Do more for less by bridging the gap between Procurement and Marketing

Do more for less by bridging the gap between Procurement and Marketing

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Thursday, October 1, 2020 | Philip Guiliano, Ian Kaplan

The partnership between Marketing and Strategic Sourcing is fundamentally based on the principle of doing more for less. Not only are most marketers not wired this way operationally—most aren’t armed with all of the ways this can be achieved without sacrificing creativity and market outcomes. Also, many sourcing professionals aren’t informed of all of the ways marketing operational efficiency can be achieved beyond looking for the clearest defined scope and lowest price from the agency partners and vendors that they source.

In this instance, the true definition and harmony is a procurement process designed to secure the best products and services for the best value.

Achieving this harmony has never been more important than it is during times like these when pressure is on for everyone in business to achieve more and spend less. Rightly or wrongly, organizations that find themselves in a squeeze frequently slash marketing budgets first.

Strategic Sourcing can be a big part of the solution for Marketing. Sourcing needs to become a strategic process and operate in the most optimal way in order to help the business grow—and even in certain situations—survive. This is not about “ownership” or who “controls” the process. It’s about working hand in hand with Marketing to understand their vision and mission so Sourcing is seen as a business partner who optimize efficiencies and saves time and money while maximizing internal resources.

As a strategic sourcing professional, you know that it’s possible to thrive even in harsher conditions like these. You understand that when Strategic Sourcing and Marketing work in concert, you can identify key opportunities to streamline — without sacrificing quality. It’s a win-win.

You want to be an indispensable ally to your marketing colleagues and put your organization’s best foot forward in uncertain times. But chances are that when it comes to partnering with these colleagues, you aren’t starting out on rock-solid footing. In order to succeed, you’ll likely need to do one of three things. You’ll either need to build a new bridge into Marketing, strengthen what may historically have been a fraught relationship, or be the source of new ideas for your marketing partners within your organization that show them how they can.

As a brand implementation specialist who often works at the intersection of Marketing and Procurement, we’ve seen firsthand how taking a proactive approach enables both groups to meet their goals.

The challenges of improving Marketing and Procurement relationships

First, it’s important to acknowledge that, although it is a growing trend, organizations that leverage strategic sourcing to procure marketing services are currently in the minority. This means that many strategic sourcing professionals are still working to be seen as partners to their marketing counterparts and gain a seat at the planning table.

Unfortunately, even once Strategic Sourcing and Marketing join forces, they may fail to collaborate as closely and effectively as they could. This is because each group’s misperceptions about the other sometimes result in a skeptical, uneasy alliance rather than a trusting partnership.

Successful sourcing does much more than reduce prices. Procurement professionals improve the quality and services that Marketing suppliers provide. Yet, Strategic Sourcing still represents a significant and untapped resource for many companies. When effectively implemented, it offers tremendous value, helps consolidate vendors/suppliers and aligns multiple work streams in order to secure best in class solutions for the business.

Marketing Procurement is only as successful as your internal partnership

The truth is that Marketing Procurement is only effective to the extent that marketing and strategic sourcing professionals work together in tandem. In part, that’s because of the unique nature of marketing procurement. In this context, you aren’t just buying durable goods and branded assets. Rather, you’re buying strategy and creative outcomes.

In order to make the most strategically sound decisions, you need to take more than cost into consideration. Going in with a rate card and using it to name your price on the outcomes you hope to achieve is often counterproductive. Instead, you must make decisions with Marketing’s current objectives and best practices in mind. Not only that, but you need to appreciate that no two creative agencies are the same, so it’s almost never a straightforward apples-to-apples comparison.

The good news? You have the opportunity to demonstrate to your marketing colleagues that you genuinely want to understand their challenges. Not only that, but you are prepared to help them arrive at solutions that improve costs and marketing outcomes.

To do that, you’ll need to build a customized value equation that allows you to take creative exploration, flexibility, and other “amorphous” factors — such as innovation — into consideration. For example, your marketing team may want to go with a substantially more expensive partner if they believe the external agency will revolutionize some aspect of how they do business or proportionally drive ROI. In this case, the most cost-effective option just won’t do.

The benefits of bridging the gap between Strategic Sourcing and Marketing

When Marketing’s stance is skeptical, it can be especially helpful to frame the partnership in terms of benefits. By working in collaboration, Strategic Sourcing and Marketing can:

  • Reduce marketing costs (an outcome that benefits both parties)
  • Achieve more impactful results with fewer resources
  • Improve Marketing’s operational efficiency by injecting structure, repeatability, and optimization into the marketing function
  • Significantly improve vendor relationships and outcomes by setting clear expectations in the contracting and onboarding phases

How to forge a bulletproof Marketing-Procurement alliance

You can certainly and should work to forge a deeper partnership with your marketing team. However, you may find that partnering with an external brand implementation specialist represents the fastest way to bridge the gap between Strategic Sourcing and Marketing.

At BrandActive, we help companies architect successful sourcing strategies that reduce costs, improve quality control, and rationalize vendors. Companies save millions of dollars, accelerate time to market, and are able improve responsiveness amid rapidly changing circumstances. are laser-focused on creating actionable, tactical plans to maximize brand impact and reduce cost in the context of marketing operations optimization and brand change.

Over the course of 22 years helping over 200 companies implement rebrands, we’ve grown adept at bringing Strategic Sourcing and Marketing together to streamline operations and execute an optimized rebrand. For example, by performing a comprehensive marketing operations audit and opportunity analysis — including people, process, training, and technology — we can help you identify out-of-the-box solutions that demonstrate Strategic Sourcing’s value to Marketing.

Take our recent work with a large financial services firm during a merger. For this engagement, we partnered with Strategic Sourcing to implement a rebrand. Over the course of our work together, we didn’t just save our client millions of dollars on their best-in-class rebrand implementation. We also worked with Strategic Sourcing to break down silos and establish deep inroads with Marketing. In doing this work, we lead the organization in rationalizing and optimizing their marketing vendor portfolio, while at the same time ensuring that the brand they envision is the brand they get.

By bringing BrandActive on board, you can lay the foundation for an optimized, efficient marketing function — and a smooth, high-performing partnership between Strategic Sourcing and Marketing. That’s smart thinking not only in a downturn, but in the years to come. Want to learn more about how BrandActive can help your organization maximize its marketing procurement efforts? We’d love to hear from you.

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