It’s hard to imagine anyone who would not want to increase marketing coverage. Today, with tightening budgets, it’s even harder to imagine anyone who would not want to increase marketing coverage with the same or less marketing spend. The key is not found in the latest trends in creative, online marketing or social media. It is found in something most people don’t often think about – marketing procurement.
An optimal marketing program requires online marketing, social media, phone solicitation, radio, cable, publication and tertiary advertising, along with all of the other communication techniques which bombard our senses. It also requires the sourcing and managing of direct mail, marketing materials, publications, in-store signage, point of purchase, displays, campaigns, labels and advanced packaging – all of which we shall call “print”.
Print presents a perfect opportunity to increase marketing coverage with the same or less marketing spend. And, it does not require cutting back on anything or sacrificing quality and service. It simply involves paying more attention, making a few adjustments and taking better control of how your organization procures its marketing print.
Believe it or not, you can increase marketing coverage with the same or less marketing spend in eight easy steps.
1. Eliminate Obstacles Between You and Your Vendors
If you are outsourcing any of the management or execution of your print marketing projects to a middleman like a business process outsourcer, you are placing an obstacle in your path. Eliminate the obstacle, and deal directly with the vendors providing the print you procure. This way you eliminate the third party cost, improve coordination between you and your vendors, eliminate mis-communication, speed-up the process and get the exact quality and service you require. Every obstacle you eliminate between you and your vendors equates to savings in cost, increases in efficiency and better results.
2. Be Specific
The procurement of print is no place for being vague or unprepared. You must be very clear and detailed about what you want. Specifications must be precise. Roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined. Quality expectations, project milestones and delivery schedules must be established and followed. When changes need to happen midstream in a project, which they will, all of the details must be in order, approved and documented to keep everything on-time, on-spec and on-budget.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
While it may not be readily apparent, there are many individuals who play a role in your organization’s print marketing projects. Often these roles span multiple departments. Bring agencies, freelancers and your vendor’s people into the mix and things begin to get very complicated. Consistent, clear communication between all of these people is crucial. Without it, steps get missed, approvals don’t happen promptly, information gets lost, time is wasted, deadlines pass, costs go up and chaos reigns.
4. Understand There is a Difference Between an Estimate and Final Pricing
A print marketing estimate is not a quote. It is a “rough” or “ballpark” budget price based on still fluid specs to give an idea of cost. Because of all of the variables, vendors can not provide a competitive price until all of the detailed specs, schedules, requirements and dependencies are provided. Thus, a budget price accepted as the final price for a project yields higher than necessary costs, as the difference between a budget price and a competitive price can be shocking. Planning can be achieved when estimates are made on what is known at the time. Cost savings can be achieved when the final competitive price is made on detailed and complete specs and requirements.
5. Insist on Transparency and Full Reporting
There are many details, dependencies and moving parts in a print marketing project. Without full visibility and instant reporting, small issues become big problems, minor changes become expensive change orders, a missed approval becomes days of expensive reruns, and on and on and on. In any print marketing project there are more than a thousand places where something can go wrong. Multiply that by numerous print marketing projects, each with dependent parts, and the possibility of tragedy is exponential. It is imperative to establish and monitor tasks, approvals, schedules, production milestones as well as real-time progress and access reporting to gain process control. Only then can efficiency improve, potential problems be minimized and print marketing costs reduced.
6. Minimize Expensive Change Orders
There are times when you have to make changes to your print marketing project. To minimize expensive change orders it is a good practice to engineer clear specs with everyone involved on the same page, so to speak. Transparency, based on each individual’s needs, requirements, rights and roles, further eliminates potential problems that add to the final price of a project. Make no mistake, when a print vendor does not charge for making changes, or for your errors, that vendor has the cost of potential changes already in the price – if for no other reason than to protect itself.
7. Stop Using Spreadsheets, eMail, ERP and General Procurement Systems to Manage Print Marketing Projects
Using utility software that is already in your office is a fast way to print buying frustration. In fact many organizations already supplement utility software the only way they can – with spreadsheets, email, phone calls and time-consuming meetings. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and general procurement systems are not built to handle the requirements of custom-made print marketing projects. Turning to spreadsheets, emails, phone calls and long meetings results in a quagmire of files, busywork and post-it notes. At best, this leads to headaches and muddling through projects, while at worst, to confusion, missed deadlines, sacrificed quality, low efficiency, higher costs and possibly failed projects.
8. Use the Right Software Tools
Direct mail, marketing materials, publications, in-store signage, point of purchase, displays, campaigns, labels and advanced packaging – print – operates in a very unique environment with highly specialized processes and requirements. Software tools can be very helpful in managing and executing print. The trick is to use the right tools. Ask yourself if the software you are going to use helps you accomplish all of the steps above. Remember the most powerful software tools help foster an environment of fair competition among vendors, support compliance with diversity and environmental initiatives and ensure that quality and service are not sacrificed all while achieving lower costs.
By following these eight steps you will be able to increase your marketing reach for the same or less marketing spend, allowing you to redirect your budget into more market coverage, other initiatives or in whatever direction best meets your goals.