Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What is a Marketing Asset Management Solution?

Marketing automation is a hot topic in the B2B marketing community.  According to most reports, the number of companies using marketing automation solutions is growing rapidly, and the growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

The term B2B marketing automation usually refers to technologies that automate activities like lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and lead distribution.  These technologies can greatly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of B2B marketing efforts, particularly when it comes to lead management.

There is, however, another type of B2B marketing automation that should also be on your radar.  These solutions are usually called marketing asset management solutions.  A marketing asset management solution is a suite of technologies, production capabilities, and fulfillment services that automate many of the processes relating to the procurement, management, and distribution of marketing materials such as marketing collateral documents, promotional items, and point-of-sale materials. A marketing asset management solution is essentially an outsourcing arrangement in which the solution provider assumes responsibility for several components of a company's marketing materials supply chain.

Here's how a marketing asset management solution works.
  • The core component is a central repository that contains digital versions of the marketing materials that a company uses.  The solution will also include an online catalog that contains images of the company's materials.
  • When an authorized user needs to order marketing materials, he or she logs into a secure website, selects the desired materials from the catalog, and places the order.
  • A marketing asset management solution also provides powerful customization capabilities.  If an item is designed to be customized, the online catalog will contain a template of that item.  The template identifies the content elements that can be modified and allows a user to customize the item in allowable ways.
  • The marketing asset management solution provider uses production technologies that allow most marketing materials to be manufactured on an order-by-order basis.  The solution provider also handles packaging and fulfillment.  In those cases where production economics don't allow for materials to be produced on an as-ordered basis, the solution provider will provide warehousing and real-time (or near real-time) inventory tracking and reporting.
A marketing asset management solution will significantly reduce the indirect costs of marketing materials and provide several other important financial and operational benefits.  In upcoming posts, I'll describe some of these benefits.

If you'd like to learn more about marketing asset management solutions, take a look at our white papers titled, Is a Marketing Asset Management Solution Right for My Company? and Four Reasons to Use a Marketing Asset Management Solution.  To obtain a copy of one or both of these papers, just put your request in a comment to this post or send an e-mail request to ddodd(at)pointbalance(dot)com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reduce the Hidden Costs of Marketing Materials

B2B marketers are understandably concerned about the performance of their campaigns and programs.  After all, the primary job of B2B marketing is to generate a sufficient number of qualified leads so that company sales will grow.  Plus, all of the recent emphasis on marketing ROI has increased the pressures on marketers to justify the investments they make in marketing efforts.

Obviously, marketers need to monitor and improve the performance of marketing campaigns.  But it's equally important to focus on the efficiency of marketing operations.  One area of marketing operations that offers huge opportunities for improvement in most companies relates to the management of marketing materials (marketing collateral, promotional items, and point-of-sale materials).

The issue here isn't the direct production costs of marketing materials, although that's obviously important.  What I'm talking about in this post is the cost of procuring, managing, and distributing marketing materials.  Research shows that over half of the real total spending on marketing materials can be attributed to obsolescence waste and to activities like procurement, storage, inventory management, and distribution.

This aspect of marketing is now receiving much more attention for a very simple reason.  The dollars saved by reducing these indirect, and often "invisible," materials costs can be redeployed to fund revenue-generating campaigns and programs.

The good news is that we now have the tools to reduce these costs and dramatically increase the efficiency of the supply chain for marketing materials.  These tools are usually called marketing asset management solutions, and if they're not yet on your radar, they should be.

In an upcoming post, I'll describe how marketing asset management solutions work and how they can improve the productivity of your marketing operations.