Archive for March, 2011

Eliminating Secret Stashes in your Marketing Supply Chain

Hoarding marketing materials

Hidden costs are lurking in the unused printed materials hoarded by your sales and field marketing personnel.

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.

Video: Advanced Variable Data Printing

Variable Data Printing, the process of personalizing print communications using database information, has progressed rapidly during the last ten years, opening up exciting opportunities to improve marketing relevance and response. However, many organizations, direct marketers and printers have not progressed past basic Variable Data Printing (VDP).

In this video, you’ll learn about exciting capabilities of advanced VDP and see how three organizations have improved their communications and direct marketing by pushing the limits of VDP personalization and efficiency.

Viewing on your mobile device? Click here to watch Advanced Variable Data Printing on YouTube.

Download case studies mentioned in this video:


Ferrellgas uses Variable Data Printing to customize the messages, pricing and imagery of their direct mail for their local distributors. With VDP, they’ve improved the response rates for their distributed marketing, while reducing production time from 10 days to 24 hours. Download Ferrellgas Case Study

American College of Emergency Physicians

The American College of Emergency Physicians implemented Mail Print’s VDP and print automation systems together to automatically send personalized welcome guides and communications to their 28,000 members. Mail Print’s system has reduced their production time from ten days to two, created $40,000 in immediate savings, and provides flawless execution of their variable elements. Download ACEP Case Study

Integrated Marketing and Voice-of-the-Customer

This article is a guest post from Daniel Dejan, a renowned graphic arts educator, author and consultant.

listening to customer e1300132493985 250x270 Integrated Marketing and Voice of the Customer

Want to know how to improve the relevancy and timing of your marketing communications? Ask your customers for their opinion, and then listen closely.

“Marketing communications” was much easier in the 1990s because the only choices to launch a sales and marketing strategy were television, radio, out-of-door, and print in its many forms. A few alternatives, which fell under the heading of “other,” were not recognized yet as conventional marketing communication, but rather as beta technology for the digital revolution. Making the right media decisions required lots of market research and often employed focus groups (if you could afford them) to determine which media to utilize, to what extent, and which messages would resonate with target markets. Measurement and return-on-investment (ROI) provided the ground rules, and green flags, for future endeavors.

Fast forward to 2011 and the vast options in media channels today. Which marketing tools and what messaging will help your company achieve the ultimate goal of winning the battle for top-of-mind recognition and brand loyalty among your target market?

Confusing and challenging, isn’t it? There is an elegant and efficacious solution: ASK the target market how they would solve the conundrum. According to a Peppers and Rogers white paper, Relationship Marketing 3.0, their 2009 survey indicated that tapping into and implementing the voice-of-the-customer is the most profound process to achieve both relevancy and timing—two of the most imperative and vital attributes to any current campaign. Using online surveys to engage customers when forging a new marketing campaign can guarantee the success of most branding, prospecting and loyalty efforts. Social networking, online advertising and targeted direct mail and email can easily get the survey into the hands of the right people.

Ask your audience:

  • How do you like to be communicated to?
  • Which media outlets do you prefer to be contacted through?
  • How can companies cut through the clutter?
  • What would capture your attention?
  • How often would you like to be contacted?
  • Which media are you most likely to use to communicate with friends, family and colleagues?

Your customers will let you know exactly what they want from your company; whether your sales and marketing efforts are penetrating and successful, how they feel about your latest product or service, and if it does indeed fulfill a need or satisfy a want they have. After all, isn’t it the prospective customer we are trying to engage and convert into an actual customer?

By fulfilling the sales and marketing promise, we can establish, maintain and grow a loyal customer base that helps us in the quest towards brand loyalty and growth in sales. Integrating the voice-of-the-customer may be one of the most important elements of the success formula.

Just ask.

Daniel Dejan

About the Author

Daniel Dejan is the North American ETC print and creative manager for Sappi Fine Paper North America. A dedicated graphics arts educator and author with many years of national and international experience, Dejan has been invited to judge numerous graphic design and print competitions, written extensively for graphic arts trade publications and has served on the Board of several graphic arts associations and companies.

