Today, if you are a marketer with line responsibility…

  • You are likely facing increased pressure to demonstrate your results. You are likely producing results with a reduced budget. 

  • At the same time, you are likely managing a growing numbers of campaigns across broader geographic reaches with an ever-increasing variety of media. 
  • You are likely required to coordinate with sales, finance, operations and R&D. 

  • And you are likely reminded frequently that favorable results require speed-to-market.

To help manage their more complex and demanding marketing processes, marketers in many leading companies are turning to software technology, commonly referred to as Marketing Operations Management (MOM).

They are using it to get greater control and improve the efficiency of marketing operations. Indeed, they realize that a nimbler and more integrated and flexible marketing function can give them a source of competitive advantage.

As a primer for those unaware of how MOM technology can help, here are 10 frequently asked questions and answers:1

1. What is MOM?

MOM refers to any technology that improves the coordination of an organization's marketing activities and resources to increase speed, reduce errors and decrease costs. Generally, it involves software to automate the processes of marketing operations.

2. How is MOM different from CRM, BAM, MIS, EMM, and the like?

CRM (customer relationship management) is a set of tools widely used to help companies manage dialogue with their customers. CRM (sometimes in conjunction with data warehousing and analytics) helps analyze information about customer buying behavior, guiding future decisions made to serve and keep our most profitable customers. The adoption of CRM is often controlled not by Marketing but by Sales, Operations or IT.

MOM is complementary to these technologies in that it helps with the management of both online and offline initiatives aimed at those customers.

Other acronyms are essentially additional terms for MOM with different emphases, or they're subsets of MOM: BAM/DAM (brand/digital asset management) covers the storage, dissemination and retrieval capabilities for digital assets; MRM (marketing resource management) and MIS (marketing information systems) both cover workflow, project management, budgeting and planning. EMM (enterprise marketing management) focuses on marketing analytics.

Even similar products can be sold by vendors under different headings, so it is worth investigating a specific solution to understand its true capabilities.

3. What types of tools are available?

MOM tools cover one or more of the following six categories corresponding to different aspects—distinct but not always linear—in the marketing process:

The following capabilities are included in those six categories:

  1. Marketing strategy: collaborative process, competitive analysis, product portfolio management, SWOT analysis. Benefits include more consistent strategy process; better communication of strategy.

  2. Plan and budget: program development, budgeting, collaborative planning. Benefits include alignment with strategic and financial plans; information to check progress.

  3. Campaign management: project management, budget management, collaborative tools and workspaces, review, approval and tracking, distributed workflow management, templates and guidelines (support for communications campaigns), management approval. Benefits include speed to market; protection of brand assets; reduced agency fees and marketing function head count; early alerts to budget changes; improved service to sales channel; quick approvals; and view at-a-glance department calendars.

  4. Brand management: repository and content management tools that facilitate the access, maintenance and consistent use of marketing assets. Benefits include 24x7 worldwide access; appropriate reuse of brand assets; speed-to-market.

  5. Supplier management: access to repository and workflow management tools to deliver information to, and receive collateral from, external suppliers. Benefits include approved supplier lists embedded; payment tied to satisfactory delivery of assets; lower asset distribution costs; reduced administration coordinating suppliers; less fulfillment waste; brand and message consistency.

  6. Measurement and reporting: reporting, analysis and optimization tools to track and forecast results, balanced scorecards. Benefits include deeper understanding of what works; single and consistent version of the "truth"; enhanced ability to react to feedback from the marketplace.

4. What can we expect to pay for a MOM solution?

Expect to pay between $1,000 to $5,000 per user, depending on the size of the marketing organization (staff and budget) and the required level of integration and customization. The price of larger systems ranges from $100,000 to well over $1 million, depending on the solution and the scale of implementation.

Consulting and training, either from the software vendor or an independent consultant, could add 50-100% to the cost. To experiment with a solution or to keep the selection in the Marketing function, many companies initially try MOM at the divisional level rather than the corporate level. Naturally, you need to have a reasonable marketing budget—$10 million or more per year—to justify this kind of expenditure.

