That’s the number of noticeable inefficiencies within your own marketing operations. At least, that’s what you can count off the top of your head. Ask any team member where they see wasted resources, system redundancies, or process bottlenecks, and you’ll realize incidental gaps quickly coalesce and necessitate a solution. That’s where Marketing Resource Management software comes in.
Many marketing leaders are familiar with Marketing Resource Management software (MRM). Some current CMOs even cut their marketing teeth as practitioners at organizations that employed MRM years ago. But today’s Marketing Resource Management systems have evolved, and in light of mounting inefficiencies, experienced marketing pros are finding that the new breed of vendors is worth reappraising.
Other marketers are not yet familiar with Marketing Resource Management software, but they do know they’re already drowning in point “solutions,” each one partially negated by its own inherent deficits.
Upon weighing the inefficiencies you’re aware of — and especially considering the ones of which you’re not — modern Marketing Resource Management may be more relevant to your team now than ever before.
Let’s take a look.
What is Marketing Resource Management?
Senior marketers might recall the costly, cumbersome, on-premise MRM successors developed and imposed in the early 2000’s. The best Marketing Resource Management tools today offer a new, updated experience, most with intuitive usability, flexible functionality, and modular capabilities.
In fact, the thriving category is worth an updated definition:
Modern Marketing Resource Management software is a strategy and execution workflow optimization application that supplies teams with an integrated environment for strategic planning, real-time resource tracking and approval, content production governance, creative media execution, two-way visibility, and data-directed collaboration.
Marketing Resource Management software is an operating system for marketers
In 2017, Gartner analysts put each of the above critical competencies into one of three management buckets: Work, Asset, and Performance. Previously, marketers relied on project management tools and tactics to manage work, digital asset management (DAM) technologies to maintain content assets, and the combination of content’s traction measurements with production data to manage performance. New and revamped MRM vendors (Gartner called them 2.0) were developing comprehensive (yet modular) systems to combine all those processes and tools into one enlightening dashboard for all decision makers, team members, and agency partners.
Marketers, it seemed, had begun taking seriously the role of content as a strategic business function. Demand for these customizable, scalable, agile tools pointed to a foundational shift in the marketing community.
Around the same time, Forrester’s own experts said the emerging second generation of MRM providers enabled the management of four key workstreams: money, people, content, and brand.
- The financial functionalities involved budget planning, performance monitoring and management, as well as a refreshing visibility.
- Inside the people component, users leveraged powerful project management tools, collaboration features, data taxonomies, and dynamic calendaring capabilities.
- The content asset management portion also housed creative production workflows, multiple approval processes, and naturally, a digital asset management (DAM) application.
- Brand management featured marketing fulfillment, through-channel marketing automation (TCMA), and simplified distribution.
The 2017, analyses from Gartner and Forrester made sense, but in hindsight, they seem to have been especially precursory. For marketing decision makers flying blind in the middle of multiple transformations, the continual providing of point-patches could only stem the tide until it became clear: serious integrated marketing operations need serious integrated marketing systems.
In the two years since, the pressure has only mounted. First, the researchers’ predictions came true. Organizations that adopted, configured, and deployed the right Marketing Resource Management software for their particular needs are achieving competitive advantages, while neutralizing risk and realizing regulatory compliance. And the visionary analysts are predicting the trend to continue. “Cost-conscious marketers will re-embrace evolved Marketing Resource Management (MRM) systems to more efficiently manage workflow, budgets, and processes,” writes senior Forrester analyst, Tina Moffett, in Predictions 2020: Marketers Will Balance Cost Concerns With Customer Expectations.
How does Marketing Resource Management software work?
Marketing Resource Management software works by giving a new visibility to critical, back-end transactions through approval workstreams and business logic. Most legacy marketing resource management providers did the same, but neglected to address requisite agility and usability. The customization options of point products temporarily won the battle for software consumers’ budgets. That is, until now, when strategic marketing stakeholders acknowledge yet again their need for the depth and breadth of MRM’s integrated functionalities. And this time, the vendor landscape is ready to solve for both.
Many of the same solutions providers have seen the trend and chosen to adapt. DAM technologies and content marketing platforms are integrating planning and project management capabilities. Meanwhile, vendors heavy on financial planning and performance analytics are expanding their scope by acquiring or developing content marketing platforms.
