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The Term MRM
What activities does MRM manage?
How far does the MRM system extend?
What functionality is covered?
MRM Definition & Diagram
What benefits will MRM deliver?
What savings should MRM Deliver?
Is MRM right for every Organisation?
The issues involved in MRM installation

MRM explained

What functionality is covered?

Well, obviously, all the functionality needed to produce marketing collateral, but, we could be a bit more precise.

With this in mind we could divide the processes involved into:

  • Planning and budgeting;
  • Process management; 
  • Approving the collateral;
  • Supporting the creative / re purposing processes;
  • Competitive procurement;
  • Managing the print process;and finally
  • Measurement and reporting.

 

• Planning and budgeting 

Despite what is some times said Marketing have to plan and budget for their activities. In most large companies Marketing spend represents a significant part of the company budget (Gartner recently published figures showing the average Marketing spend as 5.9% of revenue: to give this some perspective, in the same survey they compared this with 3.4% for IT). So, planning and budgeting are major requirements.

At the lowest level of functionality the MRM should support and simplify the process of creating a Budget, managing the allocation across the different sectors and then down to individual jobs within campaigns.

It should allow the total Budget to be analysed in different ways so that the planned spend (and actual etc) can be viewed by the people who hold responsibility for those parts of the Budget.

The better MRM systems will provide sophisticated assistance with Budget planning, comparing last year with the planned year and showing growth trends etc.

Additionally, as part of the planning and budget process, some MRM solutions will support competitive tendering allowing Marketing to trawl across a number of potential suppliers before allocating work, or a supply contract. These systems also report the actual performance of suppliers to make sure they meet the service levels they promised when tendering for the work.

So, the base requirement is for support for budgeting and planning to be in the system, otherwise it is not MRM.

Adding this to the definition results in:

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing

  1. • the Planning and Budget processes;

 

Special note:

Most established companies will already be running Enterprise wide Finance systems covering budgeting. So, though MRM must contain this functionality to be the required total comprehensive system, in many installations, only parts of the budget functionality may be implemented. The MRM system must therefore be sufficiently flexible that it can operate with complete efficiency when it is interfaced to an existing Finance system.

This same principle applies throughout the discussion on MRM. To be an MRM solution the system must contain elements ‘a through z', but the MRM system must be sufficiently flexible so that it will still work as a total system even when required to interface with existing systems which replace parts of the MRM functionality.

 

Process management

Often referred to as ‘work flow' this is the process of tracking the collateral through the various stages of its production cycle.

At the lowest level it must work like a Project Management systems and support reminders when dates are at risk, as well as the ability to view outstanding actions by differing criteria (eg report on the position of all jobs with this Agency, or report on all late jobs in this Sector).

Significantly, an MRM process management system must support the ability to view images of the collateral being tracked. So, unlike other Project Management systems, MRM process management supports the display of the last best image of the brochure as an integral part of the tracking.

Additionally the MRM process management system must allow for progress to be input by the people managing that part of the process. Hence the need, mentioned before, for an Extranet so that Agencies can report and view progress.

Again there are differentiators between the various offerings from Suppliers in this area.

Some will display only the current image, whilst others will display several iterations to demonstrate the progress.

Reminders from some systems can be configured as email or SMS messages sent as early warning when deadlines approach.

Linking back to the Budgeting and Planning modules some MRM systems allow jobs to be allocated to named people with specific skill sets and have routines to highlight future issues when people with the skill sets leave the department or take holidays at key times.

Process management is a significant part of the workload within Marketing. The more clerical the existing systems, the more stages and different people are involved, the higher is the percentage of time spent on this aspect of Marketing.

Good suppliers have recognised this as a distinct opportunity and so provide systems which do far more than merely track dates and report on failures.

So, taking in to consideration the above, the definition can be extended to:

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing:

1.the Planning and Budget processes;

2. Process Management, allowing the appropriate people to update progress and to view the planned collateral”

 

                                                                                                        geting 

• Approving the collateral

This is an activity which can save Marketing significant time and money. It is also an area where several systems, which claim to be MRM, are lacking in functionality (and hence are not MRM systems by the definition of this site.)

In some areas this activity is referred to as “the new PDF work flow” and though that conveys an understanding of the process it is not totally correct. Increasingly collateral can be in several different formats, e.g. sounds, email text, video: MRM must support all. PDF workflow implies that the process is limited to pictures, which is not correct.

The processes to be managed cover:

delivering copies of the images (or text etc.) to be approved to all involved in the approval process;

allowing for comments to be electronically added to the images,(so that people can understand what changes may be required);

and managing the approval cycle in accordance the defined management procedures, before a contract proof is produced.

To expand,

•  a copy of the proposed finished image will be sent electronically from the Agency to all the people involved in the approval cycle. This will probably be sent as a PDF so there will not be issues with fonts of images not being able to be displayed on different hardware;

•  the system will allow each person to add comments regarding the image on to a file which will accompany the image (often appear as electronic yellow Postit notes);

•  the system will ensure all people are requested to comment, and that the required hierarchy is followed (eg, until the Account Manager agrees no changes can be made.)

