Navigating & Keeping Up with Digital Agency Landscape: Part III

In this three-part series of articles, Kathleen Jordan, Associate Director at Source One Management Services takes a look at the complex digital agency landscape and provides insight on the process of agency sourcing: considerations when sourcing, vast digital agency options, and the need for bridging the gap between marketing and procurement departments. Kathleen Jordan is a strategic sourcing subject matter expert with a wide range of experience in the marketing category who works closely with marketing professionals and helps alleviate challenges encountered when overseeing agency relationships.

In Part I of this series we reviewed common considerations for sourcing digital agencies. Then, In Part II, we took a look at the vast types of digital agency options and what they mean for a company’s sourcing strategy. Today, in this third and final part, we discuss the importance of aligning Procurement and Marketing for Digital Agency success.

Marketing and Procurement teams may not always see eye-to-eye. Both teams have different goals, measures for success, and serve as unique functions in an organization. However, the digital space is a fast-paced environment with various options and the alliance of these two departments when sourcing digital agencies can have substantial strategic benefits for the company overall.

Procurement can help Marketing identify current trends and potential risks.

Marketing strategies are constantly changing, altering what services agencies provide. A thorough RFP process will bring to light an agency’s service portfolio (or lack thereof) not only for current marketing campaign initiatives but also with respect to future strategic options. This process also highlights pricing options and helps provide insights into industry standards.

Procurement can identify areas of improvement in compensation structures and contractual terms and conditions.
This helps Marketing optimize their budgets. Procurement teams have a deep understanding of company budgets and possess a whole slew of strategies to stay within them. Aligning these two departments helps ensure that the Marketing budget is used wisely while ensuring that contracts are put in place that drive further value from the products/services purchased.

Procurement can also carry out a proper end-to-end agency search.
This ensures that the selection criteria are met and that only an agency that can deliver what they pitched with full transparency and strong execution is onboarded. Beyond pricing, properly defined RFPs can provide marketing with a full view of how agencies compare in their offerings. Sourcing an agency that is a creative fit is also important; Procurement teams can facilitate the process for identifying agencies that are not only budget friendly, but also suit marketing’s creative vision.

Procurement can also help Marketing enhance contracts to include KPIs based on metrics that can be tracked on a regular basis.
This ensures that Marketing is able to effectively measure performance. As mentioned in part one of this series, there is the potential for scope creep, missed deadlines, and poor communication when seeking outside help from an agency. Procurement’s involvement in the sourcing process can help prevent these challenges by putting performance metrics in place from the start. This vendor management structure can help boost productivity but also foster a strategic relationship between the Marketing organization and the digital agency.

In some cases, bringing in a procurement consulting firm may be helpful in bridging the gaps between Marketing and Procurement teams. The right Procurement consulting firm will have the needed category and relationship-building expertise to align the two different departments. They can act as a mediating force that remains close to the goals of each team with the objectivity needed to maximize success.

Options for digital agencies are aplenty. Full-service digital agencies, handling all work from strategic and creative to media and production, can serve as a good fit if you are seeking out a one-stop shop and are looking for the ability to ramp up and down quickly and easily with a dedicated account team. Smaller shops give you greater visibility into their processes and your account may be considered a key one in which you have the attention of agency executives. More niche agencies can also provide you with access to greater expertise given they have a focus on one core competency and do it really well. Overall, there are benefits to both agency models and Marketing and Procurement must collaborate to determine the benefits that will meet their company’s objectives and pursue those opportunities further.