Marketing, as a function has evolved to become multifaceted in all regards. A multitude of channels, several personas, a plethora of vehicles to reach the market, increasingly competitive landscapes, emerging technologies, expanding capabilities resulting from increasing efficiency, large workloads and limited budgets.
Now, although this is not the conclusive summary of what is going on in the marketing world, you get where I am coming from; Marketing is more complicated than it ever was.
In this rather complex, dynamic and evolving landscape, managing the marketing resources effectively and efficiently is extremely important. Marketing Resource Management (MRM) platforms offer the ability of a well-functioning back-office apparatus to execute campaigns in an ever-increasing and complex digital environment.
Before I dive deeper into the narrative of MRMs, let me quickly define some terms that are of pertinence.
Some relevant terms
The business landscape has evolved tremendously over the last decade. As such, marketing has been compelled to develop in line. With the ever-burgeoning marketing landscape, a proliferation of terms related to marketing management has surfaced. As the functionality of the technologies expands and products develop, the boundaries between software solutions continue to blur as MRM solutions incorporate other technologies into the mix.
It is essential to put MRM into perspective. So, here are some relevant terms:
- Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
Sometimes referred to as Marketing Operations Management (MOM), this is the software infrastructure that aligns people and processes with technology in support of marketing activities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing campaigns and activities.
- Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Software that organises, stores, and retrieves rich media and manages digital rights and permissions.
- Marketing Campaign Management (MCM)
Software that handles various aspects of direct marketing campaigns from planning, execution and tracking through final analysis.
- Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM)
The overall philosophy that supports every aspect of the marketing supply chain through a combination of technologies.
MRM software is being explored by organisations, small, mid-sized and large because it holds the potential to help improve efficiency, increase effectiveness, reduce costs, optimise resources, and drive more targeted and effective marketing programs by automating and streamlining day-to-day operations.
What is Marketing Resource Management?
The marketing landscape, be it B2B, B2G or B2C marketing, is more complicated than even a few years ago. The rate of technology evolution is fast, and the landscape is changing dramatically and evolving rapidly. The consumer today, regardless of whether for personal or professional reasons, is spoilt for choice and has high expectations. Buyers engage with a brand when, how and where they want and demand a seamless experience. To win the buyer’s attention and share of wallet, marketers must take full advantage of the new media channels, segmentation strategies, and capabilities that modern marketing enables. Marketers face an extremely high volume of work. This work must be completed to stakeholder satisfaction, be it external or internal stakeholders, with minimal errors and at a high pace.
With these increasing demands on human, time and financial resources, and to bring the chaos to an end, marketing executives are looking into MRM systems as a plausible solution.
So, what is MRM? MRM is software that helps marketers manage marketing processes so companies can be more agile in marketing planning, management, and execution of the marketing programs and campaigns. MRM helps the team work collaboratively and have greater transparency of tasks and dynamically track and understand resourcing, capability and team workload. An MRM system provides planning, budgeting, and tracking capabilities. It also provides the tools to manage the creation of digital brand assets, workflows, and approval processes.
In a digital world, with evolving customer journeys, MRMs could be the solution to decreasing time and speed to market and meeting the customer’s expectations. How MRM is defined, perceived and implemented in an organisation is based on the nature of the organisation’s products, services and business models. It is pertinent to note that the concepts that lie within MRM are still very broad. Hence, there is no clear and explicit definition. So too, no two MRMs are alike. Some serve to be point solutions for defined use cases and finite resource planning and cost recovery tools, while others are higher level, with greater budget spend.
MRM got its start from enterprise organisations needing a way to coordinate global marketing activities using expensive on-premise systems. A number of the tools available today started out as project management tools with a broader use case that has been tailored to marketing and others have developed from design studio and agency job management tools. Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery has enabled MRM to now be available to companies of all sizes, and many new players have arrived into the market as the demand for these tools from companies of varied sizes and industry verticals. SaaS has also made it possible to buy modules to integrate with tools already in use.
