Bharati Veasey asked a simple enough question in our Any Answers forum:
"Does anyone have a proper campaign management process which can be applied to an entertainment industry?"
I hope he found the advice from members useful. It made me wonder what other questions might concern him. A common criticism of marketing is that it is:
- Irritating to customers
- Poorly targeted, one of the prime causes of customer dissatisfaction
- Badly timed
- Over budget
- Poorly measured
- Contributes little to steering the enterprise into profitable high growth areas
As someone with experience in this field from both sides of the fence – client and consultant, I decided to look into this a little deeper to see if we might solve Bharati’s problem or at least provide guidance to help him and his colleagues be successful. This may be way beyond what he finds useful, but marketing is a bugbear with me so I shall continue regardless.
First stop MRM – Marketing Resource Management
MRM systems have been around for a number of years now, and the two leaders which spring to mind, Aprimo and Unica were my first web-port of call, to find out what they might provide. Both websites irritated me, as they sought to grab my details before providing me with any useful information. From what I could see, they both provide the means to manage budgets and workflows associated with campaign management. They also have strong analytics and the ability to measure campaigns and demonstrate a Return on Marketing. What more could you want?
Marketing support infrastructure is stuck in a silo
I don’t care how sophisticated MRM systems are; campaign management is only one small element of the overall marketing mix. 11 other elements, some of them far bigger and more complex are identified in 12 ways to create customer value, and I'm sure that only scratches the surface.
These days most of the main CRM vendors provide some form of campaign management capability, though probably lacking the sophistication of these two dedicated players. Within the silo of marketing campaigns management, I’m sure both applications perform splendidly, but what value is there in efficient control of budgets and workflows if they are being used for the wrong purposes?
Frankenstein is thriving
Back in July, Peter Simpson former marketing director at First Direct and Professor Adrian Payne both bemoaned the paucity of strategic thinking in the marketing domain. What we find in finance driven organisations, is that marketing is seen as little more than a means of creating a sales funnel. The MRM view supports this state, as no questions are asked about the strategic thinking behind the allocation of budgets or of their impact outside superficial measures like number of leads and how fat the pipeline happens to be. Budgets are often allocated to those products or services which historically have yielded the highest return. At this granular level the impact on customer value is hidden from view.
In the late 1990’s in IBM, I coordinated pan-EMEA marketing campaigns of our Industry Solutions Units (ISUs) and what we euphemistically called ‘The Brands’ = products. At the time, research showed that we were irritating our customers far more often than informing them. One unfortunate CIO received over 20 mailings from different parts of IBM in the same week. If we had had an MRM system in place, this may have been prevented. It is unlikely however, that such a system would have yielded insights into what customer really valued. For that we needed a deeper understanding of our and some strategic guidance to drive all marketing activities, not just promotions or lead generation campaigns.
I witnessed a similar set of conditions at Hewlett-Packard when I was a consultant with KPMG. In effect we built an MRM system which provided 'closed loop' control of marketing budgets and activities, all the way through to metrics on leads and sales by their channel partners.
This covered five primary activities:
The lack of strategic thinking illustrates the weakness of a product centric approach to marketing. Promotional activity was governed by quarterly sales targets and based on assumptions about customers. Success or otherwise could be monitored. It was hoped that this feedback loop would create a. virtuous circle of learning, but there was no guarantee that individuals involved would learn much about customers’ desires.
As Adrian Payne said in his interview, this is the approach that most companies are taking – automating practice with no inbuilt rigour to ensure that it is good. We are building Frankensteins This is an approximation of one aspect of marketing, but lacks the life and soul of the real thing.
Providing a strategic context for marketing activities
John Skinner who leads the strategic marketing practice of Ogilvy One Consulting, and has conducted over 1000 strategic marketing workshops over the last 15 years, said: ‘the problem with most marketing efforts is that they are based on hunch and driven by short term sales targets. When people take a step back and look at things from the customer perspective, they realise that where they are spending their money is often in the wrong place.’
But John also said that the problem is systemic in many large firms, especially where marketing is subordinated and seen to be nothing more than a sales support function. In well balanced customer centred firm, the role of marketing is to support the board in making informed decisions which have positive outcomes, first for customers, and then as a result for shareholders, as this diagram illustrates.