•  depending on protocol, all people will be able to see all the comments from the various people;

•  once the cycle is complete and the image is approved then, if necessary for colour purposes, a contract proof will be printed.

 

Not all of this cycle will be needed for every piece of collateral. For example when gaining approval for the new wording on a brochure to be printed within a standard template, there is no need for a contract colour proof, and comments may be added to the file merely by using standard tracking facilities provided by Word.

The MRM system must however, cater for all eventualities.

So again, the definition can be extended to:

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing:

1.the Planning and Budget processes;

2. Process Management, allowing the appropriate people to update progress and to view the planned collateral. 

3. approval of collateral, using electronic transmission of images and comments complying with the defined management hierarchy”.

 

 

•  Supporting the creative / re purposing processes

There is a growing opportunity to re-use marketing collateral many times across various campaigns. The modern trend is towards smaller, more focused and personalised marketing messages, which encourages the re-use of collateral.

To provide this functionality the MRM must have aDigitalAssetManagement system (DAM) as a fully integrated part of the MRM.

The DAM must store images in their native format (the original file format must be stored so that the image can be reused for any purpose) and have the capability to re purpose the image so that it can be moved over the network without causing network problems.

The DAM must be capable of storing any multimedia object (pictures, video clips, sounds, as well as electronic documents) as Marketing is being required to produce collateral for increasing number of channels. 

Additionally, the DAM should store the Campaign documentation raised to authorise the collateral so that people can view the Campaign requirements and see the results. They can also reuse the Campaign documentation if that helps them on any particular tasks.

The DAM should support free text retrieval to be able to provide the flexibility Marketing will require over time. Folders and Categories of images will only work when the numbers and varieties of objects stored are relatively low.

The DAM will normally be accessed using a standard browser so that the DAM can be machine independent as far as display is concerned.                                                                                                                                         The DAM will also provide support for a range of current file types and ideally should be provided with a maintenance commitment to support new file types as they emerge. 

Good DAMs will provide support which shows the copyright relating to an object. The need to comply with the copyright licence when using any object is a legal requirement on a company which is growing in importance.

There are two levels of DAM.

One, referred to as a Standard DAM will support all of the above functionality and will be the right answer for those companies where most of the image or specialist creation is completed externally at Agencies. 

The second, Professional DAM, supports all of the Standard facilities plus specialist features for colour management, colour balancing and the design support features which are needed by sites which want their designers to use the DAM as a part of the creative process.

Both DAMs should support the creative functions by allowing people to rapidly view existing images which could either be re-used for that particular purpose, or which just provide an inspirational starting point.

Along with the DAM, the MRM will provide systems allowing non-specialist marketing staff to make use of existing collateral.

For example, a newspaper advert may have been completed, and stored in the DAM, referring to an Exhibition on a certain day in a certain town. To make the advert visually interesting the advert may have been designed (as directed in the Brand Guidelines) in certain colours, using specialist fonts, and perhaps incorporates a picture of the place where the Exhibition took place. The advert may have been raised in Quark on an Apple Mac.

The good MRM system will have simple functionality allowing a person, without specialist designer skills, to re purpose the collateral by:

•  changing the text using Word;
•  substituting an image of the new venue in the advert using simple cut and paste;
•  resizing the advert, if required, but within fixed parameters according to a pre-defined template;
•  w hist finally the system will automatically fix colours and the positioning of logos etc. according to the  Brand Guideline.

 

So again the definition can be extended to:

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing:

1.the Planning and Budget processes;

2. Process Management, allowing the appropriate people to update progress and to view the planned collateral.

3. approval of collateral, using electronic transmission of images and comments complying with the defined management hierarchy

4. an integrated DAM storing all multimedia collateral, and associated documentation, providing the required level of functionality to promote and support the re-use of existing collateral”.

 

•  Competitive procurement 

Efficient Marketing produces collateral to the required quality at the lowest competitive price.  Note , it is not just collateral at the lowest cost, consistent quality to the required level is what is required

This is an MRM function which in many of the case studies produces savings of over 15%, but just concentrating on savings misses a major contribution. 

The savings mostly happen when this function is first used, as the new suppliers deliver a more competitive service.  However, no one can keep reducing costs year after year.  After awhile the costs will stabilise.  If used properly this aspect of MRM will report on how well suppliers perform against the agreed service levels.  Monitoring of the quality of the service delivered is every bit as important as driving down costs.  For example, the lowest cost printer, who always delivers late, or needs to have re-runs on a regular basis, in reality costs the business much more than the slightly more expensive printer who regularly delivers to specification for time and quality.

Essentially competitive procurement is used to secure competitive quotes for services and supplies.  Though the service can be used to request and evaluate almost any tender most Marketing organisations use the functionality to tender for print and print supplies.

Systems vary across the different suppliers, but essentially the functionality is delivered as follows.

When a service is required, say from a printer for an off-set litho print, the specification for the task is taken from the information stored in the MRM system, either using historic data from earlier tasks or from the specification in the Brief for the particular job.  

