Marketing Supply Chain Management 101
Managing a marketing supply chain is a complex balancing act. Without the right tools in place, all the tasks involved from creating, to printing, to distributing marketing materials can steal valuable time and resources away from your core responsibilities and leave the door wide open for risks. And from COVID-19 to historic, crippling storms, the last year-plus have only emphasized the importance of an airtight supply chain in keeping operations up and running in the worst of times as well as the best.
As unexpected interruptions become all but expected and budgets remain tight, those responsible for keeping a well-oiled marketing supply chain are streamlining their operations with a centralized point of contact that manages each step of the process faster and more effectively.
If you’re struggling with inefficiencies in your marketing supply chain, this guide is for you. We’ve broken down the five components of a typical marketing supply chain with tips and solutions for efficient management specific to each.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is Marketing Supply Chain Management?
Marketing supply chain management is the process of minimizing risks and maximizing efficiency in creating, producing, and distributing digital and physical marketing materials. Without good supply chain management, every link becomes more cumbersome and risk-prone, demanding more precious time and resources.
Here are just a few examples of the costs of an under-managed marketing supply chain:
- Too many people with too little knowledge or experience are tasked with creating and ordering materials. The result? Inevitable errors mean expensive delays and re-work.
- Inventory shortages, overstocks, and delays in fulfillment lead to wasted warehousing budget and lost sales.
- Marketers and procurement professionals stuck using unsophisticated, decentralized systems are less productive in their main responsibilities because they are juggling too many operational and administrative tasks.
- Rogue ordering can threaten brand integrity and raise costs due to unapproved or low-quality materials making their way to customers.
The value of marketing supply chain management for risk mitigation is straightforward: the more you see and control, and the fewer moving parts involved, the less that can go wrong.
What’s less understood are all the opportunities for greater efficiency that a management solution can provide, beginning with the two most valuable:
- Reclaim time. Marketing and procurement leaders can devote themselves to their core responsibilities and spend less time chasing management tasks and switching between disconnected systems.
- Protect the budget by using tools that streamline each link in the marketing chain. Materials can be customized, downloaded or printed in exact amounts and delivered when they’re needed, end-users can customize email or social media templates for deployment, vendors can be consolidated, and more.
Let’s dive into how these management tools solve problems and close efficiency gaps at each stage in the marketing supply chain.
The end goal, of course, of the marketing supply chain is to launch multichannel marketing campaigns that meet potential buyers where they are — online or off, in New York or California or anywhere in between — and convert them to loyal customers.
But with the complexity of effective marketing campaigns — including social media, online advertising, e-mail, direct mail, in-store signage, and more, all tailored and personalized for buyers in different stages and different locations — the sheer volume of moving pieces can be overwhelming. If not well managed, the supply chain that should empower you to achieve your marketing goals may be more of a hindrance than a help.
The biggest opportunity to streamline here is in vendor management. If you’re working with one vendor to develop content, another to deploy social media ads, another for paid advertising, several for various printing needs, one for direct mail, and yet another for warehousing and distribution, things can get complicated quickly as you juggle varied contracts and payment structures, not to mention shepherding the workflow from one vendor to the next and scrambling to patch up the holes left by delays or errors anywhere in the chain.
Minimizing the vendor count by partnering with a single-source technology and services partner to manage the marketing supply chain from beginning to end is a powerful way to improve efficiency and increase marketing effectiveness, all while mitigating cost.
How OneTouchPoint Can Help
OneTouchPoint is an end-to-end marketing supply chain management partner, supporting customers in every step of the process: from digital marketing execution to print production and distribution to in-depth business intelligence and reporting. Learn more.
Without an effective management system, creating digital and traditional marketing materials can involve a ton of manual work. Between planning campaigns and developing content, reviewing, revising, and approving materials, managing budgets and marketing funds, and finally scheduling digital and direct mail campaigns, and placing and tracking physical orders, the operational tasks alone can seem like a full-time job.
The pain of poor management only gets worse the more sophisticated campaigns become, spanning multiple channels and requiring personalization (and localization) for local audiences.
You need the ability to successfully manage your brand across hundreds or thousands of locations, meet the demands of each local market – all while alleviating the day-to-day requests of your team.
Fortunately, businesses (and purpose-built) technology can streamline these processes for you. A local, integrated technology platform creates efficiencies and local scalability, while driving marketing effectiveness and ensuring brand compliance. Manage marketing campaigns that can be used by local partners, provide branded, customizable templates and assets – such as brochures, emails, social, promotional items, and more with powerful web-to-print, fulfillment and shipping capabilities in one system. The cost savings in time and resources are like night and day compared to the endlessly exhausting decentralized way of doing things.
