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How to crack the code in procurement marketing services?
3 steps to ease the road ahead
You could be new in the job or a very experienced professional. You could be working in a small family-owned business or in a huge multinational company. It does not matter: the challenge of bringing tangibility to marketing services spend is there, laughing at your struggle. There are 3 main hurdles in this category which are part of the everyday life of procurement and here you will find 3 suggestions on how to cope with them (and potentially start falling in love with marketing services, why not?).
The first struggle is getting access to data, irrespective of its quality or accuracy. If you passed this stage, then the following hurdle is to correctly sort and interpret the data in order to build the most suitable sourcing strategy for your company. Even having the strategy in place, you would still face challenges in demonstrating the financial benefits or savings it brings, because most of the time the scopes, deliverables, projects (you name it) are less tangible and it gets harder to find apples-to-apples comparisons that can be understood by the apples-to-apples financial teams.
Ok, that sounds like an impossible mission to be accomplished. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, trust me. So do not give up and let’s get on board in this exciting adventure of marketing services. I assure you it will pay off!
1 – DO NOT DO THIS ALONE
Trying to get data of marketing services spend is not an easy task in the majority of the companies. When you get it (if you get it), the description of the services can be vague, the volumes could have been mistakenly added, not to mention the suppliers’ info may not tell you much about what they exactly do. So, you could waste hours trying to figure out by yourself the mystery behind the data (and get super stressed about it), or you can ask for help.
Your company’s suppliers can be quite useful here. First, most marketing vendors want to sell to Procurement what they do, and they want to build a good relationship too. They know it can guarantee an open door to keep doing business (or expand business) with the company. Second, many times the supplier knows better than their clients/marketeers about the services details that were provided. Take this opportunity into your favour to get as much useful data as possible via your company’s suppliers.
In case the above did not work, you can still ask for your stakeholders’ help. You can get the collaboration of your marketeers when you are willing to help them achieve their goals. Ask them about it. And tell them you can be part of the solution. All you need is useful data that will make you understand the marketing services spend behaviour – the more you know, the better you can support them.
When you work together with your suppliers and clients, you can overcome the lack of good data and you can get to know marketing better and with more objective lens.
2 – THERE IS MORE THAN ONE
With useful data at hand, you can start bringing tangibility to the category by building your sourcing strategy. The recommendation is to segment marketing spend by sub-categories – yes, there is more than one marketing services category -, based on suppliers’ expertise.
If you do that, a new world is going to open: instead of working on one single sourcing strategy for marketing services, you will need to establish one sourcing strategy for each marketing services subcategory. For example, for print materials category you noticed a huge number of vendors and your objective is to decrease it to get a better quality and leverage more volume, while for creative agencies category you are stuck with one single supplier and to avoid potential disruption of services your objective is to increase the pool of vendors (or even consider in-housing part of the services).
Sometimes you are the only resource available for this task and there are too many marketing subcategories to look after. Prioritize. Do not attempt to build and implement all sourcing strategies at once if you only have you to do it. You will need time to learn about the subcategory (study it) and you will need to convince your stakeholders to embrace the new sourcing strategy (remember that nobody likes change, even when they agree it is necessary). Speak with your manager and together align which subcategories are must-haves for the current year and which ones can be managed in the next year.
After building the sourcing strategy and getting the approval of your marketeers, you need to work on how to reap its benefits: the finance team of your company needs to approve your future savings. But how?
3 – BRING FINANCE ON BOARD
Many financial staff members do not speak the language of marketing and they have trouble approving savings they can barely understand. Thus it is very important that you bring them on board before you implement the sourcing strategy.
Make sure you build a business case that in simple numbers can demonstrate the savings that can be achieved if the sourcing strategy is implemented in the company. Save the marketing terms during your interactions with stakeholders and suppliers. With finance you need to be as concrete as possible and bring the apples-to-apples approach so they feel comfortable with your methodology. Even better, get their formal approval for a smoother implementation of your sourcing strategy.
This is also an opportunity for finance teams to make constructive challenges in your business case or request you to review it. That does not mean you will need to redo your entire sourcing strategy, but you may need to adjust it: better do that before than after its implementation. The important takeaway here is to ensure you will get finance buy-in as well, so once it is time to get your savings approved, it will be done with a lot less headache.
And now it is time to proceed with the next marketing services subcategory. Are you ready?
I hope this was helpful and that your modest writer was able to show you it is definitely possible to crack the code in marketing services spend while enjoying the journey.
Have fun and get marketing going!