Speaking the Same Language: The First Step to Aligning Marketing and Procurement

Marketing and Procurement have a storied history of not working well together. There are various opinions on why this may be and what can be done to improvement. Rather than focus on the root causes for why these two don’t always play nice together, I’m going to share with you one area both Marketing and Procurement can improve upon to help work together more effectively  communication. In order for these two departments to align effectively, communication is critical. Coming to the table speaking the same language is the first step towards aligning the two departments.

Procurement and Marketing speak two very different languages. Terms like AOR (agency of record) and creative brief are foreign to Procurement, while the phrase cost reduction is equivalent to saying Voldemort for Marketing. The language barrier between these two departments can lead to inefficient communication and other roadblocks during the sourcing process. So what can be done? For Procurement professionals, it means learning Marketing speak. Marketing departments are equipped with their own goals and metrics. Procurement professionals can build their credibility and work more effectively with marketing by getting familiar with Marketing terminology. Before jumping right in to a cost cutting initiative, understand the many facets of marketing and the terminology.

The key terms and phrases you will need to know will vary depending on the category you are working in. For instance, if you are working in Direct Mail, you should know terms like mail list, cost per piece (CPP), and lettershop. Whereas, if you are reviewing a Digital agency, you should know what UX, landing page, and SEO mean. Understanding these functions not only builds your credibility with your marketing department, but will also be useful when evaluating an agency during the sourcing process.

But how does Procurement go about learning the right lingo? There are certain key terms that Procurement should know before speaking with anyone in Marketing. However, even amongst Marketing professionals there is disagreement on term definitions, so much so that they created a dictionary. Or a more effective alternative is to read industry publications and stay up to date on trends through the same sources Marketing references. Industry sources are consistently posting on best practices, how to’s, and other content that Procurement professionals can use as a basis for understanding Marketing speak. Along the same lines, the marketing landscape is constantly changing as trends fluctuate and new technologies are developed, and therefore, so is the glossary of marketing terms. By staying up to date on marketing trends through industry sources, you are learning the terminology alongside Marketing professionals.

While learning to use Marketing lingo is important in improving communications, Procurement also needs to make changes to their own terminology. As already mentioned, the phrase cost reduction does not resonate with Marketing, but budget optimization does. By changing this phrase, Procurement is able to more effectively communicate their objectives with Marketing in examining their agency relationships. Another example would be that there is no such thing as a specification in Marketing, but there are creative briefs that provide similar information on requirements. Overall, Marketing and Procurement share many of the same objectives, it is the terminology that differs.

For Procurement, it is important to know what terms to use when speaking with Marketing and what to avoid using. The terminology changes based on the category you are working in and is continually evolving as trends change. By keeping up to date on industry trends and the overall marketing landscape, Procurement is able to learn first-hand what terminology will resonate best with Marketing. Unfortunately knowing the difference between branded and unbranded content will not completely bridge the gap between Marketing and Procurement, it is a step in the right direction.

About the Author:  Megan Connell is a Senior Project Analyst at Source One Management Services and a proven asset in developing RFPs and executing strategic sourcing strategies. Megan is competent in conducting research to produce detailed reports related to competitive markets, sourcing strategies, cost savings opportunities, and benchmarking. She is a leader in providing client solutions through out of the box thinking and problem solving. Her high level of analytical skills and supply chain expertise helps streamline clients operations and drive sustainable cost savings