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Optimising the marketing vendor database


During my 12 months as head of marketing for a large South African bank some years ago, a well-known former banking CEO noted that the problem with marketing departments is that they tend to 'grow like Topsy'.

It was a comment that motivated me and my team to think carefully about whether we really needed to hire new people.

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Cutting through marketing suppliers

Marketing suppliers can also be said to increase in the same way, and the industry is seeing more and more examples of companies where the number of marketing suppliers has grown hugely for a variety of different, usually justifiable, reasons over the years. Procurement departments – which are beginning to become more crucial and powerful within organisations – are often tasked with streamlining and dealing with the ‘duplications’ in suppliers. Noting that the task is an onerous one with regard to marketing, simply because those duplications are less obvious than, for example, the procurement of more tangible services and products such as office supplies and furnishings. In reviewing the number of marketing suppliers, savings may come from marketers negotiating better volume deals with a smaller number of suppliers. During the process, sustainability, geography and B-BBEE could be added deciding factors in the vendor database clean up, adding the value that vendors bring to the marketer’s arsenal. There are a number of highly specialised suppliers who may be the only source of certain products and services. Cutting through all these suppliers must be a carefully planned and structured exercise that avoids losing those suppliers who might be vital to the success of a particular product or brand.

Specialist agencies adding value

Many agencies that are fully integrated are able to supply almost all of the services that a marketing department may require, Agency Scope 2017/18 shows that almost 50% of CMOs expect to have at least one or two specialist agencies within their typical mix of creative and media agency service providers. While many CMOs will admit that the ideal would be to find everything in one place, they know that it is almost impossible as there must be pockets of specialisation in order to deliver high level performance – especially across the digital spectrum of media and content, development and programming. Within an agency ecosystem there may be possible savings that could result in a redeployment of funds from one area to another, depending on the needs of the marketing strategy and its objectives.

Get the balance right

Fine tuning of fees, retainers and production costs may look a little alarming at first, but could result in a far more balanced optimisation of the marketing budget that will help the commercial strategy of the business when it comes to negotiating budgets and pricing in the future. Managing the marketing vendor database is not just about deleting duplicate suppliers, it’s about getting the balance right to optimise budgets across a range of service providers for maximum return on investment without a degeneration of quality. This fine balancing act requires skills and patience in understanding the many different terms and industry jargon, which can add to the confusion within the marketing spectrum. At a time when both resultant cost and resource savings are scarce, the database review can be a key factor in competitive advantage.



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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