What marketers can learn from supply chain management

What marketers can learn from supply chain management

Want to move faster and waste less? Take a page from global supply chains

If your marketing team is struggling with costs this year, you are (very) far from alone. According to Deloitte’s 2023 CMO survey, 63% of marketers list "Reducing operational and/or product costs, or increasing value for similar cost" as their number one priority; 45% of CMOs acknowledge cost reduction as a significant challenge. Across the board, marketing leaders are weighed down by cumbersome processes and wasteful practices—and for complex enterprises, these issues can snowball.

So how to reverse the tide? Some leaders are finding inspiration in an unexpected place: supply chain management.

The comparison might surprise you, but hear us out: Just as supply chain engineers strive to optimize the movement of goods while keeping inventory lean, marketing professionals are on a mission to fine-tune their campaigns. In both spheres, the objective is to ensure that each step in the process contributes value and that resources, products, and derivatives are maximized to their full potential.

Intrigued? Read on for four supply chain concepts that should resonate with any marketing leader, and be sure to download our ebook on optimizing the marketing supply chain.

1. Visibility: Navigating the complex landscape

Before you can optimize your marketing supply chain, you need full visibility into its links. Much like supply chain managers require a panoramic view of each stage, marketing leaders need clear insight into key handoffs and materials—like shared assets, budgets, and vendors. This visibility empowers you to make well-informed decisions, anticipate outcomes, and spot high-potential campaigns.

In the era of data-driven decision-making, real-time insights are the currency of progress. Monitoring performance metrics, deciphering historical outcomes, and capturing customer feedback allows you to iteratively enhance your strategies, much like fine-tuning a manufacturing process in response to market demand.

2. Criticality of Handoffs: Seamlessly passing the baton

Most supply chains involve numerous, distributed points of production, assembly, and distribution—and the handoffs between each link are absolutely critical. Even if individual stages operate at peak efficiency, every delayed transition adds up to an overall loss of impact. As your marketing initiatives expand, the complexity of these handoffs intensifies, making it imperative to meticulously map out each connection to ensure fluid transitions.

Dropping the baton at any juncture can lead to confusion, missed deadlines, and futile efforts. In marketing terms, this translates to assets not gaining the necessary traction, or to campaigns losing momentum due to inadequate handovers. Recognizing the significance of these moments can help you safeguard your marketing supply chain against avoidable setbacks.

3. Standardization with Flexibility: The art of equilibrium

Efficient supply chains contain a balance of standardization and flexibility—they’re as repeatable and predictable as possible, but still responsive to changes in suppliers, materials, and demand. Similarly, marketing teams must strike a balance that ensures consistency, while allowing room for adaptability in response to shifting market dynamics. Standardization brings predictability and quality assurance, facilitating the identification of automation opportunities that save time and effort.

However, being overly rigid can lead to stagnation. Just as a sudden shortage of materials can disrupt a physical supply chain, unforeseen market shifts can demand nimble marketing responses. Remaining open to swift strategy adjustments is key to retaining a competitive edge.

4. Maximum Leverage of Resources: Minimizing waste, maximizing impact

Today, 65% of B2B marketers say that their organizations struggle with significant content waste. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of your marketing supply chain and its impact, you can root out redundant processes, ensuring optimal utilization of every dollar and hour. Even incremental enhancements, when implemented at scale, can yield substantial savings and improvements.

Automation is a potent ally in waste mitigation—for both physical suppliers and complex marketing teams. Employing AI to expedite your most time-consuming processes, such as identifying emerging trends or suggesting relevant assets, can make it easier to streamline operations and optimize resource allocation.

Physical supply chain managers have another useful waste minimizer in their toolkits: the fluid mixing and matching of materials. Car manufacturers don’t create separate supply chains for each model’s engine—to the extent that it’s possible, they use the same base and customize as needed. The concept of "atomic content" draws inspiration from the fluid material mixing in supply chains. By creating modular content "atoms" and skillfully combining them, marketers can tailor campaigns at scale, ushering in a more relevant and engaging audience experience.

Deploying atomic content across various touchpoints makes your campaigns coherent while catering to the unique requirements of each channel. This approach not only maximizes asset reuse but also contributes to a cohesive brand narrative and a streamlined user journey.

Creating your “marketing supply chain”

The stages of your “marketing supply chain”—planning, production, distribution, and measurement—are part of a sophisticated, complex system. As such, supply chain concepts can help you unlock your team’s full potential.

By embracing complete visibility, you can better shape impactful campaigns. Through diligent attention to handoffs, your team facilitates seamless transitions between stages. Balancing standardization with flexibility empowers marketers to navigate the ebb and flow of market dynamics with finesse. And by optimizing resources and embracing atomic content, teams can attain efficiency while delivering tailored experiences.

Want to go deeper? To learn more about how marketing leaders are leveraging these concepts, check out Optimize your marketing supply chain: Accelerating your teams, processes, and impact with supply chain principles.

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