Marketing Procurement – Best Practices and Sourcing Strategies for 2021

marketing procurement

Marketing Procurement – Best Practices

1 – Don’t treat agencies like any other category. You’re literally buying a team and people, not widgets. Structured scorecards that have to be followed and rigid RFP rules won’t work in marketing procurement.

2 – Brands don’t like to share agencies as they are fearful of getting the “B Team.” So don’t push for all brands to use a single AOR.

3 – To have influence with Marketing or any other business partner you must prove you are trustworthy. The best way to do that is to provide valuable insight by understanding their business (what marketing is/does) and aligning your goals/objectives for the year.

Marketing Procurement Categories


1. Advertising Agencies (Creative, PR, Digital, Speciality)

Advertising agencies (especially creative/digital) having been moving in-house for a few years now.  Tactical and low-value work (year to year revisions, simple updates, etc.) should be brought in-house to help lower expenses.

The strategy/creative creation should be kept with the agency. That said, marketing procurement professionals are better off having a blended rate card if you have a lot of the senior-level talent working on your account. If you don’t, switch to a rate card. It’s more advantageous as you move away from senior-level staffing leading the charge for your brand.

On that note, we all know agency and marketing folks tend to move fluidly back and forth from one company to another. Therefore, when you are reviewing contracts, it will be in your company’s (not the agencies) best interest to NOT have a non-solicitation clause.

Also, there has been a huge increase in freelancers in the industry. Make sure when you do have your yearly conversations with your AOR, or strategy/PR firm, you find out if they are leveraging freelancers. Pay can drastically change from project to project, so you’ll want to ensure their salary/mark-ups to it are appropriate.


2. Media (Digital and Traditional)

We all know the trend is moving away from traditional to digital. Therefore, helping the marketing team has the right mix of channels, and pricing for each is key. Especially since COVID-19 has accelerated subscriptions and cancellations as consumers search for value (Deloitte Insights – Digital Media Trends).  Brushing up on these trends will also help to win over your counterparts!

Not to beat a dead horse, but I’m going to beat a dead horse. If you don’t have something in your contracting with your media buying company that any ‘give-backs’ to the media company are actually passed through to you!

But let’s not forget about media management. As a sourcing professional, you should help your business partners contract and adapt their KPIs to focus not only on the short term (impressions, new-customer conversions, etc) but also on longer-term customer retention. This way you can easily move on to a new agency if the old one isn’t performing.


3. Market Research MR (Data, Primary, Secondary)

Location drives pricing when it comes to Primary MR. Continuing to use on-line panels is a great way to save money (especially during this crazy pandemic). Also, move to get pricing (if global) for multiple regions for cost comparisons.

When it comes to data, this category is pretty much like an IT supplier. It pays to know someone in the business, so if you can find consultants that previously worked at these companies, they can be leveraged in negotiations to help vastly reduce the costs you pay for data.


4. Print & Promotional Products

If your company isn’t already a “print-on-demand” shop, start taking steps to pilot this. Or ensuring all the print and promo pieces can be utilized on a digital press. This way, the switch to becoming a print on demand shop is a tad easier.

Trends are showing that print is decreasing in favor of digital copies. That said, I don’t think it will ever go away 100% (or it won’t be eradicated until all the Baby Boomers and Gen X are out of the office and retired!). So having a strategy that reflects limited print in the future will be key.


5. Meetings and Events

Meetings and Events have been virtual for the past seven months plus. Therefore marketing procurement professionals should look to create policies or procedures to ensure the reduction of travel, meeting and other arbitrary expenses stay low will be essential. It ensures you continue to capture savings from the lack of demand in the category.

Additionally, airlines/hotels have been hit hard. Some research suggests now is NOT the time to negotiate as they don’t have anything to give, due to the huge decrease in demand. That said, you should pay attention to the trend as a whole, and if you see demand picking up before 2024, pounce!!

marketing procurement

Other Marketing Procurement Best Practices (Tongue-in-cheek)

  1. Marketing Professionals are Divas. If you treat them as such, you’ll get along splendidly!
  2. Make sure your RFP scorecards have a surplus of qualitative items such as team vibe, zodiac sign, and trendy hairstyles.
  3. In coming up with a good marketing procurement strategy, make sure to do it in a silo. No need to include those pesky business partners.
  4. Don’t refer to the CMO as “Chief Marketing Officer”, they prefer “Chief Megatron the Opulent”
  5. Last, you are in marketing procurement, don’t forget to harp on cost savings. Nothing says “I understand your marketing funnel” more than messing with their creative talent who keeps the brand profitable.

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