VentureBeat recently ran into criticism when an outcry of marketing automation companies claimed a blogpost biasedly favored the Marketing Automation Company Marketo. In response, Dylan Tweney, VentureBeat's Executive Editor, published What the !A#$ is marketing automation? - in response to a clear indication that not enough people knew exactly what Marketing Automation was.....
So we've taken the liberty to approach the subject of distributed marketing with the same passionate question.......
Distributed Marketing versus Marketing Automation versus Marketing Resource Management (MRM)..... What the !A#$ is the difference? And who isn't confused? Over the past few months, we've had many conversations about what it is exactly that SproutLoud does. As we continue to pioneer a very young industry, we sometimes suffer from identity crisis given all of the new terms and technologies that are coming to bear. So what's the answer? In short, centralized vs. decentralized marketing initiatives.
Within both the broader MRM and Marketing Automation space, companies that use and deploy these technologies are managing centralized marketing initiatives aimed at managing the marketing chain within their companies. MRM companies such as Unica and Aprimo have been built to give large-enterprises internal controls to manage marketing operations and workflows. In these cases, the marketing decisions are centralized to the organization - there is no other third-party on which those decisions rely. Marketing Automation technologies usually require a CRM system to sit on-top of, and involve scoring and segmenting these databases to make sure the contacts in that system move through a customer service and/or sales funnel adequately (and automated of course).
I recently read a report that defined the Marketing Resource Management landscape as an extremely broad ecosystem including software with feature-sets that are more distributed marketing in nature. Big enterprise marketing platforms were being compared to systems that service decentralized organizations. That's a big difference! Which leads me to......you guessed it - distributed marketing. Unlike the other two categories, distributed marketing specifically addresses the needs of decentralized marketing organizations.
These systems (and companies providing services behind these systems) engage local sales and distribution channels through an easy-to-use online marketing portal to manage and deploy marketing materials and programs locally. Brand compliance, improved speed to market, and increased transparency into local marketing activities are all benefits that result from a proper strategy. Distributed Marketing Organizations need their brand, products and services to be represented consistently across multiple marketing media at the local level, and especially when marketing decisions are decentralized and deferred to the businesses and people marketing locally.
Moreover, marketing automation can also exist within these systems, especially if CRM-related tools are given to the field to manage their own contact and leads funnel. But because the centralized marketing objectives of the brand need to be balanced with the decentralized initiatives, the level of marketing automation of the field marketers is usually controlled at the corporate level. We hope this clears up some of the confusion.