When marketing resource management (MRM) technology was first introduced by Aprimo, many people said, I dont get it. Today, after years of education, the marketplace is starting to understand and value the features of MRM. Typically, MRM is explained as an application that manages marketing projects. Some of the features and functionality include:
- Management capability to document and automate the marketing process so as to keep projects moving and more closely track their progress.
- Digital asset management capabilities, which act as a central repository for creative and other marketing documents.
- Integration with financial planning systems to support the marketing budgeting process.
- Basic marketing dashboards for key marketing metrics.
Organizations tend to look at this list of functionality and infer that MRM will increase the efficiency of their marketing departments. However, when reading materials or listening to vendor presentations, the word effectiveness continues to appear - implying that MRM will help you be a better marketer and execute better marketing programs. After absorbing this information, potentials users typically remark, I still dont get it.
As marketing tends to be creative in nature, defining standardized or, in some cases, centralized processes for their function has not been a priority. The pushback has typically been that the marketing process would be difficult to define because the competitive environment constantly changes and, as a result, marketers need to stay nimble to react to these conditions. However, the reality is that planning and creating a standard set of business processes does not inhibit creativity or reaction time. It merely provides guidelines so that the different organizations, functions and stakeholders can work together more smoothly, speak a common language and track progress more accurately.
MRMs ability to automate the marketing process provides major benefits to organizations. The ideal environment for MRM is typically distributed or highly fragmented/compartmentalized marketing departments. The more departments that need to be involved in the marketing process, the harder it is to control schedules, track progress, coordinate activities and collaborate. Ideal candidates for MRM include:
- Organizations that need to collaborate globally to bring programs to market.
- Organizations that use several third parties to execute a campaign, including creative agencies, mail houses or data services.
- Organizations that have divided their market function into several small groups, such as creative, analysis, brief creation, list selection and offer creation.
- Organizations with or without a budgeting process. Whether the process is complicated or simple, it never goes as well as planned, and to have an application that leverages historical results and past budgets is very helpful.
Marketing effectiveness is driven from the closed-loop process. As you iterate your programs, the learnings from the responses of your customers help refine offers, targets, benefits, creative and messaging. With every iteration of a program, the message becomes clearer and the results continue to improve, usually in the form of marketing ROI. If this is the case, managers question how MRM improves effectiveness. It seems that analysis technology and campaign management technology have more to do with marketing effectiveness; this thought process is correct.
Even though tying marketing finances closer to marketing execution will improve ROI reporting, MRM doesnt really seem to make a direct impact. However, this is one of those cases where efficiency breeds effectiveness.
Closing the loop is typically not good enough anymore. The competitive landscape dictates that you must close the loop faster than your competitors. Leveraging MRMs efficiency gains allows you to optimize the loop, make it tighter and release programs to the market quickly. By moving faster through the loop, youll refine sooner, increase investments more rapidly or de-invest in less effective programs more quickly. Inherently, your efficiency gains should improve your programs.
Though I do believe that much can be accomplished on the marketing process side without technology for support, and though I do believe that you should use campaign management for at least a little while before jumping into an MRM solution, the case for MRM is becoming clearer. To help articulate what MRM can do for you, I would recommend that you identify a couple of key processes that are very cumbersome and that prevent good marketing ideas from getting to market in a timely fashion. With many managers focusing on speed, the response should be, I get it.
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