An Interview on The Rise of Marketing Procurement with Sarah Scudder
For this episode of Supplier Experience Live from HICX we welcomed Sarah Scudder. Based in San Francisco, Sarah is a data-driven marketing strategist, social media influencer and public speaker. She is an advocate for ‘marketing procurement’ and is currently busy working on marketing and sales strategies for a procurement software start-up, Real Sourcing Network, a technology company that provides an innovative and painless way for companies to buy high quality print and packaging.
How ‘marketing procurement’ came to be and why it matters
Sarah starts off the discussion by defining marketing procurement as an act of buying goods, services and technology for marketing stakeholders. Although it has originally been around since the 1990s, as a function it has only recently been on the rise. One reason for this, Sarah states, is due to the fact that in many companies ‘marketing spend is most often in the top three biggest spend categories, often being the biggest spending category by far. Sarah highlights the benefits of organizations having a marketing procurement function:
- Improved spend visibility which supports evidence-based supplier selection and allows for more effective contract and supplier relationship management
- Improved management of supplier relations: Due to clear visibility, marketers can use their time more effectively
- Improved spend optimization, as it can identify opportunities for cost savings
- Faster speed to contract, which helps in making sourcing processes more streamlined and efficient
- Innovation which helps in identifying perspective suppliers who offer a new and/or different product, service, and solutions
The challenges of ‘marketing procurement’ and how it affects relationships with suppliers
Despite many benefits, marketing procurement does have its challenges. According to Sarah, change management and a shift in cultural mindset is required from both marketing and procurement to want to collaborate, for mutual benefit. Additionally, they have to find a mutual language and middle ground to meet their objectives.
A solution, as Sarah suggests, will come from effective negotiation, good contracts and a well-established supplier management program. Change can already be seen as some companies have created a hybrid role, in which the person in question sits on both marketing and procurement teams, with the goal of maximizing processes and savings.
As the person in this role understands the needs of both departments, others can be more open to change. Regarding the benefits of that this role has for suppliers, Sarah explains that a, “big part of it is focusing on ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ and developing solid relationships with the suppliers that allow them the freedom to focus on innovation.”
Diverse suppliers and sustainable solutions
More and more consumers are becoming sensitive around sustainability and are demanding that companies focus on both sustainable solutions and diverse suppliers. This task most often falls to marketing procurement leaders whose objective, aside from finding solutions, is to assess the cost versus the benefits and present their findings.
Sarah claims packaging is “an essential part of the sales and branding process. Packaging is one of the simplest ways for a brand to pivot to greater sustainability.” She adds that sustainable packaging will become one of the most important categories marketing procurement will have to focus on.
Aside from diverse suppliers and sustainable solutions, the leaders will also focus their efforts on modern technology to automate tasks and capture better data. “I think in the marketing procurement world you’re going to see much more collaborative relationships that are really focused on long-term goals and innovation,” Sarah adds.