There is an epidemic that threatens the Marketing Supply Chain. The CMO Council’s recent report “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain” paints a clear picture of inefficiency and waste in marketing operations.
As marketers seek to provide the most timely and fresh content to customers and prospects, old, over-ordered or un-utilized marketing and sales materials tend to be stored, destroyed or ignored, left to occupy costly space in offices and warehouses. As the CMO Council discovered, high levels of waste can generally be attributed to limited access to material usage information, a lack of visibility into the process used to create the materials, and a general lack of forecasting and managing current and future material usage. All of these factors are creating an epidemic of waste that can be summed up most accurately as obsolescence.
Obsolescence Threatens Both Marketing Budgets and Customer Interactions
There are two key aspects to investigate while discussing impact of obsolescence: the impact on budget and the impact on customer or prospect experience. Marketers admit to the importance of communicating with relevant, timely messaging, yet 51 percent also admit to having sent out old materials containing out of date content. Why? According to the CMO Council study, 61 percent did not have new materials ready in time, and 23 percent of marketers did not know that irrelevant, old material was sent.
This seems to indicate that while marketers care about the customer or prospect experience, they are likely without the tools and processes they need to eliminate marketing obsolescence.
Why Aren’t Marketers Reacting Faster?
We know most marketers are highly focused on both protecting their budget and the prospect/customer experience. So why are marketers not applying more rigor to managing the flow of their critical marketing materials and sales collateral within the supply chain? As the study found, most simply do not view the reduction of obsolescence as a key priority (50 percent). As one marketer stated, “Waste is just taboo and a can of worms. To open it holds little reward and no compensation, so there is little motivation to start down this road.”
However in the current business climate, where organizations are cutting budgets and trying to run more lean and nimble, savvy marketers are seeing opportunities to redeploy budget that was once wasted on over-produced, out-of-date materials. Let’s look at four elements of putting in place your optimized marketing supply chain.
Four Elements For Obliterating Obsolescence
1) Leverage Digital Printing Strategies:
Digital printing technology has come of age, enabling economic production of all quantity ranges. Smaller production runs result in a lower total cost of ownership for your marketing and sales materials by reducing your investment in inventory, storage charges, and waste. A Print On Demand (POD) strategy can further reduce costs by eliminating inventory and storage costs completely. POD also enables more current and customizable content through the application of variable data printing (VDP). Marketers can send personalized messages with up-to-date content, and eliminate the fear of materials with out of date or off-strategy content being stockpiled in inventory.
2) Cross-Functional Collaboration:
Marketers are working more closely with cross functional teams in finance, sales, procurement, warehousing and operations to better forecast and eliminate over-ordering. Far too many marketers indicate that orders tend to revolve around a “cost per piece” target or guesses at utilization levels. Through collaboration across various functional areas, marketing will be able to better forecast, monitor and manage Marketing Supply Chain operations.
3) Go-Green to Gain-Green:
When it comes to the reduction of obsolescence, the more impact made on waste reduction, the greater the green-gains. Obsolescence creates an environmental impact that goes beyond paper. A lack of process, visibility and measurement in the Marketing Supply Chain often necessitates rush ordering which creates additional shipping, handling and logistical demands that all impact emissions, natural resources and carbon footprint. By applying a clear strategy that is focused on reducing obsolescence, marketers can transform the Marketing Supply Chain into a greener operation that optimizes spend and reduces environmental impact.
4) Start With a Self-Assessment:
When you’re ready to move forward with optimizing your company’s marketing supply chain, the first step is taking a good hard look in the mirror. Check out Rhonda Basler’s post It’s Time to Engineer the Marketing Process for a great list of questions you can ask yourself to quickly identify issues with your current marketing supply chain.
Finally, there’s good news: optimizing your marketing supply chain doesn’t have to be a one-person gig; it may be a great idea to bring in a partner or business process consultant to work with you on analysis and implementation.