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Marginal Impact – How A Change In Operations Becomes Great Marketing

March 5, 2014

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The dictionary refers to marketing as the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer to seller to consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing and selling. Marketing is not something that is done TO a product; it should be part of every aspect in business.

Years ago, I was working with a client who’s operational focus was to not only to sell environmentally-friendly products and solutions; but to be a beacon, setting an example and encouraging clients to follow their lead.

In looking at their invoices; I noticed that simple changes could be made to the margins of the template that would allow a) their most common products to print on just one line; and b) more items to be listed on one sheet of paper. At first; neither of us thought much about the idea and it was nearly logged as one of those things that would be nice; but not pressing.

Until we looked at the entire scope of the change.

The average invoice printed on 6 pieces of paper; and these changes would get that down to 4 pages, and only rarely needing a 5th. At the time, they were printing nearly 10,000 invoices each month. While there were too many variables (like growth and variation of invoice length) to predict exactly how much it would reduce the paper consumption as an office expense item; we knew it might be expressed in pallets of paper over the course of a year or so.

This little change was aligned with the company message to ‘do more with less’ as it enhanced the profitability while reducing the environmental impact.

Realizing that this change in paperwork might cause confusion to clients (used to receiving the old invoices); a letter was drafted to explain the new look; suggest simple opportunities within their business to reduce, re-use, or recycle (one of my favorites was to use the back of previously printed paper for notes, messages, internal memos, and the like – a practice I still employ today); and to ask them to talk to their service representative about other ways company can help them do more with less.

At the upcoming sales meeting; all representatives were to be informed of the changes, and had time reserved to collaborate on a list of conversations that could be had with interested clients.

Changing the margins on their invoice not only made for some worthwhile operational benefits; it also enhanced the interaction between seller and buyer – clearly making it part of the marketing process.

I love hearing stories of how you implement similar changes in your business. Please share them here, and various social postings.

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