Milpitas, Calif.

At its most basic level, the Web is an inquiry management environment. Consumers and businesspeople head online almost every day to source products and solutions that fit their needs. Depending on the urgency of their needs, they might request some sales literature or samples, or locate nearby retail outlets to check out the items in person. All the while, they have a host of competitive options at their fingertips—and then possibly just a phone call or short drive away.

Knowing your audience is a direct marketing basic and is key to saving you money on your fulfillment kits. Your first step in assessing your kit should be determining your goal: new sale, incremental business, customer/prospect awareness. With your goal in mind, develop fulfillment materials that communicate the right information in the most cost-efficient manner to drive the desired response. “Most cost savings are coming from the appropriate use of appropriate materials. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. When companies fail to appropriately segment their audience, they print, produce and ship non-relevant items, which cost money,”

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

It’s no secret that it costs considerably less to get a sale from an existing customer than from a prospect. But, according to Comac, a fulfillment company in Milpitas, Calif., customer-centric marketing in the B-to-B world also reduces overall sales costs by improving client retention; enhances profitability by expanding relationships with current clients; and creates new revenue streams via client referrals. Customer-centric communications require depth of knowledge about your customers both individually and by segment; this data then can be leveraged through technologies that allow direct marketers to tailor contact in offline and online channels. Your fulfillment vendor plays a significant role in your customer- centric efforts,

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