ProcureCon Marketing – Day One at the Leading-Edge Procurement Conference

The ProcureCon Marketing event at London's Tower Hotel kicked off on a grey June morning, but with a good level of enthusiasm amongst delegates. There were over 100 there at kick off at 8.45am, and it filled up to around the 200 as the morning went on. A quick poll from the chair suggested that around 60% were procurement folk, the rest agency side and other providers plus hangers-on like Spend Matters! More interesting was the show of hands that showed over 50% had come from outside the UK - whatever happens in the June 23rd referendum, procurement and marketing are international these days. And even after just the first morning, the content shows why this is one of the most interesting and fastest moving category areas for procurement.

ProcureCon marketing 3Steve Lightfoot from the World Federation of Advertisers chaired the day and started with his list of key issues for the industry. He identified ad blocking, ad fraud, transparency and viewability and gave some fascinating numbers - over 20% of consumers are using ad blockers, whilst ad fraud is estimated to become a $50 Billion problem in the next few years. And can you really count an ad as "viewed" if someone sees 50% of it for 1 second?  That is the usual measure at the moment. However, the procurement world reckons that remuneration, internal KPIs, transparency and agency performance are the top four priorities - so perhaps there is a bit of a divergence there.

The first keynote came from David Loseby, CPO of Arriva, and an old friend. As well as his day job, he told us he is doing a PhD in behavioural science and his session focused on what we think of as "Daniel Kahneman topics" such as confirmation bias, loss aversion, nudging and so on. He proposed an approach to procurement based on understanding behavioural psychology and leadership. "Play marketing at their own game" as he put it. It is an interesting topic but we're not  sure he really told us how to do it - perhaps we can't expect that in 30 minutes.

We ran a BravoSolution Real World Procurement session last year on this topic in the context of negotiation and also wrote a briefing paper on this - you can download that here.  So David suggested that procurement needs to make things simple - allow our stakeholders  to stay in their intuitive "system 1 thinking pattern" as Kahneman would put it. (However, we would argue there are times when we need stakeholders to be thinking more deeply about procurement matters - system 2). But we're on board with him when he talked about speaking the right language, and making it easy for people.

We then had a couple of sessions that we will come back to in more detail in further articles. Sean O'Sullivan, Global Director of Marketing Procurement  of Intel talked about their marketing efficiency programme and the role procurement has played in it - some good points there around making progress in a very global and devolved business environment.  Then Jeremy Basset, head of the Unilever Foundry gave a fascinating description of that relatively new organisation. The Foundry is linking Unilever brand managers with innovative start-ups with a tech angle who can contribute new ideas to the firm's marketing efforts . There is definitely thinking there that many procurement leaders should consider.

We also had a panel discussion on media buying, during which Larry Smith, Strategic Sourcing Director, Global Marketing at Mars described procurement's role in the media buying area like this. "We're investment managers, thought leaders, and the glue between different parts of our firm and outside organisations".

Procurecon marketing 2We rather liked that, and indeed it might apply to procurement more generally. So it was a very good first morning generally*, and the afternoon moved into breakout discussions, workshops and roundtables. Today Nancy Clinton (our esteemed Publishing Director) is at the event, so look out for more here shortly on ProcureCon Marketing.

PS We did hear some muttering about the lack of female speakers; it was a 100% male morning!

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