eView: MRM Can Help Web 2.0 Marketers
Any marketers out there with time on your hands? If so, you're probably the only ones who aren't at least a little worried about the implications of Web 2.0 for your workload. Just when marketers are starting to get a handle on the additional work needed to manage channel fragmentation and addressable media, along comes Web 2.0.
On the one hand, it's exciting stuff. Instead of just blasting consumers with mass advertising or even somewhat targeted direct marketing messages, marketers now can engage in the more artful practice of building communities, influencing influencers and letting average people carry the marketing message for them. In addition to being an arguably more effective way to do marketing, it calls for the kind of ingenuity and creativity that most marketers crave to exercise.
On the other hand, it also simply means more work. The need for traditional marketing approaches hasn't gone away, and neither have the increasing, day-to-day demands on marketing organizations from senior management, internal customers and outside partners. Finding the time to navigate Web 2.0 effectively is to many marketers like trying to fit a sixth pound of sand into the proverbial five-pound sack. But help is available.
Today, many marketers are embracing marketing resource management software to streamline their marketing operations and better coordinate all their activities. MRM is software used by marketers to plan and budget marketing activities, manage day-to-day operations and track status and performance.
MRM helps marketers in the Web 2.0 world in the following ways:
- It helps marketing departments operate more efficiently, so they can ensure that cutting-edge, Web 2.0-related activities don't get short shrift because the work of more traditional campaigns needs to get done first.
- It lets marketers be more nimble in response to changing marketing landscapes. Marketing plans that incorporate Web 2.0 often need to change rapidly, because collectively online communities “never sleep” and yesterday's marketing plan can swiftly become obsolete. Capturing marketing plans and budgets in an MRM system puts the most up-to-date version just a click away from everyone's fingertips.
- It provides visibility into everything marketing is doing, and improves collaboration around planning and execution, helping to achieve the holy grail of integrated cross-channel communications — which today sometimes seems even more out of reach when blogs, Wikis, social networking, etc., are added to the marketing mix.
- It stores critical information in a central place. No longer are Web 2.0 marketing activities conducted in a vacuum with no insight into how they affect overall results.
To accommodate Web 2.0, MRM systems themselves have needed to change. While still new to many marketers, MRM solutions have been around for years and reached maturity in the hands of marketing organizations grounded in traditional media. For example, the direct marketing groups, the advertising groups and print production groups.
Conversely, marketers more focused on the Internet have somewhat different needs. For example, rather than needing to review, mark up and approve primarily printed creative materials, Internet marketers need to be able to review live Web sites, banner ads and flash video, inserting notes and comments as part of the collaborative process.
Also, Internet marketing tends to be a highly distributed undertaking, with hardly any companies handling all Internet duties entirely in-house. As a result, to serve as the central collaborative platform for everyone involved in marketing, MRM systems now need to be accessible by anyone, anywhere, regardless of whether they've got access to the corporate network or an easy path through the firewall. Leading MRM vendors recognize these new requirements and have moved to address them.
With the help of MRM, progressive marketers are able to take Web 2.0 in stride while still getting all their work accomplished and confidently asking, “Next?”
Alan Bunce is senior product marketing manager at Unica Corp., a Waltham, Mass.-based marketing software vendor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.