I love a good success story. But have you ever heard of too much success? I have!
We have an information security client that was drowning in their own success. They're total rock stars in their field. They were seeing wild growth, but they were being stretched thin because of this growth. This presented an issue where members of their team were forced to take on responsibilities above and beyond their capabilities—involving their mail, distribution and trade show presence (among others).
So, in the middle of this phenomenal growth spurt—up 75% in one year (bumping from 15 salespeople to 75) they were feeling great. But, amidst the new growth, they needed to continue to focus on their core business.
They were smart, though. They knew when it was time to outsource things they had traditionally done in house, and we were happy to throw them a life line.
The Ask: A Space, Time, Inventory Continuum
A representative from the company reached out to me. Her exact ask: pricing for fulfillment housing. I say to myself, great, this is the “milk and toast” of what we do.
They were undertaking a program that involved shipping collateral to trade shows all over the U.S. (sometimes having as many as three or four events on the same day, with six or seven shows total in a week). She confided that it was getting too difficult for her to manage single handedly. At the time, she had 54 events scheduled from mid-August until December for her program alone.
Her pain was sorting through supply vendors for her collateral, then getting those items to her sales team, quickly running out of inventory, managing a balance, reprinting, keeping fresh on incentive items like those fidget spinner things everyone and their mother has—while also taking care of her normal marketing duties. Yeah, I’d say she plate was pretty full. And speaking of full, they had no space to store the trade show inventory in their offices.
Keep in mind, this is a company that is extremely good at what they do, but dealing with a fulfillment project of this size in house wasn’t a part of their expertise. Our solution recommendation: manage it for them and make all that pain go away. We’d free up space, resources and lower costs, allowing them to focus on managing their continually-growing business.
Hitting the Road: Managing the Trade Shows
I like to think of our partnership with them like this: since they're the rock stars, we’re their tour managers. A tour manager makes sure a concert tour runs smoothly; we make sure their jam-packed calendar of trade shows run smoothly. All they have to do is show up, take the stage and rock and roll!
To pull off this ambitious trade show tour schedule, we use our expertise in fulfillment, along with our Nextouch ordering platform, to manage the ordering and storing of their event collateral and coordination of their trade show booths.
We developed the Nextouch tool for clients with these exact types of fulfillment needs. It’s an incredibly smart ordering and management system that’s simple to use—and makes lives easier for both marketers and sales reps (but I’ll get deeper into that in my next blog post!).
With Nextouch in our back pocket, we manage the company's premium-item and collateral inventory, which consists of notebooks, pens, survey sheets, and data packets (that require being built). These items need to be packaged into the same box (quantities dependent on the number of people expected to attend each event) and shipped out to the event standard overnight or 2-day delivery.
Coordinating the trade show booths includes everything from laundering table toppers and linens to sending out booth assembly instructions. We’re taking care of the banner stands, as well as any leave-behinds they may need (like pocket folders that house product or sales materials).
We’re also handling their giveaways (usually pens, gift cards or hardcover notebooks) and apparel.
And, good "roadies" that we are, we provide what we call “lunch n’ learn kits," which are perfect for trade shows. They're pre-prepared information packets that include the company's literature in a pocket folder. Even better, we've got a special kit for trade shows that's like if Swiss Army Knife made a prep kit for your booth. These special kits include all of the little stuff you wish you had, but typically forget, like tape, pens, sticky note pads, paper clips, safety pins, highlighters and a box cutter.
Today, the company is now participating in over 60 shows a year, and we’re managing all of them. Our contact is an absolute fan. A really happy camper. The company is still growing, and thanks to a little help from their friends at Harte Hanks, they’re able to focus on their fans and maintaining their success.
About the Author
As Vice President of Solution Sales at Harte Hanks, Matt uses his 20 years of experience in fulfillment operations to manage and evaluate fulfillment operations and market solutions. He is responsible for business strategy and consulting, and developing strategic plans for multi-site distribution of literature and product sample programs. Matt's expertise extends to unit management, digital printing and print-on-demand, small package shipping and all aspects of warehouse and fulfillment operations.More Content by Matt Pollock