Ad agency new business professionals see an article like this one that deals with e-procurement, and sigh. Yet another little trend of our business becoming commoditized. The same process used to buy widgets now being used to purchase your billable hours. While you could read a few hundred about how awful this is, that ain’t gonna change things. So, I tend to take Mr. Pink’s stance. Learn how to deal with it.
So, here are some quick thoughts on what your agency might want to do NOW, before you actually have to be baptized by fire:
Identify a few agencies that have gone through this process
Crazy talk? Meh. I can’t think of any agency that thinks e-procurement is a good idea. So, consider picking their brains. You will be in good company. And some people like the attention. The Ad Age story lists several recent pitches. A bit of research might come up with an agency or two that participated. It is easy to suggest a competitor might not want to share. True. Odds are better should you not really be competitors. Which suggests a slightly different research approach, right? But you lose nothing by trying to make a friend, either.
Explore the usual suspect search consultant sites
The guys that either work only for clients. Or the guys that work for both agencies and clients. Even typing this makes me ill, as this second group, frankly, repulses me. But the search consultant side of the house has been struggling. And both of these kinds of folks now need to demonstrate their own thinking through blogging, white papers, etc. So, check ‘em out. You are bound to pick up a tip or two.
Better yet, learn from other professions
We do not have “special eyes.” Other professions have no doubt had to tackle this problem. Consider the legal business, accounting, management consulting, etc. Just like the agency business, they have a host of trade magazines, consultants and middle men which service them. Hint-hint, by the way, to a few of my search consultant friends out there. There’s revenue in dem dar other professional services hills. But I digress.
Research the problem creatively
If marketers believe they can apply e-procurement to buying billable hours, turn that thought upside down. Do your own research around the history of e-procurement. Get smart. Start here and here. An older book on e-procurement is here. Here’s a thought on why a client should consider this method. Yes, I recognize this is just scratching the surface. And there are plenty of buy-side perspectives out there. But there are supply-side perspectives available, too, that will sharpen your understanding of how to tackle this challenge. And while much of the material is focused on widgets, an idea will pop up that will make your next e-negotiation stronger.
No need for you to get a third degree burn here. Happy researching. Should you find something out there that you might think could help our community, feel free to share. As you know, we aim to please here at Thunderclap!
Blatant plug: this would be a terrific and interesting project. Big agencies, consider chatting with me about this, as this assignment would help minimize money left on the table. The last proprietary research and think tank assignment given to Thunderclap from a global agency was brilliantly received. Just sayin’.
Some related Thunderclap posts:
Procurement vs. search consultants in ad agency new business (Lots of relevant links there.)