Ad Agency New Business: Procurement Strategies

Earlier this week you might have read about how the search consultant’s share is falling as procurement becomes more involved in agency search. This you already knew. And while the other post breaks out the implications for small and large agencies, it’s become clear that developing a procurement strategy is important for just about everyone.

No doubt you already have some plans in place. Here’s…some thinking that will get your brain around this topic.

  • Completely understand the process. One of the benefits of procurement being involved is that they buy stuff for a living. So, they’re used to the “hard” questions some marketer clients may not feel comfortable asking.
  • Change the attitude. Funny. Even as I wrote “hard”, this blogger couldn’t help but see procurement as the enemy. This is not the case. Recognize they’re people. just like you and yours truly. Gosh, some will even have real personalities! In part, these folks are judged on maximizing the value to the company by bringing a sense of rigor to the process.
  • Look for ways to communicate efficiency in the offering. A common knock is that when procurement is involved, be prepared to bend over. Sharpen that pencil! This is not always the case. You must be prepared to communicate efficiency in terms of time or money when describing your capabilities, structure and processes. This can help justify higher compensation when you put on a “total cost” hat.
  • Get smart on their world. If words like “supply chain” are new to you, this is not a good thing. Supply chain thinking can actually be pretty sexy stuff. Do The Google to understand basic procurement strategies, terminology and structures. You’ll learn about things like global sourcing, total lowest cost, increased velocity, and visibility. These aren’t made-up terms. And are coming soon to a negotiation near you!
  • Respectfully offer up some how-to. The 4As and the ANA have how-to guides available. And there’s plenty of “how to search” stuff out there on The Google. So, how do you make it “respectful?” Try putting the advice in third party terms. Set-up phrases include “other marketing leaders…”. Or get at the idea that the industry has a sea of sameness problem, and that there are some techniques other marketers have used…. You might also consider pulling out the benefits of a well-managed review – smooth, efficient, effective, etc. You get the idea.

Of course, there are more. But you gotta get billable. So let’s stop. Should you want to discuss how these, and many more ideas could be applied to your agency, feel free to shout. Thanks!

But wait, there’s more! Ad Age just posted a nice story on CFOs and procurement. Read it here.