The four magic statements marketing procurement chiefs needs to level up their roster

They say a good way to open an article is with an uncomfortable or provocative statement. So how about this. Marketing Procurement fluency across insight, data and tech disciplines is really pretty poor.   

This is not a blatant criticism or challenge to the capability of those who hold the purse strings (that really would be a horrific example of self-sabotage for Freemavens otherwise), but a condemnation on those agencies who take advantage of buzz words, mathematical jargon, and vapourware.

The rapid evolution and changing potential for insight generation makes it impossible for anyone to know every potential solution in the market. No one should take advantage of this lack of clarity and use confusing words to appear competitive.

But I bet you’ve seen it happen. On countless occasions. Which just makes your job harder still. How can you find suppliers to bring you genuine, business-changing insights, when you know that the responses you’ll be met with will likely be a barrage of jargon, data bias and methodology myopia? It’s an issue further set out by my colleague Kate Howe here, and a growing source of frustration for us all across the MSQ group.

The four magic statements to level up your roster

When reviewing any marketing relationships, it might help to ask any potential partner to expand on the following four statements as a top sheet to whatever further detail is required as part of a submission. If I was in charge of everything (someday…), I would require this for EVERY insight and research brief and I’d use it as part of every pitch briefing process – only then can you go on with real confidence in your marketing strategy.

1. Let’s understand…

What is the human, the brand, and the business challenge at the core? Simple question right? But people easily slip into cliches or generic themes. Try writing down what you think now and come back to this at the end and refine this key launchpad.

2. By revealing…

What you hope to discover. This helps shorten the distance between insight expectations and the agency’s focus on revelation. This also reveals what insight narratives work best within your organisational culture.

3. So we can…

This is the remit for action. It fine tunes future recommendations. It is an honest moment to make clear what actions can be informed and inspired within the business. Constraints around budget, influence, and runway make it more likely that more effort is applied to relevant actions and provides opportunities to better involve key stakeholders along the way.

4.In order to..

Change the world. Or something more succinct and near term. This question can quickly become a plethora of KPIs in the wrong hands. Ideally, the client co-crafts the impact metrics with their finance team to make sure they are purposeful and aligned to the insight and action ambitions (as Mastercard do brilliantly). Dedicating time to properly understand what real success looks like and how to report that in a way that meets the need of all stakeholders ensures that insight outcomes are being measured against relevant, fair and functional rulers.

Powering competitive and cooperative partnership

The above template is what can then set the stage for elaborating on the details: unique methodologies, technologies, data lakes, analytical techniques and more. Agencies of course want to win because they are better than the competition. This framework helps ensure that a variety of insight philosophies purposely produce the most robust and competitive proposals.

Yet, it doesn’t stop there. A powerful follow up question past the RFI stage is to ask prospective partners to elaborate on how their work makes other partners and insight capabilities better. Essentially, how collaborative are they and who would they partner with to supercharge their strengths and the strengths of others to ensure the successful delivery of Question 4?

Not everyone wants to play nicely with others. If a consultancy is so arrogant to think they solely have the techniques and competency to provide all the insights and answers, I would suggest you pass on them. If they can answer them with grace and aplomb… then you may just have yourself a high value partner.

Andrzej explored this theme in greater detail at the recent MSQ Procurefest conference (pictured above). For more information on the event – including videos and presentations from the day – contact