I got a taste of the classic love-hate relationship, hate more than love of course, between marketing and procurement, as I sat between two professionals from these functions.
In an ideal world, marketing and procurement should work hand-in-hand; complement each other; work towards profitability and all the good things in the world you can think of.
Reality is a tad bit different though. Let me not be a meanie, and acknowledge that the relationship between procurement and marketing is improving somewhat too. But the tension remains.
In a candid conversation with several senior procurement specialists in the industry, I asked them what annoys them about their marketing departments.
Here’s what they said:
1. The last minute stroke of genius
Procurement: “Most last minute requests are not entertained or welcomed as internal purchasers will require months of planning ahead of time. Marketers always have demands made in that last minute and this is a challenge for the procurement team as orders have already been placed way ahead.”
Marketer: “But the marketing function is somewhat reactive. Sometimes you see a campaign by your competitors and you just need to beat them and gain back the interest of your consumer. So you need to make alterations to the plan you have already set in motion. Also, competition is so high especially in a market like Singapore that pressure is always there to churn out something faster. The rise of real time marketing also doesn’t help make things easier as the pressure is on to engage the consumer now, like right now.”
2. The mentality to spend and not save
The conversation went on.
Procurement: “If marketers are able to provide us with specific numbers and details way ahead of a promotion, we are able to buy the goods in bulk. That would save us a lot of expenditure in the long run.”
Marketer: “From time to time a last minute change in colours or packaging materials will affect the promotions. Sometimes the bigger picture is only clearer nearer to the date execution.”
Another senior marketer chipped in: “The procurement teams are always first to buy into the cheapest option. Even when an experienced vendor can do a job far more quickly and efficiently, the procurement team goes for the one that costs less.”
3. Not sticking to the plan
Much like the first point above, another procurement specialist criticised marketers for being just far too fickle. Every other day there is a new demand – a new creative epiphany. Procurement guys like to plan out their steps and this burst of creativity interrupts their natural work flow.
4. Too much drama
Said one procurement department: “From time to time we have requests from the marketing department that a certain component needs to be updated and that it is a life and death situation if they do not get it.”
“It’s never a life or death situation as we have come to understand. It’s just bad planning.”
Cut the drama, guys.
5. Promising the moon
Promising the moon during pitches? How about checking with the procurement teams once?
Sometimes agencies and even marketers make unrealistic demands for campaigns. For the procurement teams on both sides, it is all about logistics and feasibility. Often the agency gets carried away promising campaigns that are simply tough, if not impossible, to execute. (And agencies, aren’t you are guilty of this?)
“We are not here to kill dreams but hey, being realistic helps!” said the procurement professional.