Why Procurement Needs To See Marketing as Another String to Its Bow

George Smart, group business development director at APS Group, talks about how Procurement can strengthen its relationship with Marketing – and why that’s important.

Procurement and Marketing have traditionally been viewed as worlds apart, without the need for overlap. However, both sides have taken great strides over recent years to develop a more fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship, as both realise the importance their activities and results have on wider business goals. We’ve seen some great industry initiatives popping up in the past 12 months, including the launch of the Global Sourcing Board by the World Federation of Advertising, whose aim is to transform perceptions of Procurement as purely a cost seeker across the wider Marketing, finance and agency community.

The way in which Procurement and Marketing collaborate is extremely important and can determine the overall success of a project. Although both teams may have different objectives, they both share the same goal to advance the business – whether that’s increasing revenues or winning more sector-specific business. There are three key things you can do to strengthen your relationship with Marketing, and consequently deliver the best results for the business and its clients.

Agree upon shared objectives

While Procurement has a fixed set of numbers to work with and financial budgets to adhere to, Marketing must prioritise creativity. But both must collaborate to achieve their respective objectives, which is a lot easier if they make time to sit in the same room at the beginning of a project. Sticking to financial budgets is essential, but so is the need to offer value beyond monetary savings. If Procurement and Marketing can find a way to successfully integrate both sets of objectives into one strategy, the overall results will be much more rewarding.

Utilise the difference in skillsets

“Procurement and Marketing are like two sides of the same coin. Marketing people tend to be more creative and less concerned about process, although I appreciate this is some, not all. The more ‘detail-conscious’ professionals, let’s face it, make us look good. If there is discipline required around the process, they can make it clear what is needed, by when, from suppliers, and what the outcomes are going to be.” – Cath Hill, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

Procurement and Marketing teams can bring different skills and experiences to the table, so instead of viewing this as a negative, we need to treat it as adding more strings to our bow.

The Procurement team will most likely be made up of individuals with different personalities and styles of communication from those who work in Marketing. How you utilise these differences is key to building a dynamic and successful team. The best way to help Marketing understand Procurement’s challenges and to utilise both skillsets is to have members of both teams working together on a day-to-day basis.

Procurement teams can benefit from Marketing’s input at the beginning of a project. If Procurement understands Marketing’s plans from the get-go, it can guide and advise Marketing throughout the process rather than being brought in during the final steps of the project. This not only helps paint a better picture of client needs and expectations but means issues can be spotted and resolved much earlier in the process.

Manage money … without mentioning it

When working in Procurement, it’s sometimes easy to forget that not everyone in the business is driven by cost savings. You become accustomed to using specific language – “savings,” “budget,” “costs,” and so on. Although the CFO might appreciate hearing these terms, others in the business might not. You can still acknowledge that you’ve met your targets but think about phrasing it in a way that highlights how you’ve maximised value beyond financial savings. Afterall, stakeholders are interested in the overall picture, not just Procurement’s work.

Instead of presenting financial figures to other departments, consider letting them know that you’ve “met the targets outlined by the CFO.” This way you are not talking directly about budget, but letting the wider team know that Procurement is on track. This also puts you in a better position to emphasise possible opportunities for the project given the work your team has accomplished. For example, if there is left-over budget that Marketing could utilise, let them know.

It’s important for Procurement to build a supporting and understanding relationship with Marketing to enable both teams to reach their goals and create the best results. If Procurement and Marketing are indeed two sides of the same coin, it’s important for Procurement to initiate collaboration and strengthen the relationship. However, Marketing needs to invest time in building their relationship with Procurement too - it takes two to develop a successful relationship.

Traditionally, there’s been a misconception, in our opinion, that Marketing and Procurement don’t communicate well with one another. This most likely derives from the differences in objectives and skillsets. Marketing is viewed as creative while Procurement is often seen to focus on hard numbers. Marketing may therefore be apprehensive to share its ideas with Procurement due to worrying its plans won’t be understood or approved. The success of Marketing’s campaigns can’t be measured in the same way that Procurement’s work can. Because of this, Marketing may feel concerned about whether or not Procurement understands the importance of their work.

APS’ latest industry whitepaper on the relationship between Procurement and Marketing can be read here.


Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of Spend Matters.



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