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Marketing Resource Management: A Tie That Binds Marketing

March 19, 2018 | By Jeff Clark

  • B-to-b marketing teams are looking for tools to help manage the complexity of today’s marketing environment
  • Marketing resource management (MRM) technology can bring order to chaos with broad capabilities, from planning and budgeting to workflow management
  • Today’s MRM vendors offer software-as-a-service solutions that provide best-of-breed applications and integrated suites to support client needs

Marketing resource management (MRM) technology has been around for years, and is typically adopted by large, complex marketing functions. Lately, we have seen interest from a wide spectrum of clients. In fact, 41 percent of CMOs who responded to SiriusDecisions’ 2017 Global CMO Study indicated that they expect to invest in MRM technology over the next two years.

ties that bind

It’s not hard to understand why. For organizations that use MRM, it is the tie that binds many operational aspects of marketing and gives the visibility necessary to answer questions like “What is and isn’t working?” and “Where’s our money going?”

SiriusDecisions defines MRM as software that enables organizations to manage marketing planning, budgeting, project management, asset management and performance analytics. Marketing operations teams often implement MRM systems to improve efficiency, and these systems are used by the broader marketing team as well.

An early driver for interest in MRM was the need to gain control over complex workflows. The primary use case was traffic management for the creative process in b-to-c companies. These marketing teams were juggling many brands, campaigns and marketing assets, and needed to enforce brand consistency and the re-use of content.

In b-to-b organizations, the initial interest came from marketing executives who saw MRM technology as a tool to gain control over budgets and activity, without consideration for simplifying the lives of individual marketers. MRM implementation was often met with resistance, because it forced processes on creative, process-averse marketing teams.

Today, b-to-b marketers are more convinced of the need for process- and systems-oriented automation due to the increasing complexity of their jobs and the need to fine-tune programs. Four important trends have driven this complexity and the heightened interest in MRM:

  • Audience-centric marketing. Marketing functions are adjusting their processes in an effort to build relevant content for and drive engagement with prospects and customers. Organizations are taking an audience-centric approach to their campaigns, adopting more targeting and personalization and striving to offer more engaging digital experiences. So, marketers need a platform that helps them collaborate on developing the right content from planning to execution.
  • Tactic proliferation. The sheer number of tactics and delivery methods to reach prospects and customers adds another layer of complexity. It’s not just about events and email campaigns anymore. Marketing needs a way to translate those audience-relevant themes and messaging into assets for use across delivery mechanisms (e.g. social media, content syndication, digital ads), and to drive people to relevant content on its owned digital properties.
  • Siloed technology acquisition. The boom in marketing technology acquisition has left many marketing functions with an ecosystem of siloed, disconnected systems serving individual needs. There’s a tool to support every functionality from advocacy to social media, but how can marketing orchestrate an integrated campaign or execute a strategy shift across all these tools? Marketing is gaining capabilities, but are those driving additional value?
  • Determining a return on marketing. The multiplicity of activity and spend in marketing puts additional emphasis on tracking that spend accurately and determining the return on those investments. This can only be done when the budget and resource allocations are connected to the results.

These trends have increased the workload of marketers considerably. To keep up with the pace, many marketers are grinding out tactics without thinking strategically or taking a hard look at how campaigns are performing. This is where MRM can play a key role. Content, creative and campaign teams should be working in the system of record with a documented strategy to drive alignment and efficiency in the execution process. Working in siloed systems makes maintaining alignment extremely difficult for teams of any size and geographic distribution.

For CMOs, an MRM system can encode their strategy for campaigns and initiatives with proper budget and resource allocations. Then, it can help them connect the results to demonstrate a return on marketing’s investment. It’s a way to operationalize their vision.

Given the breadth of capabilities that MRM systems can deliver, marketing teams must first define their specific objectives and requirements before talking to vendors. Today’s MRM vendors are offering integrated suites that support a broad range of capabilities, and best-of-breed offerings that are advanced in one or two areas. Marketers should prioritize the capabilities that will deliver the highest value to the organization and engage vendors that provide the necessary depth and breadth.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark brings over 25 years of B2B marketing experience to the Marketing Operations Strategies service. Jeff develops SiriusDecsions’ research on marketing measurement and technology planning. His work helps b-to-b organizations effectively quantify, understand and convey the value being created by their marketing functions and assists marketing operations teams in their planning and management of technology.