In other words, each MRM system works based on its original and evolving purpose. In practice, though, Marketing Resource Management software should integrate every aspect of marketing operations across the diverse spectrum of planning and execution activities.
The growing importance of Marketing Resource Management
What’s prompting leaders to revisit MRM as an answer to their needs? The most conspicuous reason for reconsidering Marketing Resource Management software is the combination of increasing costs and decreasing efficiency across marketing operations. The promise of an end to the complexity (or worse, all-out chaos) of today’s marketing operations has leaders inclined to know more.
Marketing waste can stem from a number of planning, operational, technical, and collegial glitches. Here’s what that may mean in daily practice.
- A marketing director and her team deploys a pair of experimental channel campaigns, eager to assess KPI’s. When she realizes one medium isn’t performing, she tries to kill the execution tool but learns her brand is locked into a long-term or otherwise complicated agreement.
- A CMO’s vision is clearly communicated. But over time, the incentivization structures that stem from poor business intelligence, random measurements, and biased analytics distract team players. People learn to exercise their creativity within the confines of those feedback channels instead of the original vision. This results in talent fatigue, confusion, overproduction of valueless and misguided content, indifference toward future planning sessions, or all the above.
- A midsize brand’s data isn’t flowing between a few point programs. That’s been a mere inconvenience until now. New privacy laws have leaders treating data protection and risk management with the gravity they deserve, and an increasingly disparate, complex, stitched-together approach is no longer acceptable.
- An agency submits half-baked assets because they’ve learned they’ll be asked to redo the work a half-dozen times as their brand client hashes out and decides upon their ideal result mid-production cycle. Previous campaigns with this client have taught them to expect copious back-and-forth anyway, so why apply their own resources to that first pass?
- A brand’s SEO team needs an exploration tool and authorizes their own software buy with the functionality they need. The only problem? Their new solution comes with a handful of features that overlap the larger marketing department’s. The wastage is justified because of the new technology tool’s benefit.
- Features of point solutions go unused because the vendor’s customer service team is disappointingly ill equipped to assist in onboarding and updating the client.
- Sales managers notice their team consistently creates more content than the marketing department, but the futility of bringing it up again discourages the group’s self-advocacy.
- A customer success manager quietly tells his representatives to avoid sending clients to their site’s resource library, since it’s outdated, unclear, and unnavigable. What’s a repetitious minute (or five) on the phone to ensure customers are happy? At least his department will be covered, even if the customer experience suffers a bit.
- A new CMO arrives with an exciting vision. Instead of a comprehensive corporate catalog of things like which content plays have already been attempted, what monies the department owes service providers, the content management tools presently and previously in play, or collaborative workflows currently in place, the new leader must piece together the brand’s internal back story and spend precious weeks analyzing and stabilizing its foundation.
Sadly, these hypotheticals can be overlayed with a comparable version of reality. Instead of your search team subscribing to their own new technology, for example, it may be your social team that grabs a mention-monitoring, social listening tool. Or a product marketer who can’t find a relevant asset and doesn’t want to wait on the content team to generate a new one… eventually creating his own that’s inconsistent with brand standards. The list of snags goes on and on, at best slowing down marketing operations and at worst putting the whole at massive risk.
Many of today’s technology providers would look at examples like these and claim their product addresses the root. Oversimplified statements like, “That’s just poor planning,” or “Collaboration is the main problem,” or even “Reign in your approvals,” have (until now) convinced leaders to cave and adopt several quasi-compatible point products to stop the acute pain.
And to be fair, many of the patches deliver what they promise.
But marketing won’t stop transforming. It takes bravery and tenacity to suspend the back-and-forth for the earnest consideration of an integrated solution. Because in the fight against marketing chaos, deciding to implement Marketing Resource Management software isn’t the final move. It’s only the first step.
Who would benefit most from MRM?
The practitioners in any of the above scenarios or similar situations would benefit greatly from a thoughtfully-chosen, tailored Marketing Resource Management software. They stand to realize both revenue growth and cost reduction benefits. Another group who would benefit from Marketing Resource Management software is the visionary leader who prefers to prevent the above costly conundrums before they arise. They, too, can use Marketing Resource Management to position their brand for economic gains and mitigated risk.
Remember, the right resource management software package helps practitioners devise, communicate and reinforce an overarching vision, develop campaigns to execute it, collaboratively manage content operations, realize budgetary and non-financial goals, identify and circumvent risk, achieve regulatory compliance, and much more.