The low-end systems are typically run on an ASP basis and are priced at $50 to $100 per user per month. These can be used effectively by midsize businesses or larger businesses that want to try before they buy.

5. What benefits and return on investment (ROI) can we realize with MOM?

The decision to acquire MOM software usually comes from noticeable symptoms and the identification of inefficiencies and costly mistakes in the marketing processes. Indeed, the use of traditional tools such as email, spreadsheets, couriers and "groupware" (e.g., Lotus Notes) are often part of the problem, as they were not designed with marketing's needs in mind. MOM tools are designed specifically for marketers to…

  • Manage strategically—from initially planning and scheduling through implementation; benefits come from improved visibility and control; communicate decisions/approvals.

  • Spend efficiently—purchase materials and services faster, more accurately and more easily.

  • Execute productively—campaign management facilitates coordinated planning and collaboration inside the organization and with external partners, wherever they are located geographically.

  • Reduce time-to-market—by reducing the time to plan, purchase and execute.

  • Maintain consistency—across all marketing partners and the sales organization.

  • Leverage technology investment—by enhancing the use of the Web site, CRM system, call center and sales force automation.

  • Measure results—by monitoring the performance of campaigns, making changes midstream, and reporting to top management in a timely manner.

From a technical perspective, MOM systems can, depending on the circumstance, be up and running within a matter of weeks. However, attention needs to be paid to training and education. Additionally, making sure that the system is populated with templates, brand guidelines, etc. can be critical to achieving a fast ROI.

It is usually easier to prove ROI on asset repository systems. Good examples would be large reductions in agency fees, greater reuse of existing materials, reduced logistics costs. The collaboration and project management aspects provide more strategic benefits, but these are often more difficult to quantify.

In all cases, ROI should be achieved in less than one year.

6. Which organizations are using MOM?

The larger the organization, the greater the marketing process issues—and, therefore, the greater the need for MOM systems to help. Leading organizations in both B2B and B2Centerprises are using MOM software.

However, many midsize growth organizations have deployed MOM solutions because of the powerful benefits for managing work groups inside and outside the organization.

MOM may be unnecessary for the smallest companies unless they use many different partners external to the organization or regularly reuse digital assets. Usually, the most effective strategy for small marketing organizations is to better formalize their processes and create a shared drive for storage of materials.

7. How can I determine whether an MOM solution will improve our marketing operations?

Conduct a self-assessment by methodically reviewing current processes and systems, staff (including external partners) and budget size, internal communications and reporting requirements. Typically, organizations find that they have a range of problems that MOM can solve.

It is important to dig deep when investigating the causes of these problems—often, what appears on the surface is merely indicative of deeper issues that need addressing. Prioritizing those issues will be critical for achieving ROI targets.

Sometimes, organizations aim to solve specific problems, such as management of events or coordination of brand. Other times, they find that the issues are deep seated enough to buy a system to cover the entire marketing process. There is no hard-and-fast rule—the need will depend on the organization's make-up.

However, almost all marketing functions can benefit from improvements in the following operations and should be able to estimate the return on the investment:

  1. Communication among collaboration partners and staff
  2. Consistency of processes and outputs
  3. Institutional memory
  4. Project management
  5. Speed to market
  6. Management control
  7. Tracking of results and responding accordingly

Perhaps most importantly, the success of any software solution is dependent on training and convincing staff to use it.

Too often, managers purchase software and so think that their problems are over—without giving thought to the human factor. While the technology has potential to make marketing operations more efficient, the improvements are not actually realized until staff, inside and outside Marketing, embrace the technology.

8. How can I find the right solution for our needs?

With priorities clear, work patterns and organizational issues need to be considered. Compare alternative solutions by first preparing questions about the capabilities you need and noting answers from the vendor representatives you interview.

