Agreed, a snappy title it isn’t; but its heart is most certainly in the right place. Basically, it’s asking you to take a good close look at what your competition is doing, and why sometimes they seem to be doing it better than you. Let’s take two mythical and competitive businesses.
They’re both part of national brands and they operate in busy local marketplaces that can generate enough business to keep them both ticking over quite nicely, thank you.
And then one of them appears to have racked up their business plan and all of a sudden you’re starting to flounder. You’re having to speed up your efforts, even run yourself ragged, just to stand still.
So what have they started doing that you haven’t as yet? It rather sounds as if their head office has discovered the multi-layer benefits of what we call Marketing Resource Management (MRM).
MRM is when head office suddenly realises that its dealer/outlet network is not the poor relation it has been treated as in the past. It is actually an integral part of the business, and maximising the benefits to be had from integration will pay dividends in a variety of ways.
But what it also means, and this is key to its success, is that head office involvement takes all the hard work in its stride, leaving the outlet to do what it does best: get customers through the door and money in the till.
Which brings us back to the ‘seven’ of the title.
This is number one. We’ve all seen it. National brands spend fortunes in creating images and then maintaining that imagery in front of its perceived buying market.
But very often that brand imagery does not extend to the local outlets. Why? Usually because the network doesn’t seem to figure in national plans. The brand now embracing MRM is on top of its game. Local outlet collateral is now a mirror image of the national look.
Compare that with Mr non-MRM. The national brand is pumping out imagery left, right and centre, but the local outlets like theirs are apparently not on the distribution list. So what does it do? It has to go local, and that’s when the brand dilution starts to set in.
It is a well-tested and proven fact that brand values start to get lost when third-party local agencies are brought in to create sales collateral for local dealers to support the national messaging. Third-party agencies are not always aware of the national values that create your brand (how can they be if they’ve never had sight of the corporate identity manuals for a start?), and the administration of their input is all down to you: another big drag on your time.
Intelligently-applied, MRM enables you to keep your entire network consistent with your national values. Through channelling national sales collateral and marketing resources to your local dealerships, at the same time as the national rollout, you remove the involvement, brand dilution and the expense of the third-party agency.
This is a key number two. If your competitors are using MRM to distribute centrally-prepared materials to their local dealers, then you can bet they are saving money. MRM allows you to maximise the returns on your marketing resource investment by using your national multi-channel resources at a local level. This cuts costs in two main ways: economies of scale from same-theme graphics, coupled with larger print and production runs can quite dramatically reduce the cost-per-item. And, of course, that old bug-bear the local agency doesn’t get a look or an invoice in.
Number three. The option to share budgets is one of the best incentives for brands to use MRM, because it helps fund the costs of local marketing media. This allows dealers to create on-brand marketing at a local level, reflecting local values that only the local outlet will know and understand. A national brand intelligently reflecting local attitudes can only ever be a winner. And remember; a shared budget is a bigger budget, and a bigger budget is a better discount negotiator than a smaller budget.
Ease of use
Of course the seven differentiators are all linked together, like our number four, ease of use. Let our mythical non-MRM outlet watch when the competition launches a new model or product. The outlet is decked out with all the related marketing collateral to coincide with the launch. This is because head office, when preparing for a national product launch, invests time and money into producing local-level marketing collateral to coincide with it. Which is a far better approach than having to source it from third-party agencies, which delays the distribution of collateral to the public and significantly impacts the effect of the national campaign down at street level..
With MRM, the local outlets are supplied with ready-made custom templates that can be accessed, tailored and distributed straight into the local marketplace in time for a key product launch.
More integrated campaigns
Integration comes in at number five. MRM lets you maximise all head office marketing channels (Outdoor, Digital, TV, radio, video, PR, social media, search, press and print), which would not normally be available to you without a lot of aggro and admin, in a coordinated and easy-to-use drive or drives to the market. National and local advertising, brochures and direct marketing, promotions; they can all be marshalled and directed. The creation of multi-channel campaigns allows you to gain greater traction with your prospects and empowers your entire network to reap the benefits of the local customer base.
Greater intelligence & insight
Number six is the insight that MRM can bring to the brand. MRM Systems will often include a built-in marketing planner which not only has a number of custom templates that can be distributed through your network; it also provides full visibility of all of your dealer's systems and their planned and completed activity and spend. This helps to keep head office aware of what channels are working, i.e are good value for money in terms of data capture or actual sales, and to coordinate all marketing activities so that everyone is acting from the same play script and everyone is saving money from more efficient budget allocations.
Last but not least is actually an all-embracer. MRM enables head office and the local network to work on marketing resources that perform with the local knowledge and insight of your dealers, allied with the clout and values of the national brand.
But, and this is unashamedly repetitive, head office involvement means multi-channel exposure that works, that is easy to use and that needs minimal admin from the outlet itself. It’s all done for you. You don’t need all those third-party systems you might have invested in as a replacement for lack of head office empathy and involvement.
Even better when the data is shared and managed to best effect; leads become sales when there is much greater control of which prospects see which messages. Your channel should not be sending messages in conflict with similar messages from elsewhere in the network. You need to have everyone seeing the bigger picture with the data. For example an MOT reminder should not be sent if another part of the network is also sending an MOT reminder - easily done with the help of all the modern marketing automation technology but not very impressive from the customer's perspective.
In addition to the creation of resources that will maximise marketing efforts on a local and national level, your local network also benefits from the collaboration and support from up above. If one of your local outlets needs assistance with its own MRM, it is actively encouraged to contact head and access its overriding and expert knowledge and experience.
MRM is all about working together to maximise the message, minimise the expenditure and create a successful cooperative of like-minded people.
No wonder it works so well, and with so little effort at ground level.