As a consultancy marketing procurement we are normally called in by companies to help solve a problem. It’s usually the case that they need to cut back costs in some form or another, so we’ll look through their data and speak to their suppliers to ensure they are getting the best value for money on all aspects of their marketing spend. Nine times out of ten, we will find that there are enormous savings to be had, working practices to amend and marketing activities to align. To the client, this all sounds great. We charge a fee that is comparatively insignificant to the savings they make, get on with the work and help their company to get the value for money they need. Job done.
Increasingly, companies are bringing in external experts to turn around the fortunes of their struggling brands and businesses. I recently read an article based on Beatrice Lafon, who has built a reputation as one of the world’s top fixers having worked with retailers such as M&S, Dorothy Perkins and River Island to helping address the problems they face. More recently, Lafon has been setting down roots as the president of Claire’s Accessories Europe, where she is working on an essential recovery plan for the company. But why does it have to be like that? Why do companies wait for problems to arise before seeking help?
This blog post was inspired after meeting with a potential client who was refreshingly ahead of the mark. They understood that they required help as they saw the future of their already struggling industry: one with difficult times ahead due to legislation changes and greater competitiveness from new entries whilst the ‘big boys’ dominate further. Without help, they would be left behind when the economy emerged from its recent troubles, leaving them open to the risk of mergers and acquisitions.
Some companies are unable to avoid turmoil as it is in the nature of their business, but every company can be proactive rather than reactive to ensure that their company is as healthy as possible. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean making outrageous profits, but simply aiming to be best in class at what they do. This will ensure that you are in a good position, whether being well-placed to solve any problems that arise or remaining dominant in the market whilst others stall.
The problem is not about a lack of internal resources hampering efforts to ensure that a company is operating efficiently, because the majority have these available. The problem is that the internal resources are so stretched due to cut backs in labour that nobody has the remit or time to focus on anything other than the next financial year.
Cost transformational projects are far easier to complete whilst the company is stable, as the changes will take time to be absorbed and the benefits apparent. The conversation is also much easier to have with all participating parties, so the uptake from stakeholders is far greater, increasing the overall success of the project.
I am, however, a believer in the philosophy ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and with small, regular and accurate changes to your process, you can ensure it won’t break and that it won’t require fixing. If this is the case, you will not require a big ticket project that will take months to complete and cost you tens of thousands. Instead you will need on-going support, tailored to your business needs. Check out Shared Service Procurement for more details on this option.
- Am I best in class at all marketing activities?
- How do I know where I sit? Who tells me and are they right?
- Do I know what it takes to be best in class?