Standard Finishing
4Over

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

An Introduction to the Marketing Supply Chain

Collapse
X
Collapse

  • An Introduction to the Marketing Supply Chain

    An Introduction to the Marketing Supply Chain

    By Richard Romano, Industry Analyst

    Most people reading this are likely familiar with the concept of the “supply chain,” the businesses that provide the resources that printers need to get jobs produced: paper suppliers, equipment dealers, consumables distributors, and so on. Naturally, printers are part of their customers’ supply chains. In fact, every business in each link in a supply chain has its own links that make up larger supply chains–with so many chains it’s a veritable army of Jacob Marleys.

    We can narrow things down a little further by talking about the “marketing supply chain.” (Wikipedia defines this as “the chain of suppliers that an organization relies on to produce marketing materials [print, promotional products and point of sale] to market their products and services, although what we will be talking about here is a bit different.) A print provider produces any or all of a wide variety of marketing and promotional materials for brandowners (i.e., their customers). These can include, but are by no means limited to:
    • Business cards
    • Flyers
    • Brochures
    • Sell sheets
    • Wide-format graphics or signage
    • Advertising specialties like pens or smartphone cases
    • Apparel like hats or T-shirts
    • Full marketing kits comprising many different items, such as some combination–or even all–of the above.
    All of these items are called “marketing assets” and more and more print service providers–especially those who consider themselves marketing services providers–need a system that streamlines all aspects of production for the printer, and at the same time facilitates the ordering and reordering of these products for the customer. In other words, they need a system that manages the marketing supply chain.

    Let’s define the links in the marketing supply chain

    The process starts with ordering, or getting customer jobs into the chain. In the old days, this was handled manually, but that is so 1992. Today, jobs get into the system via some kind of web-to-print portal, online storefront, or whatever one of a thousand terms you want to use. Here, we’re going to use marketing portal. You want to give your brandowning customer a single access point for all their marketing assets, whether it’s their business cards, brochures, advertising specialties, branded apparel–everything in the above list and more. The marketing portal needs to have all the brandowner’s marketing assets in one easy-to-access place. It needs to ensure brand protection, identify which products can be personalized and which need to remain static, and indicate if approval is required before that asset is sent to actual production. And all of this has to be self-serve.

    A crucial part of the marketing supply chain is asset management. Anyone who has ever used a computer for any purpose knows that files, be they pictures, videos, songs, PDFs, whatever, accumulate rapidly and being able to find a specific file in a reasonable amount of time becomes a major challenge. (What is Apple’s iTunes really but a digital asset management system?) Most of us are familiar with the concept of asset management–it’s been a topic of trade magazine feature stories for at least 20 years–but marketing asset management goes one step beyond simply managing the customer’s logo files, images, fonts, and the other building blocks of print. It’s also about managing all those marketing assets so they can not only be found easily, but also shared, downloaded, proofed, edited, and so on by the customer as required.

    The web-to-print engine is another crucial link in the marketing supply chain. This refers to the part of the system where templates of these marketing assets are uploaded, edited, and sent to production. How easy is it to upload or create templates for these assets? Can the customer specify which assets are editable–and by whom–and which are not? What assets can be personalized? What brand protections are provided–i.e., preventing someone from accidentally resizing a logo or otherwise altering the branding? Inventory management is also a part of the web-to-print engine, facilitating just-in-time/print-on-demand production, as well as ensuring that there isn’t a pallet of brochures already sitting in the warehouse.

    You may have noticed that there is a bit of overlap among these three marketing supply chain links. The marketing portal, asset management, and the web-to-print engine are all tightly integrated customer-facing aspects of the marketing supply chain. The customer logs onto the marketing portal, scopes out all the marketing assets available, selects what s/he wants to print more of, adds the desired personalization, and hits “confirm” or “send.” Then the asset goes into actual production. And here comes another important link: any effective marketing supply chain management system must offer complete production management. This is the link that is specific to the print services provider. It’s not just about getting a particular marketing asset through prepress, print production, and finishing with as few human “touches” as possible, but also coordinating everything from procurement, to inventory management (how many brochures are already printed and warehoused vs. how many need to be printed), to kitting, to fulfillment, to final distribution.

