ProcureCon Marketing – a resounding success

Yesterday was the first of the two day ProcureCon Marketing event in London. This is another addition to the expanding portfolio of specialist events run by the firm. They’ve run a marketing event in the USA, but this is the first in Europe, and it was very successful.

There were getting on for 150 delegates present yesterday, a very impressive turn out and one that made it feel like a real event - definitely a bit of a "buzz" about, perhaps also because it was the first marketing services procurement event for some time. Delegates were in the main senior category level with a decent sprinkling of CPOs and Heads of function - again, an impressively relevant and senior audience. And very "blue chip" too - Phillips, Warner Brothers, Kelloggs, PepsiCo, Dixons, ITV, ABF, Deutsche Telekom...

The standard of the presentations was variable as always but none were poor, and several were very good. We'll feature two or three of them in more detail over the next week or so. It wasn't too "sales-y", with around half a dozen firms exhibiting, and they seemed to have a good level of visitors and it looked like a positive lead generation environment.

One noticeable factor is how "data driven" our friends in marketing are these days, and therefore by association how procurement people in that area have to respond similarly with a focus on facts and knowledge. It is fascinating to see how what was considered the most subjective business discipline when I came into the workforce is now virtually the most numbers driven. Marketing people and their brands are constantly measured, so increasingly want and need to measure their suppliers and the services they provide, and expect procurement to help in that.

So if you’re a fan of the TV show Mad Men, which I certainly am, it’s clear that marketing and advertising is nothing like it was then back in the 1960s! Today’s professionals assiduously collect data. That ranges from detailed market research on the reaction to advertising campaigns, to real-time sales data from different outlets or channels, to social media related click rates, follows, likes and so on, all analysed demographically and geographically.

Yet, at the same time, there is still the magic of creativity that can in itself bring a step change in the numbers and a product’s success. That amazing new TV ad. The viral campaign that gets every 17 year old in the country talking about your brand. The new pack design that stands out on the crowded supermarket shelf.

So the implications for procurement people are clear. To offer valued support to internal colleagues in marketing, procurement has to be able to combine two imperatives. Firstly, marketing now respect and want data, so procurement needs to be as analytical as possible to both measure supplier performance and show we are adding value.

But allied with this, procurement must respect that fact that real value will sometimes genuinely arrive from creativity. That doesn’t mean good procurement processes aren’t relevant, but it does suggest category managers need to understand that the value can’t always be measured just by lower prices or more output – it’s what the output achieves that matters.

Anyway, day two today, and more to come from us from a very good event.

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