Dr. Bernhard Gründer: Digital solutions in marketing management

These days the marketing merry-go-round is turning much more rapidly than five years ago. A constantly growing number of different media channels, increasingly complex target groups and an advertising world based increasingly on interaction and real time variables in particular, pose major challenges to companies with many sales partners or large distribution networks. With digital solutions made in Rhineland-Palatinate, socoto ensures that regionalised marketing can be planned, implemented and ­managed professionally and efficiently, anywhere in the world.

Thanks to digitalisation over the last few decades, the rapid development that has also hit the advertising and media worlds can be seen one-to-one in the history of IT-driven marketing management systems (MMS). Even when socoto gmbh & co. kg – then known as Mediacare – was formed in Trier some 20 years ago, its mission was: “How can a company’s brand identity be homogeneously broadcast across all media channels of all regional sales partners and both balance rapid and uncomplicated individualisation while simultaneously retaining the company’s corporate identity?” However, compared with today’s increasingly complex advertising world, the basic objectives at that time were much more straightforward.

First steps. One of socoto’s first clients was Peugeot Germany. The carmaker wanted to supply its sale partners not only with regional media planning, but also offer them the opportunity to individualise advert content and book independently. To do this, socoto developed “advertising tool boxes” which enabled unpracticed users with a means to design and book custom advertising material, while ensuring the corporate design used complied with that specified by their head offices. At that time, the real-time depiction of individualised ad templates was not only revolutionary but, together with the fully-automated creation of print data linked with an integrated booking platform, it made socoto a pioneer of decentralised individualisation and advert booking. From this nucleus, socoto developed a comprehensive digital planning, implementation and reporting platform, which today is used throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

With 360-degree communication into the future. Since then, socoto has remained true to its original business idea of simplifying marketing processes; however, as with the market and its requirements, the IT platform has undergone significant developments. With some 90 employees in an innovative sector with a promising future, socoto has long been an excellent employer in Rhineland-Palatinate. Marketing management systems themselves also have an exciting future, as they will play an increasingly important role in efficient cross-media marketing and intelligently-networked advertising. Today, socoto’s own marketing management system covers the entire marketing value chain; from planning and budgeting to implementation and analysis. socoto’s user-base scope has also widened: automobile manufacturers, insurance providers, travel companies and restaurant chains have all discovered the benefits of marketing management systems. Based in Trier, socoto supports the entire marketing process with intelligent web-based IT solutions. Budget planning, re­­source-­planning, campaign planning, media planning,  as well as the creation, implementation, production and distribution of ad­­vertising material to analysis and performance measurement tools are all automated via a single platform, which is integrated into the client’s existing IT architecture. The system continues to focus on user-friendly solutions for complex company structures with a large number of players. Throughout the process, efforts are made to ensure that all decentralised units produce individual advertising material themselves, quickly, simply and as part of the central brand identity. They can also publish a diverse media-mix based on target audiences, with the support of key data on competing locations, socio-demographic factors and milieu. Brand partners can also link up with each other and take part in regional advertising campaigns as a group.

socoto marketing management systems, made in Rhineland-Palatinate – whether in use in Germany, China or in Switzerland – are always a reflection of the constantly-changing world of cross-media advertising. Today, advertising messages find their way from the platform to consumers via email newsletter or sponsored Facebook posts, the same way they do via classical print media. In future, this task will also be more about defining target groups more distinctly, for example by enhancing further geo-marketing aspects within the system and by linking up channels in real time in client-relevant ways that are both useful and cost-efficient.

A marketing management system in daily use. Many marketing departments in major companies rely on web-based marketing management systems (MMS) to support local sales partners or franchisees in making full use of advertising messages that are appropriate to their corporate identity in terms of content and homogeneity. For example, if a car dealer wants to take out an advertisement or put up an online banner for a particular model of car, they can select a layout template via their marketing portal and request a subsidy directly from the group head office for their activity. All relevant technical data, e.g. the model, engine-size and emission levels, etc. can be included automatically. If the brand partner has adapted the advert to  their individual requirements, it can be immediately booked in the system, using the agreed rates.

If the user also wishes to use their offer over other advertising media – such as email newsletters or on their own homepage, the original advert content can be transferred automatically to the corresponding templates for the chosen media channel.

Dr. Bernhard Gründer
The author is the managing partner of socoto gmbh & co. kg, a Trier-based, inter­­nationally active, supplier of marketing management systems, with branches in Cologne, Berlin, Solothurn (Switzerland) and Shanghai. The company was formed in 1999. Its clients include Volkswagen, Porsche, Nissan, Shell, Basler Versicherungen (insurance) and the German Techniker public health insurance fund.