A few days ago, I was delighted to find a $20 bill in a jacket I hadn’t worn since last winter. Found money! Who doesn’t love that?
What if you could find money – a significant sum you could re-purpose to expand your marketing program – hidden away in your print and fulfillment expenditures? You can – and we show you how in an ebook entitled 7 Steps to Optimizing Your Print and Fulfillment Program, which you can download for free.
The infographic accompanying this post summarizes the 7 steps contained in the ebook. But, for purposes of this blog, I’m going to talk about areas where opportunities for improvement exist, rather than simply repeating the steps.
1. Metrics. You can’t improve your program’s efficiency until you understand how well it’s operating at the moment. You need real-time data on key print and fulfillment measures like:
- Inventory levels
- Days on hand
- Backorder rates
- Usage by month
- Order frequency
- Usage rates
- Order fill rate
- Orders by user
2. Production. Offset printing is time- and labor-intensive, which means it’s expensive. To get the cost per piece down to a reasonable level, you typically print in quantities of 5,000 or more, then pay to store it. If the piece becomes obsolete, you pay to destroy the unused stock. The money you spend on disposal, plus the lost investment, could have been put to better use. In contrast, by using digital print, you can save as much as 40% of your printing budget by printing smaller quantities, as you need them. Your best candidates for digital print include materials that are seasonal, ordered only occasionally, and those requiring frequent updates, as well as those incorporating elements of personalization.
3. Inventory. In addition to having too many of some materials in stock, chances are good you have overlapping content among documents and pieces that just don’t get results. An in-depth evaluation of your existing inventory will help you see which materials you can consolidate, which you can eliminate and which need reworking to better meet their intended purpose.
4. Content. If “content is king,” relevance is its crown. Studies show that customer engagement increases as much as 500%when you customizematerials with names, locations, product details, and images that make the piece more relevant to recipients.So why are you still spending the majority of your print budget on generic materials?Using digital print to produce targeted messaging can
5. Controls and compliance. The best plans and policies are useless if you can’t enforce them. At minimum, your print and fulfillment program should allow you to:
- Control ordering privileges by number and cost of materials;
- Require appropriate authorization for rush reprints;
- Limit access to regulated materials by user, job function, job level or other key criteria.
A scalable solution may also offer options like tools that automatically insert disclaimers and other wording for compliance with regulatory requirements; tools that require acknowledgement of usage parameters for a given piece before it can be ordered; and the ability to link documents that must be distributed together, so that an order for one piece automatically triggers an order for the accompanying piece.
6. Order Management. Poor order management causes delays and raises your cost of doing business. By analyzing what your users actually need, versus what they’re currently getting, you can streamline processes to speed time to market and gain a competitive advantage. Factors to consider include:
- Efficiency – how many steps and how much time does it take to place and manage an order?
- Flexibility – can users place orders 24/7, no matter where they are or what device they’re using?
- Simplicity – can users easily place complex and repeat orders, and how easy is it for them to track orders?
- Integration – can you fully integrate fulfillment with CRM, lead generation and call center systems for a single, front-to-back solution?
7. Expertise. Your company succeeds by focusing on what it does best. Rather than trying to develop your own print management and fulfillment expertise, look for a fulfillment partner that already has the technology, staff and experience to advise you on best practices, fulfill even the most complex orders quickly and accurately and continually fine-tune your programs for year-over-year improvements.
There’s an old saying that you have to spend money to make money. But smart, efficient fulfillment is actually an investment in your own success.