Local Store Marketing
**This is a re-post from Mail Print’s early days of blogging. Our readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I wanted to resurrect an early post. Enjoy!
Marketing Asset Management. Print Automation. Marketing Automation. Communications Portals. Distributed Marketing. Web-To-Print. Confused yet?
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything fit in a nice, neat package that is easy to understand and explain? In the world of marketing communications management, many people would think the above terms all mean the same thing. I actually think they don’t. I think there are so many terms because each means something a little different:
Marketing Asset Management:
Focuses on creating an online library of digital marketing assets such as logos, templates, stock photography, videos and radio ads for use by centralized marketing staff or a network of remote users.
A term coined to define organizations that have many local markets that are marketed to differently, whether marketing strategy and execution is controlled by a central marketing department or the local stores and locations.
The ability to order printed materials through an online printing management system. Typically, this reduces a company’s inventory waste and improves the customization available on the printed pieces.
A central repository for ordering and downloading all types of marketing communications and assets, including email, logos, direct mail, radio commercials, fliers, buck slips, etc. Marketing Communications Portalsare very useful for distributed marketing organizations.
Eliminates human intervention in creating printed pieces. This could be obtained via a web-to-print application or communications portal that also employs print automation, or could be a standalone system that creates printed pieces automatically based upon data streams and live data feeds.
The process of triggering marketing communications to a specific individual or audience segment without human intervention. This differs from print automation in that the automated marketing campaigns could include email, direct mail and other channels, by themselves or combined.
I’m sure there are many more terms and buzz words that I haven’t noted here. Just like any rapidly advancing technology solution, new terms are created every day. The most important thing to understand is what you really need in a solution, regardless of what it is called.
Develop. Implement. Learn. Repeat… At Mail Print, everyday we learn from and refine our marketing processes. Back in October 2010, we posted a blog entitled “9 Ways to Decrease Direct Mail Spending While Improving Results.” Now, we have increased that list to 10 ways.
Here are 10 ways to improve both sides of the ROI equation with your direct mail campaigns:
- Clear out the Non-Responsive: Determine what deems someone non-responsive, and stop mailing when it is clear they are not going to respond.
- Segment Your Lists: Segment and target audiences on macro and micro levels. You don’t have to mail to everyone to be highly impactful.
- Personalize Your Message: Speak to specific audiences on a micro level. The more relevant your communications, the sooner you’ll see results or be able to deem recipients non-responsive.
- Test, Test, Test: Test the effectiveness of your message, offer and list on a smaller audience before deploying on a large scale. For example, direct marketers often send new messaging, creative or offers to 10% of their list first, measuring the results against the control or other versions of the marketing piece. Once a winner has been determined, the most effective version is sent to the entire audience.
- Automate: Print Automation and Marketing Automation technology allows you to increase your speed to market and decrease the cost spent to deploy each campaign. Auto-triggered campaigns can also be used to respond to prospect and customer actions with timely, relevant mail touches.
- Clean Your Data: Conduct a thorough data-cleansing of your house and purchased lists to eliminate duplicate, outdated or incomplete data. You’ll mail less, more accurately and improve your ROI.
- Use Your Returns: Do something with returned mail. This seems simplistic, but the tendency is to ignore returned mail and not update the database. Create a process so this is always done.
- Go Multi-Channel: Incorporate non-paper-based mediums such as email, text messaging, and online landing pages with your direct mail campaigns to increase engagement and reduce cost-per-touch.
- Pair Email and Mail: Utilize direct mail to keep email as a main communication method by mailing only to bounces, unsubscribes and consistent non-openers with the goal of determining why they are not engage via email. (Email: BFF blog MP.com/EmailsBFF)
- Honor Your Audience’s Preference: Eliminate people from your list who do not wish to receive mail by utilizing the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. Learn more at https://www.dmachoice.org
Building a Plan for Reducing Your Direct Mail Costs
One of the biggest challenges to achieving the ten points above is not having a plan. Without a plan, marketers shoot from the hip and hope they get it right. And while that works occasionally, if you want something that controls cost and works consistently, start with a plan.
Last Week we discussed the results from a CMO Council Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimal Marketing Supply Chain“. This overview pointed out four key actions marketers could take to Obliterating Obsolescence:
- Leverage Digital Printing Strategies
- Cross Functional Collaboration
- Go-Green to Gain-Green
- Bringing in the Big Marketing Supply Chain Brains
While those are basic strategies any business can employ, we also know that before going down that path it makes sense to do some straightforward self assessment. Spend some time with the questions below and answer openly and honestly. As a marketing leader you are always looking for ways to ensure your organization gets better and better.
