearly fall in a particular product bucket or problem bucket. Even then, usually there will be a product that’s an answer to that problem, like fraud prevention or ACH positive pay.
When I first imported all of our existing RFP response content into RFPIO’s answer library, I did the majority of the tagging. Now that our product managers update their content within the tool, I give them access to change those tags or add content as they see fit. Occasionally, I review the RFP content library to clean up any tags that look wonky.
In the same survey, managing company branding and positioning with RFP content was another challenge for 14% of RFP responders. What are some ways your team is maintaining brand consistency with RFPs?
Our RFP response team does a very good job getting eyes on everything that goes out the door, making sure the correct font size and logos are there. RFPIO has robust formatting tools that help you automatically export your documents into a consistently branded deliverable. This exporting feature has made the formatting step much faster for our team.
Can you tell us about your current RFP content audit process?
Our RFP content audit process is a precedent that has been set for a while that we’re continuing to improve with RFPIO.
At a minimum, content should be looked at once a year. Certain content requires a quarterly answer, or a service changes out of the blue. In RFPIO, you set your preferred audit cycle, put expiration dates on the content, then trigger automated emails to alert the content manager.
There are different RFP content auditing techniques. Your subject matter experts audit the content to make sure it is factually correct. Your RFP writers audit the language and change the way a response is worded when necessary. Your compliance and legal teams also need to audit and approve the content.
We have roughly 1,400 Q&A pairs—that’s a lot of content for one or two people on each team to handle. Right now we’re taking a risk-based approach and having our compliance team members do spot checks on higher risk areas. I recommend picking your battles and focusing on specific initiatives as you audit your RFP content.
What was RFP content management like before you used RFPIO?
RFP content management was a nightmare before RFPIO. Because of the license restrictions we had with our previous RFP software, I ended up being the choke point. All of the RFP content writers and SMEs provided content that had to filter through me, because I was the one uploading everything into the tool.
Having the freedom to allow all of our RFP contributors to work within the platform—without allocating more budget for licenses—is a huge improvement. This collaborative focus puts the value on what is valuable to our managers, which is getting good proposals out the door.