Do you need to reclaim some office space that’s been taken over by piles of brochures and promotional items? Do you find yourself throwing leftover branded materials into a “marketing closet” with no way to manage it? Or worse, are you throwing unused collateral into the recycle bin year after year?
Utilizing a collateral management portal is a great way to ensure you’re not wasting a single one of your products, while alleviating the guilt of adding “just one more thing” on to the pile.
Collateral management portals, also referred to as online storefronts, can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be. For example, a basic collateral management portal may serve as a central access point for employees to order branded merchandise for personal or promotional use. This is a great way to clear up the clutter of water bottles, t-shirts, tote bags, notebooks, anything you have lying around. From there, you can add print-on-demand templates for letterhead and business cards—allowing employees to create and order their own materials without bogging down graphic designers or other marketing staff.
Beyond the basics, a collateral management portal can be designed with complex approval workflows, budget restrictions, various user permissions, custom branding and more.
So now that you get the gist of how a collateral management portal can help, how do you start?
Clean Out the Marketing Closet
Don’t get overwhelmed, start by simply cleaning out your marketing closet or storage area at the office. Grab a few co-workers and take a complete inventory of your current marketing materials and promotional items. Create a spreadsheet with columns for item name, description, quantity, specs, packaging details, last order date, last revision date, and any other helpful details.
Review Past Orders Across Locations and Departments
Next, collect all the invoices and orders you’ve placed with vendors for printed material and promotional items over the last 12–24 months.
If you have multiple locations or departments that are responsible for placing orders, assign one person as the lead and make sure they get a comprehensive view of the organization’s collateral inventory and usage. The research may show that you’ve been over- or underestimating the amount of print materials you need—leading to storage problems or budget waste.
Send Sales a Survey
If you have a sales team or field reps that use printed materials, it’s also a good idea to send them a survey. You might find that they are looking for other formats or updates to materials that you haven’t yet considered. Use these insights to determine if any of the materials you’ve gathered in your inventory spreadsheet should be discontinued or updated to better meet their needs.
This research will make basic setup of a collateral management portal quick and easy. Your office will be cleaner and you’ll spend less time managing materials and fulfilling requests.
Once a collateral management portal is up and running, you’ll have access to reporting on all of the products you have housed there. A twelve month report might show trends you hadn’t noticed or could not analyze before.
For example, a product ordered only sporadically in the summer might see a big uptick in the fall, leaving you scrambling to reprint before the end of the year. Conversely, you may find that every year, you have extra printed material from the year before that is no longer relevant. Watching the trends through the portal’s reporting capabilities gives you a clearer picture of how to budget in the coming year.
Start Off Small
If you start off with basic inventory management, the portal can easily grow as your needs change. Perhaps you find yourself wanting to send out personalized kits and letters, but don’t have the time to set it all up. Your storefront can do the heavy lifting. Kits can be created with identical items, or you can allow each kit to be customized for the occasion. You may want to offer a stock form letter that includes a variable signature for each sales rep or an entirely custom message that is printed-on-demand as each kit is produced.
Whether you need to produce kitted items, variable brochures, or send something to a direct mail list, a collateral management portal can make the process simple and efficient.
Start small by cleaning out your marketing closet and then continue to customize and update the portal as needed. As it grows, you’ll save your organization valuable time and money.
This article first appeared in Tactics Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2.