    It’s also important for a marketing supply chain management system to provide constant and relevant feedback–what items are left in inventory and how much of them are there? What consumables are running low? Does paper need to be reordered? And, perhaps most vitally, is all of this actually making money? What are the actual costs, and are the assets priced properly so that the business is actually making a profit? After all, the best marketing supply chain management system in the world is good for nothing if the business is losing money.

    To get a better sense of how marketing asset management works, it’s helpful to see it in action: Propago offers a marketing asset management platform that comprises all of the features mentioned above, all of it completely configurable to a print business’ own unique needs, and all of it cloud-based.

    Marketing supply chain management–and indeed any kind of automation in general– is ultimately about making the business leaner and more efficient. And after all, an efficient business is a successful business.
      Posting comments is disabled.

    Categories

    Collapse

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • Xeikon Café Opens Shop in Chicago
      noelward
      By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

      If you aren’t a Xeikon customer or prospect, or just didn’t go to the recent Xeikon Cafe in Chicago, you missed a great event. We’ll get to that. But first, a bit of history.

      That was then…
      A quarter century ago, at a trade show called IPEX (now a mere shadow of its former self) two smallish companies rolled out their full-color digital printing presses. Today, the latest iterations of their machines are still influencing the ever-expanding...
      11-19-2017, 03:01 PM
    • How Canon Users thINK
      noelward
      By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

      Early fall is a fine time to go to south Florida. Hurricanes are (maybe) a bit less likely to disrupt travel plans, the temps have dropped out of the nineties and although the humidity is still there, the lower end of the Sunshine State is not a bad place to be, especially when the venue is the tony Boca Raton Resort and the reason for being there is Canon thINK 2017. This third iteration of Canon’s customer-driven conference brought in more than 400 people...
      10-25-2017, 01:32 PM
    • An under-the-radar flight pattern for MCS Inc.
      MyWildIrishProse
      by Sean O’Leary

      The first thing Glenn Toole said to me was “We change our world every 4 - 5 years and if we don’t we’re not moving ahead.”

      It was just last week that your PrintPlanet reporter stopped by MCS, Inc.’s Bolingbrook, IL National Demonstration Facility for a follow up chat with Glenn Toole, Vice President Sales & Marketing. This trip was sort of a continuation of a brief Print ’17 booth visit, after which I had been dogged by a feeling that there was more...
      10-12-2017, 09:22 AM
    • Putting the customer at the center
      prwhite
      An interview with the Managing Director of Enfocus
      Some of our members may be aware of changes at Enfocus during this year. As change happens, staff turnover occurs and some new faces emerge. Such has been the case at Enfocus, however the one constant is their ongoing customer support, evident on PrintPlanet posts and by their own, internal customer support. At PRINT-17, our staff had the chance to meet the new Managing Director, Wim Fransen, and discuss his customer-centric focus.
      ...
      09-27-2017, 09:56 AM
    • Seeking Full Disclosure: Who was Underwhelmed by PRINT 17?
      noelward
      By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

      Trying not to be snarkier than usual, I look back on four days at PRINT 17, remembering what it once looked like, thinking about what many I spoke with said about the show, and wondering what universe NPES lives in when they say this show went well.

      To be sure, the educational sessions, on the floor and in meeting rooms, were very good. These are one of the prime reasons for attending a trade show and anyone who goes to a show without taking advantage...
      09-21-2017, 01:59 PM
    • Short-Run Rotary Die-Cutting: More Value and More Margin
      MyWildIrishProse
      By Richard Romano, Industry Analyst

      Printing today is about more than ink on paper. In fact, even saying “ink on paper” is an anachronism, given the bewildering variety of substrates that today’s equipment can print on. Today’s print customers are increasingly looking for ways for what they produce to stand out from other printed items, either in customers’ mailboxes, on store shelves, or any other environment where printed materials are jostling for attention. To that end,...
      08-31-2017, 07:14 AM
    Working...
    X