MEHRKANAL: Strategic partner for marketing

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MEHRKANAL is a strategic partner for national and international brand-oriented companies with decentralized trading structures. The company, headquartered in Essen, Germany, was founded in 2003 and has recorded continuous growth since then - from an original 15 employees to currently more than 120.

Thanks to the unique combination of software automation and individual services, MEHRKANAL makes the marketing management of its customers as simple and efficient as possible - regardless of whether it is a solution for headquarters, individual country units or local partners.

For a measurable increase in performance of marketing activities, MEHRKANAL acts as a strategic partner with the holistic plan-performance-analysis approach along the entire process chain.

Melaschuk-Medien interviewed Managing Director Markus Plaum about the strategies, methods and experiences of MEHRKANAL.

Markus Plaum, Managing Director of MEHRKANAL
Markus Plaum is one of three managing directors of MEHRKANAL GmbH. Together with Christian Behne and Peter Steckenborn, he consistently and successfully manages and develops the agile company based in Essen. Image: MEHRKANAL

What are the specific advantages of a strategic partnership with MEHRKANAL and what are its advantages for the customer?

We clearly focus on our customers and their development.

As an agile company in a rapidly developing industry, neither we nor our customers may stand still. The further development of our customers in combination with our own development is one of our main concerns and demands on our daily actions.

Together with each of our customers, we therefore analyse current and future processes and the associated needs and challenges. When we realize that we can offer added value and that the chemistry between the customer and us is right, the joint development of our solution begins. This is the only way we can guarantee a long-term successful cooperation.

This close cooperation is new for many companies and requires great trust on both sides, as we are more closely integrated into internal processes than usual as an external service provider. After a short time, however, the customers recognize the added value of this type of cooperation and a cooperative relationship develops.

Your solution includes both the marketing management system and marketing services. Can you concretise your service portfolio more specific?

Our solution always consists of two components: Software & Services. The core of our portfolio is clearly the systemic solution with which we are able to automate marketing management and significantly increase its performance. But all this only works if there are accompanying services that enable our systemic solution to achieve the optimum of each process.

To create the perfect symbiosis between software and services, we use our plan-performance-analysis approach. This enables us to take a holistic view of individual customer needs, through which we formulate concrete goals against which we are also pleased to be measured. On the other hand, we can react quickly and agilely to possible process changes or new requirements at any time.

This increases performance and customer satisfaction.

What role does marketing planning play in web-based marketing management?

Web-based marketing planning is becoming increasingly valuable for companies: projects must be more flexible to handle, there are many different project participants and the outsourcing of global project teams often presents project managers with major hurdles.

Project planning that meets these new challenges and also knows neither time nor country-specific restrictions can only be web-based.

Therefore it is a matter of course for us that our solution also simplifies the marketing planning of our customers and also has direct influence on all other functions of our solution. After all, a marketing plan that cannot be rolled out as planned does not bring any added value to our customers.

Can you describe the process - from marketing planning to distribution?

In general, such a process is always very customer-specific. But as already mentioned, we always use our MEHRKANAL method to design customer solutions: We plan, we perform and we analyse. This approach applies equally to our own processes and those of our customers and their sales partners.

For the customer, the added value lies clearly in the fact that he can implement all processes in our system. Thanks to an innovative interface connection, external processes can also be easily integrated. This not only saves time, but also enables concentrated processing of tasks without unnecessary system changes.

Another major advantage for the head office is that it covers all processes from marketing planning to dealer activation.

But also the sales partner can plan and distribute his individualized marketing activities. In addition, external project participants experience the processes more transparent and the communication as multi-valued. In this way, everyone involved in the project benefits.

Marketing departments often think in terms of campaigns. How is this supported by MEHRKANAL?

From planning to distribution and evaluation, we enable our clients a smooth process that can not only be centrally controlled, but also locally and individually distributed - regardless of whether it involves individual campaigns or continuous marketing activities.

The fact that individual campaigns are often more important for brands with decentralized retail structures is, of course, partly due to the fact that the performance of many project participants is measured by the respective campaign key figures.

Of course, you always have to keep the big picture in mind, but thanks to our solution, all project participants always have both in view and can focus precisely on the tasks involved.

Are decentralized organizational units of a brand company not overstrained with the use of a planning tool?

The use of a planning tool is particularly important for these organizational units. Usually the planning is still realized with Excel tables and unclear mail processes and this with a multiplicity of project participants.

A tool in which responsibilities and tasks are clearly defined and which also makes the relevant information to the project participants accessible and directly editable is a great benefit for everyone. Marketing planning cannot be realised in a clearer and more structured way.

Of course, one should not underestimate the different demands. A large internationally operating company certainly has different planning requirements than a small and regionally positioned company.

Our solution is structured in such a way that it optimally supports each of these requirements and accompanies the users throughout the entire planning process or, if necessary, actively reminds them of planned tasks. This way no one is overburdened and a smooth planning process is guaranteed.

How have the requirements of the marketing centres changed from your experience in the last 15 years?

In fact, almost everything has changed. Here is a small, but certainly not quite complete list:

  • Marketing has become faster, more complex and more networked.
  • The tasks of the marketing centres are more extensive. In addition, there is often less budget, fewer project participants but more channels to use and agile touchpoints.
  • The behaviour and thus also the customer life cycle of the target groups has changed completely. Everything is much more content driven (away from pure information to emotion).
  • The demands on a systemic solution are also much higher, which is also due to the fact that the marketing centers have a good basic knowledge and usually also experience with marketing management solutions.
  • International project teams need web-based tools.
  • The user interface and user experience have become just as important as the systemic solution behind it.

Communication channels, especially in the digital area, are changing permanently and in ever shorter intervals. The subject of digitisation is also currently highly discussed. How do you keep your system up to date?

We invest an above-average amount in innovation projects that we carry out completely in-house. In this way, we ensure that the spirit of innovation is maintained within the company and that the individual innovation projects are anchored in the corporate culture right from the start.

In addition, we also rely on external impulses that we receive from our customers as well as from external market drivers.

Our innovation projects are as multi-faceted as the current requirements and trends on the market – from changing communication channels to topics related to digitisation. This applies to both our software and our services. The continuous further development is part of our company's DNA.

Your customers come from a wide variety of industries. Which are the most innovative?

No matter from which industry our customers come, they all live on innovations or innovative further developments. Of course there are different requirements, budget volumes, digital needs and competitive situations that have a great influence on the innovative spirit of companies, but the following applies to every customer:

Standstill is the beginning of the end.

What are your plans for future developments?

We plan, perform and analyse so that we can then plan in a target-oriented manner again. In this way we consistently contribute to the success of our customers. In addition, we aim to enable intelligent marketing performance that meets the respective requirements of the time.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr Plaum!

Date: 29.03.2018
Editor: Ira Melaschuk – Melaschuk-Medien / Mehrkanal GmbH