Voice-of-the-Customer Case Study

Learn how Prairie Band Casino used personalized online surveys to improve their customer loyalty program. Download the case study at

Eight Secrets to Using Personalized Landing Pages

Top Secret: Personalized URLs

Integrate online and offline direct marketing efforts with PURLs.

Ever since PURLs (or Personalized URLs) hit the scene, the integration of offline and online media has become a powerful way to improve direct marketing results.  Now, direct mail and email can link to a URL that can be customized to the individual and can be tracked at the individual level.

After working with PURLs for many years, I’ve come to some conclusions.  My insights may change as technology advances, but for now, here’s some insight into how PURLs can help you be a better marketer:

  1. Pre-populated forms are the bomb.  Less hassle for the user, and completion rates go up.  Way up.
  2. A URL with a person’s name in it is a little freaky to someone who doesn’t know you, your product, or your company. Always test a PURL against a non-personalized URL with an acquisition target audience before rolling it out.
  3. PURLs are great for collecting communication preference.
  4. And at the same time you collect preference, you can obtain and update contact information, such as those all too valuable email addresses.
  5. Current customers + PURL + satisfaction survey = Gain feedback, fix problems, make customers happy, and increase customer lifetime value.
  6. Web pages that deliver personalized offers are an extraordinary advantage over a static web page.
  7. Download Free ReportMeasurability at the individual level can be a powerful tool for testing and improving ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment.)
  8. Combining QR Codes with PURLs – to create personalized QR Codes that lead to a Personalized landing page – could change the way direct marketers think about delivering content to mobile devices.

So my secrets are out. What questions or secrets about PURLs do you have? Please share them by adding a comment to this post.

I’d also recommend checking out Seven PURL Mistakes You Might Be Making to find a summary of all the nutty mistakes I see people make when using PURLs. You should also check out our free report: Using PURLs to Produce Measurable Marketing Results.

Seven PURL Mistakes You Might Be Making

Man with a questioning expression.

Don’t risk alienating your audience by using a PURL inappropriately.

Personalized URLs (PURLs) or personalized landing pages are definitely a game changer for direct and database marketing.  With PURLs, all that great data you’ve collected about your prospects or customers can be used to construct a truly personalized online marketing experience with customized data, imagery, offers and the all-important pre-populated form.

The key to success with a PURL campaign is creating a great user experience.  If there is a poor user experience, it really doesn’t matter if you have a personalized landing page or not.  So, here is a short list of things to avoid when creating a campaign with PURLs:

  1. Don’t use a long web address.  Generally people can only remember seven characters at a time.  When using a PURL in an offline piece, think about the number of times someone has to go from the offline communication to the keyboard to type in the URL.  14 characters equals 2 times.  35 characters equals 5 times.  That gets a little crazy for the recipient.
  2. Don’t use random numbers for the unique part of the web address.  They don’t mean anything to the recipient.
  3. Don’t creep prospects out with too much blatant personalization. Current customers will most likely understand why you have information about them, and will appreciate your using it to create a personalized experience. Prospects, on the other hand, may not understand why you’re using their information, and react negatively.
  4. Don’t forget to pay close attention to the quality of your data. Missing or inaccurate data can seriously dampen your response rates; data cleansing and appending is the answer.
  5. When designing the web page layout, don’t put the form below the visual fold.  You want the pre-populated form to be visible as soon as the page is viewed.
  6. Don’t leave people in la-la land if they mistype the PURL.  Display a page that tells them what to do.
  7. Don’t assume that a PURL will improve response for all audiences and offers.  Test. Test. Test.

In conclusion, I’ll add that I am often approached by companies who want to do a PURL for the wrong reasons.  Meaning, they forgot to put themselves in the recipient’s shoes.  Answering these questions, from the target audiences’ point of view, usually gains the clarity needed:

  • Does it make sense that they are sending me a personalized URL?
  • Why are they using my personal information?
  • Did it improve my user experience?

If you can’t answer these questions, you should reconsider your PURL campaign until you can.

What questions or suggestions do you have about Personalized URLs? Click the comments link to share!