Posts tagged marketing asset management

I’m Just Happy to Make a Contribution

marketing managementIn the 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham, Crash (Kevin Costner) mentors Nuke (Tim Robbins) about what clichés to recite to the media after a big win. Though not the brightest bull in the pin, Nuke, executes beautifully upon pitching his first no-run win in the majors by saying, “I’m just happy to make a contribution and be part of this team.”

Cursory clichés or generic reports don’t work in the world of marketing where marketing management is a must. Campaigns must be measured by something as concrete as hits, runs, and RBIs in baseball. Surprisingly with all the measurement tools available – landing pages, QR codes®, Facebook likes, Tweets, trackable phone numbers, and Google analytics – a number of marketing programs are still falling short when it comes to reported metrics.

I recently called a dozen advertisers randomly to learn if they would be willing to share their return on investment or success around a specific marketing effort. I was not surprised to learn that seven out of 10 had no idea what they were recouping from the thousands of dollars each month they were investing.

With marketing budgets shrinking to around 5% of sales, justifying the financial contribution marketing delivers seems imperative. However, recent research conducted by Lenskold and the Pedowitz Group showed that just one in three B2B marketers worldwide report financial-contribution metrics to senior management.

Financial metrics might consist of measurements such as:

  • Return on Investment
  • Average revenue per closed sale
  • Marketing-generated opportunity closed

Why are 66% of marketers not measuring how their marketing efforts are contributing to the bottom line? Why are those that are measuring not reporting it to management? Perhaps they need a marketing ally to automate and track their campaigns so the burden is reduced and results heightened.

Sometimes just breaking down a process in simple steps can put you way ahead of the competition. To use another sports analogy, Olympic track and field legend, Edwin Moses, went nine years and nine months without losing the 400-meter hurdles. He accomplished this by breaking down the race to specific steps and eliminating waste.

While Moses’ competitors blasted out of the blocks and took 13 steps before jumping the first hurdle, he used his 9 ft. 9 in. stride to eliminate one step between each hurdle – therefore crushing his competitors for nine years.

Thumbnail BenefitsBook CaseStudy I’m Just Happy to Make a ContributionOne of our clients did nearly the same thing by analyzing its performance around employee benefits catalogs that weren’t being personalized and were taking 7-10 days to get into the hands of their prospects. By tapping into variable data printing, this Fortune 500 provider of insurance products was able to personalize more than 1300 fields in their product catalogs around age, salary, compensation-related variables and they were able to automate the process to ensure that more than 352,000 were printed without error. Now they get catalogs into prospect hands in 2-4 days, error-free, and with the specific data they need to make instant enrollment decisions.  This effort increased policy enrollments by 5%.

When B2B marketers fail to connect financial metrics to marketing and operations, they fail to connect some pivotal dots that CEOs and CFOs are watching.

What can you do to sharpen your pencil, tie your marketing campaigns to both marketing and financial measurement results, connect important financial dots, and put better metrics in play?

  • Take a webinar on analytics
  • Read up on data-driven marketing
  • Download ROI spreadsheets
  • Attend quality control meetings outside of marketing to learn the big picture and see what programs or tweaks are needed to make a difference for your company

The most indispensable players on any team are the ones making a true financial contribution. How are you managing your marketing assets or more importantly, measuring them?

Ten Ways to Decrease Direct Mail Spending

variable data printing, direct mail ideas

There are many ways to decrease your direct mail spending... here are just ten.

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:

  1. Clear out the Non-Responsive: Determine what deems someone non-responsive, and stop mailing when it is clear they are not going to respond.
  2. Segment Your Lists: Segment and target audiences on macro and micro levels.  You don’t have to mail to everyone to be highly impactful.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.  
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.  
  9. 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)
  10. 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.

Assessment Guide: 10 Questions to Uncover Ways to Increase Marketing Efficiency

marketing efficiencies, variable data printing

Is it time to evaluate your marketing routine and dispose of obsolescence?

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:

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

  1. What inventoried items have become obsolete?  Why?
  2. What regular processes do members of your marketing team do that are wastes of time and skill set?
  3. 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?
  4. How could you streamline your workday?
  5. What marketing processes have failed in the past?
  6. 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.
  7. Would it improve your results if marketing campaigns could be deployed faster?  If so, what does an ideal timeframe look like?
  8. Is the work flow in your department planned, or hap-hazard?  How about between departments?
  9. What have you done more than twice this week?
  10. 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 Thumb Assessment Guide: 10 Questions to Uncover Ways to Increase Marketing Efficiency 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.

What’s your Role in the Marketing Supply Chain?

integrated marketing, marketing management

Find money in your Marketing Supply Chain by getting rid of obsolescence.

Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain” by the CMO Council, depicts a threatening picture of inefficiency and waste in the Marketing Supply Chain. This post summarizes this great research.

As marketers seek to provide the timeliest and freshest content to customers and prospects alike, old, over-ordered or un-utilized materials tend to be stored, destroyed or ignored, left to occupy costly space in offices and warehouses. High levels of waste can generally be attributed to limited access to material usage information, a lack of visibility into the operational process, and a general lack of forecasting and operational rigor. All of these factors combine to create an epidemic of waste that can be summed up most accurately as obsolescence.

Obsolescence is not excessive ordering of un-used collateral. Excess materials are merely a visible symptom. In fact, it is what cannot be seen—what is behind the scenes and invisible—that makes an indelible impact on marketing effectiveness and can derail, detract or damage the customer experience.

The shelf-life of marketing consumables and promotional materials has never been shorter or more challenging to manage. Marketers are spending billions of dollars producing, warehousing and shipping marketing literature, packaging, documentation, point-of-sale displays, premiums, giveaways, signage and hand outs. How well this portion of Marketing Operations is managed and controlled can materially impact go-to-market effectiveness, as well as the optimal use of marketing dollars in creating business value and competitive advantage.

The Ramifications of Marketing Supply Chain Inefficiency

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 criticality of content, yet 51 percent also admit to having sent out old materials containing out of date content. Why you may ask? For a small few, warehousing error (2 percent) can be blamed. 61 percent did not have new materials ready in time and 23 percent of marketers did not know that irrelevant, old material was sent. Are these marketers not interested in the customer or prospect experience? Or could it be more likely that they are without the tools and processes they need to get the visibility they desire?

Staging a Priority Shift

If content is constantly updating and changing to deliver the most relevant and timely information to prospects and customers, why are marketers not applying more rigor to managing the flow of these critical elements within the supply chain? Most simply do not view the reduction of obsolescence as a key priority (50 percent). As one marketer stated, “Waste is just taboo as a can of worms. To open it holds little reward and no compensation, so there is little motivation to start down this road.”

Yet transformation is on the minds of savvy marketers dedicated to operational efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, there are very real strategies and opportunities to engage that can work to streamline the Marketing Supply Chain.

Obliterating Obsolescence

The opportunity lies with marketers to transform the Marketing Supply Chain operations and make significant strides to reduce obsolescence and in turn, redeploy budget that was once wasted on out-of-date materials.

  1. Leverage digital printing strategies – including Print On Demand (POD): 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 by reducing capital investment in inventory, storage charges, and waste. A POD strategy can further reduce costs by eliminating inventory, storage, and in-bound freight costs. POD also enables more current and customizable content through the application of Web-to-Print and 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 operates as a global green steward.
  4. Bringing in the Big Marketing Supply Chain Brains: If you are not good at developing process, bringing in a partner or business process consultant is certainly a valid option.  As with all self-improvement programs, you should first start by taking a hard look at yourself.  The first step in the process is to identify where marketing operations can be improved.  By completing a self-assessment, you’ll identify your marketing process hiccups and what you could be doing if those hiccups were streamlined or eliminated. From there you can decide if you can tackle the improvements yourself, call in strategic sourcing or consult with a partner outside of the company.

Marketers must begin to look at individual symptoms of inefficiency with the Marketing Supply Chain in order to optimize budget allocation, operational management and delivery of the customer experience. Obsolescence is a serious challenge to marketers as they looks to maximize budget and operations. The good news is that a streamlined Marketing Supply Chain is possible. In these critical times where customer engagement is top of mind and budgets are restricting, waste and unchecked obsolescence are no longer issues left to other departments or hidden in a marketing closet.  It’s time for marketers to take action.

Watch our post next week for a Marketing Operations Self Assessment Guide – 10 Questions to Help in Uncovering Opportunity for Efficiency in Marketing Operations.

Is a Marketing Asset Management System Right for My Company?

direct marketing management, marketing automation

Shrunken marketing resources? Marketing asset management may be just what you need.

Prompted by growing demands from CEO’s and CFO’s for greater accountability, marketers have begun to focus on improving the efficiency of marketing operations.  They now recognize that improving the productivity of marketing operations can be a powerful way to stretch marketing dollars.  The equation is simple.  The dollars saved by improving the efficiency of marketing operations can be redirected to campaigns and programs that generate increased revenues.

One area of marketing operations that offers huge opportunities for improvement involves the procurement, production, storage, and distribution of marketing collateral documents.  This part of marketing operations typically produces a significant amount of waste and is filled with processes that are highly manual and inefficient.