Make certain that you consider the ways that staff inside and outside of Marketing will need to change their work processes to realize the full benefits of the solution.

As Gartner VP John Radcliff warns, "Trying to automate marketing processes is probably not going to be very well received in a lot of cases. People need to be handled very carefully. It should not be seen as, ‘Here's some technology, implement it and off we go.' It's key to realize that it's very much about business process change, with real consequences for people who are not in IT."2

Process for Managing an MOM Rollout

Diagnosis

Process and Organization

Technology Selection

Rollout

Assign a high-profile executive to champion the new MOM solution

Map out the target processes as they are currently being used—who does what and how do they do it

Create selection criteria asking details about the company, product, architecture, support and costs

Pick a small group to pilot the solution

Define problems and investigate causes

Optimize processes—use this as an opportunity for improvement

Short-list and interview vendors/get demonstrations to check solution suitability

Populate the solution with templates, brand assets, directories

Prioritize—look for short-term wins as well as long-term strategic goals

Create a list of functions and features that the solution will need to support

Do proper vendor background checks

Create a detailed program to train and educate the users. Often, it is wise to build programs above those offered by the vendors

Build a business case—vendors and consultants should be able to help here

Work with the IT department to make sure the solution integrates with other IT infrastructure

Ask for references and find out the issues that others have had in implementing the solutions

Get feedback from users and constantly improve the system as the system is rolled out

It is important also to consider the key assets—templates, brand assets, directories, etc.—that your staff will need to use. It is usually wise to phase the rollout. Starting with a smaller group first allows you to learn lessons about how to make the system work best before rolling out to the rest of the organization.

9. Will we have to involve our Chief Financial Officer and Chief Technology (or Information) Officer in the purchase and deployment?

Buy-in from stakeholders outside of marketing is critical from the very beginning of the purchase consideration. For starters, the CFO typically needs to signoff on the capital expenditure. But you may find that CFOs are actually big supporters because the software can give them the ability to monitor campaigns, workflow, and budgets (plan versus actual) at any time and across all programs.

The CFO and the CEO, the holders of the purse strings, are happiest when they have control over expenditures and when they get few surprises. We marketers are served well when the CFO and the CEO understand that marketing is an investment with a return, not merely an expense. The senior IT executive needs to ensure that the technology selected is compatible with other systems in the organization.

To make the adoption successful, marketing needs buy-in from all areas of the organization, especially the generators of data, such as Operations, Sales and distribution channel partners.

10. How can I learn more about MOM?

Good sources of information are analyst reports (e.g., Gartner, Forrester, AMR Research, Accenture, IDC), vendor Web sites and representatives, objective consultants (Emisare, Cogentum), other independent researchers (www.gistics.com), conferences (Henry Stewart and Gartner), and bulletin boards like the Know-How exchange at www.marketingprofs.com, where you can learn about the experience of other marketing professionals.

Case studies, like the two below, are helpful for understanding just how MOM can provide marketing operations improvements. First, Price Waterhouse Cooper shows that MOM software can meet the need for improvements in workflow productivity.

Case Study 1

Price Waterhouse Cooper adopts MOM software for workflow efficiency across Europe3

1. Needs

  • Reduce duplication of effort on collateral production
  • Establish and communicate workflow processes, alerting users of responsibilities and deadlines 
  • Project management: clarify who, what and when throughout
  • Budget commitment and status
  • Worldwide access to workflow information

2. Approach

  • Define and document marketing processes
  • Understand variations of workflow
  • Beta-test initial system by cross-section of users
  • Make refinements and roll out

3. Benefits

  • Manage operations across Europe
  • Minimize duplication and bottlenecks
  • Managers monitor projects and redistribute budgets as needed
  • Improve accountability with tasks centrally administered
  • Automatically receive notification of task assignments and deadlines
  • Reduce marketing costs 10-30%

Having a clear idea of your needs before researching software functionality is paramount for success, as this brief description of a solution used by Merrill Lynch shows.

