Posts tagged marketing resource management

Can You Recover from Major Marketing Gaffes?

mistakes, errors, marketing, businessPolitical gaffes follow a candidate from one campaign to the next. The campaigns of Romney, Biden, Clinton, Quail and Bush all confirm this. Remember Bush’s premature use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished”, Quail’s misspelling of “potato?” or even Clinton’s more famous situation that isn’t appropriate for this posting. A misspoken word or an entire scandal can take an entire mission off focus.

The same can be said for the million dollar blunders made by the five marketing giants below.

Turner Broadcasting

One of Turner’s cartoon networks launched a guerrilla marketing campaign in 2007 that involved putting LED signs throughout the city of the flashing cartoon man. A Boston resident thought it was a bomb and called the police, which resulted in the shutdown of public transportation system and a $2 million fine requiring Turner Broadcasting to compensate the city for its emergency response time.

Gap & Coke

In 2010 Gap updated its logo design in an effort to appeal to a hipper audience. Gap switched back to its original logo within two days because of the backlash from its true audience of people who love their basics and aren’t trendy people. Who knows what the logo change and change-back cost Gap, but it probably was at least a million-dollar lesson to stay true to its loyal customers.

Gap’s gaffe proves that history does repeat itself. Remember Coca-Cola’s similar gaffe in 1985? Coca-Cola launched New Coke in an effort to keep Pepsi from gaining market share, only to enrage its loyal customers who began hoarding the original Coke formula and selling it on the black market for hefty prices.

Timothy’s Coffee

To extend their social reach, Timothy’s offered a coupon or a free sample for following them on Facebook or Twitter. The campaign was so successful, Timothy’s ran out of k-pak cups and later posted that free samples would be given out on a first come first serve basis. This went over like a cup of truck-stop coffee and despite an apology video; they were unable to recover from the gaffe of not being prepared to fulfill their published offer.

Pepsi

When Pepsi chose to pursue the International market of China, it failed to check the translation of its tagline, “Pepsi brings you back to life.”  The phrase translates to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” You may be laughing, but the marketing department and CEO of Pepsi weren’t. They were humiliated for not pre-flighting the phrase with native speaking Chinese customers. The cost of reprinting point of sale banners, signage and advertising cost just a hair more than the disgrace of Pepsi’s international gaffe.

 

Marketing Gaffe Prevention

While to err is human, there’s plenty of ways to reduce the margin for error. Here are a few suggestions to implement before you make history with a mega-marketing blunder.

Check your list twice

Don’t hit “send,” until you’ve checked your send-to list two or three times. Remember the agency employee who accidently dropped the F-bomb on Chrysler’s Twitter channel, thinking he was sending to his own peeps. Whoops.

Engage more eyes

Despite spell check and proofing, mistakes slip into marketing pieces because the individuals working on the piece go blind to their copy over time. Put a multi-tiered proofing team in place, as well as a pre-flight process for all your printed pieces and posts.

Take people out of the process

The beauty of print automation, is you do all the testing and proofing upfront (perhaps even for six months), but after that, all the data is pulled directly from your CRM or database and goes directly into the brochure, catalog, coupon, or direct mail piece, which eliminates the chance of human error. Print errors can cost a company millions. Verify your data, and partner with a company well versed in print automation if you need the assurance of 100% accuracy in your mailings.

In Philip B. Crosby’s book, Quality Is Free, Crosby estimates that the cost of quality for any company is 25 percent of revenue. Certainly far from free, but his book led to the “zero defects” movement that later was replaced by the Six Sigma movement because companies realized perfection was impossible. Six Sigma organizations are a bit more realistic, allowing an error rate of one in 1 million or less.

Whatever movement you’re following or quality assurance practices and systems you have in place, an error is costly to a company’s profits and reputation. Share your marketing blunders and any that you’ve headed off at the pass in the comments below. We’re all in this together.

Source:  Hubspot

 

Everything You Wished You Knew Before You Built Your CRM Database

crm, architect, building, customer relationship management, database, dataBusiness databases have moved beyond name, address, city, state and zip. Today’s savvy customer relationship management gurus capture purchase history, lifestyle, lifecycle, and lifespan info that enables them to engage, re-engage, and even dis-engage (that’s a fancy word for fire) customers when necessary.

Customer information that goes deep and reveals the lifetime value of that customer is imperative to long term business growth.  To capture and record this data, a good software package is needed, but selecting the appropriate tool can sometimes be confusing. There are a ton of SaaS (software as a service) solutions that may make sense.  Look into Salesforce.com, Sugar CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics.  Plus, don’t forget to study industry specific packages.  Be wary however of forcing the sales process to fit the CRM system.  A good CRM solution should be flexible enough to fit your processes.

 

Who Should Manage Your Database?

It depends. If you’re a small business with a seasoned marketing person on staff, you probably can manage it in-house. The bigger your customer base the bigger the task.

The job of the database manager is to (1) build or buy a database that can capture and contain the needed data fields you wish to monitor (2) modify the database to add new areas of interest or products as your business grows (3) backup the system regularly (4) update customer info, purge customer info or initiate re-engagement campaigns as customers go dormant.

The best B2B relationship management (CRM) databases will allow you sophisticated functionality like multi-level SLA support, customer satisfaction surveys, timer-based escalation rules that are driven by complex criteria and automated issue re-assignments.

Your CRM system should also allow you to integrate with other software tools like your ERP or software, business management solution, website software, email tool, and even your accounting package.

 

What is the Most Important Data You Must Know or Might Forget to Collect?

