Apr 21, 2023

Why MRMs fail and how to prevent it

Varun Sarin

Varun Sarin

Why MRMs fail and how to prevent it

Spoiler alert: It's rarely just the tech.

Marketing Resource Management (MRM) is a set of software tools that help an organisation manage their information - content, processes, projects, operations, and workflows - in one place. They were first brought to market in the 90s as project management software, but have since evolved to a much broader remit. Today, they’re a fundamental part of a CMO’s tech stack. With a CAGR of 10.9%, MRMs are increasingly being used by the biggest brands to standardise how they deliver communications and optimise their marketing operations.

Why are they proving to be so popular? Simple - the current marketing team has more channels, content, and partners to work with than ever before. Keeping on top of that complexity and still being able to feed content-hungry marketing channels is essential. An MRM can be an attractive way to organise the chaos. It helps bring cross-functional teams together in a standardised and hopefully repeatable marketing delivery process.

There is a catch, though. There is a tremendous amount of choice when it comes to MRMs. As Salesforce puts it, “There are a number of tools and solutions available on the market today that organisations can use to streamline and organise their marketing resources. The right solution for your organisation may not be the same as the right solution for another business.”

Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that many organisations are left underwhelmed by their choice of MRM post-implementation.

Why is that? And how can your organisation avoid a similar outcome?

In this article, we will discuss the three critical things to do before you bring in an MRM system and how organisations can avoid the hidden traps that prevent marketing leaders from unlocking the full potential of their teams. At Credera, our team of MarTech experts have more than two decades of experience in implementing MRMs for some of the most well-known brands in the world. This article is the best of what we've seen and learned along the way.

Listen next: Technically Minded: The ins and outs of agile marketing

Bring people into the process early

An MRM is different from other types of MarTech because it mimics how you work - and that picture may not always be pretty. Dysfunction, lack of collaboration, and poor business processes will become more visible than ever before if you adopt an MRM.

The key question is: Are your teams ready for that? And are you ready for change?

Resistance to change is often caused by a perceived threat to "our way of working.” At worst, it can be seen as a threat to job security. If this is the environment you're bringing a new MRM into, then you're already on the backfoot.

So what should you do instead?

Talk to your teams and gauge the temperature in the room.

Communicate three key messages:

1) Tell me what prevents you from doing your job better.

Ask your management team to facilitate smaller working groups and come back with recommendations. Pull internal business partners into the conversation because without them, you can't deliver communications efficiently.

With proper communication of what the challenges are, and why it is important to solve them now, you are creating the headspace for a new MRM. You're also pivoting the conversation from fear based to opportunity based.

2) Everyone will be given the proper time and training to adopt the new system. This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.

Without proper training, users may not get the full benefit of the system or even understand how to use it properly. To ensure that your team is properly trained, outline what training materials and resources will be available to them. Ask for volunteers - who will not only get early access, but will also be the superusers, testers, and evangelists you rely on further down the line.

3) Here's a rough timeline of events and what will be expected from you.

A disjointed rollout can lead to confusion and frustration, which can derail an MRM implementation. To avoid this, it is important to ensure that all users receive consistent training and support and that any changes to the system are communicated in a timely manner.

Avoid SOS: Shiny Object Syndrome

This is an easy trap to fall into. Your existing processes are messy, could be outdated, and it just seems like a lot of work to unpick why something is done in a certain way. Why don't we start with a clean slate? This new system will flush out any issues.

Careful – you might be falling into the ‘Shiny Object’ trap. A common issue with implementing MRM is that broken or inefficient business processes are not addressed properly beforehand. According to research by Simple, “51% of marketing teams don’t track or monitor their marketing process at all and only 44% document their workflows.” If these processes are not surfaced and improved before the implementation of the new system, it can upset the effectiveness of your MRM in the future.

We've also seen organisations that go all-in to process re-design, and then months later have nothing to show for it because they're endlessly debating what good looks like.

Find a balance. Pick your most critical business processes - the ones that can be migrated completely onto a new MRM - and move those first. Then, once you have a few working processes to showcase, build a prioritised backlog of everything else. In the meantime, keep learning from the processes that are already live. This will help build crucial momentum, and creates more fans of the new process.

A side effect of launching certain processes early is that it will expose where collaboration has deteriorated across the team. This will be manifested as overly manual or duplicate tasks – for example, too many approvals needed to get content live. To improve collaboration between teams, your early adopters should be cross-functional and have end-to-end ownership of the process. Leaving teams out at this stage is not an option.

Accept that no system is perfect

If you’ve brought users on the journey with you, they should now feel like they’re part of the solution rather than the problem. You’ve consistently communicated with them, empowering them to feel like the MRM is their tool. You've also got some target processes that will involve a full breadth of roles and these people are also the early adopters of the new system.


Now, and only now, are you ready to look for the right tech.

Technology does not always deliver on its promises because it doesn't operate in a vacuum. However, not setting clear expectations from your tech can lead to confusion and disappointment, which can derail an otherwise successful implementation.

To avoid this, it is important to ensure that all promises made by the vendor are fulfilled and that proper testing is done before implementing the system. And this isn’t just the technical team’s job. Bring in people from risk, legal, HR and any other business function that will need to use the MRM. De-mystify the technical jargon and give them an early preview of what to expect. Most vendors will offer a sandbox or trial version of the product, which you must absolutely make use of. Get your technology and power users to implement dummy processes and give them a checklist of what to look for. Score target vendors across the same checklist.

Further down from vendor selection, an area that can sometimes catch out CMOs is hidden costs. These costs can include ongoing maintenance fees or additional features that were not included in the original agreement. To avoid hidden costs, it is important to identify all potential costs up front and ensure that they are included in the agreement with the vendor. Ask detailed questions on what the vendor expects ongoing costs to be, what thresholds would trigger a further price increase, and what plan they recommend.

The final area where tech lets down an MRM implementation is that it wasn't as easy to use as advertised. Complicated systems can lead to confusion and frustration, and this can derail an implementation if not addressed properly. To ensure ease of use, it is important to provide clear documentation, training materials, and dedicated support personnel who can offer assistance after the system goes live. The early pilots and testing should also uncover any issues with UI/UX, and you should make this a part of your vendor evaluation criteria.


We have discussed three main reasons why MRM implementations fail: people, processes, and tech. It is important for you to address these areas to ensure a successful MRM implementation.

By providing proper training, addressing broken processes, ensuring collaboration between teams, managing change effectively, and ensuring ease of use for users, your team will be well on their way to unlocking the full potential of a new MRM.

How we can help

Our Modern Marketing Transformation practice is comprised of industry experts with decades of combined experience across all facets of MRM implementation.

If you’re investigating how to utilise the latest tech to invest your marketing budget more strategically, our team can help you assess your current infrastructure and identify opportunities to evolve, with commercially stunning results.  To learn more, please get in touch with a member of our team.

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