Posts tagged on-demand printing

10 Terminal Design Flaws in Senior Living Mailer

92235673 250x366 10 Terminal Design Flaws in Senior Living MailerThe postcard below from Excelsior Springs Hospital arrived in a mailbox of a 50 year old living in a subdivision with mixed housing.

For the recipient, it was off message. They were not interested in comparing residential care homes quite yet being that they are only 50 years old. I live in a subdivision designed for people to progress through life from the townhomes, to single family homes to raise a family, to the patio homes to enjoy one-level living prior to advancing to a nursing home or residential care center.

So the question begs, what did Excelsior Springs Hospital use to compile a target rich list? Zip codes, type of home, age, mortgage balance, employment? If I were their marketing director, I would have specified 55 to 75 years of age living in ranch homes with a zero balance so to hone in on people most likely to be ready to move from their downsized ranch or maintenance-free patio home into an independent living center or assisted living.


Fatal Flaws Made in Senior Living Postcard

As you see, Excelsior Springs Hospital has thrown everything and the kitchen sink into this simple 5×7 postcard. It’s packed, yet pulseless. Here’s where they fell short.

  1. The headline is a snore. A better headline/offer would have been, “Join us for a 4-Course Lunch and 4-Course Resident Panel.”
  2. The photo a bore. A photo of Paul Kemp gardening or playing cards would have been more engaging. Having him looking at a book, not the camera, is too passive.
  3. You don’t know where to start. They have three tiers of living centers to offer. Why not chronologically take the prospect through each one with numbers (1) Independent Living (2) Residential Care (3) Convalescent Center.
  4. Information overload. There is way too much copy. This is a postcard, not a brochure or website. Give them the highlights and move them down the funnel to get more information.
  5. No continuity. The bulleted list on the left is flush left while the list on the right is centered. Some headlines have serif fonts, while some are san serif.
  6. There is no offer. With the competitive senior living market, why should the receiver of this postcard call the number or visit the website (which should be a landing page instead of a general URL (GURL).
  7. It’s features-not benefits-oriented. The front and back of the card “focuses on,” but doesn’t describe WIIFT (what’s in it for them). Better copy points out never feeling isolated or being excited to receive the calendar every month because there are so many fun things to pick to do each day.
  8. Meaningless elements. Everything in a good design has a reason for being there. It serves a purpose of pointing someone’s eye down the piece or to the next section. This card shows two blue starbursts that just further add to the clutter and a silky blue background that seems out of place. The two design blocks on the front of the card appear like the tablets from the 10 commandments but again I don’t understand the point.
  9. They called their customer a name. According to Britt Brouse, Associate Editor of Inside Direct Mail, you should never use the word “senior” when marketing to seniors. Instead focus on your services and how it meets their needs without pinpointing a life stage.
  10. They missed their target. The postcard was addressed to the male of the house, instead of me. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is mailing to the male head of household, or to “couples,” when half of all households with people 65 or over are headed by one person, and 80 percent of those are women.

postcard, direct mail, senior living, copy

What did I miss? Did you catch something I didn’t see? Please put your comments and insights in the comments box below.

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.


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.

Retire Your 1980s Marketing Practices Along Side Your INXS Album

record, outdated, marketingThe 1980s Australian band, INXS (pronounced “in excess”) has yet to retire though critics plea that they reconsider.  The band’s name summarizes the excesses of that period, which include plenty of waste in the marketing industry — mass mailings, print overruns, static, soon-to-be-tossed collateral pieces, and one-way, non-triggered communication.

The spoilage and fallout of living to extremes or marketing to the masses has led us to today’s fine-tuned world of print on demand, variable data printing (VDP), and print automation. The pendulum has swung toward tighter controls, two-way communications, well-timed incentives, and just enough materials to get the job done and the results needed. Are you working smart or stuck in the world of give me 5,000 pieces instead of the 4,500 pieces really needed because it only costs me another $50 printing, one-way conversations, all delivered through one-channel vs. highly engaging multi-media campaigns?

When executed with tightly refined parameters and a laser-focused prospect list, VDP with multi-channel marketing is the new sensation because it generates higher results despite the smaller reach in most instances. Today’s marketing tools and digital print pieces reduce the cost of print communication by as much as 90% —shaving off the bottom half of the pyramid below.

With print on demand, there is no need to warehouse materials and no inventory obsolescence. Supplement print on demand with print automation and you also omit the last three line items at the base of the pyramid: external creative, internal creative, and fulfillment/distribution.

Printing, Communication, Marketing cost, obsolescence, cost of communication
Just in Time Printing Omits Waste

If you’ve ever had to throw away 7,000 image brochures because of a change in leadership, you’ve felt the pain of offset printing in today’s fast moving, ever-changing business climate.  It is Murphy’s Law that as soon as the annual report or other key piece gets printed, something will already be out of date.

Refine Your List, Blanketing Populations is So 80s

If you haven’t determined who your customer is, you can spend a lot of money blanketing populations of people and be missing those potential customers who are actually interested in your business.