Best practices for implementing Marketing Resource Management software
If today’s intelligent Marketing Resource Management solutions sound idyllic, remember no implementation isn’t without its potential pitfalls. And often, the very same marketing inefficiencies that prompt leaders to consider an incorporated change are the ones that derail implementation of modernizing management tools. That is, the evolving needs and complexities of marketing operations can easily distract teams from these 7 best practices for selection, adoption, and implementation.
#1. List your pain points and needs
The earlier mental exercise of counting inefficiencies wasn’t just for making a point — it’s the first step to determining the level and scope of your brand’s need. Ask your team members to clearly define the speed bumps, data protection hazards, resource waste, frustrations, misunderstandings, and procedural complexities they encounter daily. The catalog is more than just a Marketing Resource Management software shopping list, it’s a stockpile of reminders for internal and external stakeholders during the implementation learning curve. It’s also to prove successes once they’re achieved. And finally, these pain points are the building blocks for your budget. Every inefficiency can be financially quantified if you’re clear. Honestly document how some waste directly impacts revenue while other blockages affect corollary resources like morale and creativity. With a list like this, the investment will eventually prove its own returns.
#2. Map your pain points to vendors’ capabilities
By knowing exactly which capabilities would mitigate your pain points, you’re able to rule out any vendors that don’t meet your needs and more importantly, narrow down the ones that do. For example, let’s say one of your pains is that you have no way of tracking planned and actual costs of marketing activity. So when looking for the right Marketing Resource Management Software, one of your requirements might be the ability to centralize all financials directly alongside content production for bottom-up campaign budget management, with direct integrations to your ERP for finance approvals.
You should do this for each pain point as it will ease the process of evaluating solution providers and ensure your ultimate investment lives up to your team’s needs.
#3. Document your ideal marketing processes
In a perfect world, how would the budget be planned and performance visibility maintained or improved? How would your scheduling and taxonomy strategy be established and reinforced? At what point in each business process would team members ideally collaborate? Which insights would you want to gain from content marketing campaigns and current execution tools? How do typical workflows appear visually, and which role-based permissions can assign others work? Establish your multi-level approval matrix so no individual is bogged down in authorizations. Document how many dedicated people you have now, your average marketing spend, agencies involved in typical campaigns, and an estimate of your brand’s current content asset library.
#4. Talk with Marketing Resource Management providers
Yes, thinking through the ideal workflow systems precedes the step of looking at tools. That’s because knowing at least a portion of what you’ll need streamlines the nomination process dramatically. A selection committee helps here and in future implementation efforts as individuals from varying roles and groups bring perspectives that represent diverse future users and their needs. Together, determine both a budget and a time frame for realistic adoption, deployment, and training.
Request to speak with one of NewsCred’s experts to see how our marketing resource management features can help your marketing team.
#5. Test drive, compare, and decide
Blindly evaluating MRM systems against one another is not a good selection method. Instead, demo tools based on the needs of your brand strategy and marketing operations alone. Ask how each marketing resource management vendor integrates with your brand’s enterprise marketing technology stack and how your team would handle functionality convergences and overlaps.
#6. Plan and execute Marketing Resource Management software roll out
Once you’ve purchased an MRM solution, spend time testing it with the help of your vendor’s customer success team. Clean up data so it’s ready to import. Decide early if you’d like to implement the new system one department at a time or by product. Communicate your plan clearly and open up channels for ongoing questions from team members. Ask your Marketing Resource Management provider what, in their experience, makes for the most successful implementation. Now’s the time to conduct initial training sessions for every user.
#7. Develop and maintain a consistent training regimen
Generously incentivize your most vocal and enthusiastic MRM adopter to consider the responsibility of ongoing team member training. Invest in this individual to ensure they receive your Marketing Resource Management software vendor’s updates, know about feature releases, attend live instructional webinars, and keep user guides accessible. Include MRM training in new hire onboarding and ensure all team members know how to provide you, your designated expert, and the vendor with ongoing user feedback.
Remember again the operational inefficiencies you called to mind earlier. Could they be the first building blocks to developing a case for an MRM solution? If so, NewsCred’s CMP could be the Marketing Resource Management software to answer that call. Request a demo now to learn more.
Bethany Johnson is a NewsCred contributor.