Literature Fulfillment in a Flash
By Hallie Mummert
Best practices for delivering your fulfillment kits on time and on a dime.
The key to efficient literature fulfillment is that it needs to be treated as a combination of two processes, says Barry Blumenfield, CEO of BMI Fulfillment Services in Norwalk, Conn. The first component is order fulfillment, which requires you to provide fast delivery of the right materials. The second is direct mail conversion, wherein your goal is to get a sale.
David Lowndes, director of new product development at fulfillment firm Comac in Milpitas, Calif., provides the perfect example of how companies miss Blumenfield's points. How often have you attended a trade show, he asks, in which you visited a booth, gave the sales representative your contact information, and then returned to your office to wait about three weeks until a package arrived with the company's full product brochure? The problem is, you had inquired about one product and could care less about the other 50.
To make sure your fulfillment kits hit the target for timing and relevancy, Lowndes suggests you review several program areas before you set up your literature fulfillment program, including:
- message to be communicated;
- the value of this message;
- quantity needed;
- lifecycle of message/campaign;
- production options; and
- delivery methods.
Once you've pinned down these details, you will be ready to select your kit components, contract with delivery partners and develop an inventory management process to keep the program running smooth as silk.
Kit Creation Pointers
Direct marketers are moving toward more personalized—and sometimes customized—kit materials, notes Blumenfield. By tailoring the contents more closely to prospects' specific interests, direct marketers hope to convert these inquirers to buyers.
A cost-efficient way to personalize the message on the carrier without creating custom envelopes is to print variable messages on the reply form, which also serves as the addressing piece that shows through the envelope window. Extra envelope windows allow you to present even more personalization. For example, Blumenfield offers, by printing the name of the teleservice representative who took the kit request on the return address section, you can help jog the prospect's memory of making the information request. And if possible, he advises, avoid using parent company names that were not part of the promotional effort that generated the fulfillment request.