The Un-RFP: A Follow-up

Photo by caseywest via flickrA few weeks ago, I discussed how the RFP (request for proposal) had run into disrepute, mostly among consultants and vendors to whom they are targeted. I also discussed how people like me need a good structure to solicit outside help, review their proposals, and make the best decision possible.

A good number of comments followed (thank you!). Definitely, I touched a nerve. I listened to what you all said, and recently issued this “un-RFP” to a number of possible consultants and agencies. I’d be grateful if you’d take a look and share your thoughts.

Currently …

  • The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) has lots of experience and success working with traditional media. But we also know the effectiveness of traditional media is rapidly diminishing.
  • We were one of the earliest medical societies to experiment with social media technologies, starting in March 2007. We appreciate about social media technologies can help us accomplish our goals, and we have learned a lot about how our members use social media technologies.
  • But we don’t know as much about how to implement these tools to produce specific measurable results, nor do we understand very well how to integrate these tools with traditional media. As a result, the success of these experiments has been uneven.
  • MMS plans to launch the first phase of a website upgrade in Q1 2009
    • In Phase 1, the principal enhancements will be in the site’s information architecture, visual design, search, back-end integration, and site analytics
    • In Phase 2 (Q3/Q4 2009), we will introduce agile technological tools (.NET) and upgrade our social media offerings

What we’re looking for …

  • We want someone to shorten our learning curve in social media technologies and show us how to produce results from them.
  • Our focus is in three areas:
    • Advocacy: How do we leverage social media technologies with traditional media to increase our voice and influence in the public conversations about health care policy and clinical issues?
    • Education: How can we leverage social media technologies with traditional media to improve our business results for both live and online continuing medical education programs?
    • Membership: How can we leverage social media technologies with traditional media to improve our ability to a.) strengthen our bond with existing members; and b.) grow our membership levels among practicing physicians in Massachusetts who aren’t yet members?
  • We want a partner who has produced specific measurable business results for customers and clients integrating social and traditional media. Theoreticians without a track record need not apply.

What Success Looks Like …

  • More member activity. Members will find that our social media offerings help them become better doctors and make their membership in the MMS invaluable. They will use these tools frequently, and they will become fervent MMS evangelists to their colleagues.
  • Better business results. More people will register for our live and online medical education programs. We will be more effective in our membership recruitment activities.
  • More influence. MMS physicians will have a more vital and influential voice in the critical health care policy and clinical conversations of the day.


  • Send me a description of you and your company. Tell me about the work you’ve done for yourself and others to employ social media and traditional media to produce specific measureable results. Give yourself enough space to impress us with your expertise. Provide some detail but you don’t have to go crazy.

After that …

  • We’ll review what we get, and get in touch with those who interest us the most. At that point, we will probably ask to meet and talk some more – you’ll learn about us, and we’ll learn about you, and we go from there.

If this interests you, send me your reply by end of business, Feb. 20, 2009.


5 thoughts on “The Un-RFP: A Follow-up

  1. Frank – I just arrived here via Acronym. Thanks for a very thoughtful – and action oriented – post. I am among those who have railed against the RFP. What you have offered here is at least the basis for meaningful discussion, as opposed to the list of features, functionalities, and/or deliverables that form the basis for so many RFPs. – Jeff

    1. Thanks Jeff – I thought a great deal about the comments the earlier post attracted from consultants. I tried to create something that didn’t push their hot buttons, while staying true to my core needs.

  2. Frank,

    This is wonderful. Clear, meaningful, open ended. I wish more people thought this way. You are not going to get apples to apples proposals, but in reality, that is only helpful with a true comodity.

    I am a membership communications strategist also with a lot of experience in traditional methods and we are seeing the desire for social in organizations growing. My philosophy has always been involved members stay, spend and bring their friends. They are also the ones who give back. Social media has such great opportunities to encourage this.

    I am building my knowledge and experience in order to better lead our clients. I would love to stay posted about what strategy and tactics you ultimately take.

    Looking forward to following.

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