Top Takeaways from ProcureCon Marketing 2016 | OLIVER

As Business Development Manager for OLIVER, I’m often asked by prospective clients to explain what makes us different.

I almost never open with, “well, your procurement team’s going to love us” – but I’m starting to think I might have to.

As we discussed on last week’s OLIVER blog, marketing agencies today are more likely to be procured as service providers, rather than contracted out as odd-job men – and the progress of this new, developing relationship dominated discussion at last week’s ProcureCon Marketing 2016.

Couldn’t make the event? No worries – I jotted down all the best bits, and now our four top takeaways from the event are here for you to enjoy in this handy blog.


1)     Playing Marketing at its Own Game

Procurement is no longer the ‘spending prevention’ department; they are business partners. And both marketing and procurement can benefit from deeper understanding of each other.

David Loseby, Asset Management Director at Arriva, explained how he had begun to apply behavioural science principles – traditionally applied to consumers by marketers – to his own internal marketing team.

The idea is to try to provide marketers with a “frictionless customer experience” throughout the process of helping them procure marketing solutions. David called this, “play marketing at its own game”, and said he’d found that techniques such as nudge theory can speed up processes, while loss aversion techniques can focus marketers’ decisions on issues of supplier choice.

At OLIVER, we already use experience planning to understand what is important to consumers and align them better with an organisation’s goals. It makes sense to adopt a similar approach to improve relationship between agencies and procurement departments.

To hear this at a Procurement event is testament to the efforts being made to better align themselves to the world of marketing and advertising.

2)     Buy In from the Top

Senior leadership is essential.

Sean O’Sullivan of Intel delivered a compelling case study about how a buy-in from top management helped drive through a significant supply chain reduction and efficiency improvements involving thousands of suppliers.

It sounds obvious, but without that seat at the top table there wouldn’t have been the will to power through change. His CMO believed in the value and efficiency that could be delivered and put his force behind it to make it happen.

When marketing and procurements goals aren’t aligned, and senior leadership aren’t involved. The result is often a lot of time wasted and money spent by your agencies.

Align marketing and procurement goals to overall business goals. The overriding goal for both should be how you get more effective reach for less.

3)     Embrace Entrepreneurism

Not all businesses are the same. They have different cultures, different aptitudes and different scales; and one of the biggest shifts in recent years is in the proliferation of start-up businesses.

An intriguing idea discussed at ProcureCon was that procurement had to create a new process to harness the potential of the start-ups and new business models that could shape tomorrow.

An innovation that drives competitive advantage could come from three people in a boardroom, but if you tie them up in legal complexities and contract negotiations, it’ll never see the light of day. Procurement can help here adopting a new, bootstrapping philosophy, helping businesses start out lean, and accommodate their need to fail fast and learn quickly.

The quick pitches and piloting processes, utilised by initiatives such as Unilever Foundry, are great examples of this. Jeremy Basset, Head of the Unilever Foundry, spoke on how their initiative has presented to marketers the challenges of marketing over 4,500 start-ups. Things can become more formal later if a relationship has scope to scale; but bodging together unconventional suppliers with traditional agencies will restrict the ability to deliver real change.

And with that, don’t try to predict the future. Aim to be only slightly right or you could be entirely wrong. It is more important to build a foundation that allows you to react to change that you cannot predict.

At OLIVER we co-locate with clients, understanding business strategies behind the brief. We work with clients to think of multiple versions of the future and then we build for speed, selecting whichever route will provide the best long-term outcome for clients.

4)     Walk in My Shoes

Companies need to be proactive to break down the walls between marketing and procurement.

James Arnold of SSE described how his company had made great strides by the departments working more closely together. The mutual appreciation of each other’s goals (and challenges) led to results, as you can tell from their impressive collection of industry awards.

By each department spending time understanding the pressures that the other faces, they can work at pace, and make better overall decisions for the brand.

Final Thoughts

There are still a few dinks that need hammering out of the relationship between procurement and marketing; but the leading theme at ProcureCon Marketing 2016 was that companies are now prioritising this and finding ways to make it happen.

Ultimately, it’s all about better understanding of another viewpoint – and one of the most powerful ways to make that happen is by getting close enough to deliver better results, faster.

(Incidentally, that’s just what we do at OLIVER.)


Guy Hannah is Business Development Manager EMEA for OLIVER. He’s spent his career helping clients optimise how they communicate with customers.

Spirited, professional and never accepting of ordinary, Guy encourages clients to embrace creative differentiation to deliver better results.

At OLIVER, this is by building clients bespoke agencies, which more often than not sit on-site.

Prior to OLIVER. Guy spent 4 years working in Customer Engagement, helping clients drive value from customer data.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with OLIVER today.

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