At the time of requesting the quote the MRM system contains all the known details of other jobs which might need that service, so by running a few reports you can find economic quantity levels which might deliver an economy of scale.  All this is saved in the system as routine.

Provided profiles of the suppliers already used by Marketing are held in the system, the MRM system can be used to prepare a comprehensive list of prospective suppliers.

Against this list, the MRM system will hold the track record of the suppliers in delivering against prior jobs, so the quality aspect can be brought in to play by ensuring that the invitations are only sent to suppliers who deliver the right quality to the agreed time scales.

Most good MRM systems will at this stage produce a standardised invitation to tender so that all suppliers are asked to quote for the identical same service.

As the suppliers (mainly) will already be registered on the system the invitations to tender can be sent out electronically.

When responses are received they should be in a standard format which makes comparisons so much easier. 

The tender can be be awarded to the appropriate supplier.

Competitive Tendering is a developing area and more suppliers are expanding their functionality in this area.  It is an area where there are clear differences between the offerings fom the various suppliers.

 

 

So again the definition can be extended to:

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing:

1.the Planning and Budget processes;

2. Process Management, allowing the appropriate people to update progress and to view the planned collateral.

3. approval of collateral, using electronic transmission of images and comments complying with the defined management hierarchy

4. an integrated DAM storing all multimedia collateral, and associated documentation, providing the required level of functionality to promote and support the re-use of existing collateral

5. Competitive Procurement to reduce costs and ensure consistent quality”.

 

• Managing the Print process 

Inside the MRM system you have the Brief which sets out what is needed, you have the designs as the collateral was developed, you have the final artwork etc as approved by the various people together with the comments /authorisations to allow the job to proceed to print and finally you have the work flow which clearly shows when the print is needed and when delivery is required.

You may also have a service agreement with the specific printer defining the costs, time scales and quality defined for each job. 

If this has been managed with proper version control by the MRM system then you should have a complete job bag for the task in hand.  Further, if the printer has access to the system they can use the system to communicate to the appropriate people if queries arise, plus they may be given access to all relevant pre-work so that they can answer questions just be using the system. 

The Work flow system can also be used to email reminders when jobs are required, or to email key managers when printers do not deliver to the agreed deadlines. 

In the early days of MRM the print process was not as well supported as some of the other areas of functionality, but that has changed.  One of the major drivers has been the emergence of MRM systems at printers who offer a management service to customers not only for print, but for other areas further up the "food chain" because they have gained experience of using MRM to manage process.

So, back to the definition which now reads:

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing:

1.the Planning and Budget processes;

2. Process Management, allowing the appropriate people to update progress and to view the planned collateral.

3. approval of collateral, using electronic transmission of images and comments complying with the defined management hierarchy

4. an integrated DAM storing all multimedia collateral, and associated documentation, providing the required level of functionality to promote and support the re-use of existing collateral

5. Competitive Procurement to reduce costs and ensure consistent quality

6. the print and delivery functions ”.

 

 

•  Measurement and Reporting

 

The data for all reporting on Marketing activities concerned with raising collateral must be collected as a normal part of the MRM system. There should be no need to input data in to the reporting system in order to produce Management reports.

MRM systems should support sophisticated ‘slice and dice' reporting allowing the person with authority to view the information from several different view points.

Many systems achieve this via ‘free form reporting' linked to a host of pre-defined reports. Some provide only basic reporting but will output information in ‘open' formats which can be imported in to other systems such as Crystal reporting or Excel.

MRM systems must be able to report on both the efficiency and the effectiveness of Campaigns managed by their system.

In these terms efficiency is a measure of how well, at what costs, and over which time frames did the department produce the collateral. Using these statistics the department should be able to affect the costs and times associated with producing any piece of collateral and can move towards being a more efficient Marketing department.

Effectiveness, requires an interface to the CRM system (where it exists). This is a measure of the success of a particular Campaign, for example counting the numbers of people who chose to book a holiday using a particular discount brochure. This information is, normally, collected as part of the CRM system. When these results are known it is possible to compare the cost effectiveness of say brochure campaigns against press adverts or direct mail shots.

So to finalise our definition, this can now be:

 

MRM definition

“MRM is an holistic system, capable of serving the whole of the Marketing Enterprise (including both internal and external Agencies), which manages all aspects of Brand Management and the associated production of Marketing Collateral.

The system will specifically provide functionality managing:

1.the Planning and Budget processes;

2. Process Management, allowing the appropriate people to update progress and to view the planned collateral.

3. approval of collateral, using electronic transmission of images and comments complying with the defined management hierarchy.

4. an integrated DAM storing all multimedia collateral, and associated documentation providing the required level of functionality to promote and support the re-use of existing collateral. 

5. Competitive Procurement to reduce costs and ensure consistent quality

6. the print and delivery functions .

7. comprehensive, self–selection reporting on all aspects of the services managed, including marketing efficiency, and the basis for marketing effectiveness.”.