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Marketing precision replaces 'creative chaos' - The role of MRM and how it relates to CRM

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11th Oct 2006
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Marketing directors often find themselves asking the same questions over and over again. Are we working as efficiently as possible? Are we spending money as planned? Would we make better decisions if we had better information at our fingertips? How can we accurately measure the return on investment from our campaigns? As the pressure to justify marketing expenditure and demonstrate results has grown, such questions have become more pressing. The answers lie with marketing resource management, or MRM.

MRM has emerged in response to the need for more efficient planning, budgeting, execution, tracking and measurement of marketing initiatives. It gives marketers time to think; streamlining processes and freeing up time to spend on strategy, as well as customer and business analysis. It manages the marketing "back office" which oversees the allocation of budgets, the management and deployment of creative assets, and project management. It stops short of the CRM processes associated with carrying out direct customer contact, but plays an invaluable role in supporting and feeding those processes by capturing, storing and managing the intelligence behind them.

Marketing has become a much more tangled web than it was even a few years ago. The department formerly known for its 'creative chaos' is being called upon to take responsibility for the entire customer experience. Most companies now realize that branding is much more than a flashy ad campaign and a whizzy slogan; it's the sum of all the experiences – good and bad – that a customer has with a company. 'Creative chaos' is being replaced with higher levels of marketing precision and performance, as marketers plan, design and direct all interactions with the brand, regardless of channel. Every interaction must be designed to provide value for both the customer and the company. But this is not all. As we all know, customers are more demanding and campaigns are more complex. Variations on a single campaign can mount into the hundreds. Combine this with the range of response mechanisms – telephone, email, SMS, direct mail, the web - and the challenges of better marketing execution and performance seem insurmountable. Even more daunting seems the prospect of taking responsibility for every customer’s encounter with your brand.

Visibility and measurement are the answers to these challenges, and both are provided by MRM. Marketers can see the entire scope of marketing activities underway and planned. MRM creates a single record of marketing activities, data, decisions and tactics. Armed with such information, planning, budgeting, managing and tracking the performance of marketing campaigns becomes standard practice. Templates can be created for developing campaign logic and creative materials, automating approvals, maintaining audit trails and even re-using successful programmes. At the same time, precision, efficiency and return on investment improve as decision makers have easy access to accurate and timely information. MRM is used to cut cycle times, execute more programmes with existing personnel and lower costs by streamlining workflow.

However, efficiency means nothing if marketing activities are not aligned with the original objectives and business goals. Companies can set marketing plans and budgets but then veer off on a different course when it comes to actually doing the work. MRM alleviates these misalignments. Plans, budgets and objectives are entered into the system and the execution of programmes and campaigns is assessed against them. Resources are allocated to the right projects at the right time, eliminating discrepancies.

The end user - the customer - is directly affected by all of this. MRM means that companies are better informed, allowing them to make superior decisions about the marketing activities, from the budgeting process to the allocation of spend by media and channel, and ultimately, improving customer strategy. By streamlining processes and improving efficiency in production management and planning, MRM give marketers more time to focus on what’s most important - empowering the whole organization to deliver value to customers in the form of relevant interactions and experiences. In addition, MRM captures the facts and information that underpins marketing decisions, allowing them to be stored, aggregated, analysed and accessed in when they are needed.

MRM enables a culture of marketing performance and gives marketers the tools that they need to drive the customer experience, but the transition does not happen overnight. Success has to be built incrementally. As with CRM, it must be part of a process - a process that requires the involvement of the right people. Marketers need to believe that what they do can be measured, and that value exists in that measurement. Most importantly, executives not involved with marketing must understand the value of marketing investment and build that value throughout the business.

By Carol Meyers, Head of Marketing, Unica

www.unica.com

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