Top 8 Traits of the Best Marketing Operations Teams

In this increasingly digital world that’s creating an increasingly digital — and complex — work environment, expectations for marketing operations have never been higher. As your ops team works hard to make sure the entire marketing department runs smoothly, stays aligned and has the data they need to be successful, your leadership can help them develop the confidence they need in their roles.

Earlier this week I participated in a Target Marketing webinar with two talented marketing ops guys from Workfront (Jeff Cullimore and Brandon Jensen). The topic covered what traits to hire for and cultivate in a great marketing ops team. In this increasingly digital world that’s creating an increasingly digital — and complex — work environment, expectations for marketing operations have never been higher.

As your ops team works hard to make sure the entire marketing department runs smoothly, stays aligned, and has the data they need to be successful, your leadership can help them develop the confidence they need in their roles. Brandon, Jeff and I discussed these top eight traits of the most valuable marketing operations teams:

8. Driven to Be Efficient and Effective

Do you have a colleague who is forever trying to optimize their drive to work or to the airport, obsessed with getting feedback and improving results? That is a great trait to have in marketing operations because let’s face it, their job is to make the rest of marketing more productive in everything they do. They will help you drive documented processes across marketing, measure the effectiveness of those processes, look for leaks, and adopt agile marketing principles. They understand that new technology is supposed to help drive up productivity, scale operations and enable new capabilities. They don’t become enamored with the latest shiny object. When you interview people and want to see if they have this trait, ask them about a process they have optimized.

7. Innovative

Marketing ops thrives on innovativeness. This is how you will outsmart your competitor’s marketing department. Being innovative goes hand in hand with risk taking, so create an environment where it is safe to experiment, take risks, and explore new ways of doing things. Ask your job candidates what risks they’ve taken professionally and how they innovated.

6. Always in the Know

In his book, “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell discusses three primary roles that every firm needs: a maven, a connector (aka networker), and a salesperson. He missed one, but I’ll get to that later. Having someone with networking skills is very useful in marketing ops. Let’s face it, management simply cannot be aware of all the goings on in marketing, sales and IT. Having folks who are plugged into initiatives and have an organizational awareness of their surroundings, helps ensure marketing ops stays relevant. Being in the know also applies to this next trait.

5. Tech Curious

I don’t want to call them geeks, but we all rely on our geek friends to steer us straight on tech purchases. Marketing ops needs at least one geek to sort through the 7000+ marketing technologies and select the right ones to help the organization grow. If you are hiring someone into the MarTech strategist role, test their knowledge and passion for the technology. What conferences have they attended? What would they recommend for you having reviewed your website? What tools did they eliminate in their last role?

4. Strategic

Marketing operations must maintain a strategic perspective. They have to remain focused on the outcomes marketing is driving for, they must be customer-focused and knowledgeable of how optimal customer experiences can be achieved. Testing for this trait involves seeing if the candidate is capable of critical thinking. Give them a test, and see if they can tease out the situation, the complications, and arrive at a critical question that sums up the situation or test.

3. Highly Communicative

No brainer, right? Marketing ops serves the entire marketing organization, and customers, and in many cases the sales organization. Being good listeners, with the ability to solicit and understand their disparate requirements is table stakes to work in marketing operations. Testing for this trait in an interview is easy. Explain the marketing objectives to them, and then ask them to play it back to you. I.e. see how well they listened.

2. Analytical

One of the primary functions of many marketing ops teams is that of reporting and analytics. You want someone who knows marketing KPIs, and who can help show the influence of marketing on the sales results. This trait goes beyond simply finding someone good at Excel or the use of a BI system. You need to find someone who can extract meaningful insights from data. Test for this by showing them some reports, data and charts, and ask they what insights they can glean form it. Do they understand that reports aren’t for ego stroking, they are created to help the business make better decisions?

1. Highly Collaborative

The final trait is that of being a great connector, someone who can help eliminate silos in organizations, in functions, in technology, and even in data stores. This person will not tolerate functions operating as silos and is a constant bridge builder. The bridges can be defined in processes or technology integrations. The point is that they understand the importance of marketing ops function holistically and that working together yields synergies. They are driven to achieve a shared set of goals.