What capabilities must your MRM solution have?
MRM software solutions are often a single unified tool within a business, that combines all of marketing resource management tools into one, easy to navigate, system.
Sound MRM solutions include a variety of features:
- Strategic Planning
The MRM solution must provide visibility into how the marketing investment is helping meet strategic targets and objectives.
- Financial Management
The MRM solution must track expenses, schedules, and the cost of resources. It must link to strategic objectives to see expected results for programs and campaigns.
- Workflow Capability
The MRM solution must have workflows that automate everyday and routine tasks like content approvals and expense tracking. These workflows also assist with compliance and assist in collaboration between internal and external teams.
- Creative Production
The MRM solution must have creative production capability, which creates and develops marketing programs and content. Ideally, it should be integrated with your design tools to simplify the process.
- Timesheets and Billing
The MRM must have the ability to record time spent on tasks not only to compare to the estimated effort but also for billing of jobs, whether it be internal in the case of agencies or to external customers.
- Project Management
The MRM solution must organise marketing production with user progress reports and must have the ability to view progress and upcoming activities.
The MRM solution must have the calendaring capability, which provides a shared view of project activities with associated time frames.
- Resource Management
The MRM solution must have as a fundamental capability to assign tasks to individuals by role and dynamically see their workload so as not be able to plan timelines. Reallocating tasks to individuals who have more capacity is an integral part of the solution.
- Knowledge Management
The MRM solution must be able to access up-to-date product information and collect and display product information alongside the relevant product image by automatically retrieving data from other systems.
The MRM solution must have the ability to fulfil and distribute marketing assets, content, and collateral.
- Portal Access
The MRM solution must be able to provide partners and suppliers fulfilment, and marketing services.
- Brand Stores
The MRM solution must-have brand store capability, which gives users the ability to order branded items easily. Transparent billing and vendor integration ensure users get exactly what they need when they need it.
To grow in marketing, marketers must learn from their successes and failures alike. For this, they must understand what causes success and what leads to failure. Robust reporting can also be used to measure critical metrics related to e-commerce sales, brand portal activity, direct mail distribution and more. Therefore, comprehensive reporting must be a vital feature of an effective MRM system.
- Budgeting and Planning Tools
The knowledge gained from a well-implemented and sound MRM solution can help improve your marketing strategy. MRM systems that have budgeting and planning tools integrated make it easier to maximise marketing ROI.
A sound MR solution must provide reports on marketing efficiency, campaign performance, resource allocation, and more.
No MRM system should live in isolation. They should have an open API that can easily allow you to aggregate data, push finance information or connect to other supporting platforms like Digital Asset Management, marketing automation and personalisation experience platforms.
What are the benefits of MRM solutions?
MRM Solutions help local stakeholders gain more control
In the past, marketing resources were guarded by a complex network and hierarchy of gatekeepers. Access to marketing resources usually resided with a select few, and that too in the corporate head office. When stakeholders in a remote office or not with the right level in the hierarchy required access to resources, they had to request each piece of marketing collateral, on a case by case basis. Optimising the ads and displays for local markets required several rounds of edits and a never-ending array of emails.
MRM solutions help change this dynamic by providing marketers, designers, product leads, business owners etc. the ability to execute targeted and effective campaigns.
Leveraging marketing templates, local marketers can customise and contextualise collateral for local markets and geographical relevance.
Some MRMs provide the additional advantage of ‘web-to-print’ facility. This allows local marketers to print collateral at the click of a button without the need for lengthy approval processes. Local stakeholders can take charge of their marketing campaigns as a result of MRM solutions.
MRM Solutions help improve the return on marketing investment
Marketing assets and materials that are highly contextual and more relevant to local audiences lead to better engagement and higher response rates. MRM solutions help with an array of personalisation options such as variable data printing, tracking of customer engagement, automation of campaigns etc. The technologies that MRM solutions enable are highly personalised CX. A substantial percentage of buyers recommend a brand that provides a highly personalised CX. It is not surprising that as customisation options rise, higher revenue and increase profits follow.
