Sally Hewitt, International Marketing Director, Pitney Bowes, looks at how outsourcing print and design can help businesses deliver both cost-savings and quality gains at a time when every spend must be justified.
As marketing communications become evermore sophisticated, managing the related design and print processes requires both expert knowledge and access to the latest technology.
A recent survey conducted by Pitney Bowes reveals that only 33% of organisations benchmark their print jobs to ensure they get the most competitive quote. Fully 67% of businesses admit to having little or no idea as to how competitive their current print and design processes are.
Clearly, such unscientific practices cannot continue at a time when businesses are under immense pressure to prove return on investment against every activity.
Too often, time-pressured marketing managers turn to print and design suppliers with whom they have a historical relationship rather than investing the time and effort to seek better quality-for-cost alternatives. As a result, our own evidence shows that businesses are typically spending an average of 15% more than necessary on print and design.
Specialist outsourcing suppliers open the door to a far deeper talent pool of print and design agency contacts. Outsourcing specialists effectively operate as an expert print procurement department, exercising buying power and production expertise to deliver the necessary combination of quality and cost-efficiency.
By channeling print and design through a centrally managed resource, outsourcing can also safeguard the customers’ brand integrity. If materials are printed on an ad-hoc, departmental level there can be no control over the quality of the resulting output.
Perhaps the wrong paper stock might be used or colours may not be reproduced accurately because toner hasn’t been replaced. Producing this output through a central resource guarantees consistent quality and professionalism.
As our opening statistics show, businesses are failing to effectively benchmark print and design jobs. It is not uncommon for larger organisations to have hundreds of print and design suppliers, often with no centralised process for controlling and measuring spend. This tangle of suppliers can lead to costs being apportioned to incorrect cost-centres or coded in such a way that makes identifying the purchase trail impossible.
Again, outsourcing specialists working to strict service level agreements will introduce comprehensive management reporting that reveals a precise and transparent view of total print and design activity across an entire organisation.
Only with this essential reporting in hand can businesses begin to identify areas of inefficiency and develop internal processes that drive down costs, generate best quality and give marketing budget holders a compelling return on investment.
Even as Europe emerges slowly from recession, marketing departments continue to be tasked with the challenge of delivering better quality for less expenditure. There is no relaxation of the budgetary squeeze. Arguably, only access to the latest skills and technology through an outsourcing partnership will ensure that businesses stay ahead of the quality curve whilst keeping a cap on costs.
The marketing landscape has changed from a push to a pull model, with the buyer dictating the frequency of information and how that information is delivered. Analysts estimate that every consumer is exposed to around 3,000 advertising messages each day.
In the midst of this information overload consumers are now far more selective about what reaches them and what doesn’t. Thus, any compromise on communication quality will be met with swift rejection by today’s all-powerful consumer.
Through highly-skilled outsourced support businesses can firstly work to unravel current practices and identify areas of wastage and inefficiency.
The best outsourcing partners will open the door to a broader range of proven suppliers and will introduce the latest technology – whether on-site, or remotely managed – without the need for businesses to make upfront technology investment.
The outsourcing model delivers both the expertise to maximise current processes and the flexibility to adapt quickly as business needs dictate. Business adopting this model are beginning to set the benchmark.
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