Reduce Cost By Streamlining Marketing Processes

To eliminate these wastes and inefficiencies, a growing number of companies are implementing marketing asset management (MAM) systems that automate the process of ordering, producing, and fulfilling requests for marketing assets and materials.  In the right circumstances, these systems produce substantial cost savings and streamline the processes that surround the production and handling of marketing communications.    This chart depicts the streamlined process using Marketing Asset Management:

Marketing Collateral Supply Chain

To read more about how automated marketing asset management systems work and the factors that determine whether investing in an asset management system would be a good move for your business download “Is a Marketing Asset Management System Right for My Company?”

Is a Marketing Asset Management System Right for My Company?

Cost Justifying the Investment in New Marketing Systems

Hidden Costs of Marketing Collateral

Identify the invisible costs to justify the investment in new marketing technology.

As companies consider an investment in marketing asset management , Web to Print, communications portals, marketing automation, or other marketing systems, they eventually get to the stage where financial justification is required.  Based upon years of guiding companies through these calculations, we are proud to offer a guide to help you determine the true cost/benefit of these systems.

Download “How Much Are You Really Spending On Marketing Collateral?”

Although this paper was written specifically for marketing asset management and collateral management, it is really relevant to the majority of new marketing technologies on the market.  In this concise paper (it is really a quick read), you’ll find ideas and plans to justify the investment in new marketing systems.  The three main ideas are:

  • Learn how to identify invisible costs in your organization
  • Review a real life case study of a company saving over $80,000 per year
  • Develop a cost savings estimate for your company using the template and example provided

 You can download this resource here:  http://www.mailprint.com/mam-cost-savings.htm

Cost of Marketing Collateral

Download Report: How Much Are You Really Spending on Marketing Collateral?

Soft Vs Hard Cost Savings

Here’s something to think about that’s not included in the white paper: whether or not to make a marketing technology investment is often a question of how human resources are utilized.  A substantial portion of the savings comes from freeing up human resources.  Some companies look at this as a “soft cost” and simply redeploy the freed up human resources on activities that are more valuable to the company than deploying marketing materials.  Companies that are looking to reduce “hard cost” create a plan to reduce human resource costs through attrition, promotions, transfers or staff reduction.

Human Resource Planning Plays a Vital Role

An important second part of the cost justification process is to know how and what you plan to do with these soon-to-be “additional” human resources.  Plans that are presented without giving clear insight into how you will handle this are often disqualified as fluffy or inaccurate, and can ruin the possibility of gaining new marketing systems.

Print Procurement: The Lesser Known Facet of Marketing Automation

Professionals using microscope

Marketers are taking another look at direct marketing, and focusing on print automation and cost reduction as key drivers of profitability.

As the economy shows signs of shifting in a more positive direction, many companies are revisiting direct marketing programs that were profitable years ago, but were cut during the height of the recession to reduce marketing budgets.  Contrary to the boom years, most marketers are cost cautious these days when setting up programs.  We are willing to try new things, or revisit the old, but not in the same way as the past.

As marketing practitioners, our fresh focus on marketing operations, marketing procurement and the marketing supply chain, have made us better business people and I contend, more successful marketers from an ROI perspective.

Print Automation is Less Sexy Than Email Automation, But Far Richer in Opportunity for Cost Reduction

Print automation is a fairly new term in the industry and a clear success story for early adopters.  Some would label print automation simply as traditional print and direct mail, but with cost saving enhancements related to how print can be procured and deployed.  Marketing automation, a much more widely used and accepted term, is related, but most often focuses only on email automation and never sees the full deployment and integration of print into the marketing automation mix.  Although this article focuses solely on educating business leaders on print automation, full marketing automation that incorporates all channels, is the ultimate aspiration.

Watch Print Automation Videoprint automation video thumbnail Print Procurement: The Lesser Known Facet of Marketing Automation

Want to learn what the print automation buzz is about?  Watch this video to see how you can implement a print automation strategy in your company.  It includes three real-life stories to help you determine if your print and direct mail is poised for a move to automation:

http://www.mailprint.com/printing-automation-video.htm

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.

Recovering Your Marketing Budget with an Optimized Marketing Supply Chain

Wastebasket full of dollar bills on desk

Throwing away marketing budget on obsolete or wasted materials? Optimizing your marketing supply chain allows you to save and redeploy those dollars.

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.

CASE STUDY: See how Ferrellgas reduced marketing costs by $80,000 using marketing and print management >>

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.

Overcoming the Fear of Losing Control to Field Sales and Marketing

"free puppy with purchase" marketing message

"Free Puppy with Every Purchase." Great offer or a bad case of brand deconstruction?

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?