Drive Customer Experience With MRM

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It's no secret that marketers are being tasked to drive increasingly more strategic corporate initiatives: in particular, the total customer experience. What function is better suited to the challenge than database marketing, whose members spend their careers trying to understand what drives customer behavior and how to capitalize on those motivations?


Forward-thinking companies realize that branding is more than messaging and imagery. It's the sum of all experiences, good and bad, that a customer has with a company. As the steward of the brand, marketing must become involved in every facet of the business to ensure the best experience is delivered to each customer.


As marketing takes responsibility for shaping customer experiences across all touch points, there is more demand for quality, targeted deliverables and much greater complexity in managing the myriad details in planning, developing and delivering this material.


This rising communication "velocity" can strain the entire marketing organization. Marketing organizations worldwide spend upward of $239 billion on direct and Web activities yearly, yet most still manage these projects via a hodgepodge of spreadsheets, documents, e-mail and other disconnected applications. Organizations need to streamline their marketing operations to keep up and drive a consistent brand experience.


Enter marketing resource management. MRM has emerged to address the need for better planning, budgeting, process management and tracking of marketing initiatives, freeing marketers to spend more time on strategy and understanding customer needs.


MRM provides a collaborative framework for marketers to manage their database marketing projects and share details with other departments and partners. It provides capabilities for planning project workflows, assigning tasks and resources, and then tracking project progress over time. It lets organizations establish standard, repeatable processes for developing campaign logic and creative materials, automating approvals, maintaining audit trails and making it easy to reuse successful programs.


MRM's four key areas are:


o Strategic planning.


o Budgeting and financial management.


o Project management.


o Digital asset management.


Further capabilities may exist to address specific marketing program requirements (e.g., event planning) or industry needs. Some functionality is geared toward database marketing while other capabilities are targeted at brand marketing. In general, however, using the four key MRM capabilities, database marketing organizations can gain operational improvements and achieve higher ROI, all without imposing rigid processes that stifle creativity and productivity.


The benefits of MRM for database marketers fall into four categories:


o Improved velocity: MRM accelerates speed to market while managing complexity. By capturing project management best practices and establishing standard processes for campaign logic, creative development, program execution and analysis, organizations can eliminate many delays and missed deadlines. MRM solutions also can eliminate bottlenecks by streamlining approval processes. And standard project templates tailored for your organization improve coordination across projects and resources.


By using these capabilities to streamline processes, your organization can save money lost through rush fees, rework, compliance fines and duplication of effort.


o Greater visibility: MRM solutions provide project stakeholders with a clear, up-to-date view of activities, status, budgets, resource availability and program performance. Organizations can measure and track programs throughout the entire program lifecycle, letting teams identify issues and opportunities faster as well as determine true marketing ROI. Centralized calendaring helps marketers optimize budgets, improve resource use and synchronize market activities.


o Increased capacity:MRM solutions also can boost the capacity to design, develop, execute and analyze a greater number of marketing programs. As previously mentioned, its offerings streamline project development and approval processes. By leveraging a central project repository containing best practices and prior program templates, team members can start new projects quickly and more easily. Digital asset management capabilities let marketers reuse approved materials such as creative briefs, graphics, direct mail pieces, ad copy and more.


o Enhanced compliance: With ever-changing privacy rules, regulations and customer preferences, marketers are challenged in how they can interact with customers. An MRM solution's standard approval processes, collaborative markup with automatic revision logs, as well as built-in version control and audit trails ensure what goes out has been approved and tracked.


Most industry analysts and users agree that MRM solutions pay for themselves quickly. According to Gartner, one company using MRM reduced creative approval processes from 14 weeks to two weeks, while another corporation saved $200,000 per brand through improved asset reuse.


MRM is just one component of the emerging enterprise marketing management software category and is increasingly purchased as part of a suite of software to increase the productivity, precision and accountability of marketing. Gartner says that through 2010, enterprises that deploy EMM will grow their businesses by more than 20 percent.


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