Unlocking Success

Selling marketing supply chain services

What is the true essence behind marketing supply chain service success (MSC)? Think about it. When it comes to marketing supply chain management, what are the best practices that today’s print service providers (PSP) and marketing service providers (MSP) can employ to streamline the process?

Over the past year or so, we have taken a deep dive into the concept—interviewing a number of thought leaders on both sides of the equation. If you are looking for the most simplified explanation, try this: Solid Strategy + Good Partnering = Success.

More than anything else, finding a partner you trust—one who has your best interest at heart and is committed to doing what’s needed to streamline the process correctly—is critical. The main takeaway here is “correctly.” Working with a partner who knows what they are doing, understands the ins and outs of inventory, deadlines, guidelines (and the list goes on) is the mother of all MSC protocols. If you cannot find that partner, the road can get scary.

“The challenge is not asking the right questions. We want to integrate our experience into our clients’ process.”

— Deidre Acord, VP, Sales, Capital Printing Co.

And yet, you don’t necessarily want an agency partner who delivers exactly what you ask. Instead, you want a partner who is willing to push you further—one who not only allows you to think outside of the box, but has the confidence to do so.

So, how do you do that? How do you find the right partner?

In the scores of interviews we have done, finding the right partner falls under three types: The first operates as a MSP (an in-house marketing agency for the company). The second functions as a marketing advisor to the C-suite, primarily tasked with adhering to the brand’s reputation. And the third operates as a business partner and purveyor of new growth.

To get a feel for how some printers are approaching the marketing supply chain process in 2023, we threw out another line for discussion. Included are insights from Deidre Acord, VP of Sales for Capital Printing Co., and Simon Beltran, President and Chief Revenue Officer, O’Neil Printing.

What specific challenges should marketers be aware of when it comes to managing the marketing supply chain?

Deidre Acord, Capital Printing Co.: Being on time. When you say you are going to deliver your product, it needs to be on time. Everything moves at a much faster pace due to the social interaction with the end user. If your printed material is part of the experience, the planning process should always start with the end date.

Simon Beltran, O’Neil Printing: Speed to market is key, especially for product launches, special events, and time sensitive campaigns. To that end, partnering with your print service provider on timing for paper and other substrates needed (think packaging or kitting materials) is super important. This may require full or partial deposits to secure these materials. Additionally, marketers should consider providing marketing calendar visibility to their PSP to ensure timing and forecasts for completion/in store/in mail/in home lines up with expectations.

Concerns with marketing supply chain have provided a foundation for QBR and a different level of discussion with our clients—less transactional and much more strategic in nature.

— Simon Beltran, President & Chief Revenue Officer, O’Neil Printing

How do these challenges impact outcomes and overall corporate success?

Capital Printing Co.’s Acord: We are seeing more complicated processes with less enabled personnel to handle the entire project, especially with the many touches there are today.

O’Neil Printing’s Beltran: When done well, we have seen positive outcomes for all. The PSP can better forecast demand for materials and labor, marketing is better informed on budget and timing (and encouraged to be more open and partner differently), and ultimately the brand/company should benefit from on time, on budget performance.

What opportunities do you see for printers to effectively manage a MSC? Do you have an anecdote you can share about how you did this?

Capital Printing Co.’s Acord: We have over 50 different storefronts that handle on-demand print, to inventory items, to gather kits and shipping out products every day. 

We utilize two progressive industry-standard platforms as our backbone for providing fulfillment and web2print solutions to our customers. Our 100% real-time inventory and warehouse management system is VeraCore, whom we’ve partnered with for six years. Our web2print, produce-on-demand and customizable produce-on-demand engine is PageDNA, as well as being our most used user interface. 

The two systems are fully integrated with an API allowing us to instantaneously process orders. Our services are hosted redundantly in the cloud, offering nearly 100% up-time. We also integrate with popular available shopping carts including Shopify, WooCommerce, Ultra-Cart, BigCommerce, as well as offering an API for custom sites to interface with for order entry and shipping information retrieval.

What strategies, technologies or best practices have you implemented with clients to overcome these challenges? 

Capital Printing Co.’s Acord: Asking questions. Printing is customized to the end user—this includes what paper, how will it be delivered, mail or shipping with other items. The challenge is asking the right questions. We want to integrate our experience into our clients’ process.  

O’Neil Printing’s Beltran: I have been and remain a big fan of having quarterly business reviews with clients. Concerns with marketing supply chain have provided a foundation for QBR and a different level of discussion with our clients—less transactional and much more strategic in nature.

In addition, our communication with our clients is more frequent and we are collectively more proactive with ideas and solutions to the challenges we have experienced. There are many famous and relevant quotes relating to crisis—pick your favorite(s). I believe the key to sustained success is to learn and adapt to new challenges. I am continually reminded of this.

As a commercial printer, how do you position yourself as a strategic partner in managing MSCs for your clients? What specific capabilities or services do you offer to support brands in optimizing their marketing activities and driving marketing effectiveness?

Capital Printing Co.’s Acord:Our e-commerce solutions are flexible and responsive to help print buyers streamline their business. We offer customizable storefronts that are comprehensive and intuitive and we are able to automate your entire ordering process from order to delivery.

  • Dedicated online portals 
  • E-commerce solutions
  • Branded storefronts
  • Mobile friendly
  • Maintain control over brand consistency
  • Print and fulfillment management

We have been providing web-based fulfillment, mailing, produce-on-demand, and customizable produce-on-demand solutions for our clients since 2010. We employ over 25 people directly in the logistics, mailing, fulfillment and related technologies operations. 

We have dedicated resources and personnel for certain clients, and shared resources as well, depending on the size and scope of the work. We fulfill over 1,500 web orders per day, more than 650,000 last year and average 120,000-plus mail pieces entered into the USPS each day.