ProcureCon Marketing Day 2 – Market Innovators, Start-Ups and Insights

Day 2’s second panel session at ProcureCon Marketing involved the market innovators, and looked at opportunities that delegates could take back with them and share with their marketing stakeholders. Although it was a very worthwhile session, we can’t possibly report it all here.

It focused mostly on innovation and start-ups. (The chair on this did a remarkable job with the complexity of some of the questions, clarifying them and fielding the answers.) The overlying concern was that agencies are not doing enough to partner with start-ups. Many agencies treat them more like production partners. They need to engage more and explain better to them how this industry works, because they just don't know.

The panel advised that you have to remember there’s an overhead associated with identifying start-ups (unless the client is paying for it). So be clear on your objectives, first you need to determine your true reasons for having a relationship with a start-up, and make it really count and be mutually beneficial. There is power in an agency being a generalist creative agency, but, there’s a need to work with specialists too. They have knowledge, experience, and creativity that can positively impact the client.

Other key points were that innovation is all about not being afraid to learn from mistakes, until you get it right. But make sure you have common KPIs or you will be fighting against each other. It’s important to be honest about what we are good at, and recognising what we are not. So while more agencies are starting to work together, make sure you have one lead agency that makes decisions and directs the rest. To maximise value procurement has to manage it so that when roles are defined, so also is remuneration, everyone knows what’s expected of them and what they get out of it. You can still have collaboration with competition.

The conversation turned to simplifying the marketing supply chain (it was interesting to hear in a later session that a national utility provider has 53 different contracts with one supplier). The benefit of bringing in specialist knowledge is that clients have everything with one supplier and it makes procurement easier. But, don’t sell yourself as a one-stop shop just so they can truncate their supply base. Take a step back and ask yourself – what should be in my organisation, and what should be outside.

The theme tied in nicely with a presentation and panel discussion in the afternoon, on New Market Research Insights, with Steve Lightfoot, Global Communications Procurement Manager, World Federation of Advertisers. The theme was innovation in market research and how the latest trends in consumer insight can enhance brand reach. He talked about the survey they carried out on members about their global and regional procurement budgets.

When they asked what percentage of their global marketing budget was dedicated to market research, results varied widely, and as he said, it’s not a rosy picture! Market research companies are investing to address increasing data and consumer insights, but a high proportion of marketing spend in this area is fee-based only (48%). The majority work with a global supplier, and feel they are equally competent across markets. A quarter work with more than 50 agencies. But when asked whether they believed they needed to change the way they invest in research, the majority answer was No! So clearly marketing is not so convinced of the power of insight. It was interesting that in terms of how they source their agencies, competitive tendering and multiple sourcing came out by far the highest, while eSourcing was used by only 5%. And in terms of performance monitoring, only 67% did this annually.

So how do they see the Insights function? The marketing research function thinks it’s doing a good job, while the marketing stakeholders think not. 33% say Insights don’t have a clear impact, that even when they come up with a good idea, it’s too expensive to implement, or the information is not provided in a format they can use.

So what tips can the panel share on development strategy?

1)  In terms of procurement processes, specifically in setting up new vendors, the process needs to be much quicker. Agencies need to understand procurement systems better.

2) Take advantage of collaborations and partnerships in market research to address increasing market insight needs.

3) It’s important to understand that no agency has full global coverage and consistent quality across it.

Research is changing rapidly, we need to understand how consumers will respond going forward, so finding people who can unlock that knowledge is key. A delegate from BBC Worldwide advised that for them, selling programmes and commercial initiatives to other countries, it’s crucial to have insight on the digital age. The amount of data is so huge we can’t research all of it, so investment in people and data to understand consumer activity is important. And those consumers know they are leaving a bread-crumb tail, and they expect you to react to it. So investing in a proprietary research platform is worthwhile. In their approach, they are investing £140K a year in research inhouse, which he found to be 3 times less expensive than outsourcing. The market is expanding so investment in research and simplifying access to it brings opportunity to expand audiences, and draw out different conclusions from it to facilitate conversations.

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