This is the second in a series of three articles written by TrinityP3 directors. Each is written for one of the audiences in our name TrinityP3. In this case, being ‘Procurement and Sourcing’. The other two are ‘Marketers and Advertisers’ and ‘Agencies and Marketing Suppliers’. The P3 stands for helping people achieve commercial purpose through the creative process. In this series, we explain how we apply the process and purpose to deliver value to the people in our trinity.
There is a lot of discussion in procurement circles, particularly in marketing category procurement, around defining value. Since we first found ourselves working with procurement teams, our value proposition has often been in conflict. Procurement teams would be wanting us to be paid on savings. Or failing this, they would try to negotiate us down on hours or rate per hour. Neither of these could be resolved.
We refused to get paid on savings. It is easy to drive down agency costs, but the result is rarely sustainable and represents false value. On the cost side, we always provided a fixed fee to achieve specific, agreed outcomes. Irrespective of the number of hours or cost per hour. But for the many procurement teams we have worked with, here are some of the many ways we deliver value through the engagement.
Combining Qualitative and Quantitative
“Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, but they think each other’s stink,” said author Simone Elkeles. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing, media and advertising, where everyone has an opinion. But on a more professional note, W. Edwards Deming put it,
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”
Having a scientific background, but also understanding the conditions and the nuance of the creative world, it is core to our approach to take a quantitative approach everything we do. From day one, we have been collecting and analysing data around all aspects of the management of marketing, media and advertising.
While other consultants think benchmarking is just salaries and hourly rates, we were modelling the resources required to undertake thousands of creative tasks and millions of media combinations. While others were quantifying scorecards on relationships, we developed methodologies to measure and quantify collaboration. Now we have turned this analytical approach to measuring the greatest obstacle to marketing value – complexity. With an approach that is not just quantifying complexity but calculating a financial impact on the value of the marketing budget.
We then use this data and analysis to make sense of the opinions provided in a qualitative approach.
Broad industry perspective
There are management consultants with no marketing experience. There are management consultants with no business experience. There are marketing consultants that have only been marketers. There are marketing consultants that have only worked in media. There are marketing consultants that have only been in account management. There are marketing consultants that are only marketing consultants until they get their next job.
Anyone who has worked in marketing knows what a broad church it represents. The number of disciplines and capabilities that fall under the marketing category continues to expand. For anyone to be a specialist across it all is impossible. At best you can be a generalist. But a generalist with access to a wide community of marketing specialist experts is the best solution. At least it is the solution we provide at TrinityP3. Experts in data and analytics, media, agency management, marketing management, business management, production, environmental sustainability, and more.
Rather than a handful of generalists, we draw on a broad team of specialists. Subject matter experts. Everyone has experience and expertise in aspects of the broad marketing discipline. To provide a rich and multidimensional view of the challenges and issues you are facing.
I was talking with a colleague recently who has taken a consulting role in one of the new agency consulting practices. He is focused on “digital transformation” and was quick to suggest we should get on-board as the practice is so lucrative. According to him, they have significant financial arrangements with many of the mar-tech and ad tech providers. Commissions. Sales commissions to be precise. To recommend and sell-in particular platforms, they receive a significant up-front commission and often a trailing commission.
I was wondering how this impacted their recommendations. But no fear. They had so many of these deals that he could find a solution to fit. But ultimately, he agreed it made selling the tech solution the objective, rather than solving the particular problem. It’s Maslow’s:
“When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
We do not have a hammer. We have built and developed methodology, tools, applications and more, based on our insights and experience of solving our clients’ challenges for more than 20 years. But we are not recommending these as the solution. They are simply the tools that help us get to the solution faster and implement it in a more robust and effective way. That is what independence means to us. We are not looking for nails. But we do have the tools to get the job done.
Einstein reportedly said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This may have been why the quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result” is so often misappropriated to him. Both allude to the same truth. The problems facing us today are continually more complex, due to the increase in the number of things that need to be considered in solving those problems.
That is why H. L. Mencken said,
“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong”.
The fact is that while the process of solving these problems can be methodical, robust and rigorous, the solution is rarely simple or cookie-cutter. This is why our approach is never to offer a single solution. But our approach is to clearly and accurately define the challenges or issues, then design a number of models or solutions to address the agreed challenge.
While some may want a consultant to come and tell them what to do, our approach is to offer options as solutions and then collectively review and assess the best direction. Just as no two problems are alike, no two organisations and their circumstances are the same. This approach allows us to provide a number of considered and valid solutions. Then collectively we arrive at the solution that best fits the circumstances. It may not be the best solution, but it will certainly be the right solution for the organisation.
Innovation is essential to drive an organisation, an industry and an economy forward. If you are not innovating, you are standing still. In a world driven by technological change, that means you are really going backward. As Charles Kettering said,
“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong”.
This is why our approach outlined here is designed to drive innovation.
First, understand the issue, problem, challenge or opportunity not just from a qualitative perspective, but a quantitative perspective too. Where are we? More importantly, why are we there? Second, is to get an agreement on where we want to be. What does success look like? Third, we use design thinking to develop possible solutions.
The starting point is often to identify what is the usual way to solve this problem. But then go beyond the way it is usually done to find better, more effective and sustainable ways. This answers the question – how do we get there? There is never one path. But the right one will deliver the successful outcome with a level of investment, disruption and risk that is right for the organisation.
It means our clients have options to consider. The process allows organisations to have input into the level of innovation and transformation they want to accept for their marketing function. A little or a lot. In the process, consider the implications. Especially at a time when organisations are looking for innovation to drive growth, this is an opportunity most value.
Transfer of knowledge
Finally, let’s talk about success. For us, success is a sustainable solution. Not just solving the immediate challenge but creating something longer-term. In the case of managing and assisting with tenders, it is the fact that the relationships created have often endured more than a decade, in some of the most volatile times for the industry.
In designing marketing and external roster structures, it is the fact that the implementation is a smooth transition with immediate improvement realised. For in-housing and production decoupling, it is about producing a high-function solution with minimal disruption.
Part of the success here is transferring the relevant knowledge and skills to the team to manage the outcome going forward. Designing and implementing processes to allow the team to make changes and modifications as required. Of course, it is not completely transactional. Over the past two decades, we have clients often return every 2 – 3 years for a tune-up or a new challenge.
To paraphrase the proverb – “Give a marketer the solution and they are happy for a day. Give them the tools to manage it themselves and they are happy for life”. The ultimate measure of success is our happy clients.
You can find them here.
But likewise, you can find their happy agencies here.
For more than 15 years we have been helping marketers and marketing procurement teams address and solve challenges, so the question is how can we assist you?