Bankable, Unparalleled Internet/Direct Marketing Expertise!™

Linick Bldg. Seven Putter Lane • Middle Island NY • 11953-1920
Phone: 631.924.3888 • Alt. Phone: 631.775.6075 • Fax : 631.924.8555

 

Your Product Launch

 

Your Key to a Smooth-Running

Product Launch

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 Marketing Plan

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 operational/fulfillment

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 System

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.

2. Order-Taking

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 inquiries.

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 center.

4. 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 elsewhere.

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.

6. Management

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 industries.

 

Dr. Andrew Linick can be reached at CCA Division of:

The Linick Group, Linick Building

Seven Putter Lane • PO Box 102,

Middle Island, NY 11953-0102 USA

Ph: 631.924.3888. Fax: 631.924.3890 • Email: LinickGrp@att.net


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