Marketing Operations Self-Assessment
- What inventoried items have become obsolete? Why?
- What regular processes do members of your marketing team do that are wastes of time and skill set?
- If you could change the way you buy ads, deploy email, manage printed materials, trigger direct mail, hire talent, create copy, or plan your next move, what would that look like?
- How could you streamline your workday?
- What marketing processes have failed in the past?
- Do you ever cross your fingers, hope, and pray that nothing goes wrong when deploying a campaign? If the answer is yes, it goes on the list.
- Would it improve your results if marketing campaigns could be deployed faster? If so, what does an ideal timeframe look like?
- Is the work flow in your department planned, or hap-hazard? How about between departments?
- What have you done more than twice this week?
- If you could waive your magic wand and have everything in your marketing department run smoothly and perfectly what would it look like? What technology would be in place? What people would you have on your team? What results would you be reporting to your superiors?
I personally love question #10. Question #10 allows you to create the perfect world and once you can envision that world you can start to impact the day to day reality. Spend lots of time on #10. Create a real vision for what you can do and start chipping away.
My daddy always said if you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t really matter what road you take. Question #10 is where you are going AND what road you will take depends on your resources and how you answered questions 1-9.
Now comes the challenging part. If you aren’t sure what your answer would be to #10, call us. At Mail Print we have helped many companies realize great results implementing new marketing technologies and procedures that they didn’t even know were possible. Read below about a nationally known, multi-million dollar company that has utilized a Marketing Asset Management system to unify their marketing message and cut-out obsolescence.
Ferrellgas, a Fortune 1000 energy provider, needed to manage marketing for their 900-plus locations more quickly and efficiently. In addition, they needed to increase the speed of their direct mail marketing production to ensure their time-sensitive messaging reached customers on time. Learn how Mail Print’s Marketing Communications Portal helped Ferrellgas reduce management time by 300 hours per month and speed production times from 10 days to 24 hours.
This is a guest post by Lorrie Bryan, a writer and public relations professional based in Atlanta.
Today, smart companies understand how to leverage the inherent value of traditional print with Internet technology. The old adage says, “Work smarter, not harder.” Today’s print (we’re calling it Print 2.0) melds the virtues and value of traditional print with the intelligence and efficiency derived from digital technology to create smarter integrated marketing. Here are the critical success factors to put marketing Print 2.0 to work for you:
1. Know your customer.
Successful marketing with old-fashioned print ads or high-tech QR codes begins with a thorough understanding of the person you are trying to engage. “Know how they behave, know them inside and out,” says Jonathan Turitz, creative director at VSA Partners, a premier graphic design and brand strategy consultancy. “All media is being tested in today’s world. Because we are so inundated with information, everyone is working harder to be heard. The key is to be smarter.”
2. Make your message as relevant as possible.
Since there is a proven correlation between the relevance of the message and the response rate, more and more direct mail pieces are utilizing variable data printing (VDP) technology for personalization, versioning and customization. “The per-piece cost for VDP is higher,” notes Cooper. “But the higher response rates are causing marketers to think about the cost of printing differently. They stop thinking about the cost per piece and start thinking about the cost per response. Variable data printing costs more per piece but each piece can be significantly more relevant. Increased relevance means greater response and ultimately that leads to a greater return on investment.”
>> Want to learn more about how you can use variable data? Watch this video on advanced variable data marketing, which includes three case studies.
3. Use print in tandem with other marketing channels.
Although Internet ads strive to be relevant, they are frequently perceived as intrusive, and many Web users tend to ignore them. Many unsolicited e-mails are sent straight to the spam file. A multi-channel approach to marketing has the best chance of being successful.
Dr. John Leininger, professor of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, says he tells his graphic communications students they should reach out to their clients in a variety of ways utilizing print as an integral element of a multi-channel campaign along with PURLs, QR Codes and e-mail. “By mixing the message across different media you increase the likelihood that the recipient will see the message. Many studies have shown that direct mail combined with cross-media in a multichannel campaign produces higher response rates.”
