Agencies hit with ‘mindless’ form filling as panel flags lack of skills in marketing procurement

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 4.30.36 PMA lack of marketing procurement expertise is causing agencies to fill out “mindless” multi-page forms which often do not relate to the services that are being pitched for, according to industry experts.

Jason Penrose, principal consultant at Jamecam Consulting, told a panel discussion that the bulk of Australian firms “do not have a marketing procurement function” with their procurement teams lacking an understanding of how marketing operations work.

The result is Request for Proposals (RFP) to agencies that barely differ from RFPs sent to agencies handling other functions.

He told The Source New Biz breakfast panel this week: “In a lot of procurement functions that aren’t so savvy in the marketing space, they simply roll out a template. They may change a couple of sentences and the statement of requirement, change the date and out it goes. It will be a 50-page RFP that will look the same as the one they sent out for travel the previous month.

“Marketing procurement is a new space and it’s still gaining its legs.”

Trinity P3’s Darren Woolley, moderating the panel, said he receives requests to fill out “mindless RFPs”, one of which contained 200 pages.

“One asked what my contingency plan was should my operations plant fail to operate. Clearly I don’t have a plant so I wrote, ‘would replace with another person’,” he said.

He asked the panel: “What should agencies do? If they want the business they have to play this game and spend hours and hours filling out these forms, and if they don’t play the game they don’t get the business.”

Michael Sumner, Telstra’s general manager of marketing and content services procurement, said agencies should “ask themselves a tough question”.

“Do you really want the business? If the answer is emphatically yes, off you go and start filling out the forms. But if there’s any doubt you might want to reconsider,” he said.

Mira Korhonen, category manager of marketing, media and communications at the Commonwealth Bank, told the discussion the RFP sent by the bank is a “tool for us to award the business”.

“We don’t know how good you are before you work for us,” she said. “I would say just fill out the forms as best you can.”

But Korhonen warned agencies to be vigilant and not to shoot themselves in the foot with silly mistakes.

“In one tender I was involved with, not with CBA, the respondent used the wrong branding, and this was a marketing pitch. Everything else in the content was fine but they put on the old branding and we had relaunched. Because of this the marketing team said no.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can ruin it for agencies. It’s about taking care.”

Steve Jones


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