Whether you're responding to RFPs, RFIs, Security Questionnaires, or even just questions a prospect sends you over email, the success of your response strategy comes down to one thing–your content. Admittedly, finding and managing that content can be a struggle.
- You’re working on a request, and you swear you’ve answered this question before. In fact, you’re pretty sure you answered it three weeks ago, but can’t seem to find the answer you wrote ANYWHERE.
- You jump from Google Drive to your hard drive, to email, to Word documents within a span of ten minutes just to answer one question.
- You complete your first draft of an RFP but aren’t entirely confident all of your answers are 100% accurate.
- You had to copy and paste content from multiple documents into your RFP and manually review it to make sure there are no errors. There’s nothing like getting a client name wrong.
- You asked your SME for an answer but didn’t save it, so now you have to ask them for the same answer...again
Sound familiar? With so many moving parts in the RFP response process, finding the time to organize and manage your content is no easy feat. If you've managed to get your content in order - here's a Ninja high-five! But if you need some help with your content management strategy, read on.
What Exactly is RFP Content Management?
Content management might sound like a marketing term, but it actually spans across multiple fields.
Content management is a set of processes and systems (these days leveraging technology) that help to store, organize, and maintain content on an ongoing basis. A good content management strategy makes content easier to find and access.
Why is RFP Content Management Important?
From total chaos to pristine organization, we’ve seen it all when it comes to RFP content management, and one thing is certain: organizations with proper content management processes in place are more productive and save a LOT of time. In fact, our customers found that with a proper content management strategy in place they were able to decrease response time by 29%.
A well thought out content management process will save your team time when searching for information. Content that is easy to find allows for quicker responses meaning you’ll have more time to tailor your answers for specific prospects. After using Loopio to put a content management strategy in place, Businessolver found they were able to focus more time on tailoring their responses.
The Pitfalls of Inefficient Content Management
Not having an efficient content management process in place could lead to many pitfalls:
- Without an active process in place to share new content across the team, knowledge silos can be created.
- Copy and paste errors from one document to another can lead to a mix up in client or business names on a submitted RFP.
- Manual searches for the correct response can lead to ineffective use of your time.
- Without a formal review or content maintenance cycle to keep your information up-to-date, content can go stale and lead to the use of wrong information in your responses.
Even when the symptoms of content chaos are so clear, it can be hard to find the time or the right path to get started. Here are a few tips to guide you through the process.
Tips for Content Management in the Response Process
Curate Your Best Content
Imagine you are building a library that contains all of the content from past projects and proposals. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself with overlapping and perhaps even stale content. Your answer library is not meant to be a data dump of all your previous responses— it's meant to be a curated, accurate, and approved repository of your best responses. The goal is to make sure your library is clean, so it’s easier to find and use content when you need it. Future you will have more time and be happier as a result.
Curating your content should be an ongoing part of your process, rather than a one-time stint. This way, you’ll ensure that you’re being obsessively thoughtful with every new piece of content that you’re storing in your library. If you are looking into using an RFP response software, look for one that allows you to selectively and seamlessly add new content that you create back into your library. This way, you have control over what you feed back into your library.
Determine How To Best Organize Your Content
Once you've determined which content to include in your content library, you need to decide how to organize it in a way that makes sense for your business. Without proper organization at a library, you’d be sifting through a pile of books without any idea how to find what you’re looking for. Think about categorizing your content as if you are organizing books on a shelf. The easier it is to navigate your content, the easier it is to find.
Keep it simple. While the organization of your content is highly personal to your business, anyone needing to find the information should be able to navigate the structure you put in place. When your content management system and process is intuitive, you’ll find it easier to drive adoption.
Consider organizing your content by themes rather than specifics. For example, having a category for “Competitors” makes more sense than having a category for each individual competitor. A general rule of thumb is to organize your content in a hierarchical structure, from high-level at the start and getting more specific as you continue. Work with your team and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to determine the best way to segment your content.
Develop A Review Cycle
Content management is not a set it and forget it process. Libraries are continually reviewing the state of their books and replacing ones that are worn out or outdated. To enable your team to use the most relevant and up to date content, you’ll want to have regular review cycles in place. Review cycles can be monthly, quarterly, or set depending on how quickly your content evolves (think pricing, or product details, etc.).
If you're looking for software to manage your content, look for one that automates review cycles so your SMEs get prompted whenever content needs to be reviewed. This way, reviews are built into your process and reduce the risk of using stale content.
Implement Processes That Stick Around Even When People Don’t
Ownership is at the heart of good content management practices. Be sure to allocate key roles and responsibilities for different parts of the content management process. Have different members of your team handle reviewing your content, removing duplicates, and maintaining its freshness. Sharing the workload of keeping up with content as it grows and evolves will take pressure off of a single member of the team, and will make everyone feel invested in the content.
Have a clear line of succession for these roles to avoid lost opportunities when someone is out of office or leaves the company.
Training and onboarding is crucial part of your content management strategy. Dedicate time to sit with your team and review how content management works in your business. Have an onboarding session with new members who join the team to walk them through your content management strategy. Make sure to document the process so it can easily be referenced during training and onboarding.
This may seem like a lot of upfront work, but instilling a consistent process is key to shipping tailored responses out faster, and closing more business.
When content is managed well, everyone benefits. Your sales team can find information to get back to your prospects faster, your marketing team can rest assured knowing that content is consistent, your new hires can get up-to-speed quickly, and your legal team can sleep at night knowing that the information that is available has their seal of approval. With proper content management, you’ll avoid having to re-invent the wheel each time you have to respond to an RFP.
More importantly, you’ll save time and be able to focus on what matters most to you.