Success! The new catalogs were completed on time and they look fantastic! Once you get these in the hands of your customers and prospects, sales are sure to take off and you’ll get a medal for your hard work. Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, while this may ultimately be true, you must pay attention to the “get these catalogs in the hands of your customers and prospects” portion of the sentence above. Successful printing is one thing, the other half of the equation, and just as important, is accurate and timely distribution.
While there are many methods of distribution, let’s focus on a simple and common example. You have printed 5000 catalogs. These catalogs have been delivered to you and are now sitting next to you in the form of a wall of brown boxes. Your job now, is to take these catalogs and distribute per a spreadsheet gathered from Sales and Marketing. Customer A in Dallas, TX is to receive 3 catalogs. Customer B in Glendale, CA is to receive 1 catalog. Customer C in Seattle, WA is to receive 5 catalogs, and so on. There are many challenges in a distribution method of this type. First is the sheer amount of man hours it will take to complete the job, a drain on resources. Second is the final look and feel of the envelope they are to be delivered in. The goal is to have these break through the clutter of everyday mail, get in the right hands, and opened. And third, is the shipping method itself. What makes sense based on price and estimated shipping time?
To combat these challenges, you can seek out and partner with an expert in marketing collateral distribution. These fulfillment houses will discuss your concerns and address each one individually. For instance, in the example above, the drain on resources is instantly absorbed by the fulfillment house allowing you to redirect those hours into more productive roles. A fulfillment house is also very aware of the challenges marketing material has when trying to gain attention from the target buyer. After discussing your goals, they will make recommendations on how to best do that with your piece. And finally, a distribution partner will lay out the costs and shipping times of various carriers. They may even save you some shipping costs as they have the ability to pre-bundle certain projects, allowing for lower rates from the USPS.
Distribution is simply another part of your print project. You must address it in the beginning phases of your project in order to avoid delays. Remember, a beautiful piece is great but unless you get into the proper hands in a timely manner, you will fail to maximize its return.