Cost control and operational efficiency are constants in business practice. Evidence the movement of professional procurement into marketing purchase decisions in the last two decades to see how important these are to the overall health of the organization.
For brand marketers that sell through channel partners, there are three primary ways to use digital for better cost control and operational efficiency.
Why focus the discussion solely on digital? Simply because it’s impacting everything we do in business generally and marketing specifically. Online technology continues to impact every business process: from how we do business (web meetings, email, cloud storage, online video conferences) to creating new ways to reach consumers (PPC, SEO, social media, beacons) to being embedded in the product or service itself.
Three ways to use digital:
#1) Streamline and automate manual processes
Manual processes in marketing can drain the energy and effectiveness of your marketing effort. We’re all expected to do more with less, so it’s important to constantly review marketing processes and streamline or eliminate time-consuming ones. Thoughtful application of web-based technology is a great way to cut out the waste. Here are some examples:
Using the web to automate cumbersome online processes for your channel partners
- Implement an ad-builder and digital asset management system to give your channel partners one convenient place (i.e. marketing portal) to access approved marketing materials. This will not only increase the quality of your marketing overall (as dealers use your professional templates and assets versus attempting to create their own), but will save them money.
- Implement a Single Sign On with your marketing portal to saves dealers time and frustration in accessing your assets for marketing
- Make sure your ad-builder system allows channel partners to upload and save their logo and images in the system. They upload once and use across a whole range of marketing materials.
- Make sure your ad-builder system pre-fills the dealer’s location and address to save them typing it in repeatedly
- Make sure your marketing portal can let you administer separate groups with permissions. This was once done manually with spreadsheets, but that is error prone and time consuming.
- Make sure your digital asset management system lets you create business rules to automatically expire assets, copy assets, archive, etc. Just the ability of setting an expiration date for assets will ensure they aren’t used after the promotion has ended.
- Make sure your ad-builder allows for resizing of ads and assets. It dramatically cuts down on the time needed to load multiple sizes, but also meets more sizes desired in the market.
- If your marketing involves time-bound offers and disclaimers…make sure you can auto expire those too. This will help reduce your liability to zero if all your channel partners use the system.
Remember, saving your channel partners time and money – while increasing the frequency and quality of their marketing - helps them sell more! Dealers who didn’t have to spend their own money and time developing professional creative will thank you. Connecting your marketing portal to centralized fulfillment output (direct mail, email, print) will give all your dealers volume pricing; better than they could achieve from a single one-off order.
For more information about adbuilders see:
#2) Move emphasis from paper to digital
It’s been about 20 years since the Web became a marketing tool, but we continue to see many marketing programs with a dis-proportionate emphasis on traditional print. We’re not suggesting to abandon print altogether unless your consumer research indicates that will be effective…but we are suggesting that since consumers are now spending dramatically more time online with corresponding drops in time with most traditional media – that should be reflected in your programs. Your channel partners are looking for help and guidance in this area. Here are some recent statistics:
A) 70 percent of consumers will not open their yellow page directories the entire time in their possession. Many will not recycle them, so they end up in landfills. (1)
B) Verizon surveys reveal just 11% of consumers use White pages to look things up (1)
C) Newspaper revenues have plummeted 53% in the last 10 years. (2)
D) Magazine revenues have fallen 17% in the last 10 years. (2)
Migrating away from paper based marketing also gives marketers a great way to “go green” to reduce paper and storage costs. They can tout reductions in:
- Spoilage from shrink wrap on skid delivery (see image)
- Poor presentation from thin paper stock
- Excessive shipping fees from shipping heavy paper based advertising
- Overall paper waste from newspaper inserts or yellow pages
For more information on media shifts see:
#3) Move from paid to free
The biggest movement in publishing over the last 10 years has been self-publishing. Using our own earned (social) and owned media (websites) we are all recognizing our ability to create and curate content for our clients and customers. The growth in free media and away from paid media has been substantial. Small medium businesses (SMB’s) used to spend 10% more on advertising versus self- promotion. Now they spend 81% more on self-promotion (fueled by social media and self-publishing) versus paid advertising. Publishing revenues are down, with ad agency revenues up due to the assistance that clients need to create their own content in this new self-publishing world.
Why this dramatic shift?
- Search engines have gotten better at identifying and presenting local businesses based upon consumer keyword search – reducing the need for paid advertising to “get found”
- Posting to your own website and social media is free.
- Posting to your own web properties doesn’t require a material deadline or months of advance notice like a yellow page listing. Since you’re not waiting on something to be printed, you can be creative and spontaneous in your marketing approach.
- Self-directed, free and spontaneous marketing can be experimental with new approaches being tested for effectiveness – without a paid advertising hurdle to overcome
- Tracking social media and website traffic is more transparent and immediate than traditional media.
With all these benefits, the primary drawback for a local channel partner remains the amount time and creativity that self-publishing requires…but that is a perfect place for the manufacturer brand group to step in and help create content on their behalf. Anyone who has published a blog or created a social media site appreciates professional content assistance to keep a steady stream of ideas and promotions coming. This social media content should be offered in the adbuilder system and ideally set up on a subscription basis, so it auto-publishes with permission.
For more information on earned and owned media:
- (1) http://www.vox.com/2014/8/21/6040585/phonebooks-yellow-pages-delivery
- (2) http://blogs.whattheythink.com/economics/2014/12/ad-agency-revenues-rise-while-publishing-revenues-are-not/