Fulfillment: Get to Know These Five Best Practices
Tales of collateral mishaps run the gamut from personalized deliveries that contain out-of-date or irrelevant content to a late or failed delivery when timeliness matters most. These are more than head-shaking moments of regret; they're lost opportunities. What's more, such mishaps can erode your company's credibility and customer relationships.
Here are five best practices every organization should follow to ensure that its fulfillment program is pulling its weight and producing results.
Best Practice #1: Manage your inventory with real-time status reports.
If you don't know your inventory quantities, you may be stockpiling outdated materials or depleting your collateral entirely, then racking up rush printing and shipping fees to replenish popular materials. Meanwhile, you're losing revenue and/or new business opportunities.
The solution: Provide for on-demand access to real-time inventory status reports, so you can manage your collateral efficiently and cost-effectively.
Best Practice #2: Print it. But remember: Nothing's written in stone. All it takes is one change in a key federal or state regulation to render your content supply obsolete overnight. Then you're stuck with worthless collateral materials—and on deadline for a mailing.
In a best-case scenario, you'd be able to conduct an on-demand digital search, then review and revise your collateral content. For instance you may need to:
- Make a small or large text revision, such as a change of address or an insurance company's redefinition of liability terms.
- Drop a specific collateral piece entirely—and ensure that it's never reordered. Who wants to wipe out a budget by having to reorder a dated piece of collateral?
- Personalize content. When you add a first-name greeting to your collateral, for example, it makes the reader feel as if you've put some thought into the material.
Best Practice #3: Balance your assets (or see them all topple).
By tracking your actual use of collateral materials, you can better judge what you need to produce or reorder, no matter what the printing method.
You can also easily determine when you may need to change the printing method to increase response and decrease costs. Offset printing and print on-demand (POD) each come with pros and cons. Generally speaking, offset printing is a solid choice for high-volume bulk orders; POD offers great flexibility for both cost-effective smaller runs and for personalizing content.
It's easy to consider which printing method you prefer by reviewing your audience count, listening closely to an upcoming event and using marketing algorithms designed to predict future customer and campaign uptakes. Predictive analytics can also calculate when you're likely to run out of specific materials, so you can maintain your lead in the inventory game.
Best Practice #4: Build mix-and-match materials for use optimization and lower freight costs. By spending time to designate several combinations of printed and promotional items, you can control freight costs by packing them in the same shipping box and/or by eliminating redundant items. Preplanning these combinations will also help in optimizing audience or prospect response.
Best Practice #5: Personalize content to reduce printing and shipping costs and increase response rates. Customers and prospects will thank you with positive responses and increased brand loyalty for sending them relevant and concise information. Meanwhile, your company will reap significant cost savings in both printing and shipping costs since you're no longer sending excess material.
By following these best practices, you stand to increase your customer response rates, lower costs and maintain compliance. Many firms have found that the best way to ensure these practices is to engage a fulfillment partner. A carefully vetted partner can free you and your team to focus on the finer nuances and goals of your marketing plans.
Do you have questions about fulfillment service? Read additional Knowledge Centerstories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Fulfillment Services team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.