1997 Sep 01

Marketing Synergy Inc. Marketing Management System
David M. Raab
DM News
September, 1997

Marketing Management System (Marketing Synergy, Inc., 630-663-0070) is a database marketing system that combines high-level marketing planning with detailed campaign design and execution. Although the integration of these functions is increasingly common, MMS is unusual in its assumption that all of a company’s orders are linked to specific promotions. This approach is most suitable to direct response marketers such as catalogs, publishers and continuities, although the product can be applied to other industries as well.

MMS has a distinctly different flavor from other database marketing systems. The planning process begins with development of a high-level plan, created by listing individual marketing campaigns with summary data only. This includes assumptions for total quantity, response rates and revenues, as well as classification by market group, channel, product group, and drop date. The actual categories will vary for each company and are established during system set-up.

The system has many features to make plan development as efficient as possible. Plans can be copied from prior plans with across-the-board adjustments for factors such as costs or response rates. Users can enforce uniformity through templates with standard formats and cost assumptions. Templates can have effective dates to accomodate anticipated changes such as a postal rate increase. If the date of a promotion changes, the cost template appropriate to the new date can be applied automatically. Security in the system can limit the authority of users to perform specific tasks or modify plans for specific product lines. MMS keeps a log of who makes each change as a plan is modified.

Users can also attach a response curve to each campaign, showing the expected flow of responses after the drop date. This lets MMS produce reports comparing actual to expected response as a campaign is underway. In combination with attrition assumptions, it also enables the system to project the size of the customer base throughout the planning period. These projections of the “house list” size can be the promotion quantity for future campaigns–something fairly common in catalog and other mail order industries. The response flows also allow MMS to guide operational planning, such as staffing of order processing and fulfillment operations. Although MMS allows users to attach several curves to a single campaign, it does not produce detailed projections for cash flow, returns, or specific items of merchandise. This is the province of specialized requirements forecasting systems from firms like Galvin Associates, Forerunner Systems and Direct Tech Inc. In its use of response curves, reliance on prior historical detail, and mediation between summary and detail-level projections, MMS resembles these systems more than traditional database marketing software.

Once the over-all plan is defined, MMS users can design individual campaigns in detail. Campaigns are built from list segments, which can either be outside lists available for rental or “house list” segments in a conventional marketing database of customers and prospects. The system includes a segment builder which allows basic logic but not queries incorporating calculations or complex relationships among data elements. Users can limit a segment to a specific quantity via Nth selects and can select names based on model scores. Segment counts are generated either against a conventional relational database or a proprietary “bit-language” database that stores attributes for each name on the file. The proprietary system can return counts against several million records in twenty seconds or less. MMS keeps an inventory of previously defined house list segments plus a separate database with details on outside lists.

In campaign set-up, list segments are applied to “panels” of product, offer and price combinations. Users specify whether a list is available for test and control panels or rollout panels only. After lists and panels are defined, MMS creates a table of keycode for all list/panel combinations. Each company defines its own rules for naming keycodes. The user can modify the keycode list by deleting undesired combinations, changing the priority of lists, or altering how a list is split across panels. Users can also enter detailed information about quantities, costs, drop dates, response rates, revenues, package contents, themes, fulfillment kits, and other items. Multi-wave promotions, such as magazine renewals or continuity programs, can have panels with different drop dates. MMS provides access to historical data to select lists and estimate response rates. Campaign details are summarized to update the high-level marketing plan.

Once the campaign is set, users can get counts by submitting the job to run against the main database. This is usually handled as a batch process, with resulting counts posted to the MMS system overnight. Actual selections are also run outside of the system, although MMS produces detailed instructions to send to list brokers, service bureaus, and other vendors.

MMS provides extensive standard reports and a columnar report writer to access the planning data, which is typically stored on the user’s local server. Cross tab and profiling tools can access the underlying marketing database, which may be managed by the user, Marketing Synergy, or another service bureau. Responses are typically gathered from order processing systems on a nightly basis and can be posted separately to the planning database, the bit-language counting files, and the main marketing database.

The cost of MMS depends on the complexity of the installation. An installation with no customization would cost about $100,000, while additional charges for design, customization and service bring a typical large-company installation to $350,000 to $500,000. The product is now operating at three clients. It was officially released in 1997, although earlier versions have been running since 1993. MMS runs on any Windows workstation and NT or Unix servers.

* * *

David M. Raab is a Principal at Raab Associates Inc., a consultancy specializing in marketing technology and analytics. He can be reached at draab@raabassociates.com.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.