Earlier I mentioned that Malcolm Gladwell missed one role in his startup triad. He shared that at their core firms had a maven, a connector, and a salesperson. The role he missed is that of the operations guru. This is the person who directs the firm on how to produce the products and services you sell. The maven cannot do this. The connector and salesperson cannot do it. You need an operations guru. And if you are in marketing…you need marketing operations gurus.

Learn more about the DNA of a strategic Marketing Operations leader.

Should You Centralize OR Decentralize Marketing Campaign Operations?

Growing marketers must inevitably decide what operations to centralize and what to decentralize. For functions like data quality management or vendor management, centralization is an easy decision. The decisions around marketing campaign operations design and development are more difficult.

If you are a growing enterprise with regional and perhaps international locations, and you are going through a digital transformation and building out a marketing operations function, you must inevitably decide what to centralize and what to decentralize. For functions like data quality management or vendor management, centralization is an easy decision. The decisions around marketing campaign operations design and development are more difficult.

The Case for Centralizing Marketing Campaign Operations

What skills and resources are needed to operate a campaign center of excellence?

  • Analysis and reporting skills
  • Program and campaign architecture and design, including multi-channel campaigns and ABM. These people should also be experts in the buying journey and the personas.
  • Power-users who can build and launch whatever you dream up. This includes marketing automation platforms, CRM, inbound technologies, website CMS, social technologies and paid media expertise.
  • Campaign project managers who can coordinate the entire campaign development process and the creation of assets just in time for usage in campaigns
  • In some cases, you may also need the data gurus to identify the hottest segments to target.
Centralized marketing campaign operations
Centralized marketing campaign operations. | Credit: Pedowitz Group by Kevin Joyce

Establishing the campaign center of excellence at HQ and centralizing the campaign power users and designers in one place has some advantages:

  • Best practices can be centralized and shared more easily
  • Brand consistency can be more easily managed
  • Avoids the difficulties of finding experienced power users for MarTech globally
  • Drives maximum re-use of campaigns and assets
  • Creates a tight knit team environment for mentoring and skill development
  • Provides a single coordinated set of content requirements to creative team
  • Provides a single set of data segmentation requests to data/segmentation team
  • Drives consistency in reporting and facilitates global rollup of demand generation reporting
  • Promotes less dependence on regional marketing people to execute campaigns so there may be more predictability in campaign schedules

All this sounds great, but there are some drawbacks, especially if you are in the regions!

  • Regions have much less control over what campaigns are created and to whom they are sent.
  • Regions may feel the process is too slow, and it takes too long to get a campaign out.
  • Regions may struggle to have their input incorporated into campaigns and may not get campaigns that are precisely targeted to their region.
  • Regions may become frustrated that they do not have the power to be agile and create quick one-off campaigns around events and local activities.

The Case for Decentralizing Marketing Campaign Operations

The alternative to centralizing all of the campaign design and execution resources in HQ is to decentralize the function, encouraging regional campaign design and development.

Decentralized marketing campaign management.
Decentralized marketing campaign operations. | Credit: Pedowitz Group by Kevin Joyce

Many organizations choose to build campaign design and development centers across the globe. There are some clear advantages.

  • Moving demand generation closer to the customer just seems logical. The regional marketing teams have their finger on the pulse of their markets, they know the content that will resonate, they know what their sales teams will value, they probably know the channel partners in the region. Bottom line, they can fine tune the segmentation, messages and offers better than HQ.
  • The regional marketers also do a lot of tactical marketing, events and promotions that require campaign support (email, paid media, etc.). Having that close at hand, under their own control gives them the flexibility to be responsive to sales requests and create and distribute their own content freely.
  • There will be less need or localization and translation since much of the content will be sourced locally.
  • Having a global demand generation team could enable you to offer 7×24 campaign services to all regions and turn around campaign builds in less than 24 hours.
  • There are still some in the HQ CoE who crank out best-practice based campaigns that can be shared globally.
  • The roles of campaign designer, power user, and regional marketing manager may be fulfilled by just one person in smaller regions, making campaign creation faster.

This sounds attractive, especially if you are scaling global operations, but there are drawbacks.

