In last week’s installment of The Marketing Supply Chain Field Guide, we began exploring the variety of vendors we rely on to produce and assist in the execution of the projects in our marketing supply chains with a look at some of the types of printer and other primary producers you may encounter. Today we are looking at the some of the often forgotten, yet equally important, supporting vendors common to the marketing supply chain.
Once the Ink’s Dry on the Paper
It’s no secret that most full-service commercial and even specialty printers have the capabilities to do a good bit of post-production or finishing work. This often includes services related to putting the finishing touches on marketing materials. Die cutting, scoring, folding, basic bindery and some packaging and assembly are common services to find. The larger the printer, the more apt they are to have a broader offering of these services. Meanwhile, more specialized printers will tend to have more unique or complex post-production services aligned with their specialty. For example, a point of purchase specialist will likely have more complex cutting and forming capabilities to facilitate manufacture of corrugated displays.
It’s also no secret, however, that many printers do not offer post-production or finishing services. Instead, these primary producers will subcontract or refer to specialists, shipping the printed but unfinished marketing materials to them for completion. Although it involves additional vendors and more complexity, knowing the additional services that are available to you, and the vendors that can provide them, opens a world of new opportunity and creativity. Two different high-quality printers with different specialties can produce the elements of a sales kit and another specialist can assemble the kits. Common post-production specialties include the ones listed above as well as kitting, assembly, packing and converting. Finding such specialists is not always easy, but consultation with experts in marketing supply chain sourcing and production is a good place to start. And don’t forget that these additional vendors are all part of the work that needs to be tracked and kept on specification, time and budget.
Time to Get the Word Out
Even the most gorgeous, well-produced marketing materials won’t do much good sitting in boxes on pallets collecting dust. They need to get out to the public and carry the message your team so masterfully created! Of course the method for distribution is going to depend upon the type or marketing material in question. Shipping, logistics and distribution of marketing materials is another complex and unique step in the marketing supply chain. Whether it’s getting your materials from the final production vendor to you, from one of your facilities to another, or from you to the final audience; there are a plethora of potential – and uniquely non-marketing vendors to be considered.
Motor freight lines, currier services, railroads, air freight services, maritime shipping lines, and warehousing and logistics companies are not commonly thought of as being in the marketing business. But when they are involved in getting your marketing materials from point A to point B, they are part of your marketing supply chain. Not all vendors involved in distribution of marketing materials are so far removed from marketing functions. Mail houses, letter shops and others involved in preparation, processing and execution of direct mail campaigns are also important vendors to consider when specifying, planning, sourcing and managing marketing projects. One missed move related to distribution can keep your marketing materials driving your message to your audience.
Data Makes the World Go ‘Round
While you’ll certainly find some people in marketing who don’t care for dealing with data, it’s doubtful you’ll find many who say data isn’t important. Indeed data is so important to marketing that a whole industry exists to collect process and provide data-based information to marketers. The vendors of data services often play a crucial role in an organization’s marketing supply chains. This is especially true in direct mail and other highly targeted areas of marketing communications. The list being used for a campaign is as important as the direct mail piece itself. When data service providers are part of a marketing project that is being managed, it is absolutely imperative that these vendors are considered part of the marketing supply chain and managed accordingly.
Anyone reading this article will be able to think of other areas or individual examples of vendors in the marketing supply chain. That’s wonderful. That’s exactly what The Marketing Supply Chain Field Guide is all about – recognizing, thinking about and identifying the myriad of people, processes and vendors you rely on to deliver marketing material results. That being said, this article wraps up our look at vendors in the marketing supply chain. Join us net week when we look back over these twelve installments and draw to conclusion The Marketing Supply Chain Field Guide.