Marketing Category Management is now a clearly defined procurement specialism aimed at adding value, not cutting costs.
For years, the Village and its various publications have been condemning the efforts of Procurement to squeeze every last penny out of an agency’s bottom line. Procurement have been accused of petulantly demanding better work for less money, and playing hardball to get it. Agencies have been up-in-arms, blasting these unfair practices and trying desperately to ring-fence their precious – and profitable – relationships with Marketing.
The cynics will continue to believe this is true. But, if the conversation at Procurecon last week is anything to go by, things have changed.
Marketing Category Managers are no longer “procurement” professionals. They are Marketing Category Specialists who intimately understand the marketing world as well as the commercials. Most at the top of the marketing procurement game are ex-marketers themselves. They have worked with agencies, and understand how they work. But they also see a wider opportunity to increase the effectiveness of marketing by getting as much value from agencies as possible.
Marketing is no longer an expense – it is an investment.
We heard across the event that “marketing procurement” is more like buying parts for the space shuttle”. Every detail is crucial for the success of the business. Marketing services cannot be commoditized. Simply cutting costs will involve reducing skills, potentially reducing quality and, ultimately, reducing the attention that your account received from your agency.
Working with an agency partner to attempt to achieve more with the same resources is a challenge with the reinvestment of savings creating embedded value for both parties. The best agencies will rise to it. It takes intelligence to get more out without putting more in, and those are the people you should want to work with. And those are the people you trust Marketing Category Managers to find because they are specialists at it.