What does it mean, to really look at your marketing supplier roster?

It sometimes amazes me how a client looks – or rather doesn’t look – at this critical area.  and before you know it (if you actually take a look), you’ll find you have a list as long as your arm.

Here in Asia, I find there is even more of this, as with relationships being so important, marketers want to take some suppliers with them when they start in a new role.

The funny thing is that when you ask a CMO how many marketing suppliers they have, they can barely list nine or ten! In actual fact, there are usually many, many, multiples of that number, when we take a close look at the Finance team’s accounts ledger.

Of course, the spend with the main suppliers represents the main bulk of spend, but it can be quite alarming how long the tail of suppliers is and how much is spent from the marketing budget with them.

Add to this the efficiency/productivity leakage faced when you consider that every supplier needs to be briefed, communicated with and managed effectively.

Can you imagine how much time marketing would get back if it was possible to reduce the number of suppliers and focus on those selected (old and new), to produce better work?

The marketing team wouldn’t have to brief so many different supplier teams and juggle so many communications and different workflows across so many teams. The opportunity to focus more work with fewer teams also achieves greater brand knowledge, speed of working, which in turn drives productivity and better creative results. This is absolutely critical if your aim is to be ‘agile and always on’ for instance.

Well, it is more than possible, as at TrintyP3, we’ve helped clients achieve just that!

Let’s take a look at a few scenarios where the roster should be given some scrutiny and how it works in practice.

1. You are engaged in a Digital Transformation Process….

This could be organisation-wide or just within the marketing function, but either way, looking at the supplier roster is a must-do.

As you analyse the marketing needs both for today and tomorrow, then line these up against the skills your suppliers have (whether you are using all the skills currently in a supplier, or not) you will see many overlaps across the suppliers’ services, that create an opportunity for you to concentrate both spend with and the role of suppliers, driving better value and productivity.

Remember, this is not just about what you are doing today, but taking into account the traditional/digital/social activity shift that’s taking place going forward. You need to have with you the right mix of suppliers/skills that can take that journey with you!

The marketing team needs to adjust too, ensuring they have the right skill sets to best leverage the supplier roster with their skill sets.

Transformations require a lot of focus and ongoing project delivery, such as Martech selection/investment, better CRM/data management, marketing processes, marketing skills, etc. It’s the perfect time to get full value from your supplier roster too.

It involves work to get there, but why would you be half-hearted about it if you’re transforming everything else? Putting the work in will pay back handsomely and set up a legacy that’s also there for the future, not the past!

2. You’ve realised that media spend patterns have changed significantly….

With the complexity that continues to build with activities being spread far and wide across an ever-changing media landscape, you need to drive out every bit of efficiency from the marketing budget, not relying on a budget cut after budget cut year in, year out!

This is, unfortunately, the standard response in recent years and the truth is there isn’t much left to cut if any, and there is a far better way forward!

You have to ask yourself the question….’Do I have the right suppliers, doing the right things or am I missing an opportunity to do things differently and for the better?’

Some clients we’ve worked with, for example, have ended up with their Digital Agency becoming their overall lead agency, as their media spend has moved to over 50% digital.

Also, do you consider taking some functions in-house like production or programmatic buying, for example?

In your thinking, what’s the optimal approach for your organisation and your marketing team, then how would this change your suppliers and skills needed from them, now and in the future?

3. You’re about to go to Pitch and it’s got you thinking….

This scenario can often end with not achieving very much at all….and potentially creating more frustration!

Why is that?

Well, so many Pitches are driven by the fast-approaching contract end-date for the lead creative and/or media agency, so the time available can be restrictive….but fine for a straight forward Pitch process ….and not much else.

Yet, as part of the evaluation process, the client often thinks ‘let’s take a look at best practice client/agency models that could be appropriate for us?’

Often it becomes a theoretical ‘tyre kicking’ exercise as there isn’t enough time to consider the options in reality. So, the client ends up staying with the model they currently have, goes into the Pitch process and certainly doesn’t get close to looking at a revised roster approach around a better way of organising their agencies/suppliers going forward.

Maybe a mental note is taken to start the process earlier in looking at their agency/supplier roster, in order to better support, the best practice operating model that interested them.

But then, they get wrapped up, bedding in the new agency(s) from the Pitch ….and it would look crazy to then re-evaluate the overall roster having just gone through the agency change pain and disruption, right?

To get the best agency/supplier roster model outcome going forward the answer should be ‘wrong’. So, plan the time needed to do this properly, instead of making the same mistake over and over again.

A final thought….

Whether you’re faced with any of the above scenarios or not, I hope you get the point that it’s really, really, important to take a close look at your marketing supplier roster.

It can be a complex task to tackle but the rewards are many and drastically outweigh the effort that goes in to the process.

So, if you want to create a legacy by which you’ll be remembered for years to come, then drop us a line and we’ll take you through our best practice on how you can achieve best practice for your marketing roster! Learn more about how we can help here