  • Great responsibility follows inseparably from great power. When we distribute the power and technology to all the regions, they need to understand that they have a responsibility to not SPAM customers, abide by the brand guidelines, align their messages to the approved messaging architecture, be rigorous in their use of QA, and coordinate their campaigns with the occasional global campaigns that emanate from HQ.
  • The content calendar and editorial calendar for the organization as a whole will be more difficult to coordinate as more regional campaign centers emerge. As a result, there is a risk of duplication of effort between the regions and HQ. The regions need to share their editorial calendar and content calendar with other regions and corporate for coordination and sharing.
  • There is risk that best practices will not be shared or followed by the regions. In addition, the level of sharing of great campaigns or offers will only rise to acceptable levels if you make it someone’s job to drive it.
  • Finding experienced marketers in using Marketing Cloud, Pardot, Marketo, and OMC is difficult enough in NA and EMEA. Imagine how hard it is to find them in South America, or China. Now add in experience with AdTech as a pre-requisite.
  • The demands on the creative/content team, and the reporting and analytics team, will increase with requests coming from all regions independently and not prioritized.
  • Regional marketing teams often report into the region’s General Manager, who, being compensated heavily based on sales results, may often usurp the regional marketers to focus on short-term marketing tactics as the expense of long term nurturing programs.

These drawbacks are not insurmountable. Addressing each of these as you build the global demand function is highly advised.

Next Steps If You Are Deciding Which Route to Take

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which model is more customer centric, and will deliver better customer experiences across the globe?
  • Which model is more flexible, scalable, and agile?
  • Can you start centralized, define many of the required processes and then gradually add campaign development centers in the regions?
  • Can you put in place some templates, best-practice based campaign examples, process and governance so the “great power” you distribute can be used wisely?
  • Can you segment the marketing databases and limit permissions to reduce your exposure to a rogue region campaigning to the world?
  • Can you hire or train the people you need in the regions you want to support?

 

How has your company organized demand generation? Please share your experience in the comments below or via email: kevin@pedowitzgroup.com

A Revenue Marketing Journey: The Conclusion

Sixteen months ago, we started the revenue marketing journey together. We defined revenue marketing as the combined set of strategies, processes, people, technologies, content and result measurements across marketing and sales.

Sixteen months ago, we started the revenue marketing journey together. We defined revenue marketing as the combined set of strategies, processes, people, technologies, content and result measurements across marketing and sales.

What followed was a series of articles that chronicled the major tasks fundamental to transforming your marketing organization to one that influences revenue in a predictable, scalable way. We covered, in the following order, the organization structure, the processes, content, channels, technology and analytics. Links to all 16 posts are provided below.

  1. First Steps in the Revenue Marketing Journey
  2. An Organizational Structure for Modern Marketing Success
  3. Marketing Operations Grows Up: Why Unicorns Rule
  4. Driving Demand Generation: Who Belongs on That Bus?
  5. The Digital and Content Team: Is Splintering a Verb?
  6. 5 Core Marketing Operations Processes to Master
  7. 7 Outrageous Lead Management Errors and How to Fix Them
  8. Is Data-Driven Decision-Making (3D) at the Heart of Your Marketing Organization?
  9. Add Data Operations to Accelerate Your Revenue Marketing Journey
  10. WARNING Don’t Wing Campaign Development: 6 Steps to a Flawless Rollout
  11. Are You Drowning in Content Chaos?
  12. Brilliant Marketing: Why Thomas Edison Was Light-Years Ahead of His Time
  13. How to Formulate Your 2018 Content Marketing Strategy
  14. Your Prospects Are Multichannel. Are You?
  15. How Marketing Operations Chooses Wisely Between Bright, Shiny Objects
  16. Get Revenue Marketing Analytics Right for 2018

Now that we have covered the fundamentals of revenue marketing, it is time to discuss how we operationalize a response to the big challenges facing marketing today using our revenue marketing capabilities. How do we help marketing become even more accountable, fully execute a digital transformation, and embrace the customer experience as the dominant competitive battlefield?

Next month, we will start with accountability and how to shape those quarterly and annual goals of the marketing organization.