4. Utilize digital tracking technology to optimize content.
Not only are multi-touch campaigns more effective, they have the potential to increase efficiency and significantly reduce marketing spending by tracking responses and refining databases. Referred to as “print with intelligence built in,” PURLS and QR codes help segment prospects appropriately so that marketing strategy can be more specifically tailored and communication can be further personalized.
>> For more information, check out Creating Trackable QR Codes.
5. Reduce cost by utilizing interactive marketing storefronts and print automation.
“It can all be automated,” Leininger says. Unlike mass mailings and generic blasts, automation programs offer tailored efficiency. All types of direct marketing touches: postcards, e-mails, PURLs, and text messages can be personalized and sent at designated time intervals based on predetermined parameters. Online ordering systems streamline this process for small marketing departments, as well as for large companies with distributed locations and sales forces.
The integration of marketing strategies and the evolution of print technology have led to the evolution of print, the emergence of Print 2.0.
>> How is your company taking advantage of Print 2.0? Please share your insights by commenting on this post.
Did you know that 72% of sales and field marketing personnel over-order or stockpile materials? (Yep. That’s right. It’s not a typo.) According to a study by the CMO Council, 59% over-order by 20-25%. These extra materials go straight into the individuals’ secret stash.* Start adding up the costs of the secret stashes in your company and you quickly realize that if over-ordering were eliminated, the marketing budget could be dramatically reduced, or redeployed on more valuable efforts.
Why Does Over-Ordering Occur?
Probably every cliché we learned as a child applies:
- Be prepared.
- Save for a rainy day.
- Stay ahead of the game.
- Marketing departments and/or processes are not reliable. (OK, we didn’t learn this as children, but it is what many sales reps and field marketers believe.)
64% of the people surveyed said they keep their secret stash because it takes too long to receive materials, or they are out of stock when they place a request for something they need. I know from my experience as a field sales representative, that being in a satellite office, you have to be prepared to manage anything and everything. Just one experience where you do not have the materials you need to do your job, and you figure out a way to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Improving Field Operations Restores Faith in Marketing
Eliminating the cost of those secret stashes is not only about improving the marketing supply chain, but restoring the confidence that field sales and marketing has in acquiring the needed marketing materials. So how does the improvement and restoration processes happen? For many companies, it is moving to a virtual marketing storefront or marketing asset management system to enable field sales and marketing to be in control of their own destiny, yet allow corporate marketing to maintain control of how the brand is presented.
Important Traits of a Virtual Marketing Storefront:
- Provides timely production and shipping of materials, and immediate access to digital assets
- A dependable interface that works when your associates work… which is pretty much any time
- Flexible to allow for the needs of individual markets, while restrictive to allow for brand control
- Highly responsive to the corporate marketers need to deploy new materials and digital assets
- Accessible tech support to help inexperienced users learn the system and assist with questions
- Eliminates waste by utilizing Print-On-Demand (POD) and Variable Data Printing (VDP) to reduce or eliminate storage at headquarters and the “secret stash”
Marketing asset management, communications portal, marketing storefront… regardless of what you call it, it is the foundation to effectively deploy marketing on a localized basis. It is also the underpinning to restore the trust that is essential between field sales and marketing and the corporate marketing department.
How are you eliminating the secret stashes in the marketing supply chain? Share your story by adding a comment.
* Statistics come from the CMO Council’s report on Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain.
There is an epidemic that threatens the Marketing Supply Chain. The CMO Council’s recent report “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain” paints a clear picture of inefficiency and waste in marketing operations.
As marketers seek to provide the most timely and fresh content to customers and prospects, old, over-ordered or un-utilized marketing and sales materials tend to be stored, destroyed or ignored, left to occupy costly space in offices and warehouses. As the CMO Council discovered, high levels of waste can generally be attributed to limited access to material usage information, a lack of visibility into the process used to create the materials, and a general lack of forecasting and managing current and future material usage. All of these factors are creating an epidemic of waste that can be summed up most accurately as obsolescence.
Obsolescence Threatens Both Marketing Budgets and Customer Interactions
There are two key aspects to investigate while discussing impact of obsolescence: the impact on budget and the impact on customer or prospect experience. Marketers admit to the importance of communicating with relevant, timely messaging, yet 51 percent also admit to having sent out old materials containing out of date content. Why? According to the CMO Council study, 61 percent did not have new materials ready in time, and 23 percent of marketers did not know that irrelevant, old material was sent.
