A relatively youthful discipline, marketing has become enormous business. According to Blackfriars Communication, marketing accounts for more than $1 trillion of spending in the US alone annually - it surpassed that mark two years ago.
However, that huge amount of spend is a challenge to track and control.
This is due to its creative culture and spontaneous nature. Creativity implies the ability to generate new ideas and concepts, setting the imagination free. This means pushing boundaries and breaking rules, which is why marketing professionals usually follow their own system of briefing, liaising and tracking, which makes it difficult for management to see how things are running.
Large budgets, big spending and the increasing complexity of marketing lead to queries about results and effectiveness. Business owners are demanding a more predictable and accountable marketing department. They want to monitor the daily processes and allocation of resources, view performance analysis, and measure return on investment (ROI).
Enter marketing process management (MPM). The challenge in measuring and tracking marketing spend is rapidly being eased. This is due to a drive to automate the processes that make marketing work.
MPM involves a set of tools or software that streamline the standard approaches and methods of exchanging information and coordinating work among the marketing team. It easies tasks and daily work, with lower costs and higher reliability, and ensures only the most effective, profitable and loyalty building marketing activities are executed .
Using a suite of technology components, the software takes outsourced functions that had a strong component of spontaneity and that involved multiple departments - agencies; processes; and various types of software - and pulls it all together in one united structure.
Marketing professionals have resisted automation for years because of the way in which they work. In fact, most marketing organisations would agree that their overall operations are not predicable or defined by rigid procedures. The industry, however, is process-driven, much like other departments in an organisation. And although marketing is a creative discipline, the methods used to produce a campaign also work from point A to Z.
Through an MPM solution, marketers can focus on their core business, as much repetitive admin is eliminated. The tedious tasks of printing material, chasing down management for budget approvals and the scheduling of creative reviews will be simplified by merely submitting all the documents and details onto an online system. Authorised staff can then access the information at the click of a mouse.
Management's demands are also met as they are offered a window into every campaign across all brands and products. It enables them to monitor exposure, track delivery, analyse which investments are working and how each marketing effort contributes to the company's overall successes or failures.
An MPM solution will also allow the organisation to:
* Track a campaign's status and its budget in realtime;
* Ensure that the right people are providing the required input to campaign elements at the right time;
* Improve campaign speed to market; and
* Ensure best-practice processes are applied and followed.
The impact of an MPM solution can be seen in a recent case study conducted by IBM on a leading outdoor products retailer that generates $700 million in sales, with $100 million from online sales alone.
Their challenge was to enable consistent in-store, direct mail and e-commerce marketing programmes to attract valuable customers. After implementing an MPM solution, they were able to automate marketing programmes and processes across channels, and provide seamless integration with their back-office systems.
This solution integrated campaigns across retail and discount outlets, point-of-sale locations and a toll-free number. By tracking and measuring campaigns over a 24-month period, they found that dual-channel shoppers spent 114% more than single-channel shoppers did. They also found that tri-channel customers spent 48% more than dual-channel customers. This has in turn helped them determine to deliver the right messages to the right people at exactly the right time.
MPM is here. It is a trend that is already working its way across the US. Now it is time for South African businesses to launch into the 21st century by adopting a workable, flexible business process solution, aimed at creative people.