A good customer database includes these four basic areas:

  1. Financial: Revenue generated from the customer’s transactions.
  2. Demographic: Describing customers in terms of their personal characteristics, such as age, sex, professional activity, etc.
  3. Geographic: Describing customers in terms of their physical location.
  4. Psychographic or Behavioral: Describing customers in terms of their preferred activities and actions.

A great CRM database plan allows you to collect and monitor competitor price, market share, and product features. It also allows you to collect data on the number of customer transactions, stores visits, and why they leave.

As you can see, you must plan well to collect the metrics that will guide your business. Businesses that don’t have a good database system or customer relationship management system are at a disadvantage in today’s world. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, once said that “Datarati are companies that have the edge in consumer data insight. There has been and will continue to be an increased focus on data analysis as companies continue to invest in measuring social media, understanding customer value and modeling customer behavior.

 

What Should You Do With the Data?

Put it to work! The information you have gathered can be used to a great advantage. Look at what Amazon does with the data it collects as you shop their store.  Each time you search for items Amazon tracks and knows what is of interest.  Then, when you return, you are presented with items most likely to interest you.  That level of data capture is huge in working to drive a business.

Other organizations use that data to personalize their direct mail with Variable Data Printing (VDP) a method of printing personalized promotional material using your database. The effect of customers seeing their names and preferences in promotions can give you a higher response and purchase rate. This response rate has been estimated to be as high as five times greater than with traditional static advertising.

 

Building or Buying a CRM System

There are so many great systems available, it’s really not necessary to reinvent the wheel. However, shopping for the right one for your business can be daunting. So much like going to Consumer Report for research, you can go to CRM Vendor Comparison and download the 2011 CRM Vendor Comparison Chart that shows 40 hours of research and a comparison of 30 CRM systems that range in web application prices from $40 to $100 per month for usage rights.

Once you pick and install one, staying in sync with your customers’ buying habits through their lifecycle and creating alerts to build that relationship can steady your company in poor times and send it through the roof in peak times. It is important to be aware of clients who are increasing their spending, as well as those who are coming back less and less. In such cases, the database can create an alert to cue marketing to develop a bounce-back campaign.

Knowledge is power. Storing it in a pliable database gives you power and strength. Why? To compete, you will need to know more about your customers and use the information to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including dynamic content, blogs to social media networks).

If you don’t talk to your customers in an engaging, intelligent way, your competitor will.

 

Marketing Management & Execution Solutions: So What Do You Call Them?

Reading a dictionary

Searching for the right words to describe the marketing automation, management, or exection systems you're looking for? Maybe we can help.

**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.

Distributed Marketing:

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.

Web-to-Print:

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.

Communications Portal:

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.

Print Automation:

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.

Marketing Automation:

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.


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.

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.

All Aboard! It’s Time to Engineer the Marketing Process

marketing engineers

Marketing operations process engineering should be initiated out of marketing.

Throughout the past year, I have attended or presented at a variety of conferences such as the Marketing Profs B2B Marketing Conference, the Integrated Marketing Summit, the DMA’s National Center for Database Marketing conference, and various industry specific events.  I can say that I am continually impressed by the content and quality of these events.  There is just nothing like taking the time to focus on improving your personal skills and techniques, sharing ideas with your peers, and learning from others.

There was one topic noticeably lacking at all of these events.  With the economy still on a flat trend, marketers are still not talking about how to improve the operational aspects of  direct marketing.  I know, that coming up with the next big idea is how marketers are wired, and typically how they are incentivized and rewarded.  But, this is the perfect time to help your company (and get kudos to boot!) by focusing on marketing process efficiency.

Improving Marketing Efficiency with Time Savings

Decreasing the length of time it takes to accomplish something saves time.  We only get 24 hours in a day and can’t make more.  So when marketers figure out how to cut an hour out of a routine marketing execution, what do you do with the time?  Hmmm… maybe come up with the next big idea.  The problem is that many creative marketing folks have difficulty thinking in straight lines.  By their very nature, they think differently from everyone else in the organization.  So no one in your department is good with streamlining processes?  It’s probably time to get some help either within your organization or with the help of a business process consultant.

Saving Money While Making Marketing Process Improvements

Yes marketers, it is possible to love purchasing, supply chain and sourcing personnel.  And if you can’t quite get to love, maybe you can get to respect.  Often, these individuals have some of the best general business sense you’ll find.  Although they are focused on reducing cost and finding the best price available, it is short-sighted to think that they are not focused on value.  My experience is that they will listen and participate in helping you find a solution that saves both time and money, and delivers the quality you need to fulfill the image of your brand.

Think Like a Process Engineer

If you are not good at developing process, bringing in a partner or business process consultant is certainly a valid option.  But, I am a firm believer that just like all self-improvement programs, you should first start by taking a hard look at yourself.  The first step in the engineering design process is to identify where marketing operations can be improved.  Challenge yourself with these questions and make a list of areas for improvement:

  • What do you do that is a waste of your 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 technology do part of your job, what part would that be?
  • What else could you do if you were not doing the same repetitive tasks?
  • What new things should you be doing, but seem to never have the time?

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.

50% of marketers surveyed by the CMO Council say that eliminating waste and obsolescence in their supply chain operation is not a key priority to the overall marketing operational function.

Source: Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain, CMO Council

I do see more people with titles that include the terms marketing and operations, but more often than not, marketers look outside of their department to operations or strategic sourcing to handle improvements in efficiency.  Isn’t it better if it starts with the marketers themselves?

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?