How OneTouchPoint Can Help
OneTouchPoint’s U.Connect solution is a web-based, integrated local marketing platform that allows you to develop, launch, and manage localized marketing campaigns — with full design and quality control — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our technology ensures you can take control of your brand communication - all from a single platform. Learn more.
Production typically breaks down into three core activities: printing, packaging, and finishing. Poor management here often leads to a few frustrating budget-killers:
- Expensive overruns due to minimum order requirements
- Increased warehousing and stock obsolescence for overordered pieces
- Cultivating (and paying for) multiple vendor relationships to achieve production needs
- Time-consuming ordering processes
When paired with a capable printer with the geographic reach you need, a print management solution can make overruns a thing of the past. Print-on-demand, for example, enables you and your approved end-users to order precisely what you need, where and when you need it, without having to devote budget to overcome frustrating logistical hurdles and hand-offs between multiple vendors. Additionally, ordering can be done from the same management platform you use to create, localize, and personalize collateral.
For larger campaigns that require inventory management, there’s a huge opportunity to consolidate by partnering with one vendor that combines printing and national scale to cut down on costs and turnaround time.
How OneTouchPoint Can Help
From design control, format, color, paper, and quantity, to full-scale technology solutions that drive and manage your entire print program, we’ll deliver solutions that provide maximum efficiency in product output, timing, and cost. Design the perfect packaging for your products, and trust us to bring your designs to life with the following production services and capabilities:
- All of the die cutters, folders, stitchers, gluers and binders needed to create your masterpiece.
- Comprehensive finishing and binding services to create sturdy, bound print products.
- Large-scale offset printing, grand-format production, and print-on-demand services at our print facilities across the country.
- Materials brokerage, production, and even kitting and assembly—saving costs and delivering high-quality collateral.
We operate 98 state-of-the-art presses at facilities across the country. Our geographic diversity mitigates risks associated with facility shutdowns due to weather or other disasters, and it also means you can have your work produced in strategic locations to ensure efficient delivery to end-users and increased savings. Learn more.
For many organizations, distribution is the most complex and expensive link in the marketing supply chain. Mailing, fulfillment, warehousing, and kitting each bring unique challenges and complexities, and many unnecessary expenses get thrown into the COGS category when, with the right tool, they can be avoided altogether. The complexities here lie mostly in tracking, logistics, and your vendors themselves.
Without a way to monitor inventory levels and develop a usage history, managing fulfillment to control your costs is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. In terms of logistics, the closer you can print, fulfill, and distribute your marketing materials to where they need to go, the more budget you can reinvest into bigger and better campaigns.
In both of these areas, having the right end-to-end technology in place, a vendor with experience and expertise, and a partner who rolls this technology directly into their print and distribution capabilities, can reduce costs and make your budget go much further.
How OneTouchPoint Can Help
Our vendor-managed inventory services help customers keep track of stock they have on hand and of how much is being ordered and used—from your own facilities or from our warehouses across the country. This helps influence production quantities and automated reorders, maintaining minimum inventory levels based on usage, eliminating waste, and keeping warehousing costs to a minimum. Additionally, OneTouchPoint manages six fulfillment warehouses—comprising 200,000 square feet of storage space—across the country, where we handle picking and packing, bulk receiving, and quality verification. Learn more.
National brand leaders have too much on their plates to micromanage every campaign. But with complex marketing campaigns involving multiple channels, serving clients in multiple locations, and often being led by teams scattered across the country, a lack of visibility into every link in the supply chain can lead to immeasurable time and cost wasted — not to mention endless frustration.
The right marketing supply chain platform provides powerful analysis features that allow you to easily track campaign performance and monitor spend (at the campaign and local level) – anywhere, anytime — from inventory counts and location-by-location budget trackers, and from online ad impressions to social media conversions.
How OneTouchPoint Can Help
As a single-source marketing execution, supply chain management, and digital marketing partner, OneTouchPoint makes that holistic analysis easy by keeping all the data and reporting in one place. Our U.Connect platform (yes, the same hub that makes collateral management and ordering a breeze) provides clear, end-to-end visibility into every facet of the marketing supply chain, helping you make more informed decisions, control budget, and protect brand quality. Learn more.
Contact us today or request a demo to learn how OneTouchPoint can help your organization streamline marketing supply chain management. We can augment your internal marketing supply chain operations by employing all of these tools and best practices, or manage your entire marketing supply chain ourselves through onsite contracting—saving your organization significant time and money on hiring, onboarding and employee-related overhead.