Creating an internal procurement brand to support marketing effectiveness

Creating an internal procurement brand to support marketing effectiveness


Ian Kaplan

This week, I had the pleasure of attending ProcureCon Marketing 2018. As I fly home, I now find myself thinking the most about two presentations. Both Dianne Amidon, Senior Sourcing Category Manager, Martech and One-Intuit Strategic Partnerships at Intuit and Liz Ziegler, Senior Sourcing and Category Manager at Vail Resorts, shared how they are building stronger and more productive relationships with Marketing. For both, the key is focusing on value rather than cost savings, a major theme of the conference. Each has taken an innovative approach to relationship building.

Immerse yourself in the Marketing mindset

Dianne Amidon from Intuit described a shift in mindset that has changed how Procurement is doing business.  At Intuit, it started with the language they use. Today they never say the words, “compliance” or “cost savings.” Instead, they ask their colleagues in the Marketing department, “What is your goal?” and “How do you want to be more efficient in your spend?”

Recently, this approach was put to the test when Procurement worked with Marketing and Product Management to build an in-house, state-of-the-art martech stack. Marketing needed a system that delivered personalized experiences and improved marketing outcomes while optimizing spend. This complex project lay at the very heart of marketing effectiveness. And it required a full partnership with Procurement to make a series of consolidation decisions and new investments.

To build true understanding, Procurement staff treated Marketing as a valued client and went all-in to understand their needs and goals. It became standard procedure to:

  • Attend the Marketing all-hands meetings
  • Ask for their strategy decks
  • Read and be a part of their email distribution lists
  • Add value by sharing the insights Procurement gains through their work with other departments on other initiatives

These procedures left the audience with some key takeaways, including thinking like a marketer, delivering value and creating confidence in procurement.

This joint strategy is beginning to pay just the kind of dividends both Marketing and Procurement truly seek: higher ROI on spend.

Build a brand for the Procurement team

Brand matters.

Being viewed as a trusted partner helps a Procurement team interact effectively with Marketing colleagues. Building a team brand is a deliberate and long-term strategic process. It requires defining the principles of the Procurement team and the value they deliver to Marketing. Liz Ziegler of Vail Resorts described the four steps they followed to define and communicate the Vail Resorts Procurement team brand:

Step 1: Start with an inventory of your challenges as a Marketing & Procurement Function
Step 2: Catalog the benefits Marketing receives by working with the Procurement team;
Step 3: Develop a consistent way to communicate and activate the team brand
Step 4: Live the brand everyday

To build your Procurement Team brand, Liz Ziegler recommends starting first by identifying your challenges. Ask yourself questions such as “Where has the team fallen short?” or “How do stakeholders within your organization view procurement, and how do we change that?” Second, list any significant victories you have had as a department and what your team historically does well. Be sure to include Procurement programs that brought value to your organization beyond typical savings.

Third, create a one-pager on the mission of sourcing, when to engaging sourcing and the value your department provides. Have a plan to share this collateral throughout your company. But before you do that, plan how you will engage, communicate and respond to incoming requests. After all, the goal is to have your team brand be consistent.

Your last step, living your brand, may be the trickiest but it’s the most important part. It starts at the top. Engage with your CMO to emphasize your ability and commitment to go above and beyond to provide additional value. Reinforce with your team the kind of brand experience you want to offer.  Over time, you’ll find you have earned a reserved seat at the table for every large Marketing initiative.

It’s important to focus on value and not cost and to call for better relationships. But it’s critical to develop and implement programs that actually deliver results.

The final takeaways is – don’t be afraid to reimagine traditional procurement practices because marketing is a different animal and you need to be creative in the way you apply sourcing practices to marketing.

Here’s a well-deserved tip of the hat to both Dianne Amidon and Liz Ziegler.

Related Insights