With all the attention given social media and other Web-based marketing strategies today, it’s easy to forget that print materials still play an important role in closing sales. High-value and complex B2B sales, as well as lead nurturing campaigns, require multiple contacts, usually involving collateral and documents in addition to electronic touches.
Collateral production, distribution, and storage can consume a significant portion of your marketing budget. Doesn’t it make sense to know whether you’re getting good value for those expenditures—and whether you could be doing better?
Here are five reports your fulfillment partner should provide to help you find out.
1. Projected inventory life. Your fulfillment company’s inventory management system tracks each piece of material that comes in and goes out of the warehouse. Dividing the number of a given piece in stock by average daily use tells you how long your inventory will last. Why is that useful?
- If a piece has an extremely long life, you’re wasting money on printing, storage, and insurance and will probably end up throwing out a significant quantity due to obsolescence. Ask yourself whether the piece needs to be revised, combined with another document, or eliminated altogether. If you truly need the piece, consider printing smaller quantities or sending it electronically.
- If a piece is literally flying off the shelf, you may be losing sales opportunities due to out-of-stock situations or spending more than you need to on rush reprints. Consider adding automatic reprint reminders when stock falls to a given level and switching to digitally printed or electronic copies until reprints arrive.
2. Inactive inventory. If an item isn’t ordered for a given period of time (whatever makes sense for your business), it should be reported as “inactive.” If the item is inactive because it was meant to be used only for a finite time period, it’s taking up costly shelf space and should be destroyed. If it’s seasonal and can be used again at another date, consider producing it with digital printing so you don’t incur storage costs between seasons. Be sure to review the piece before the next campaign.
3. Receivings. Offset printers and premium manufacturers often reserve the right to add or subtract a percentage of the quantity ordered as a margin of error. Your fulfillment provider reports the quantity actually received at a given time and date, to help you verify that you get what you’re paying for. If not, ask your printer or premium provider to reduce your charges.
4. Postage and freight. Shipping can be expensive, comprising 50% or more of fulfillment costs if users frequently choose premium delivery services that aren’t really needed. A report that details shipments by carrier (U.S. Postal Service, air/ground, two-day/overnight delivery, etc.), as well as the most frequent destinations and users, can help you enforce better shipping choices, saving thousands of dollars each month.
5. Total use of funds. Breaking out the major components of your total fulfillment invoice—e.g., order processing, storage, and postage and freight—can be a useful indicator of ROI on your marketing collateral. Say 30% of your total cost is for order processing, 15% for storage, 45% for postage and freight, and the remaining 10% for receiving and custom assembly. That would mean the majority of your invoice (75%) stems from moving your collateral out of inventory and into the hands of users and prospects. If, instead, your invoices are heavily weighted toward storage, you need to find out why your collateral is sitting on a shelf instead of helping you close new sales.
Data from your fulfillment partner can yield a wealth of information about how well your collateral and related sales documents are doing their jobs. By taking advantage of this data, you can improve the effectiveness of these materials even as you reduce their costs, freeing up more working capital for other marketing needs.
David Lowndes is director of product marketing,
marketing production and fulfillment services
for Iron Mountain Fulfillment Services