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Playing Nice: How to Ease Tension Between Packaging and Marketing

By BLUE Software

Everyone knows one of the key ingredients to productive teamwork is collaboration.  While you’d think the benefits of Packaging-Marketing collaboration would be obvious, the truth is these teams can easily become misaligned, leading to behaviors that undermine collaboration and impede both teams’ success.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to alleviate the tension between Packaging and Marketing by enabling collaborative proofing and increasing visibility to make each department more effective – increasing “right first time” rates and getting products to market sooner.

Why You’re Frenemies

In many companies, Packaging suffers from an identity crisis. Is Packaging a cost, and hence an operational or supply chain expense?  Or is it a revenue driver, better owned by Marketing?  And even when Packaging has been given a permanent address in Marketing, the hybrid nature of its role often sets the Packaging team apart from their Marketing department counterparts, creating a “work in isolation” dynamic that encourages disconnects between the two functions and causes a breakdown in communication.

When two teams aren’t communicating and they don’t have equal visibility into projects, tension begins to fester.  Case in point: in meetings with our prospects, frequent comments from Packaging include, “Marketing makes changes late in the game…” or “Marketing makes changes that don’t work on the package…” or our personal favorite, “Marketing thinks the package just falls out of the sky!”  And the Marketing teams tells us one of their top pain points is a lack of visibility into what’s working and what isn’t on the package.

In addition to causing tension, poor communication and visibility between Packaging and Marketing can yield detrimental and costly effects downstream: labeling errors, PR disasters, product recalls – are you squirming yet?

 3 Ways Packaging Tools and Technology Can Ease Tension

To ease tension between Packaging and Marketing, companies are adopting smart Label and Artwork Management tools to overcome collaboration obstacles and drive timely go-to-market strategies. Here’s how:

#1: Stop Playing “Pass the Paperwork”

We’ve all played the “Pass the Paperwork” game.  Routing folders and approval checklists… hard copy artwork… players lurking in hallways, waiting for approvals.  Let’s be honest: nobody likes this game!  For Packaging and Marketing, prompt feedback and visibility into artwork in progress is what keeps the review process and go-to-market strategy moving forward.  It enables decisions.  In a Label and Artwork Management solution with workflow management and online proofing tools, Packaging and Marketing teams have a fluid, accessible review and approval process.  Everyone can see the latest version of the artwork – and the annotations on it – in real-time.  They also have instant access to briefing documents and reference files so feedback aligns with pre-approved assets and guidelines.

Taking it one step further: a Label and Artwork Management solution makes it easy for the Marketing team to provide timely, effective feedback. When it is time for an approval, reviewers receive a secure link to proofs with integrated annotation and commenting tools, enabling them to markup content and designs with specific, context-rich comments while engaging other users in the feedback process.  This feedback then becomes action items for the Packaging team, keeping the process moving forward.

#2: Make Time for Marketers to Market and “Packagers” to Package

Let’s face it: collaboration is thwarted by more than paperwork. According to a study by Service Now, employees spend an average of 15 hours a week on tasks such as email management, and research by McKinsey reports employees spend 20% of their time looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues. No wonder employees often report frustration over the lack of time for ‘real work!’  So how do we make more time for the work employees love?

These days, a lot of art­work is made by cutting text from approved artwork documents and pasting it into Adobe Illus­trator, where the packaging artwork is created. But in a Label and Artwork Management solution that integrates with Adobe, you can take the text from a word document or a Digital Asset Manager of approved packaging copy and move it directly onto the package. This automates the construction of the artwork – reducing errors and saving time.  Marketers can trust, for example, the artwork they’ve been asked to review adheres to brand standards, which improves their review process and cuts down on the amount of feedback they have to give.  “Packagers,” in turn, improve “right first time” artwork rates and can send the artwork into production sooner.  Voila!  You’ve given your employees their time back, and they can now focus on the aspects of the job they really love.  Everyone wins, and teams of satisfied employees are teams that work well together.

#3: Enable All Teams to Add Value

In the end-to-end packaging process, artwork is often routed so frequently, people don’t really know when they’re reviewing it for the last time. In this environment, it’s easy to think, “The artwork will come back to me again. I have other priorities. I’m just going to give it a quick look and go.” This mindset creates problems:

  1. It doesn’t encourage a high value touch.
  2. It’s possible the artwork might not come around again, resulting in surprises and last minute changes.
  3. It reinforces perceptions that cross-functional teams aren’t carrying their weight and creates an antagonistic environment.

Label and Artwork Management tools enable all stakeholders to apply high value touches each and every time.  With collaborative online proofing features, visibility into all feedback is enhanced,  and when team members can see others’ comments, a team culture emerges, wherein everybody sees everyone’s efforts, and everybody’s working toward making sure the artwork is right.

Kiss and Make-Up

Implementing Label and Artwork Management technology to help Packaging and Marketing teams collaborate is a valuable investment.  It empowers both teams and allows them to be better, engaged employees. And if you’re optimizing your human resources, the results will follow.  To learn more about improving collaboration in your own organization and adopting a Label and Artwork Management solution, download our e-book: Boost the Bottom Line by Streamlining Package Design.