Marketing Automation

Why You Need Marketing Operations

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Modern B2B marketing requires a new set of “left-brained” skills, including:

  • Quantitative planning and forecasting,
  • Rigorous marketing performance measurement, and
  • Consistent execution of best-practice processes.

These new marketing skills can be quite different from “traditional” marketing skills such as strategic and creative thinking, and yet they are critical as marketing becomes more operational, metrics oriented, and tied to revenue.

To solve this discrepancy, many large B2B companies are staffing a new role called Marketing Operations. Marketing Operations is meant to be the operational yang to the creative yin of marketing, a bastion of quantitative rigor and left-brained discipline in a world of right-brained marketers. According to MarketingProfs, Marketing Operations builds a foundation for excellence by reinforcing marketing strategy with metrics, process, infrastructure, and best practice. Also, Marketing Operations is often responsible for deploying the marketing automation software required to run programs and measure results – an option made possible by the introduction of on-demand marketing solutions.

According to Michael Gerard, director of IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice:

“The marketing function is poised to increase its influence in the organization; establishing greater credibility, expanding its role, and increasing its contribution to the strategic direction of the organization. The [Marketing Operations] profession is in an ideal position to catalyze this transition.”

Bonus link: An excellent interview with Denise Peck, who runs Marketing Operations at Cisco.

Not Just For Large Companies

Marketing Operations as a formal function has mostly taken hold in large companies, especially public companies where regulatory compliance is even more critical. In fact, IDC recently reported that nearly 60% of large technology companies have hired staff into a formal Marketing Operations role, and Andy Hasselwander writes that the trend for B2B companies in the Fortune 500 is to staff defined Marketing Operations departments.

That said, marketers at small companies need process excellence, marketing accountability, and streamlined infrastructure as much as those at large companies. The key difference is that smaller companies cannot staff the Marketing Operations role as a separate department or function.

Instead, these companies need to embed Marketing Operations excellence into their DNA. This must start at the top, with the CMO. By creating a culture of marketing accountability, encouraging streamlined processes, and implementing the right software infrastructure, the CMO can make every staff member into a Marketing Operations Manager. This, of course, requires vision, discipline, the skill to hire the right kind of people, and the ability to make the required investments in technology support.

At the same time, success with Marketing Operations requires hard work to build the right kind of relationships with finance and sales (and IT, if necessary). It is the CMO’s job to break down any traditional barriers that exist between these functions and build the cross-functional relationships required for success. This is true regardless of whether Marketing Operations is a formal role in the marketing department, or just the way you go about doing business.

One final note: “Marketing Operations Management” (sometimes called MOM), is sometimes confused with “Marketing Resource Management” (MRM), a category of marketing software designed to help with financial management, asset management, and production management. Personally, I think this does a disservice to the discipline of Marketing Operations. What do you think?