How Marketing Operations Chooses Wisely Between Bright, Shiny Objects

This month we make a right turn on the journey and finally discuss marketing operations and technology. This is the 15th blog in the Revenue Marketing journey series, and we finally get to a discussion on technology. Hopefully that tells you something about how important people, process, data and content are, in that they all preceded this post.

Last month on our Revenue Marketing journey, we discussed how to formulate your 2018 content marketing strategy. This month we make a right turn on the journey and finally discuss marketing operations and technology. This is the 15th blog in the Revenue Marketing journey series, and we finally get to a discussion on technology. Hopefully that tells you something about how important people, process, data and content are, in that they all preceded this post.

Gartner recently released their CMO Spend Survey 2017 to 2018. In 2018 the survey suggests that marketing spending on technology will drop to 22 percent of the total budget. In addition, the technology landscape as plotted by Scott Brinker and team at Chiefmartec.com exceeded 5000 logos in 2017. So great, marketing operations has all this budget to spend on technology and more choices than we can possibly evaluate. What are we to do? Let’s start with the end in mind.

What Outcomes Do You Expect From the Technology?

We deploy technology largely because it fulfills one or more of the following criteria:

  1. To gather, analyze and disseminate information to make better business decisions
  2. To automate some previously labor-intensive processes to gain efficiencies and increase profits
  3. To enable innovation in the products and services we provide to win market share

So, the question becomes, where in 2018 will you get the highest ROI from technology investments? If you are early in your Revenue Marketing journey, you may opt to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM), a content management system (CMS) and a marketing automation platform (MAP) as these tend to be technology hubs at the center of a typical martech stack as shown below:

Revenue Marketing Architecture for Marketing Operations
Revenue Marketing Architecture

As an example, a MAP enables you to gather and analyze behavior data about your prospects and customers so you can make better decisions about how to engage with them to optimize the customer experience. A MAP can also automate responses to prospects when they perform certain actions, thereby reducing the need for human intervention. And a MAP can be configured to move individuals from one campaign to another depending on where they are in their customer journey, adapting the nature of the outreach to match the circumstances of the prospect. An example might be opting new customers into welcome campaigns automatically. So the MAP could meet all three of the criteria listed above for justifying a new technology acquisition.

5 Core Marketing Operations Processes to Master

If you are lucky enough to have a marketing operations function at your organization, then you know that an important part of their job is in defining, documenting and refining the core processes that keep the machinery of marketing running well. Let’s narrow the discussion to the top five processes, and cover each of the five in more detail in subsequent posts.

Marketing Operations and Traffic ControlIn last month’s blog post, we covered the final elements of an organizational structure for a center of excellence marketing team. Next stop in our Revenue Marketing journey is to address the fundamental marketing operations processes we need to run a demand generation function efficiently and effectively.

If you are lucky enough to have a marketing operations function at your organization, then you know that an important part of their job is in defining, documenting and refining the core processes that keep the machinery of marketing running well. Let’s narrow the discussion to the top five processes, and cover each of the five in more detail in subsequent posts.

5 Marketing Operations Processes to Rule Them All

Why do we even need marketing process? A process defines a series of actions taken so that we can achieve a particular end. It helps ensure, but not guarantee an outcome that meets our quality goals. With that in mind, here are my top five processes that a marketing center of excellence requires:

  1. Lead management
  2. Reporting and analytics
  3. Data management
  4. Campaign development
  5. Content development

Yes there are many others, and if you feel one of these five should be ousted in favor of something else, please share what that is, and why in the comments below.

1. Lead Management Process

The lead management process outlines the steps for tracking and reporting on leads as they are created and move through a funnel, becoming qualified or disqualified, and eventually passing through any lead development representatives to sales or channel partners.

A typical lead management process includes the following components:

  • Definition of a sales ready lead
  • Definition of the various lead statuses in the CRM defined funnel
  • Design of the lead processing, routing, and related notifications
  • Design of the lead scoring algorithm
  • Development and agreement to a service level agreement between sales and marketing
  • Establishment of funnel metrics

(To learn the Proven Success Formula for Lead Management, download here.)