In a customer or market led firm, the board concerns itself with optimising all the resources at its disposal to secure long term profitable growth. The board in this firm realises that if needs to be able to interpret and make sense of trends and their impact on its ability to meet its strategic objectives.
Marketing plays a vital role in providing this market and customer intelligence, but cannot do this without collaborating effectively with operations and sales and distribution. Marketing campaigns is only one of many activities that marketing performs, and it is directed by deeper thinking than just feedback from experimental and ad hoc campaign activities.
In ‘Creating a company for customers’ by Professors: Malcolm McDonald, Martin Christopher, Simon Knox and Adrian Payne (© 2001 Pearson Education Ltd), marketing planning is seen as a pan-company activity, not a standalone one. In this advanced environment, the marketing director has the clear responsibility to bring market understanding and customer insight into the firm, and work with colleagues across departments to turn this in to value for customers. It is a continuous and cyclical process driven by understanding and assessment of the impact on customers.
The strategic context for marketing is therefore very clear. It is to optimise all resources in the pursuit of superior value to customers. In collaboration with others in the firm, it plays a vital part in helping top management orchestrate resources more effectively.
Crack the code on customer priorities
In the Profit Zone by Adrian Slywotsky and David Morrison of Mercer Consulting. (© John Wiley & Sons 1997) this highly collaborative role is laid out very clearly as a ‘reverse value chain’.
In this new model, marketing assumed enormous responsibilities, and its prime focus was on developing critical insights into customers wants, needs, buying behaviours, so that the appropriate form of value could be developed and delivered in the optimum way.
Getting from here to there
Many firms are struggling to make the giant leap from product centric to customer focused businesses. In the former world, marketing was just another department with little responsibility other than to broadcast the potential value the firm felt it could offer, and to position itself by digging its elbows into competitors.
In this product centric environment, MRM systems must seem very seductive. After all if half the spending on advertising and lead generation is wasted, and the marketing director doesn’t know which half, then MRM systems will at least allow him or her to trace the impact. In a customer centred environment, the entire organisation needs to work together in a far more collaborative way. As we saw in last week’s interview with Professor Lynette Ryals on Key Account Management, delivering value to customers is more of a team based activity than in the old product push model. MRM systems may well have their place, but what help is there for the people within organisations in making this difficult transition?
Knowledge Management must play a part
Part of the answer is improving knowledge management systems and providing expertise at the point of need. This can be done via a firm’s intranet, where 'how-to' guides and examples can be stored for access when they are needed. In large complex firms finding the right information at the point of need i.e. during the actual activity being performed, is fraught with difficulty. As well as cataloguing issues, during the transition what was once considered a best practice, suddenly falls into disrepute.
The management of this transition is extremely difficult and prone to confusion. Creating greater transparency across the organisation is not helped by automating business as usual or by grafting on some other organisation’s best practice marketing resource management system. The transition is unique to the firm, so it must find its own means of communicating and ensuring understanding during this period of chaos. Something far more adaptable and useful is needed I’d be very interested to know of members who have an answer to this challenge.
One of the most innovative approaches I have seen for managing such a transition and ‘bottling knowledge and expertise’ is from The Salamander Organization www.tsorg.com based in York Science Park, Yorkshire. They have a simple visual map of the transition available via the intranet which allows people to see what stage they are at and where they are going. By clicking on any item or icon on the map, the enquirer can drill down to whatever level he or she wishes. The pieces of the transformational jigsaw will make sense as they will be seen in context.
As well as providing repository of expertise and know-how, instructions to launch applications or take information from them can also be embedded.
Closing the loop on marketing campaigns
We have strayed beyond the boundaries of Bharati Veasey’s initial question on campaign management. For marketing campaigns to add real value to customers, it must be subordinated to a more rigorous thought process informed by insights into customers. MRM systems are a useful tool to support the execution and measurement of campaigns, but somehow the entire organisation needs to get behind the same venture. Operational systems provide some support as well, however to be really effective, these insights need to be communicated and shared across the organisation. Firms making the transition from product to a customer driven model, will need the support of knowledge management systems allied to a more rigorous marketing discipline. Then MRM systems will add value.
By Jeremy Cox CMC Editor Business & Strategy
If you would like to contact me and share your own experience or opinion please contact me at [email protected]
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