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High Performance Marketing:
Marketing Resource Management Tools: The Issue is When not If

online columnist Steve Schultz     Column published in DMReview.com
January 13, 2005
 
  By Steve Schultz

Marketing resource management (MRM) tools are among the latest in a series that have been designed to increase the productivity and effectiveness of marketers. Unlike predecessor tool categories like marketing automation, MRM tools focus on assisting practitioners across all marketing channels, not just direct marketing. Overall, MRM functionality focuses on improving planning, measurement and execution. Here is a quick summary of the functionality and promised benefits.

  • Planning: Enables marketers to understand the individual marketing activities and programs and the timing of each. For environments where marketing executives are decentralized or are focused on complementary product or service offerings, the value and convenience of a comprehensive marketing calendar can be significant. Also, in marketing departments organized by marketing medium, this can provide a means to better coordinate marketing messages to target audiences.
  • Measurement: Enables marketers to budget, fund, analyze and evaluate marketing dollar spend in a more comprehensive, relevant and timely manner. Oftentimes, marketing budgets within financial systems are based on general ledger categories that make sense to the accountants and finance personnel. The reality is that marketing activities often take the form of projects or programs that cross traditional financial categories. MRM tools facilitate this more intuitive approach for marketing professionals.
  • Execution: Enables marketers to manage the details associated with making marketing projects and programs a reality. From activity/workflow management (routing, approval management, etc.) to marketing material management (photography, graphics, etc.), MRM tools enable marketers to dissect their processes and establish standards and controls for production-related activities across multiple service providers, whether internal or external.

MRM tools offer great promise. The key is in understanding how they can fit into your existing infrastructure.

Many organizations have made significant investments in existing technology, data structures, processes and people as they implemented CRM and marketing technologies over the last decade. Often these organizations cannot afford to sunset these investments as MRM functionality is added on. Therefore, the opportunity to leverage further tool-to-tool integration should be explored as part of your MRM decision-making process. What follows is a brief description of issues to consider and what you can expect when it comes to MRM integration with other marketing tools.

  • Data Warehouse and Data Mart (e.g., Oracle, SQL Server, etc.): Does the MRM tool require a proprietary database to support its application? The situation will vary by MRM tool. When proprietary data structures are required the key is to minimize duplicative input processes and leverage ETL activities between the proprietary MRM data structures and the larger common data warehouse or data mart.
  • SFA/Lead Management (e.g., Seibel, MarketSoft, etc.): What functions are redundant between the tools (lead management, etc.)? Can MRM functions be accessed from within the SFA or lead management tool? Typically, there is little direct integration opportunity between best-of-breed solutions for MRM and SFA/lead management. The key to successful deployment is well-planned processes that minimize redundant input and data management activities.
  • Marketing Automation/Campaign Management (e.g., Unica's Affinium Campaign, DoubleClick's Ensemble, etc.): How can the planning calendar information be leveraged by the MA/CM tool? How can execution functionality such as workflow management or creative content management be used to complement the list selection functionality of the MA/CM tools? Some MA/CM vendors have extended their tool offering to include MRM tools and offer a direct integration opportunity. Typically, most organizations find that data flow from the MRM tool to the MA/CM tool can be managed by leveraging common, external database structures. Further, most MRM functionality is complementary, not redundant, with MA/CM functionality. Therefore, organizations can often improve their direct marketing processes even further through the continued automation opportunity afforded by MRM.
  • Business Intelligence (e.g., Business Objects, MicroStrategy, Cognos, etc.): How should measurement reporting responsibilities be distributed between the MRM tool and the BI tool? Some MRM tools will leverage a best-of-breed BI solution within the tool. For organizations without an extensive measurement discipline, MRM tools can provide an excellent jumpstart. However, in many organizations, BI and measurement practices are mature disciplines. As a result, the MRM information is shared with the BI tool and the existing BI tool interface is leveraged to meet organizational reporting needs related to measurement.

As with any tool selection, business needs and requirements need to be well-understood, documented and prioritized. Business cases should be performed to identify how the MRM tool will create value for the organization, and a high-level implementation plan should be put in place to address the data, process and people aspects that accompany any tool implementation. Overall, with a little careful planning, the selection and integration of an MRM tool into your existing marketing infrastructure should provide short and long term value to your organization.

...............................................................................

For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
Business Intelligence and Database Marketing.

Steve Schultz is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) practitioner who combines an understanding of information technology with extensive business process design experience and information-based decision-making methodologies. As executive VP of Client Services for Quaero (www.quaero.com), he helps clients identify, justify, implement and leverage leading edge analytical CRM environments to create or/and improve their database marketing capabilities. Schultz has worked with companies in the financial services, telecommunications, retail, publishing and hospitality industries. Contact him at schultzs@quaero.com.

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