Marketing resource management - it's for everyone

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There is no doubt that marketing is evolving, and evolving quickly. Much has been written about how marketers are spending more online. E-mail campaigns are part of nearly every company's marketing mix and "measurement and accountability" is the mantra of marketers from the CMO down. At the same time, marketers are still being asked to get things done "faster and with fewer resources," which has fueled the demand for automation.

Fortunately, marketers have an increasing number of options in the way of tools to help navigate this evolving landscape. Tools such as analytics, campaign management and CRM can help marketers measure the results of their marketing activities and even generate ROI analysis on the various projects and campaigns. However, while certainly valuable, these tools only address a portion of what marketers need to do their job.

Analytics, campaign management, and CRM tools do not address the operational needs of a marketing organization driven by the sheer level of effort, coordination and communication required in order to plan, create and execute those programs.

Those needs are addressed by a marketing resource management system.
A marketing department of almost any size, in any industry, can benefit from an MRM system.

Whether you have a large, small or medium-sized marketing department, marketing is still project-driven, where time and deadlines play a major role. You still have to get things done -- brochures written, direct mail pieces created and mailed, events planned and the details managed - and an MRM system will help reinforce the consistency and quality by which those things get done, if your company already has clearly defined and optimized workflow processes.

And if you don't, implementing an MRM system can act as a "stake in the ground" from which you will be able to identify where existing processes are flawed, where bottlenecks exist and where there is opportunity for improving on your existing processes.

One key consideration will be finding a system that won't require an enormous amount of resources to implement. The good news is that on-demand, software-as-a-service MRM systems are available.

On-demand systems eliminate the expensive, resource intensive implementation characteristic of "traditional" installed systems. With an on-demand solution, the infrastructure is irrelevant. The vendor has already put it all in place. Better still, it is the vendor's responsibility to ensure that the system is not just up and running, but also running at an acceptable level of performance and speed.

An on-demand MRM system requires no IT resources because they are hosted by the vendor, which means you can be up and running in a matter of hours, not weeks or months. It is also browser-based and requires no software installation so the system is accessible from anywhere, on any computer (Mac and PC). This is important because the users of the system will typically include people from within your company as well as third-party providers that you work with: the printer, the mail house, the freelance designer, the ad agency, etc.

Of course, you'll also need to find an MRM system you can afford. After all, you would not go out and spend ten dollars to solve a problem that is costing you five dollars. The economics simply do not make sense. This is where an on-demand MRM system versus an installed one can be absolutely compelling. No more must you pay for software and be forced to use it (whether it is helping or not) because you had to buy the equivalent of 3-5 years of usage upfront.

One of the major benefits of an on-demand MRM system is that you only pay for the software for as long as you use it.

For as little as a couple hundred dollars per month, you can have a fully functional MRM system for your marketing department. Given that, you only have to ask yourself a question: based upon what you could spend on an MRM system over the next year, are you going to so obviously benefit that the value (of the system) becomes self-evident? If the answer is anything other than yes, then you are likely going to spend too much and never really see the payback.

Finally, when it comes to the implementation, "start slow and grow." Begin with a smaller number of people who will learn the system, use it in production and experience the benefits first-hand. With this initial success-complete with anecdotal success stories about how using the system saved the day here and there-you can begin to expand the scope and usage of the system to a larger group in waves.

An MRM system can benefit an organization of any size and in any industry. It addresses the operational needs of an organization and provides a platform for communication and collaboration amongst all members of a project team, as well as the coordination of the various resources used on those projects. Like other systems such as analytics, CRM and campaign management, MRM systems will be an important if not critical tool in the successful marketer's toolkit today and in the future.

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