6080796943_79f8c0d9ab_mIf you are a marketer who does not work within a marketing department in a company, you know that receiving an RFQ (Request for Quote) or RFP (Request for proposal) is exciting. It’s also perhaps the most romanticized part of the marketing world. On AMC’s Mad Men, the really juicy scenes are when the various “Mad Men” make a presentation in response to an RFQ or RFP. That’s when Don Draper gets to really strut his stuff.

In the offline world, RFPs or RFQs are often sent to a handful of local agencies. A full packet of information is usually provided, some offering more detail than others. Sometimes a budget is part of the RFQ/RFP. Sometimes that budget is broken down into different segments and sometimes the guesswork is left up entirely to the respondents.

In the world of social media, counter-intuitively, the process of sending out an RFQ/RFP is often disorganized and poorly handled. We say counter-intuitively because one might think that in the online world you would be able to target the exact people or companies with whom you would want to work. If you need a website, you can easily go online, often amongst your contacts, and do some vetting before you contact people for quotes on the project. You ostensibly have more time to get your information together because people have been trained to respond on social media platforms far faster than they might respond to a mailed RFQ.

Unfortunately, the usual RFQ/RFP process has not seemed to translate well at all in the social media world. What should be an improved version of the regular scenario tends to be more disorganized, less informative, and can actually create some really awkward situations. In order to help prevent you from creating a wake of frustration the next time you need a quote, we thought we’d highlight some mistakes you want to avoid.

1. Requesting a quote without full information about the project

Ultimately, this isn’t just a favor to the agencies you’re talking to, but it will also save you a lot of back-and-forth time. Any marketer worth their salt will want to know as many details as possible so that they can present a comprehensive quote. That means your request should include as much relevant information as possible about the opportunity. If it is a website, what kind? How many pages? Is it a revamp or will the work be starting from scratch? If you’re asking for quotes on an ad, what are the dimensions? Will the same ad be resized or will there be several different ads? Covering these questions up front will also show that you are a company that understands the kind of information an agency needs. Remember, when you send out a request for a quote, you are not the only one in a position to control the relationship. Agencies can learn a lot about your company based on how you ask for project quotes. The more detail you offer, the more likely agencies will get the feeling you’d be easy to work with.

2. Posting an RFQ/RFP informally to your personal Facebook page

This mistake can cause a lot of problems. First, if you aren’t actually the point of contact, you are already causing a lot of confusion in the process. If you are connected to a lot of agencies (or individuals who work at agencies) on social media sites, which is highly likely given how marketer-dense social media is, you are also putting any potential respondents in an awkward position. On Facebook, you are talking, potentially, with people you have befriended. Now you are both leaping up for the same treat, and it can become uncomfortable for all parties involved very quickly. Moreover, offering the kind of details respondents would want could be inappropriate on your personal page. You could end up revealing information that is confidential to your company, perhaps without even really realizing it.

3. Asking an agency or an individual who works for an agency who they would recommend

This one really drives us agency people nuts. It’s sort of like your crush in high school lamenting to you that there’s no one cool to take to the dance. If you know an agency and it occurs to you to ask them who they’d recommend, ask them if *they* can do the work, first. Most good agencies will be honest about their responses. If your request doesn’t fit their normal area of expertise they may end up giving you recommendations anyway. Always lead with the assumption that the person or people you are approaching could do the work, however. You don’t want to create a “chopped liver” feeling in the online world.

Most of these mistakes can be avoided simply by thinking through what you are doing. It’s common sense to avoid creating situations that can cause discomfort or annoyance to those around you.

We hope this offers some guidance for the next time you need a project quoted by an agency or marketing firm!

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/webbyclare/6080796943 via Creative Commons