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Marketing programs and campaigns are alive — anyone who has managed one knows that. Once a marketer plants the seed, a program can sprawl out with unruly verve in directions it shouldn’t go. However, Marketing Resource Management (MRM) can prune it back.

MRM is software technology that creates a unified system out of the company’s entire marketing operations.

A solution once used almost exclusively by large companies with complex marketing activities, MRM has evolved and is starting to find its place outside of the Fortune 500. No longer just supplemental planning software, today’s MRM system is a key underlying technology used for whole campaigns and programs.

It coordinates operations across multiple channels, brings together all the assets and people involved, and standardizes and streamlines along the way. Gains for the marketing department include speed, control, efficiency, and an improved return on investment.

marketing-ideas-roiPart of the magic is automation, an asset in today’s complex and demanding marketing environment, where details and tasks can sprout like weeds. Much of that can and should be automated, which MRM does handily. With technology focusing on the details, marketers can take charge of campaigns with renewed focus.

Because today’s MRM solutions operate throughout the entire marketing apparatus, campaign managers use it to study a campaign’s unfolding details or even to step back and see the whole picture. They can make adjustments on the go according to aims, climate, and results, and see those adjustments automatically carried to all offshoots of the program and campaign.

In short, by grafting onto marketing efforts, MRM frees marketers to pursue a strategy and implement tactics.

Good MRM solutions use features that guide a campaign, from planning to execution. These include budgeting functions, calendars and timelines, project management tools, and sophisticated tracking abilities. Three powerful benefits stand out amongst all that MRM offers, benefits related to best practices:

1. Asset consolidation,

2. ROI calculation, and

3. Appropriate user interaction with the MRM technology.

Consolidation means assets are centralized and organized in the shelter of MRM. The setup gives users instant access and sharing capabilities, allowing them to collaborate easily and quickly. Different players tap into elements such as logos or photography according to need. It’s sensible. Instead of wasting time hunting for resources, people produce.

However, the system does not provide all-access passes. Instead, players interact with the technology according to the role. This simplifies the MRM experience while also protecting the system’s holdings. And as MRM tracks activities, accountability increases.

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Improving accountability is becoming urgent

In a 2012 survey by the Columbia Business School’s Center on Global Brand Leadership and the New York American Marketing Association, 70 percent of marketing decision-makers said their actions were being scrutinized more than ever before. Unfortunately, the same study found that only 43 percent of organizations base marketing budgets on ROI analysis.

Indeed, companies reported trouble measuring ROI. MRM tracking helps marketing managers prove — and improve — ROI.

Weeding out inefficiency isn’t the only way ROI improves through the MRM implementation. For instance, as the campaign unfolds, a marketer can track how deployed resources are furthering a campaign’s milestones and larger strategic goals, changing tactics accordingly.

The wisdom gained through tracking carries over. Past numbers let marketers predict future costs and outcomes, which promotes better resource allocation and quality control. Past ROI, as it should in best practice, justifies future marketing budgets.

With all that modern MRM offers — the ability to take the message that is being delivered to customers and manage everything, including the physical channels that it is being delivered through — it has a much wider audience than just those large companies that have embraced it.

Analysts have been predicting the growth of MRM since 2001, and back in 2003 FT.com reported that 450 of the Global 1000 had, or were in the process of implementing, an MRM solution. Smaller businesses should begin assessing their present and future needs and take into consideration their entire team, including external players. MRM solutions are not one-size-fits-all, and marketers should choose the one that will best adapt to evolving needs.

Headshot-160Ben Tepfer is a product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign. In this role, he spends most of his time in the field talking with industry leaders, customers, and prospects to understand their marketing challenges in an effort to build a market-ready product. Prior to working with Neolane (acquired by Adobe, 2013), he worked in the entertainment industry and is an aficionado of all things beer-related.

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