ProProcure – bringing a cease-fire to the marketing / procurement wars?

It's not often these days that I meet a solution provider in our world who does not fall neatly into an existing business segment or market. XYZ Corporation? That would be sourcing software with a focus on auctions perhaps.  ABC plc? Consulting and outsourcing firm offering strong category management capabilities in the Indirect  are. And so on.

But recently I came across ProProcure, and met Frank Treanor, their CEO, and Sally Fraser, Marketing Head, for a chat. Formed by Treanor back in 2000, and based in that centre of global software innovation, leafy Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, England, it seems to me that they’re operating in a pretty unique area, although one that perhaps bears a resemblance to firms in other better known (or at least defined) sectors.

Pro-Procure offer software that supports large firms' Marketing Services expenditure. In particular, they help manage the spend on the wide range of brand related items that are an increasingly important part of the marketing armoury and budget – the “brand / marketing collateral” as the experts might term it. That might be anything from promotional print, to competition give-aways, display stands or other in-store material, or more valuable promotional items.

The ProProcure product enables firms to aggregate demand - gathering requirements for marketing items from even a large and dispersed user base, which in itself is a fairly novel capability. The platform then supports approaches to the supply market, and offers users an electronic catalogue of approved items within the organisation. There is even a relatively small but very specialist “supplier network” – a range of suppliers who have applied to be pre-approved and are then used when requirements are competed.

 Those users can order from the range of approved marketing products via user-friendly interfaces, with orders captured and integration into P2P systems including SAP, Oracle and Ariba.  Now this may all seem a little niche - and in many ways, it is. But to large, blue-chip organisations, this spend area carries some substantial risk. Protecting and developing the brand is probably THE single most important strategic objective for a Coca-Cola, a Gillette, or a Heinz. Without the brand, they would be just another struggling own-label manufacturer, selling to the supermarkets on wafer-thin margins.

So making sure that anything which carries the brand logo and message fits with the wider strategy and image is vital for such firms. Hence procurement of products that fall into this area raises real issues -  not just value of money, but also brand and trademark protection and integrity. ProProcure provides software that helps firms do just that – run their global acquisition of marketing material effectively, efficiently, and help to maintain compliance both to appropriate brand standards and safeguards and to designated suppliers. So both the marketing and procurement functions are happy...

Looking at their deeply blue-chip client list, which includes Pernod-Ricard, SABMiller  and Unilever, they must be doing something right, and they've obviously hit on something that more ubiquitous procurement and supply chain solution providers aren't providing. So perhaps we might draw a comparison with the VMS software market. Firms such as Fieldglass, Beeline and IQ Navigator have carved out a (substantial) niche by focusing very directly on helping to manage their clients’ temporary labour spend and resource.

So the ProProcure positioning bears some resemblance  to this, but in the marketing area. Perhaps we can call this field Marketing Services Software? MSS? In any case, this is a new and interesting area for me certainly, and ProProcure offer a solution that procurement people with an interest in marketing spend should certainly have on their radar.

First Voice

  1. chabannes:

    Very interesting. I strongly beleive that procurement software innovation will come through vertical provider in Supplier Information Market or in that case in Marketing.

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