Making the Shift to POD to Manage Marketing Value Chain

When it comes to opinions about print-on-demand (POD) technology solutions, marketers fall into three categories.

Marketing traditionalists know about the technology but haven’t adopted it because they think the current solution for designing, printing, and distributing marketing support materials works well enough.

Middle-of-the-road adopters have a POD solution in place, but it is simple and often underused.

Best-in-class believers have embraced POD technology and are using it to its fullest to fuel growth, empower employees, and support marketing and sales goals.

The marketing value chain refers to all the activities that go into creating, organizing, customizing, producing, and distributing content. Print-on-demand is one of the many activities that can occur within the value chain.

With a POD solution in place, you eliminate administrative tasks, reduce risks, control costs, and empower team members to keep moving forward toward achieving their goals. 

Looking to the future, even the most committed caretakers of status quo solutions may want to take a fresh look at online ordering and print-on-demand solutions for nine reasons: 

No. 1: Print-on-demand fits a virtual workforce.

Offices everywhere continue to operate with reduced staff on the premises, and some companies have even announced they will be 100% virtual going forward.

Whether work happens at an office, home, or the local Starbucks, marketing and sales need to locate materials and distribute them as needed.

Online ordering portals with POD is technology’s answer to the old-fashioned marketing supply room.

Your portal makes it easy for a virtual workforce to access and order all types of items – business cards, printed presentations, direct mail, onboarding kits, signage, and branded merchandise.

No. 2: Print-on-demand provides flexibility

If 2020 has proven anything, it is that marketers must have easy access to flexible solutions. Print-on-demand provides that flexibility because items are produced quickly in small batches when they are needed.

If you want to change the message or images, customizable design templates make it easy to do. If you want to mail, select a design, upload a mailing list, and boom – your piece prints and mails. And since you only print when something is needed, print-on-demand eliminates the risk that comes from forecasting usage.

No. 3: Print-on-demand reduces waste

Since materials are only produced when needed, you don’t have to worry about materials becoming obsolete.

Eliminating obsolescence reduces waste, which lowers total costs and benefits our environment too. 

No. 4: Online Ordering Provides Three Extra Layers of Budget Controls

An online ordering portal simplifies the process of budget controls in three ways.

  • Budgets can be assigned directly to users. Once orders are placed, the system tallies and tracks costs, showing users how much they have left to spend.
  • Since competitive pricing is negotiated for POD items upfront, you get volume discounts along with pricing consistency.
  • Online design templates make it easy to customize materials quickly. Users can change pictures, copy, and contact information. Companies eliminate design costs, with the bonus of faster response time by allowing users to operate in a 24/7 self-serve world.

No. 5:  Today’s digital presses print bigger sheets, expanding your formatting options

Fifteen years ago, it was exciting to produce a black and white 8.5” x 11” brochure on demand. Full-color options followed, but these early 4-color digital presses were limited to 13” x 19” sheets. During the past five years, more printers have invested in digital presses that handle larger sheet sizes (such as 23” x 29”).

Digital presses built to handle larger sheet sizes have opened the door to hundreds of new print-on-demand options for brochures, posters, pocket folders, and mailer formats. Since you are printing digitally, every square inch of your materials can be personalized. For example, you could add a recipient’s name or personalize the copy based on Boolean logic.

If you are a B2C company, you could change the pictures to reflect the user’s life stage. If you are a B2B company, you could populate materials with images that fit your target’s industry. Options are always good, so look for a POD partner who opens the door to a broader range of collateral choices.  

No. 6: Today, POD is a lot more than business cards and brochures

Signage, displays, binders, environmental graphics, direct mail, presentations, branded promotional products, and apparel – all of these items and much, much more can be ordered on demand. You can set up standard templates for online ordering, as well as common formats.

Templates are built from design files, and you can allow users to customize within guidelines. Standard formats, such as a 4-page brochure, allow users to upload print-ready PDFs that fit the format and place an order. Having the option of printing specific formats on-demand works well when you have repetitive individualized needs, such as one-off banner stands.

No. 7: POD is perfect for ongoing programs

Online ordering technology lets you build kits on the fly, making it a smart way to manage ongoing programs for all types of business initiatives, including:

  • Customer and employee welcome and onboarding kits
  • Product promotions
  • Loyalty and thank you programs
  • Birthday programs for customers
  • New product rollouts
  • Sampling
  • Training
  • New store or new location programs
  • Seasonal promotions
  • In-person and virtual event support

Kits can include personalized POD materials, branded promotional products, and inventoried items. And it frees marketers from a host of mundane tasks associated with managing programs so that they can focus on higher-value activities.

No. 8: You can support account-based marketing

When B2B companies select an online ordering technology provider, they should choose a partner who can link their CRM to their portal. This solution makes it simple and easy to educate, nurture, and push relevant printed content to multiple decision-makers during the conversion process or after a sale is made.

POD portals also make mailing easy. Mailings can be triggered by actions, such as passing a scoring threshold or visiting a specific web page. When leads fit your ideal customer profile but choose to opt-out of email marketing, you can mail to stay in touch.

Account-Based Marketing for Dummies was written by Sangram Vajre, Founder of Terminus, an account-based marketing software firm.

In the book, Vajre refers to direct mail as the “new black” for marketers, describing it as a go-to basic for every ABM campaign.

One reason for this is the quantity of mail received compared to the number of emails received. Since potential customers receive relatively few mailings and many emails, the mail is more likely to stand out. And when you use technology to manage personalized ABM mailings, you create a system that scales.  

No. 9: Ordering portals can serve internal purposes and also be customer-facing 

With one portal, you can fulfill requests for internal users and allow external customers to register for accounts allowing them to order print-on-demand or download PDFs. A portal with self-registration for outside users can be an excellent solution for many types of organizations, such as:

  • Educational institutions
  • Non-profits
  • Manufacturers who receive regular requests to fulfill product manuals, literature, or samples
  • Associations

User profiles determine the items that a user can view, so customers who register will only see the public view.  

Last Thoughts

Print-on-demand and online ordering have been around for many years. Many marketers who have not found a reason to adopt the technology may be tempted to take a second look for many reasons.

Online ordering makes it easy for people to get what they need. It’s a self-serve solution that fits the virtual work world, supports all types of marketing initiatives, and can be connected to your CRM.  

One simple place to start is checking out a few demos. By discovering what can be done, you can decide what solution fits you.

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