ProcureCon Marketing – a fascinating category, incentivisation issues and a good group of people!

We gave our initial impressions of the first day of the event here, and day two seemed to live up to day one although being honest I was only there for a couple of hours. What was impressive was the lack of any drop-off in numbers – if anything, there seemed to be a few more people around, certainly over the 120 mark. And again, the presentations I heard were good, and we’ll feature more on a few of those in the days to come.

It was quite an international  group too – from a quick and unscientific survey, around 25% non-UK, almost all from continental western Europe although there were at least three antipodeans around.  And the balance of formal presentations, more discussion-type sessions and some "round table" sessions  on topics defined by delegates in advance of the event seemed to work well too.

If we go back a few years, CIPS was very active in this sector, doing good work with ISBA – the membership body for UK advertisers. Back in 2006, they together  produced a guide to marketing services buying called “Magic and Logic”. The chair at ProcureCon this week, Tina Fegent, is involved in an updating of that, which will be good to see, but somehow CIPS lost its momentum in this category, and now ProcureCon have seized the opportunity with some vigour.

A few other general observations. The first is just that it is such an interesting category! If I was a young procurement person, it would be high on my list of desirable spend areas to work on without a doubt. But, as we’ll discuss at more length when we feature the session from Thomas Holzapfel of Deutsche Telekom, it isn’t really a homogenous category at all. In large firms, it can cover everything from postage to creative media design, from branded drinking glasses to “search services” (getting your brand name at the top of the Google rankings)!

As you can imagine, there is very little in common between such areas. So any serious strategy has to dis-aggregate “marketing procurement” into sub and maybe even sub-sub categories. And each will need its own specific  strategy. Now that is true to some extent in any high level category like “IT” or “Facilities Management”. But the breadth of the different products and services talked about over the two days of ProcureCon, and therefore the different approaches procurement needs to take, is more than we see in pretty much any other procurement category.

Secondly, the discussions around supplier incentivisation were fascinating, again in part because there are such different aspects to the category. For instance, how do you appropriately incentivise different suppliers within an overall marketing campaign, where you may now have TV, websites, social media, print, all working towards the same goals in an integrated campaign? How do you separate out the performance of each provider if you want to incentivise them on success? No easy answers there, but again applicability to other spend areas.

Finally, and perhaps it is working with marketing people, but the marketing procurement community does seem to be a pleasantly lively and open one. Good debate, they seemed to be happy to engage with each other and even with the (relatively few) providers who were exhibiting and speaking, and generally there was just a very good vibe about the event. Assuming it is being held next year, it’s going into my diary at the first opportunity.

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