'Marketing agencies should be partners and not just suppliers'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
12 June 2014

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12 June 2014 | Will Green

Buyers should aspire to form partnerships with marketing agencies and not just see them as suppliers, a CIPS event was told.

Samantha Nolan, chief client officer at RAPP, said a relationship based on procurement trying to get the lowest cost was “doomed to failure”.

“Agency and client relationships can last a career. They can make a career or break a career,” she said.

“Are you supplier or partner? At RAPP we always aspire to be the client’s partner. If procurement comes in trying to get the lowest cost, and we want to be a partner, that relationship is doomed to failure.

“Having open dialogue about what relationship you are in is absolutely key. It’s about value over cost. Marketing is an investment to be maximised, not a cost to be minimised. What’s most important is outcomes.”

Nolan told the event, entitled Agencies and procurement – driving mutual value across the relationship, that buyers needed to make a “leap of faith” in marketing in order to generate “significant growth”.

‘We are a market growing in confidence,” she said. “In 2008 clients were paralysed by fear and unable to make decisions. Now we are in growth you need to make a leap of faith. If you want to see significant growth you need to take significant risks and be brave.”

The event was told the typical reaction by agencies to procurement was to “run”.

Colin Fleming, finance director and chief operating officer at AMV BBDO, said: “It’s easy for procurement people to say: ‘We care about value’, but then they say: ‘But what’s your cost?’ The classic reaction from an agency has been to run from procurement or to face them head on in a fight.”

Tina Fegent, a marketing procurement consultant and director of Tina Fegent Consultancy, said it was important buyers and agencies worked together by jointly defining success, sharing “pain points”, building trust, engaging early and being innovative with payment.

“Marketing is often the second highest cost [in an business] after cost of goods sold,” she said. “We work in a creative industry; probably we are not creative in how we work together.”


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