Tina Fegent on the effect of economic pressures on brands

By Carol Mason

Starting out on the client side working for blue chip companies, then moving to Grey and Lowe, Tina Fegent is an original innovator in the marketing procurement space. She now provides consultancy to brands in the UK, US, Europe and China, across all marketing procurement segments.

Below is her insight on current marcoms conditions, as part of our View from the Consultant’s Desk interview series.

First, please describe your consultancy – what is your geographic reach; along with pitch consultancy, what other services do you provide to clients; what is your background?

I run a Marketing Procurement Consultancy having been one of the first to work in this area around 30 years ago. I am based in the UK and work globally for clients in the UK, Europe, the USA, and China. Having set up the marketing procurement teams at Cellnet (VMO2), GSK and Orange (France Telecom), I jumped to the other side and worked as a Commercial Director for two London Advertising agencies – Grey and Lowe.

It has given me a real and unique experience on both sides of the client and supplier relationship. My services alongside pitch management are Consulting (Agency Rosters, Fees, Production, SOW’s, and Ways of Working); Implementation (of the projects identified in a consultancy project as well as the set up of bespoke marketing procurement teams) and then Training and Mentoring on all things Marketing Procurement.

Taking a top line look at the industry in 1H 2022, how active has pitch / new business been this year? Do you see this metric as a barometer of industry health?

The year started busy on the new business and pitching front and I think that this was a lot of pent-up demand post Covid and that was a good sign for the industry. The impact on the supply market for a lot of agencies was hard especially with the recruitment of talent that many were facing. I saw many agencies saying no to clients and being very selective in the work that they pitched for.

As we move into the 2nd half of 2022 activity has slowed down and I think we all need to be aware of the impact of this as we move forward in 2022 and 2023.

With the forecast recession, impact on their supply chain costs, the agency talent issues and an increased focus on the impact of the pitch processes, I think clients are having to reevaluate their marketing strategies and budgets, and I hope they will work closely with their agencies on this and be open about the challenges that both sides could face.

The Pitch Positive Pledge has gained momentum in the UK. Brands, consultants, and agencies are making a promise to improve the entire pitch process. What can a brand do to improve the process on their side? And the same question about agencies?

A brand and its procurement team must really analyze if they need to pitch. Whilst the process of tendering for any goods and services is a well-worn path for any procurement team, the sourcing of marketing services is based on the value of both the strategic and creative outputs and is very heavily based on people, we are not buying widgets to a certain specification.

So, identify the business needs and end objectives first, and then marketing and procurement to discuss what the best route is to meet that requirements. First choice should not automatically be a pitch. For agencies, and I am seeing this quite a lot, be diligent and really consider where best to invest your resource into a pitch.

They are a lot of work, and you really want to use your teams on the processes that you feel will give you the best outcome by winning it.

What is your view of the growth in client-side in-housing, do you think this is a trend that will continue?

Yes, following on from really considering if you want to do a pitch, there are other choices in ‘Make vs Buy’ I call it. We have the options of bringing those services in house. There is a lot of benefits to this option – cheaper, quicker and more aligned to the brand.

But it is only right for certain categories of marketing spend and it will depend on the client, their requirements and what level of investment they want to make in additional resources versus using an external agency.

What advice would you give to a small agency looking to land a major client?

Do your research on their business issues. Articulate how you could help them. Give them guarantees that you can support their contract. Engage with their Marketing Procurement teams. Show the ROI that you can deliver to them.

And finally, what gets you excited about an agency that you are shortlisting for a pitch?

Their enthusiasm for the client and the brief and showing that to the client (you will be surprised how sometimes that isn’t the case), and the willingness to engage and work with procurement (I have to say that don’t I?).

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