Key to a Smooth-Running
By The Copyologist®
All systems are go for the introduction
of your new product or service. The marketing plan, the
marketing strategy, and the advertising are in place. The
launch date is set.
Customers will be instructed to respond to a mailing address
or a telephone number and payment will be via charge cards,
money orders or checks.
But, has anyone considered what the procedure will be when
customers begin to respond to your promotion? How will each of
the following be handled: customer inquiries about the product,
order-taking, order-processing, fulfillment, product-tracking,
and customer complaints? Regardless of what the product is,
specific procedures must be in place.
These follow-through operations are the backbone of any
successful marketing program. The packaging, the distribution
channels, and the timeliness of delivery can determine whether
a customer accepts, cancels or returns your product and whether
that customer will buy from your company again.
Yet, many marketing campaigns are developed with little
thought as to how the product or service will reach the
customer. Too often, copywriters and art directors aren't given
the details of operation and fulfillment that they need in
order to prepare a complete and effective campaign.
It Starts With the
The marketing plan should state if the follow-through
operation is to be handled in-house or by an outside agency. If
it's to be done in-house, management should check in advance
with the operational -- fulfillment systems that they can
handle the program or if procedures need to be enhanced.
If the follow-through operation is to be managed by an
outside agency, the agency's operation should be carefully
evaluated. Whether the system is manual or automated, there
should be a clean, crisp environment with organized files. If
the agency's system doesn't match what you need, perhaps both
sides can make modifications that make it work, satisfaction.
Test the system before making a final commitment, however.
Whether your follow-through operations are managed in-house
or by an outside agency, it's essential that one person be
specifically assigned as a liaison between the marketing and
departments. This person will manage all aspects of the
program from inventory levels to order processing, customer
service and accounts payable.
Setting Up and Evaluating the Follow-Through
In planning and managing your operational/fulfillment
system, it is imperative to provide for the following:
1. Customer Inquiry Prior to Ordering
Your telephone representatives must be well-versed in the
features of your product in order to be able to answer all
types of questions from potential buyers. An informative,
soft-sell approach will give callers the information they need
and not discourage them from calling again.
Telephone representatives need to know more than the
features of the product. They have to know how the product will
be packed, the details of the warranty, how the product will be
delivered and how long delivery will take. In addition, they
must listen carefully to the shipping information and charge
card numbers and dates since immediate credit authorization
will insure a valid order and will cut down on follow-up
Mailroom representatives will review each order to see that
they contain all necessary information. Where information is
insufficient, they should follow-up to complete orders.
3. Order Processing
All valid orders are given to the data entry representative
whose job it is to enter the information into the computer. For
efficient data entry, the computer screen should show an order
entry from that is a duplicate of the physical order form. The
computer screen should also show inventory levels, credit
authorization of shipping status. The computer converts the
order information into shipping requests—shipping labels or
packing slips which are then sent to the fulfillment
The fulfillment center packages the product and matches it
with the shipping request in what is the last step before the
product or service is given to the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or
other courier company. A customer will react most positively to
a package that is securely and neatly wrapped.
The fulfiller also has to: trace a package if there is any
problem after it has been shipped; and, monitor the inventory
levels of the product. It's essential for the customer to
receive the merchandise as quickly as possible. Delays leave
time for a change of mind or purchasing of the item
5. Customer Service
The customer service representative must be able to track
the status of the order from the date the order was received
through the shipment date. People have confidence in a company
when they can get the status of their order within minutes.
Customer service also notifies the customer if there is any
shipping delay. This will save the customer the inconvenience
of calling about his order. Again, a good inventory position
will help reduce shipping delays as well as the expense of
customer service calls.
The liaison is responsible for coordinating all steps in
getting the product to the customer as efficiently as possible.
He must make sure that enough money has been allocated to
execute the program properly.
The liaison will have all the data necessary to present a
complete analysis of the program to management for use in
future marketing campaigns.
# # #
Andrew S. Linick, Ph.D., is founder and
chairman of the board of Copywriter's Council of America. He is
an international creative consultant to management and heads a
full service direct marketing/mail order group that designs,
implements and manages strategic marketing plans from creative
coordination through operational fulfillment.
He has developed and implemented successful
operational/fulfillment programs for measurable response
campaigns with AMERICAN EXPRESS Co., MasterCard, VISA, TEXACO
Inc., SUN OIL Co., NEWSWEEK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, TIME
LIFE BOOKS, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, SPORTS AFIELD, OUTSIDE, MARIAH,
T.V. GUIDE, 4 TABLOIDS INCLUDING THE STAR, 16 MARTIAL ARTS
TITLES INCLUDING OFFICAL/ AMERICAN/ COMBAT/ KARATE
INTERNATIONAL, FORTUNE, NY TIMES, PLAYGIRL, CHARLTON
PUBLICATIONS and numerous co-op publishing ventures within the
financial…banking… credit card and entertainment
Dr. Andrew Linick can be reached at CCA
The Linick Group,
Seven Putter Lane • PO
Middle Island, NY
Ph: 631.924.3888. Fax:
631.924.3890 • Email: LinickGrp@att.net