When I was a kid and the ice cream van came round it was a treat. When the vendor squirted the soft ice cream into the cone and asked if me if I wanted crushed nuts, it made me laugh. Life was simple then and silly things amused me, they still do.
Invitations to Tender (ITT's) amuse me and a recent experience was a cracking example of why. I'll start by saying I understand how this outdated and useless method of securing the services of an agency is still popular, but I'm also going to say, it sucks. It sets in motion an adversarial cat and mouse process where the client doesn't want to disclose certain key pieces of information and the agency has to work for free. How the hell is that going to create the outcome BOTH parties want? It's completely at odds with a growth driven approach to creating a website.
Agencies Want To Help
I run what we now call a lead generation agency. In short, we help businesses generate leads or enquiries with their website. Although it's not the hardest way to earn a living, it's far from being the easiest and I could certainly earn more money elsewhere! However, I love what I do and like most agency owners I want three things above all else.
- To create the right solution for our clients to help them thrive - their success creates ours.
- To be valued as a partner in that process - we're a needy bunch.
- To be paid for the work we do - we've all got mortgages!
Now I know some of you will be thinking it's all about the money and I understand why you might think that. All I can say is, it isn't. I've got two degrees, I'm a Chartered Engineer and I'm a Chartered IT Professional, I could earn more money with less stress doing something else. I do what I do for all the right reasons. I enjoy helping businesses do more with the web. It's that simple.
Nice Try, You'll Be Asking About Our Budget Next!
I broke my own rule recently and agreed to tender for a project as part of an ITT exercise. I soon realised it was a mistake. I invited the potential client in for a meeting to go through the predictably vague ITT document. They soon advised how they expected us to do a tonne of work figuring out what they needed, creating the best possible solution. All for free as part of the ITT process.
To add insult to injury, when I asked how many businesses had been invited to tender the reply I got, preceded by a derisory laugh, was "I can't tell you that, but nice try", quickly followed by "You'll be asking about our budget next."
Let's be clear, this organisation currently have a truly awful website, they're missing loads of opportunities, they're based in the middle of nowhere and we're on their doorstep. We could transform their on-line presence and give them the very best in class website. But we won't be doing that because of the way they've approached this important project.
Compare Them Eggs With These Eggs
Compare and contrast their approach with that of our newest client. They asked us in for a chat then agreed to pay us to help them figure out what they need. Following that exercise, they have now retained us to create their new website using a growth driven design approach. They're going to get the website they need and we're going to deliver it. That's a great result all round.
Think Long And Hard Before Sending That ITT
So think before you send out your ITT to 20 agencies hoping to create that vitally important new website for your organisation. Consider instead engaging with 2 or 3 and from there choose a company to work with to get you to where you need to be.