Is Your Fulfillment Services Company a Vendor or a Partner?

By: In: Marketing Production and Fulfillment On: Apr 14, 2015
Is Your Fulfillment Services Company a Vendor or a Partner?

As a marketer, you do your best to ensure that your customers receive a consistently relevant experience at every point of contact with your business. Because fulfillment services provide a vital link in the delivery (and perhaps the production) of your customer communications, your fulfillment services company can be either a big help or another obstacle to your success.

Which begs the question: is your fulfillment company just another vendor or a valued business partner? If you answered the former, you may be missing out on valuable opportunities to improve your overall marketing results, as well as to save money.

Marketing Fulfillment is more than just getting the right materials to the right place at the right time – although that, in itself, can be a Herculean task, depending on:

  • the size and complexity of your marketing supply chain (designers, printers, agencies and more),
  • the number and variety of marketing-related documents and promotional items in your inventory,
  • the size and complexity of your distribution lists and
  • the frequency with which you ship various items.

An excellent fulfillment services partner can help you consolidate your marketing fulfillment supply chain by offering tools like online document customization and digital printing. Customization helps you increase the relevance of your communications for better response rates, while digital print makes one-to-few or even one-to-one marketing affordable. Because digital printing is “on demand,” it can also be the cornerstone of a print strategy designed to keep your inventory current, while reducing storage costs and waste due to obsolescence.

Additionally, even in this era of big data, many marketers still lack visibility into both demand for and supply of their materials. Without meaningful metrics, it’s difficult to understand how fulfillment problems are affecting your campaign results. That, in turn, makes it difficult to improve your performance.

A strong fulfillment services partner can help with those issues, as well. Excellent fulfillment companies have the ability to integrate their systems, not only with your various systems, but with those of your other vendors, as well. This helps capture important, real-time data on the creation, production, ordering, shipping and usage of your materials, for a more robust view into your supply chain.

Once you have accurate tracking and metrics, you can quickly identify problems or troubling trends. With access to the right information, you can make better decisions on how you run your print and fulfillment program, helping you reduce cost, improve efficiency, and deliver more effective marketing programs.

Then there’s the issue of compliance. Every marketer has to deal with some regulation. If you’re not in a highly regulated industry like healthcare or insurance, some of your customer communications may include disclaimers, footnotes and other fine print. Ensuring that all of the required notifications appear correctly in all applicable materials is critical to avoiding fines and penalties. Your fulfillment company should be well versed in compliance and, even better, provide automation that makes compliance more efficient and less error-prone.

Bottom line, you need a fulfillment provider that understands, supports and serves as an integral part of your marketing strategy – a true fulfillment partner that constantly looks for ways to help you optimize your marketing results and reduce your spend. For more on this topic, download 7 Steps to Optimizing Your Print and Fulfillment Program or contact Iron Mountain.

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About the author

Leslie Barton

Leslie Barton is the Manager of Customer Development with our Fulfillment Services division. She has been with Iron Mountain for 18 years in various customer related positions. In her current role, she is responsible for leading the Fulfillment Services Customer Development Executive team in supporting our client’s needs. Prior to Iron Mountain, Leslie worked in the Hotel Sales Industry/Event Planning.