Marketing your business can be a full-time job. One of the best solutions for minimizing resources is to rely on a one-stop marketing supply chain solution that centralizes all of your materials, strategies, plans, and other promotional supplies in one convenient area so that you can continue to do what you do best and allow your marketing strategy to work for itself.
The truth is that there are many companies out there that offer, what they claim to be, a great marketing supply chain solution. However, when it comes down to big jobs that have tight deadlines and huge demands a lot of these companies fall short. The key is to have a successful strategy, not one that is ideally, or potentially efficient.
Although every company is different, there are four basic elements to the flow of an efficient supply chain:
When these elements align with each other in a way that creates a clean flow of processes, the entire marketing structure is efficient and stress-free.
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What is a Marketing Supply Chain?
If you think about a marketing supply chain in terms of any other type of supply chain, it is easier to understand. When it comes to an efficient supply chain there are some key elements that have to be considered for the absolute functionality of the chain.
For example, when it comes to the mechanics of an operating grocery store there are a number of factors that have to line up correctly with the rest of the operation, or things will not be so smooth.
- Acquiring of merchandise
- Availability of merchandise
- Placement of merchandise
- Inventory of merchandise
These are simple examples of the fundamentals of a successful grocery store. The store has to have its merchandise in stock, or else it will have nothing to sell. In order to acquire the merchandise, a representative of the store must purchase the items through a vendor, or have them shipped directly from a distributor to the physical location of the store.
Once the merchandise is purchased and received it must be logged, priced, then added to the floor where it will be available for the customers. This way it becomes available.
When placing the merchandise it is important to put it where the customers will be looking for it as opposed to merely randomly slopping it into an empty shelf. For example, canned goods will be in a different location than bread or fresh produce. It’s all about location.
When it comes to keeping track of what inventory is available, what inventory is selling, what has to be ordered, and what is still sitting on the shelf it is important that the store knows everything that is necessary for efficient merchandise record-keeping.
On a larger scale of a grocery supply chain operation, the areas of the chain could vary from store to store. For example, the store could get supplies from:
- Particular farms throughout the country
- Foods shipped in from other countries
- Foods bought from ships in different harbors
Each stop in the supply chain will be an integral part of the entire structure of the way that the store operates from season to season. The way that grocery stores keep fresh produce all year round is because they buy fruits and vegetables from different sources around the world where the product is in season.
The difference between the supply chain of a grocery store and a non-stop marketing campaign is merely the supplies that go into the venture.
For a general marketing campaign that consists of physical prints, mailouts, brochures, posters, and the like there is the factor of ink, media (such as paper), and content development.
Part of the supply chain could consist of professionals that understand the brand and what needs to happen in order to keep the brand name clearly focused in all materials.
Once the brand strategy is in place the next phase would be for the designers to create material that is relevant to the marketing strategy at that point. If it is a poster, postcards, a large banner, a window cling…whatever… the designers will build the strategy on an electronic platform so that all parties can see it and approve of it before sending it to the next phase to be printed.
From the beginning of the strategy to the idea of the design through the approval and print of the design then to the final destination of the fulfillment stage is all part of the marketing supply chain.
This chain consists of the thinking parts of the creation and the physical components of the final outcome.
When the marketing venture is on a national, or even global scale, there is much work and seemingly endless variables that will be found within the local areas. The best way to combat the differing needs of every location is to have the supply chain for the marketing efforts condensed into a centralized hub that has the ability to control factors based on location and needs, as opposed to having each location fend for itself.
There are a plethora of global companies that can afford their own in-house marketing team. In an effort to keep the marketing energy contained to one aspect of the company as opposed to pulling sources from all parts of the company there are many establishments that create their own marketing team.
Still yet, the marketing team of each organization will have the issue of supply chain management. In order for the marketing campaign to pick up steam and continue to stay effective, there has to be a balance of freshness and brand distinction.
The absolute best way for any company to get the most out of their marketing efforts is to use a reliable third party for materials and mass printing services.
Although in-house marketing can be very successful and effective, nobody will know the dynamics of a business brand more than the brand itself. However, if the company is not a printing service and does not have the capacity to create, manage, print, and ship materials where they need to go, having a third party to help is an ideal solution.
Managing the Supply Chain
One of the most important factors of a successful supply chain strategy is the way that it is managed. Some of the elements of effective management are:
- Location profiling
- Ad building
- Cross-media marketing
- Third-party supplier management
- Digital assets
Depending on how large of a scale the marketing campaign is there can be tons of areas that need constant management or the entire structure of the campaign will be at risk.
One of the best tools to help with large-scale supply chain management is to use a software platform that was designed specifically for the marketing supply chain.
With intelligent software, it is so much easier to maintain and manage every aspect of the supply chain and keep track of the smallest of details when it comes to where the materials will come from, who will take care of the designs, where the materials will be printed and where they will be shipped to when they are ready to go.
Production of Materials
The ideal scenario of a perfect marketing supply chain strategy is that when it is time to produce the materials, everything that is necessary to make it happen on time is exactly where it needs to be.
- The design
- The ink
- The material
- The printer
- The shipment
If when it comes time to print the material the print operator doesn’t have the ink, the paper, or even the design to print, the project can not be completed. In order for a successful production, all of the elements have to be in place.
This is one of the biggest reasons it helps to have the entire supply chain centralized into one convenient location so that every piece of the operation stems from the source of the production.
One of the reasons why many of the in-house marketing solutions have so many drawbacks is that only the ones that have the capacity to print the materials have an advantage. If there is not a printer big and strong enough to print out the media the team will have to send out their materials to a third-party printing establishment.
When it comes to the fulfillment of marketing materials each venture will have its own outcome. Some marketing campaigns are strictly digital and nothing will have to be physically shipped or printed. Of course, this would be a great solution if it were for all cases. However, most of the customized marketing campaigns that happen today consist of some sort of printed materials.
Sometimes establishments do have their own printing equipment and can print large objects such as stadium banners. However, more often than not, the printed materials have to be shipped to the place of use.
In any event, having a centralized solution for all of the elements of a marketing campaign makes for a finely-oiled marketing process that keeps the resources, time, and energy that it takes to implement an effective marketing strategy confined to the marketing efforts and away from the energy of the business itself.
The keys to a successful marketing endeavor lie in the hands of management. The less energy the marketing team has to expel to keep the campaign running smoothly, the better off the entire company will be. Keep things close, centralized, well-managed, and simple. Everything else will fall into place without having to travel the world to make it happen.