Case Study 2

Merrill Lynch employs MOM software to manage marketing spend

With more than 300 marketing projects underway at any one time, and local advertising programs supporting up to 14,000 financial advisors, the Merrill Lynch marketing spend was a challenge to track and control. To gain control and increase productivity, the Marketing function selected Aprimo to provide real-time financial visibility and reporting across programs by…

  1. Automating the creation, routing and approval of creative briefs
  2. Eliminating misaligned or conflicting programs
  3. Creating dynamic calendars
  4. Providing real-time control of marketing budgets, forecasts, commitments and actual spend
  5. Automatically notifying for over- or under-plan conditions

Bruce Sparber, director of global private client marketing, business planning, and control for Merrill Lynch, said, "In order to make better and quicker marketing investment decisions, we needed to consolidate multiple financial systems and improve the financial reporting and tracking of the marketing initiatives, especially those involving the complex and substantial invoicing like the national and local media components of the marketing group's advertising budget."4

Marketing Operations Software Vendors

Name URL Focus
Aprimo www.aprimo.com Full MOM for large enterprises
Arasys www.arasys.com Materials production/storage
Artesia www.artesia.com Digital asset management
Artmachine www.artmachine.com Digital asset management
Assetlink www.assetlink.com Full MOM
Be-The Brand www.be-thebrand.com Digital asset management
Bluedot Software www.bluedot.com Event management solution
Brand Automation www.brandautomation.com Brand asset management focus
Brandopoly www.brandopoly.com Brand asset management
Brandwizard www.brandwizard.com Brand asset management
Cambridge Marketing www.cambridgeconsultant.com Consultant
Cintra www.masmediasolutions.com Generic project management
Digiterre www.digiterre.com Full MOM (UK primarily)
eLateral www.elateral.com Brand asset management
Emisare www.emisare.com Consultant
eMotion www.eMotion.com Digital asset management
Interwoven www.interwoven.com Digital asset management
Kerridge Media www.kerridge-media.com Consultant in UK
Kickfire www.kickfire.com Full MOM (UK)
Leapfrog www.leapfrog.se Brand asset management
Marketing Central www.marketingcentral.com Extranets for collaboration
Marketing Pilot www.marketingpilot.com Full MOM
Mtivity www.mtivity.com Full MOM (UK)
North Plains Systems www.northplains.com Digital asset management
nVigorate www.nVigorate.com Full MOM (UK)
Protagana www.protagona.com MOM with CRM
SAVO Group www.savogroup.com Sales asset management
Sitaro www.sitaro.net MRM
Smartpath www.smartpathinc.com Full MOM (just acquired by Double Click)
TEEC www.theenterprisecompany.co.uk Kickfire VAR (value added reseller)
Then www.then-solutions.com Full MOM (UK)
Unica www.unicacorp.com MOM with CRM
Ventaso www.ventaso.com Brand asset management
Veridiem www.veridiem.com MOM with marketing analytics
Webware Corp www.webwarecorp.com Digital asset management

One Caveat: While deployment of marketing operations software has the potential to increase the credibility and accountability of marketers throughout the organization, its focus is on the short-term efficiency of marketing expenses. As we have shown, when Marketing is fully understood, its value to the organization is recognized far beyond the management of communications campaigns and digital assets.

The challenge, therefore, is to master this technology as just one of many enhancements to the effectiveness of Marketing.

Notes:

1. Kimberly Collins and John Radcliffe at Gartner (www.gartner.com) provided valuable insights and resources.

2. In a telephone interview on January 10,2004.

3. Reported by Digiterre, an MOM vendor, at www.digiterre.com.

4. Aprimo Web site, www.aprimo.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Roy Young
Roy Young is coauthor of Marketing Champions: Practical Strategies for Improving Marketing's Power, Influence and Business Impact. For more information about the book, go to www.marketingchamps.com or order at Amazon.