2. Reporting and Analytics Process

The reporting and analytics process defines who will report on what, when, and for whom. Where will they get the data, and how will the reports be made available? Before you rocket your eyebrows to the ceiling and slam me for stating the obvious consider that the resources for doing reporting in mid-sized organizations are usually limited, and so often the function is decentralized. I.e., many marketing field offices report on their piece only. And without some defined process, templates, definitions, rules, and hand-holding your ability to roll up the reports will be either laborious or impossible.

Reporting and analytics process components:

  • Data sources: defined for all the different data or activity types
  • Report frequency: report timing based on the decision making needs related to that data
  • Owner assignment: Identifying authors and the folks who run the reports
  • Standards: Report presentation norms for different types of reports
  • Media: to be used for delivering and presenting reports (CRM, MAP, Excel, BI, PPT, etc.)
  • Distribution: How to subscribe, unsubscribe, access reports
  • Modifications: Who to call to get new or modified reports
  • Archival: Where all past reports be housed

3. Data Management Process

No this is not solely the job of IT or sales operations. It absolutely includes marketing as both a customer of the data, and a provider of much new data. The best way to corrupt a perfectly fine CRM database is let an untrained person in marketing, with no process, do a 100K contact data import into their marketing automation platform and have it sync over to the CRM. From a marketing perspective here are some of the basic components:

  • List import process and designated, trained, importers
  • Rules for all forms (required fields)
  • Normalization guidelines for lists and form data
  • Governance — defined authorization for what marketing can and cannot do

Driving Demand Generation: Who Belongs on That Bus?

In last month’s blog post, I discussed the ideal marketing operations structure — the why and how to centralize this vital function. In this post, we explore the demand generation function. What should be part of this function and how should you reconcile it with having a “shared services” team?

Revenue Marketing RoadmapIn last month’s blog post, I discussed the ideal marketing operations (MO) structure — the why and how to centralize this vital function. In this post, we explore the demand generation function.

What should be part of this function and how to reconcile it with having a “shared services” team in MO? How would you go about centralizing all demand generation into this one group if you currently have an outbound team and a separate inbound team under different directors?

Demand Generation Group Structure

The charter of a demand generation group looks like this:

Responsible for driving revenue results and optimizing interactions with all global buyers across the revenue cycle to accelerate predictable revenue growth.

Consequently, in larger organizations you are likely to see the following functions in this group:

Demand generation group functions
Demand generation group functions.

If that chart doesn’t scream a set of questions for you, its time for another cup of coffee!

Program managers, top-level business managers for marketing investment in demand generation, provide direction to the content team, and ultimately own the number: marketing influenced revenue.

Campaign managers take direction from the program managers. They are probably the same person in smaller firms. Campaign managers may specialize in one or more channels, but since campaigns are becoming omnichannel you are better off having them focused by target market segment. Their campaigns are grouped by stages of the buying cycle by segment — awareness, lead acquisition, lead nurturing, customer loyalty, advocacy etc.

The martech power users, QA and best practices management functions could alternatively be executed in a marketing operations department. Keeping them in demand generation means they continue to operate close to the program and campaign management team. On the other hand, if your MO function is well developed, putting them in the shared services group in MO means they are close to analytics and project management. This means this team will probably have a more streamlined relationship with the field marketing team, i.e. the “HQ” region is less likely to dominate the global campaign calendar unless the revenue goals merit it.

Tele-qualification is often both in marketing and sales. If the line is blurry, that’s good. It should be, because the function is squarely on the line between the two organizations. If you use them to sell smaller deals, renew contracts, etc, then they probably belong in sales, and are rightfully described as an inside sales function. But if the function is strictly to provide higher quality leads to sales, driving up sales’ productivity, then keep them in marketing.

An Inbound vs. Outbound Digression

There are more internet battles on inbound versus outbound than about Kirk versus Picard! Some say inbound is less expensive than outbound for lead generation or that outbound is marketing to the masses (TV commercials, radio, email blasts, trade shows). Is inbound just content marketing using SEO, and paid traffic through online channels? By all means add your comments below, but here is my perspective: It is not news that the two are merging so marketers need to move past these debates, unite these teams, and start designing and executing omnichannel campaigns.

