It always amazes me how simple things in real life match the complex inner workings of marketing strategy, closed loop marketing and customer intelligence. As I was planning a recent weekend’s activities with my young son, I found myself going through the same process I take my clients through with closed loop marketing.

  • Strategize. What are the overall strategy, message, communication plan and high-level targets? Perform detailed segmentation, response analysis and performance evalutation to vet ideas.
  • Plan. Create the project plan for different programs and perform any further analysis to refine targets, budgets and tactical offers.
  • Execute. Execute multichannel efforts to reach the audience with your message.
  • Evaluate. Check the success of the program on a timely basis to understand short- and long-term investment.

With the advent of marketing suites, it is becoming much easier to deploy the infrastructure to support this process.
Strategize: Organizations create marketing strategies to help them understand the time, money and people requirements for acquisition versus retention versus loyalty versus migration. How they divide their budget and what general strategies, channels and tactics they deploy will steer the company, typically for an entire year. Nimble organizations do quarterly or at least biannual checkpoints to see if the original direction still makes sense given current economic conditions and competitive pressures.

The bulk of this process leverages hard-core data analytics to help organizations understand the right audience, the right message, the right offer and their chance of success regarding an idea. Analysis helps confirm or deny different hypotheses and shines a light on new opportunities. Technologies like predictive modeling, online analytical processing (OLAP) and ad hoc query tools are prevalent here.

With my son, there are similar things to consider when planning his day: What is my intent? What is my desired outcome? What data is available? What channel should I use to approach him and when? What offer should I make?

Plan: My clients use an enormous number of spreadsheets to create detailed contact plans, budgets and segment descriptions. These spreadsheets feed campaign execution and attempt to compare budget versus actual performance. Though IT departments typically create thorough project plans and track project progress, Marketing departments do not always use the same rigor. And Marketing’s projects can often be more complex, depending how many consulting companies, mail houses, email outsourcers and ad agencies are in the mix.

Marketing resource management (MRM) was created to automate many of these tasks. Tasks such as planning templates, task tracking and automated reminders help marketing managers coordinate various activities to get programs out the door. Most importantly, MRM can bring order to the budgeting process. Some organizations that have vastly complex budget requirements will remain complex with automation, but the process will become more centralized, systematized and accessible.

Planning with my son has similar hurdles. We used to try to remember everything we needed to bring, but it only took one time when we forgot his cars and trucks to understand we need to systematize. We now have a robust, formalized checklist that includes food, clothes and entertainment.

Execute: Campaign management was the original marketing automation system and remains the centerpiece of the marketing suite. Organizations have become fairly sophisticated in their use of these tools and are starting to leverage the other channels available to them. At this point, many organizations are focusing on automating the quality assurance piece to ensure they have no mistakes during list pulls.

MRM can play an important part during the execution phase to coordinate and track progress of the important activities. Alerts will tell managers if a task is starting to fall behind and is endangering their schedule.

Execution is definitely the weakest part of my son’s activities, at least when Dad is in charge. Activities that never seem to go smoothly when I am involved include getting dressed, getting into the car and eating lunch.

Evaluate: Our clients judge performance across an ever increasing amount of dimensions such as: Did the channel work? Did the offer(s) work? Which segment worked? What other promotions and activities were going on at the same time? What are the right metrics to review?

Timely evaluation can be the most critical aspect of achieving ROI or avoiding disaster with the program. No matter how much science we bring to marketing, we will always test new concepts and ideas - and not all will be good ones. We need to identify the ones with momentum for further investment and make corrections to those that are not working.

The marketing suite is helping us close the loop faster and more accurately. Organizations are leveraging these technologies to solve multichannel execution and analytical problems. Getting to market faster and making quicker, more fact-based decisions will divide nimble, customer centric organizations from those who are simply winging it. What you want to hear is, “I want to go out with Daddy tomorrow.” What you want to avoid is, “Daddy doesn’t know how to make peanut butter and jelly the right way.”

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