SiriusDecisions is a research and advisory firm helping organizations drive sustainable revenue growth through functional alignment. Jeff Clark, Research Director, Marketing Operations Strategies, conducted an interview with Stephan A. Nobs, CMO of BrandMaker, to shed new light on the future of Marketing Resource Management.
Stephan: Marketing Resource Management (MRM) as a technology has been around for years. What would you say is its relevance today?
Jeff: For many organizations that use MRM, it is the connective tissue that ties together many operational aspects of marketing and gives the visibility necessary to answer questions like “What’s going on?”, “What’s working or not?” or “Where’s our money going?” Early on it was adopted by organizations whose complexity demanded having a system with its tentacles into work across marketing. Many of the early adopters were in business-to-consumer markets, as they were juggling many brands, campaigns and marketing assets. Brand consistency, control of activity and need to re-use content in a variety of formats made MRM necessary.
This level of complexity has caught up to business-to-business marketing, and we’ve seen a recent surge of interest in MRM. In our 2017 SiriusDecisions CMO Study, 41% of the respondents said that they expect to invest in MRM technology overs the next two years.
Stephan: What’s driving this change in your mind?
Jeff: There are four drivers that I can see. For one, marketing is fine-tuning its processes in an effort to build relevant content for 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.
Secondly, the proliferation of channels to reach prospects and customers adds another layer of complexity. It’s not about events and email campaigns anymore. Marketing needs a way to translate those audience relevant themes and messaging into assets that will used in social, content syndication, digital ads, etc., and drive people to relevant content on its owned digital properties.
In addition, the increase in technology acquisition in many marketing departments has created an ecosystem of siloed, disconnected systems serving individual needs. There is tool to support every function, from advocacy to social media, but how do you orchestrate an integrated campaign or execute a strategy shift across all these tools. Marketing is gaining capabilities, but are those driving additional value?
The multiplicity of activity and spend in marketing puts an additional emphasis on tracking spend and determining the return on investment. This can only be done when you’ve connected the budget and resource allocation to the results.
Stephan: How does that change how marketers take advantage of core MRM capabilities, such as planning and workflow management?
Jeff: The forces I mentioned have added considerable workload onto marketers. To keep up with the pace, many are forced to grind out tactics without being able to pull back to think strategically or take a hard look how campaigns are performing. This is where MRM can play a role in providing a connective tissue. Content, creative and campaign teams should be working in system of record with a documented strategy to drive alignment and efficiency in the execution process. Working in siloed systems makes it extremely difficult for teams of any size and geographic distribution to maintain alignment.
Stephan: What about today’s content marketer? Do you think MRM can support their sophisticated needs?
Jeff: Content is the fuel that makes good marketing work. The large B2C organizations that were the early adopters of MRM were doing content marketing on a grand scale. Content marketers need a system to help them take campaign plans and ideate on creating the right content to engage prospects, and then take that through the workflow of development, review, approval and distribution. That can be done within an MRM system. And, if it can provide the ability to measure engagement with that content, you have supported the full content lifecycle.
Stephan: Now, what’s the value of MRM to the CMO in your mind?
Jeff: Often CMOs come into their roles with the promise of delivering a transformation or being able to prove the return on the marketing investment. Giving the CMO the tools to encode the strategy behind a transformation in terms of budget and resource allocation is one way MRM can provide value. Then being able to take in results data, such as revenue contribution from marketing’s campaigns, whether sourced or influenced, enables the CMO to pair with investments and demonstrate an ROI at various levels.
I’ve worked in enough businesses to understand this year’s strategy may last one or two years, and then things change. One year, you’re driving demand by product lines, next year it’s customer segments. Then you acquire another business and its customers to shake it up again. How does an organization make those strategic shifts while keeping the engine running without a tool to help shift how budgets and resources are allocated?
Stephan: In your view, where do you see the MRM technology going next?
Jeff: That is a good question. Given its role as the connective tissue within the technology stack, that will depend partly on the evolution of MRM’s core components and partly on the other systems within the stack. With advances in digital engagement and predictive technologies, I can see it advancing B2B marketing’s ability to refine targeting driven by insights and provision relevant content precisely in the context of a customer’s engagement. These are areas where we’ve seen a lot of vision, but still need to operationalize the execution.
About Jeff Clark
Guest blogger, 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.
Prior to joining SiriusDecisions, Jeff was Vice President of Global Marketing for SDL plc, a UK-based vendor of language translation and content management technology and services. Prior to SDL, Jeff was Senior Director, Global Marketing Operations at Pegasystems, and also held senior marketing roles managing managing corporate, product and field marketing; and marketing operations functions at Progress Software and Kronos Inc.
Jeff received a BS in resource economics and political science from the University of New Hampshire.