MRM solutions help generate comprehensive reports which provide a better understanding of which marketing strategies are working, and which need reevaluation. Brand managers can leverage these insights to evolve their approach and, in the process, learn more about their customers, their market, and even their employees.
MRM Solutions help reduce costs
MRM systems can lead to savings in many areas of operations such as better team utilisation, distribution of tasks between offices and regions as well as the reduction in freelance work hire to solve capacity issues or deadlines.
Implementing standard processes such as request templates for standardising briefs and defining preset campaign and task templates ensure all information is captured in one place and that time is not wasted trawling through emails and google sheets.
An MRM allows you to understand how much a campaign actually cost to produce vs what was originally planned. When comparing the costs of production with analytics from the campaign, you can accurately get a picture to see how best to use your budgets in future activities.
MRM Solutions help reduce bottlenecks in marketing production
Many marketers consider approval process as a significant causal factor in holding marketing production back. MRM systems aid in simplifying and streamlining the approval process.
MRM solutions offer several features to help reduce bottlenecks in marketing production; standardising creative briefs and reducing the need to chase down information to get started, accessing assets in one central location, tracking comments and up to date updates in one system, managing approval rounds and corrections and understanding deadlines and prioritisation by using traffic rules and stages. All this can save up to 1 day per week of administration time for creatives and marketers.
Features such as time-management modules help track workflow progress and provide updated records of each team member’s participation. When a significant project seems like it’s stalling, MRM software identifies the hurdle so your marketing team can work together and overcome it.
MRM Solutions offer increased Security
In today’s business environment, data is stored in different places. Each device leveraged by a business professional, be it a PC, a laptop, a tablet, a phone or even a USB, introduces yet another device that can experience data corruption. Files can be lost, corrupted, edited incorrectly or even shared with third parties without appropriate permission. Furthermore, employees may purposefully steal company data. Often the theft of the data is cited as, “it was easy to do”. Most organisations do not have a stringent policy and the required processes and technology in place to prevent theft.
Marketing resource management tools help provide solutions that make it easy for managers to follow their activity trace and know which files team members have accessed and downloaded. Additionally, managers can use varying permission levels to decide which files each user can access.
These features do more than increase compliance and speed up production times. They also help protect brands from the kinds of data breaches that have cost major corporations millions in recent years. What would you think if your new brand campaign was accidentally seen by your competitors or leaked ahead of time?
MRM Solutions help innovate
Marketers perform to their best capability when they have the time and the resources to innovate. When marketers are burdened with daily distractions and the constant flow of smaller tasks, they are stuck in a routine which does not allow them to break away and think from a higher construct. The right MRM software can help marketers break away from the daily grind and help explore new technologies, approaches, and opportunities.
Most businesses today leverage multi-channel marketing. Often, several business units become involved in the marketing machinery. To deliver business goals and achieve business outcomes, organisations must speed up production time. This is achieved through unifying processes, having shared repositories, eliminating redundancies, and automating multiple functions like approval procedures. An effective MRM helps deliver. A robust MRM allows for shorter cycles and speed to market, thus creating a competitive advantage.
Where to from here?
Hopefully, I have demonstrated that Marketing Resource Management solutions can provide excellent value to the marketing function and to the business at large. If you are looking to go on this journey, feel free to reach out to me. I love to throw ideas around over a coffee. I enjoy talking blue-sky thinking and turning ideas into solutions. I believe everyone should get to experience technology as we do.
Creative Folks are consultants focused on empowering content creators through technology. We are made up of Lead Consultants, Solution Architects, Business Analysts, Developers and Engineers. If you would like to discuss how an MRM system can help your marketing initiatives, book a 20 min discovery session with me. To find out more about what we do, contact us.