By Ann McLaughlin, Business Services Director from integrated marketing solutions provider APS Group.
Reduced marketing budgets and an ever present need to demonstrate return on investment have put marketing procurement strategies firmly under the spotlight.
At the same time, the number of available marketing channels is continually increasing and the online-offline interplay has brought a new layer of sophistication to the marketing mix. So, how can time-pressed, choice-ridden and budget-starved marketers relieve some of the burden and make better print procurement decisions?
Know what you ‘really’ need
Turning your marketing supply into a ‘pull’ rather than ‘push’ operation allows you to make savings almost immediately. By distributing a small initial quantity of print items to branches or sites and then allowing end users to “pull” stock through when needed, waste can be significantly reduced.
In sectors where obsolescence is a constant threat such as financial services, this ‘pull’ approach is particularly effective and avoids materials becoming quickly defunct.
This also highlights the value of better housekeeping and closer stock control of print materials. Understanding which materials you’ve already invested in will help to encourage use and reduce obsolescence and over-printing. If you’re paying for third party print storage or nationwide courier costs, this can bring additional savings too.
For retailers this issue is made particularly real due to point of sale (POS) materials. Multi-site retailers rarely have the same store layout – requiring different sizes and quantities of collateral.
While many retailers band stores by size and issue POS packs to try and manage these differences – the model still leads to wastage and excess items are binned. In this case a store-led print procurement strategy is the answer, using detailed information regarding each individual property’s layout, sizes and needs.
While it takes time to produce accurate store profiles, the benefits of the data collected are enormous – an accurate picture means more accurate costs. But retailers should also remember to update store profiles on a regular basis – at least annually in order to deliver ongoing benefits.
Good stock management systems, which provide real-time data on what’s being used and when it needs replacing, deliver real added value in sustainability and economic terms.
The days of companies blindly ordering print runs of tens of thousands are well and truly over. Good management systems allow marketing departments to track the peaks and troughs of usage cycles and match output exactly with their requirements.
Asking your outsourcing partner to give you an online marketing resource management (MRM) tool can further help in the race for efficiency. One centralised process will help to control and measure spend and avoid needless duplication. For companies which have sustainability at their core, a partner which can enhance those credentials also provides much needed reassurance and comfort.
Fit for purpose relationships
Over time, it’s easy to rely on one key print management supplier. However as print jobs become more complex and delivery times tighter, this loyalty could prove costly.
Some print houses will be constrained by their own in-house equipment and systems (and certainly not keen to point this out) which can lead to production inefficiencies.
You may be paying more for your order because your printer has to cut DM by hand, rather than using a specialist machine. With each and every print job it’s important to get the print specification right, whether that’s substrate or size and significantly, to ensure that the right equipment is used.
An outsourced print manager will do this for you, engaging specialist printers where necessary, exercising buying power, minimising environmental impact and quite often improving end-product quality too.
The traditional printer-marketer relationship is such that, quite understandably, a printer has a vested interesting in retaining your print spend. They won’t actively encourage you to switch to other marketing channels.
By moving away from a sole relationship with your main printer and choosing a specialist outsourced partner instead, you will have access to more integrated marketing insight. Perhaps print collateral isn’t the best medium and a digital channel is the most effective and efficient route to take.
Fixed price matrices for each of your different print requirements can help marketers measure and benchmark suppliers regularly.
Investing in a price comparison exercise like this, where you look at changing quantities and the spec, gives you financially viable ‘what if’ information which can quickly identify price differentials, match budgets and get the best deals from suppliers. Obtaining instantaneous budget pricing is especially useful in fast-turn-around environments.
Effective print procurement remains a key issue in strategic planning and cost management, yet many people working in print buying roles have largely been ’thrown in at the deep end’.
With marketers trying to master such an array of channels, an experienced outsourced partner will ensure impartial support and advice, while stretching your budgets too.
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