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Delivering the brand to the customer: The who and how
If brand awareness and customer loyalty are important to you, read on…
The Supply Chain Point of Sales Marketing Material (POSMM) Leader is the connection between individuals, organizations, resources, activities, and technologies involved in the manufacture and sale of a product or service.
It is a rewarding and challenging position, with big responsibilities.
Each day is different, each project is new, the position requires an impressive array of hard and soft skills.
What does a POSMM Leader do?
The job starts at the earliest stage by leading the kickoff meeting. It ends when the items are delivered on time, on budget and to the quality the client (or customer) expects.
What are the skills and strengths required to be a great POSMM Leader?
“The “P” in PM is as much about People Management as it is about Project Management” (C. Fichtner)
Firstly, the people.
You work closely with many top people, including stakeholders, public relations experts, brand and in-store designers, brand delivery, finance people, product managers, and external business partners. It is necessary to also lead meetings to share project progress with top management.
Simply put, all the good professional relationships you build with the above help to prevent mistakes and defects in manufactured products and avoid issues that could hamper the delivery of products or services to customers.
Then the Project Management side.
You will lead many projects from kickoff to the end. Being able to multitask is key. This is the ability to excel by keeping track of numerous projects around you. It requires strong skills in demand and supply planning, finance, Quality Assurance, working with an ERP, Excel, and using Microsoft Project Management tools.
You have the responsibility to deliver initiatives on TIME¸ developing Critical Path Schedules (CPS), and ensure that global and local warehouses are completely informed of the process.
You need to deliver initiatives on COST ensuring that the right market prices are offered while challenging and negotiating price estimates received from different suppliers to create savings.
Finally, you must ensure goods are of the highest QUALITY. You are responsible to deliver initiatives by developing high quality visual and collateral materials that best reflect the brand design and high expectations.
How can you achieve these aims? Through:
“Great Leadership is not about control. It is about empowering people. Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” (John F. Kennedy)
Every day will be different from the day before. Nevertheless, the position requires an everyday commitment to deliver quality results while facing challenges, and focusing on priorities.
Additionally, you need to be able to lead and develop highly professional and diverse teams across multiple cultures and countries.
“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply” (George Bernard Shaw)
Good communication is critical for internal stakeholders or external agencies. The key to successful communication is transparency. Never hide an issue nor an error. If a supplier makes a mistake, always inform the team and management, and most importantly always come up with solutions.
Whenever possible, engage in face-to-face dialogue with peers and suppliers. The success of your suppliers is your success. Do not shy from giving constructive feedback, and always congratulate an individual, the team or the suppliers on a job well done.
“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.” (Carrie Fisher)
Excellent negotiation skills influence the outcome of individual transactions, relationships with supplier and overall success.
Negotiation is not only about cost. It includes arrival time and quality standards. A common misconception of negotiation is that only one party can win. Work with suppliers with a win-win mindset. Importantly, as I learnt early on, negotiation is not a contract but a relationship; by no means should it be conflictual.
Flexibility / Problem Solving
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” (A. Einstein)
No matter who you work for keep in mind that customers and consumers have expectations that can rapidly change. As such, management may modify the strategy at the last minute. It keeps you alert and responsive. Sometimes it requires working overtime or checking emails on holiday.
It is all part of the excitement of being a Supply Chain project Leader; working with dedicated peers and suppliers to mitigate issues and find suitable and workable outcomes for all the parties concerned.
Team building / Team player
Together Everyone Achieves More
A team needs to express and share ideas freely. This improves team effectiveness, creates opportunities for feedback, and allows you to build an extraordinary team to win externally and internally.
You need to set-up and run meetings, share information, identify issues and find ways to quickly resolve them. It is important to hold regular face-to-face meetings with key project team members to build trust, give guidance and constructive feedback, and develop strong motivation among team members. Build employee capability through trust via regular feedback discussions with line managers to consolidate the team’s achievements.
What does a POSMM Leader produce?
A POSMM Leader working, for example, in the global luxury fragrances world would be involved in the end-to-end experience from the concept to delivery of promotional items. The POSMM Leader specializes in developing, sourcing and delivering point of sales marketing materials to promote the products including:
- Public Relations items; letter headed paper, branded folder & USB keys,
- Visual Merchandising; windows displays, counter tester, podiums,
- Print Material; posters, flyers, counter cards, showcards, pop-ups to create both awareness and increase brand loyalty,
- Gifts with purchase; for travel retail or duty-free shops such as branded toiletry bags, key rings, wallets,
- Accessories; branded shopping bags, blotters, giant dummy display bottles, ribbons, silk paper, wrapping paper,
- Consultant Accessories; t-shirts, polo’s, blouses, pin and, lastly
- Gift Sets; for special events such as Christmas or Mother’s Day.
Where and how does a POSMM Leader get involved?
Leading the kickoff meeting, the POSMM Leader gives the ‘no miss’ deadlines. Before sharing the creative design with the client, they provide constructive feedback to choose the best suppliers and collaborate with them on feasibility studies and the supply strategy.
You want clients to get an idea of how their promotional items will look. Working closely with the Brand Design Manager, this stage requires sharing various prototypes and ideas. It may take several meetings, but it is an essential, and exciting, step to get a client’s approval.
PREPARATION OF THE ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING (ERP)
ERP is a software system that integrates planning, purchasing inventory, sales, marketing, and finance. This stage also entails working with a Brand Delivery Manager to ensure that all country offices and distributors have forecasted correct volumes.
PURCHASING / PRODUCTION
Final volumes will be shared with the suppliers to negotiate a win-win price. During the production phase, the role of the POSMM Leader is key to ensure that the ERP is up-to-date. This is important for budget purposes (costs, import taxes), customs clearance (product hierarchy, Country of Origin, EAN codes etc), to order the right product (descriptions, sizes, images, packaging/material description), to order the right volume (Minimum Order Quantity, number of items per pack or per pallet). Here, weekly calls with the various suppliers are mandatory to keep up the pressure and motivation. A ‘yes but’ or ‘maybe’ are not acceptable, it must be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
PRE-PRODUCTION SAMPLES APPROVALS
They will be used as a benchmark for the final production samples. At this stage, minor changes (such as the logo size) may be accepted, providing it does not delay production.
DELIVERIES / DISTRIBUTING
Finally, the POSMM Leader must secure product availability and coordinate the shipping and receiving of the goods. All customs and ad hoc documents must be correct and available.
Debriefing helps the team to learn from the experience, analyze their performance and make improvements for next time.
Finally, you made it. Proud of the fact that you were behind the production and creation of materials that give life to a new product. Make sure the suppliers are paid on time and get their due credit. Moreover, do not forget to give your team all the credit they deserve. You will need them the next time you create something special for your clients.
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