Develop marketing expertise for more effective negotiations

Adam Leach is a freelance business journalist
12 June 2013

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Buyers lacking sufficient knowledge and understanding on how the media industry operates will end up on the losing side of negotiations, according to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

Addressing an audience of procurement and marketing professionals at the Procurecon Marketing conference in London on Monday, Steve Lightfoot, communications procurement manager at the WFA, stressed the need for purchasing teams to develop expertise in the industry. Without sufficient knowledge on how the sector and, in particular, how agencies operate and make their money, buyers would not be able to negotiate effectively.

“Procurement people need marketing expertise. Ultimately, if they don't understand how the media sector works, then they will really have no clue when it comes to going into an agency negotiation,” he said.

He went on to propose that one option would be to tempt marketing colleagues into a career change to boost expertise within the function. Lightfoot described a marketing procurement team he had been working with, wholly populated by former marketing professionals as “highly effective”.

He also highlighted the importance of working closely with marketing colleagues when it comes to prioritising areas of spend. Rather than look for the biggest number, he advocated first asking the stakeholder what they see as the biggest opportunities to add value. “The impact of procurement is so much stronger when it’s responding to what the marketing team requires,” he said.

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