Marketing Operations Grows Up: Why Unicorns Rule

In last month’s blog post, I discussed at a high level the ideal marketing organizational structure for embarking on a “Revenue Marketing Journey.” In this post, we’ll delve into the why and how to centralize marketing operations (MO). What are the benefits of centralizing the related functions, and what steps can you take to make this happen in your organization?

Marketing OperationsIn last month’s blog post, I discussed at a high level the ideal marketing organizational structure for embarking on a “Revenue Marketing Journey.” In this post, we’ll delve into the why and how to centralize marketing operations (MO). What are the benefits of centralizing the related functions, and what steps can you take to make this happen in your organization?

Marketing Operations Maturity

Some larger organizations have had centralized marketing operations for 10-plus years. Others, usually smaller organizations, have either had the functions decentralized in marketing or they appointed a single manager or director to the role, with no direct reports. This range of organizational structure is due to the varying maturity levels of marketing operations within companies.

The Marketing Operations Maturity ModelInitially MO may be a decentralized set of reactive responsibilities for technologies and perhaps metrics. In the most mature case MO is a centralized function, the source of data and insights for leadership decision making, the focus of customer experience information, and the basis for marketing productivity, agility and accountability. Where are you on the maturity curve? Do you know what you need to do to move forward in 2017?

Why Centralize Marketing Operations?

The MO function continues to evolve, but current responsibilities fall into the following broad areas:

  • MarTech strategy, selection, integration and optimization
  • Vendor management
  • Data management, governance and optimization
  • Process engineering and optimization
  • Measurement, analytics and reporting
  • Project management, training and education
  • Change management
  • And perhaps a global shared services group for campaign execution and content operations
The responsibilities of modern marketing operations.
The responsibilities of modern marketing operations.

We typically see firms move beyond the decentralized MO function and start to centralize when the following potential benefits begin to demand organizational change.

  1. Increased marketing efficiency and organizational agility
  2. Faster adaptation of marketing efforts in response to changing customer behavior, market conditions and business direction
  3. Improved revenue, margin, profit and market share
  4. Underpinning a shift from marketing being managed as a cost center to operating more like a business, with formalized best practices, processes, infrastructure and reporting
  5. Leveraging data to make market, customer, and product/service decisions that create value for customers and shareholders

The Usual Marketing Operations Evolution

The MO group will usually start with a focus on getting their arms around the ever growing set of marketing technologies. Then quickly they will recognize that this has to be done in the context of the data and the related processes. And it doesn’t take long until reporting, finance, project management and training get added to the mix. Learning to operate marketing as a business, with revenue accountability, processes, reporting and the related optimization mindset can be a significant shift for marketers who were used to operating as a creative cost center with no revenue responsibility. That’s why change management becomes part of MO, because you won’t get there unscathed if you don’t manage the shift effectively. Your director of MO will usually assume this role in small to mid-size groups. The addition of a global shared services group to execute campaign builds, and content operations usually happens in larger organizations as a way to drive brand consistency and achieve economies of scale. It has implications for the Demand Generation Group, which we will discuss in the next blog post.

Your Steps to an Effective Marketing Operations Organization

Your new hires, after a director of marketing operations, are in the following order:

  1. Technologist – someone who can set the direction, lead governance and integration initiatives. They also take on vendor management.
  2. Data whiz. I am fraught to say data scientist because that may be overkill for smaller organizations, but that is where this role goes in larger organizations. Leverage this person for all reporting and analytics too.
  3. Outsource much of the process reengineering – most firms won’t need a full time equivalent (FTE) to cover this role.
  4. Outsource your training, but don’t underestimate the value of it.
  5. Borrow project management resources from IT until the team has so many initiatives you need your own FTE.

MO depends on finding people who are both left-brain and right-brain. They can be analytical, but also creative. They are the marketing unicorns. They are getting harder to find because MO is growing so quickly. But this is an important milestone in your Revenue Marketing Journey, so please invest proper time and resources to set this group up with a great charter, and the right skill sets.

In the next post we will discuss the organization of the Demand Generation Group. Please feel free to share your insights on these topics in the comments section below or email me directly at kevin@pedowitzgroup.com.

For more insights on the detailed responsibilities of the roles described above, download TPG’s white paper: Center of Excellence: Marketing Operations Group, and watch a webcast on The Rise of the Marketing Operations function.