One of my recent projects was to re-think and improve the coordination and distribution of promotional materials (program guides/flyers). Every year, a significant component of our marketing budget goes to this expense as it is key to attracting prospective international students/agents. Through this experience, I learned much and have compiled a list of Promotional Materials Distribution Tips. While this post isn’t as exciting as my Tesla Model S Review, I hope it will still prove useful to those in the international recruitment world. 🙂
Producing and sending thousands of printing and shipping materials internationally is stressful. When I embarked on this project, I totally felt like this guy!
Of course it would have been nice if the answer to all of my shipping problems had been “FedEx.” Spoiler alert!!! It wasn’t. Alas, I had to find my own path to printing/shipping nirvana.
5 Promotional Materials Distribution Tips
Determine exactly what you need, and how much you need of it.
Ordering too many materials is wasteful. Not just in terms of printing costs, but also in additional storage/disposal costs. On the other hand, not ordering enough will prevent you from receiving large volume price discounts. Even worse, you might run out of stock. Therefore, refer back to last year’s records and try to forecast what this year will be like.
Generate a list of vendors to request quotes from.
Googling a list of vendors is possible, but how do you know who is truly reliable and cost-efficient? I suggest checking with your colleagues/contacts within your industry. I posted on the Canadian International Student Recruiter Facebook Page, a request asking for recommendations on reliable internationally based printer/shippers. Soon after that, I had many high-quality suggestions.
Generate a list of your specific needs.
This will be different for every organization, but to give you an idea, here are some things to look for. Does the vendor have……
- Printing, Storage, and Shipping Capabilities? – I strongly recommend a vendor with all three, as it simplifies an already inherently complicated process.
- Free Pick/Pack and Storage Service – Who wants complicated billing filled with various service fees? Do yourself a favor and gather quotes from vendors that include pick/pack/storage services. Simplification is good.
- Can the vendor ship anywhere in the world? – If the vendor can’t ship your promotional materials to where you are currently active, and might be active in the future, complications arise. Shipping complications are not good.
- Vendor knowledge and experience? Many countries have inconsistent or odd customs/duties policies. For example, you may need to ship a 20 KG package to “X” country. However, “X” country may not accept single packages over 10 KG without demanding an exorbitant duty fee. Not only is this costly, but such a delay may mean your materials do not arrive at your event. Disastrous! Yet, if that same package was sent in two,10 KG boxes, it may just clear Customs without any issue. Go figure! Experienced shippers know where these issues exist and are prepared to deal with them.
Consult and Work with Your Purchasing/Finance Department
No doubt that printing/shipping is a major expense. Most likely your institution will have guidelines on how you can award such a large contract. Contact your Purchasing/Finance office early to make sure you are in compliance.
Analyze Vendor Pricing Data
When I ship something personally, I simply expect to pay more based on weight and speed. For example, I may assume that shipping a 5-10 KG package will cost $100 to send to “X” country. However if the package weighs between 10.1 to 15 KG the pricing may now be $125. Each shipping company will have their own pricing spreadsheet, so I recommend crunching some numbers with Microsoft Excel. If you have basic Excel skills, do an analysis by figuring out what pricing is per KG, and then try to spot trends.
After some vendor pricing analysis, I generated this graph, which helped me discover some key trends. (Pricing data will remain anonymous, and numbers/locations are not entirely accurate for confidentially reasons). As you can see, the overall trend is the same among all regions.
From the above graph, we can see that sending small individual shipments (less than 2 KG) is extremely costly per KG, while sending larger shipments (above 5 KG) becomes much less expensive per KG. As a result, this pricing model analysis tells us to avoid shipping numerous small packages. Instead, sending larger shipments is far more cost-efficient on a per KG basis. We also note that all areas of the world essentially have the same pricing trends. So how do we apply all of this to our benefit? Here’s an example:
Let’s say we have 5 agent visits in one city. We want to send each agent a small pack of promotional materials and so we have 2 options:
Option #1 – Send 5 packages to 5 different destinations, each weighing 2 KG each. According to the graph, the cost will be about $22.50/KG * 2 KG * 5 Packages = $225
Option #2 – Send 1 package to a hotel, weighing 10 KG and then distribute individually as we meet each agent over a period of 1 or 2 days. According to the graph, the cost is about $12.50/KG * 10 KG * 1 Package = $125
Conclusion: By sending one pack to a central location (i.e. your hotel), a savings of nearly 45% was achieved. Taking these steps will make a big difference to your organization’s shipping budget.
I hope these 5 Promotional Materials Distribution Tips have been helpful. Please like, share, and comment. To subscribe, just click on the Subscribe Button in the top upper right sidebar of this page.