If you’re pulling data from your internal database for your mailings, make sure your data is scrubbed and solid. A data quality survey revealed:

  • While 96.2 percent of organizations view data accuracy as an essential issue, nearly one-third of them don’t enforce it.
  • More than half of the respondents claim that at least 6 percent or more of the important information in their database is inaccurate or completely missing.
  • 63 percent of respondents say that five to thirty percent of their marketing budget is wasted as a result of bad data.

If you’re using an outside list company or broker for your marketing project, make sure it’s been cleaned or scrubbed (the process of detecting and removing or correcting any information in a database that has some sort of error).

Errors can be the result of human data entry error, merging of two databases, a lack of company-wide or industry-wide data coding standards, or due to old systems that contain inaccurate or outdated information.

When in doubt about the accuracy and deliverability of your list, hire a mailing expert or partner with a reputable mail house to provide:

  • Data Normalization
  • Data Migration
  • USPS CASS-Certified Address Cleaning, Parsing (Splitting)
  • USPS NCOA Processing, Duplicate Record Removal (AKA: “De-Dupe” or “Purge”), Data Standardization & Reformat
  • Genderization
  • Casing

Finally, make sure you’re using the tools of the 21st century in your marketing practices today and have retired the shotgun approach of the 80s. This is a period of refinement, not excess.


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
  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

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.

Print 2.0: Smart Print that Works Harder

Multi-channel campaign recipient

“By mixing the message across different media you increase the likelihood that the recipient will see the message.” – Dr. John Leininger, Professor of Graphic Communications, Clemson University

This is a guest post by Lorrie Bryan, a writer and public relations professional based in Atlanta.

Today, smart companies understand how to leverage the inherent value of traditional print with Internet technology. The old adage says, “Work smarter, not harder.” Today’s print (we’re calling it Print 2.0) melds the virtues and value of traditional print with the intelligence and efficiency derived from digital technology to create smarter integrated marketing. Here are the critical success factors to put marketing Print 2.0 to work for you:

1. Know your customer.

Successful marketing with old-fashioned print ads or high-tech QR codes begins with a thorough understanding of the person you are trying to engage. “Know how they behave, know them inside and out,” says Jonathan Turitz, creative director at VSA Partners, a premier graphic design and brand strategy consultancy. “All media is being tested in today’s world. Because we are so inundated with information, everyone is working harder to be heard. The key is to be smarter.”

2. Make your message as relevant as possible.

Since there is a proven correlation between the relevance of the message and the response rate, more and more direct mail pieces are utilizing variable data printing (VDP) technology for personalization, versioning and customization. “The per-piece cost for VDP is higher,” notes Cooper. “But the higher response rates are causing marketers to think about the cost of printing differently. They stop thinking about the cost per piece and start thinking about the cost per response. Variable data printing costs more per piece but each piece can be significantly more relevant. Increased relevance means greater response and ultimately that leads to a greater return on investment.”

>> Want to learn more about how you can use variable data?  Watch this video on advanced variable data marketing, which includes three case studies.

3. Use print in tandem with other marketing channels.

Although Internet ads strive to be relevant, they are frequently perceived as intrusive, and many Web users tend to ignore them. Many unsolicited e-mails are sent straight to the spam file. A multi-channel approach to marketing has the best chance of being successful.

Dr. John Leininger, professor of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, says he tells his graphic communications students they should reach out to their clients in a variety of ways utilizing print as an integral element of a multi-channel campaign along with PURLs, QR Codes and e-mail. “By mixing the message across different media you increase the likelihood that the recipient will see the message. Many studies have shown that direct mail combined with cross-media in a multichannel campaign produces higher response rates.”

4. Utilize digital tracking technology to optimize content.

Not only are multi-touch campaigns more effective, they have the potential to increase efficiency and significantly reduce marketing spending by tracking responses and refining databases. Referred to as “print with intelligence built in,” PURLS and QR codes help segment prospects appropriately so that marketing strategy can be more specifically tailored and communication can be further personalized.

>> For more information, check out Creating Trackable QR Codes.

5. Reduce cost by utilizing interactive marketing storefronts and print automation.

“It can all be automated,” Leininger says. Unlike mass mailings and generic blasts, automation programs offer tailored efficiency. All types of direct marketing touches: postcards, e-mails, PURLs, and text messages can be personalized and sent at designated time intervals based on predetermined parameters. Online ordering systems streamline this process for small marketing departments, as well as for large companies with distributed locations and sales forces.

The integration of marketing strategies and the evolution of print technology have led to the evolution of print, the emergence of Print 2.0.

>> How is your company taking advantage of Print 2.0? Please share your insights by commenting on this post.

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?

Video: Inside View of Mail Print’s Marketing Portal

We get a lot of questions about our Marketing Communications Portal, and have found that visuals are worth much more than a thousand words when explaining its benefits and features. Have two and a half minutes? Check out the video below that gives an inside view of how marketers, salespeople, business owners and administrators use the portal to access, manage and deploy company-branded materials.

If you’re joining us from a mobile device, you can watch the YouTube version here. Oh, and if you’d prefer the thousand words instead of the visual, you can get the video transcript here.