This seems to indicate that while marketers care about the customer or prospect experience, they are likely without the tools and processes they need to eliminate marketing obsolescence.
Why Aren’t Marketers Reacting Faster?
We know most marketers are highly focused on both protecting their budget and the prospect/customer experience. So why are marketers not applying more rigor to managing the flow of their critical marketing materials and sales collateral within the supply chain? As the study found, most simply do not view the reduction of obsolescence as a key priority (50 percent). As one marketer stated, “Waste is just taboo and a can of worms. To open it holds little reward and no compensation, so there is little motivation to start down this road.”
However in the current business climate, where organizations are cutting budgets and trying to run more lean and nimble, savvy marketers are seeing opportunities to redeploy budget that was once wasted on over-produced, out-of-date materials. Let’s look at four elements of putting in place your optimized marketing supply chain.
Four Elements For Obliterating Obsolescence
1) Leverage Digital Printing Strategies:
Digital printing technology has come of age, enabling economic production of all quantity ranges. Smaller production runs result in a lower total cost of ownership for your marketing and sales materials by reducing your investment in inventory, storage charges, and waste. A Print On Demand (POD) strategy can further reduce costs by eliminating inventory and storage costs completely. POD also enables more current and customizable content through the application of variable data printing (VDP). Marketers can send personalized messages with up-to-date content, and eliminate the fear of materials with out of date or off-strategy content being stockpiled in inventory.
2) Cross-Functional Collaboration:
Marketers are working more closely with cross functional teams in finance, sales, procurement, warehousing and operations to better forecast and eliminate over-ordering. Far too many marketers indicate that orders tend to revolve around a “cost per piece” target or guesses at utilization levels. Through collaboration across various functional areas, marketing will be able to better forecast, monitor and manage Marketing Supply Chain operations.
3) Go-Green to Gain-Green:
When it comes to the reduction of obsolescence, the more impact made on waste reduction, the greater the green-gains. Obsolescence creates an environmental impact that goes beyond paper. A lack of process, visibility and measurement in the Marketing Supply Chain often necessitates rush ordering which creates additional shipping, handling and logistical demands that all impact emissions, natural resources and carbon footprint. By applying a clear strategy that is focused on reducing obsolescence, marketers can transform the Marketing Supply Chain into a greener operation that optimizes spend and reduces environmental impact.
4) Start With a Self-Assessment:
When you’re ready to move forward with optimizing your company’s marketing supply chain, the first step is taking a good hard look in the mirror. Check out Rhonda Basler’s post It’s Time to Engineer the Marketing Process for a great list of questions you can ask yourself to quickly identify issues with your current marketing supply chain.
Finally, there’s good news: optimizing your marketing supply chain doesn’t have to be a one-person gig; it may be a great idea to bring in a partner or business process consultant to work with you on analysis and implementation.What challenges are you experiencing? How are you improving your marketing management? Join the conversation by adding a comment.
I have to start with a quick story… I used to work for a corporation with over 10,000 locations world wide. Some of the locations were corporate owned, some were owned by franchisees. My role was in corporate marketing and my responsibilities included franchise marketing. The member of our creative services team who was responsible for reviewing and approving the franchises’ self-created marketing materials sat adjacent to my office.
I still giggle every time I think about the “creative” language she utilized many times a day to describe what she received to review: distorted logos, misspellings, horrendous color combinations, and my all-time favorite offer: “Free puppy with every purchase!”
Technology has advanced rapidly to make the management of marketing materials faster, easier and more controlled for companies with distributed locations, marketing staff and field sales. The solution that is central to improving the quality of branded communications comes in many shapes and sizes and has many names like: marketing asset management, communications portal, print on-demand, web-to-print, and digital asset management.
For organizations that are still concerned that a marketing communications portal will be destructive instead of constructive, let’s look at some of the biggest fears:
Big Fear 1: My brand and brand message will be distorted.
All good communications portals come with the power to give you the brand control you need, while making the user feel like they have great customization abilities.
Big Fear 2: There’s a lack of quality data and mailing lists at a local level.
This may be true, but you can help them obtain new lists. Even better, hook-up the data and list service you want them to use. You can even program in targeted tools that enforce best practices.
Big Fear 3: They (the field, location, and marketing managers) will spend too much.
If budget isn’t controlled by the franchisee, or location level budgets are not in place, expenses can be monitored and limited through your marketing portal. Spending limits may be set by order, user or location within the communications portal.
