A blueprint for understanding procurement in ad agency new business

Hello there, sports fans! If you didn’t see the article on procurement in Ad Age yesterday, you may want to check it out. It offers up some details on how the ANA is getting involved in the fray.

So, what do to about procurement? Plenty. And sure, it’s worth thinking about an idea or two that can help all. This latest move from the ANA suggests that both agencies and clients are moving toward a shared, common understanding.

But how does that impact your next pitch when procurement is involved? That is when it really matters, right?!

Yours truly understands, and even offers up a concrete thought or two in this post.

Looking for more? What follows… are a couple of places to go that will help you identify some additional strategies:

  • Use “the Google” on all things procurement and agency related. There’s quite a bit out there, some even published by Thunderclap competitors (gasp!). Some pretty good thinking there, and I encourage you to check ’em out. (Just come on back, though!)
  • You should also fully explore what the ad agency trade associations are doing around the world. A recent Ad Age reader brought this to everyone’s attention. It’s from overseas. “Magic and Logic is the title of a new ‘white paper’ containing a valuable analysis of how the relationship between Marketing, Procurement and Agencies can work better to produce a win-win for all parties.” (source: IPA site). Sounds like it might be worth a pound or two.
  • A brief exploration of these sources, though, suggests further digging is needed. So, identify the trade associations and magazines important to professional buyers. Peruse a few of the articles, particularly when they discuss buying professional services. Explore the supply chain world, too. It’s closely related.
  • Identify and investigate the consultants and outsourcing companies. I’m talking about people like Stirling Consulting and Brad Dehart at ICG Commerce. Brad wrote a smart story in Ad Age. Stirling’s professionals were interviewed by Mirren. You may also want to check out agency CFO types who have their own shingles, like Bob Maloney at Left Brain Advisors. Some of these people may have handy “how-to” decks or white papers that demonstrate their expertise.
  • Finally, I think it’s worth talking with people in other professional service worlds who have managed procurement. Not quite sure, but my guess is the strategy shops – the McKinseys of the world – have had to develop an idea or two that can be applied to our business.

You can always ask, too. On LinkedIN I recently read about an agency that was facing a reverse auction. Ugh. What an awful way to buy a professional service. But the agency got some good advice by asking peers who have been in those painfully fitting shoes.

Anywho, I hope you found some value here. Should you have a resource or two that you think might help all, feel free to share. Thanks!



  1. Steve,
    Good stuff. It is interesting that the number one driver of PromoAid’s growth has been the fact that marketers and agencies are trying to get a better handle on procurment and the role that technology can play. Understanding the landscape of marketing vehicles, and the options available for both suppliers and tactics, is the number one reason our clients subscribe to our service.

    Technology (“the Google”) is definitely the new driving force with Marketing procurement and it is a direction the industry is clearly embracing.


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