Why fulfilment needs to be discussed much sooner
You can have the biggest promotion on the market. Your product might be endorsed by the king or queen of influencers. You could even have paid top dollar for a celebrity brand ambassador who consumers will find hard to ignore. Yet none of that will matter if your campaign fulfilment falls short.
Despite this, fulfilment is an often-overlooked part of the promotional marketing process. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that alongside the more “glamorous” aspects of brand campaigns – not least the creative idea and above-the-line executions – fulfilment can be considered a dirty word. But think about what the term actually means. Is your brand promise really being adhered to through brilliant logistics? Or will your customers be left feeling unfulfilled?
Organisations invest huge budgets in brand promotions. By and large, they will only continue to do so if they are getting a positive return on their investment. Why, then, is the end of the campaign not considered in great detail? The fabled “final mile” works so much better if thoroughly explored at the set-up stage to get the best possible delivery solution for the available budget.
The essence of a promotion is to introduce consumers to your brand by creating a memorable, or at the very least positive, experience. The problem is, when fulfilment is overlooked – resulting, for example, in promotional items turning up damaged, late or not at all – their perceptions may be negative. And where once a few disgruntled customers were relatively simple to handle, a poor brand experience can now be shared in seconds via social media. The size of the prize doesn’t matter if it never arrives.
What’s more, for those brands keeping a keen eye on ROI, fulfilment is the measurement end of the promotion. It’s the element that tells you how much was shipped, how many consumers engaged and how many coupons or digital codes were redeemed during the campaign.
The future ability of brands to run successful, memorable promotional campaigns is rooted in early consideration of the physical delivery of the creative idea. So, what can brands do to embrace good practice at an earlier stage?
Our first tip is to discuss it as far upstream as possible as a vital cog in your project. And that means not hitting shelves and screens with a promotion so soon after a creative idea is realised. There’s nothing wrong with having a winning concept. But it makes commercial sense to have that creative thought then jump to the very end of the campaign and work backwards through the detail and required infrastructure for the campaign.
Secondly, ask the right questions – and give the right brief. What skills and experience will your fulfilment supplier need, and can these be demonstrated? What’s the scale of the campaign and the volume they’ll be dealing with? Are there spikes in the activity that will put extra pressure on the service delivery? What other potential pitfalls can you and your fulfilment service partner come up with so contingencies can be built in?
Third, reframe the conversation. Don’t think of a fulfilment partner as an end supplier. We can bring a lot of value to the whole process, from planning to execution. Make the most of that experience to create a seamless campaign that runs smoothly, from advertising and promotion to final fulfilment.
These tips can be demonstrated through some of the great campaigns we’ve had the privilege of fulfilling, with clients that truly understand the value of the fulfilment part of the process. A high-end retailer launching its own-brand range of luxury food products engaged us as soon as the concept was set in stone. We were shown the vision and we stress-tested the planned fulfilment, from packaging to labelling, creating a luxurious, hand-finished product. This collaborative approach at an early stage of the strategy was a crucial part of the eventually successful launch.
So don’t make fulfilment the last point on the agenda (if it usually makes your agenda at all). View fulfilment as an investment in a quality service and an integral part of the overall campaign strategy and planning. Ultimately, look at the fulfilment strategy as a fundamental part of the customer and brand experience.