Big Fear 4: After investing in a communications portal, it is not utilized and doesn’t produce a positive ROI.
This is the opposite problem to number three above, and the problem most likely encountered when implementing localized marketing. This problem has to be addressed before you implement a communication portal. Conduct user testing with the proposed tool before buying. Make sure your users can easily understand how to navigate the system and know exactly what to do. Next, plan out an implementation and user adoption program to encourage interaction with the communications portal or asset management system. And although this is common sense, after you implement the communications portal, the old way of doing things has to be eliminated. Aberdeen Group recently released research on Print On-Demand that proves the positive impact it has on ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment.
Big Fear 5: They aren’t savvy enough to know what to do.
Even an easy-to-use system doesn’t make up for the lack of marketing expertise required to conduct local marketing initiatives. Or does it? If the system can be set up to support best practices and be specific enough that the localized marketer or franchisee knows exactly what to do, even lack of marketing know-how can be overcome.
Empowering Your Most Devoted Marketers: Your Local Representatives
Up to this point, this entire article has studied negative things that can happen when marketing is conducted at a local level. I have also worked for a franchise owner and seen thousands of franchisees and location managers in action. Who takes on the most responsibility for each location to be successful? It’s the local manager, sales person, franchise owner, and each and every employee associated with that location. Sorry corporate, it is not you.
The unfaltering commitment that these individuals possess to make their business a success is enormous. For companies to not take advantage of that from a marketing perspective is a detriment to the success of the company and franchise owner.
If you don’t give marketing control, you don’t get motivation for success by the very people who interact with the customer each and every day. Individual locations always feel their market situation is different, their competition is different, their employee base is different, and so they need to feel that they can control the marketing and sales approach to be different, even if it is not.
With the right tools, a communications portal being the main one, you can give your locations and franchisee all they need to conduct relevant, localized marketing, while keeping the control you need to build a consistent national or world-wide brand. So what’s holding you back?
We get a lot of questions about our Marketing Communications Portal, and have found that visuals are worth much more than a thousand words when explaining its benefits and features. Have two and a half minutes? Check out the video below that gives an inside view of how marketers, salespeople, business owners and administrators use the portal to access, manage and deploy company-branded materials.
According to new research by Aberdeen Group, Print On-Demand (also called POD, web-to-print or print automation) provides a dramatic improvement in customer retention and ROMI (Return on Marketing Investments). As an underwriter of Aberdeen’s research, we’re pleased to provide exclusive access to their findings.
Among their findings was a correlation between companies that use a Print On-Demand solution and a dramatic improvement in customer retention. In an economy where every customer counts, a 42% higher customer retention rate among Print On-Demand users is more than noteworthy. But what’s the correlation? How does POD impact on customer retention so significantly?
Three Reasons Print On-Demand Improves Customer Retention
- More timely – With on-demand printing, written communications and printed materials get in the hands of prospects or customers more quickly, as the materials are produced and delivered immediately, instead of waiting weeks to be batched with other orders.
- Improved relevancy – Printed materials can easily be customized to be relevant to the recipient using a Print On-Demand system. For example, cross-selling, new customer assimilation, and segmentation strategies can all be applied, one customer at a time.
- It builds better relationships – By empowering true 1-to-1 communication, personal communications can be customized to come from their sales or customer service representative to the intended recipient.
Follow this link to download a free report including additional findings from Aberdeen: Print On-Demand: Driving Efficiency and Revenue Growth with Organizational Print Portals.
Additional Benefits of On-Demand Printing
Many times when a company moves to a Print On-Demand or web-to-print solution, another significant shift happens. They move from static off-set printing to digital printing. Several years ago many marketing professionals questioned the quality of digital print. Today, to the naked eye, it is practically impossible to tell the difference between commercial off-set printing and digital.
Using advanced digital printing and marketing automation technology, the delivery of printed materials becomes as easy as sending personalized, triggered email. In fact, the use of both mail and email together becomes fast, efficient and very impactful.
Many companies have found it helpful to integrate their Marketing Asset Management solution with email and automated print deployment, making the creation and execution processes streamlined and efficient. In fact, in addition to improved customer retention, many companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars by moving to an integrated POD system. (See case studies at www.mailprint.com)
Thanks to the Aberdeen Group for investing in the research that quantifies what was previously suspected: POD improves customer retention and bolsters ROMI by putting a serious dent in marketing execution costs.