It’s an exciting time to be in, or managing, a Marketing Operations (MO) role. The idea of combining process, metrics and technology into a marketing practice was introduced in 2004, in the book, The New Marketing Mission: How Process, Metrics and Technology Can Unleash Growth. Eleven years later, fueled by the growth of marketing technology, greater competition, and increased pressure from the C-Suite to improve and prove the value of marketing, more marketing organizations are implementing MO as a standalone role.
Like any other discipline, MO is constantly evolving. We define MO 2.0 as the initiative Best-in-Class (BIC) marketing organizations are implementing to transform marketing into a Center of Excellence (COE). They are doing this by expanding the MO role and skillset to enable marketing and organization-wide agility including:
Performance targeting, monitoring, and measuring skills; and process and technology optimization
Strategic and leadership capabilities to drive change
Fostering, institutionalizing, and modeling best practices and performance management skills
Why is achieving agility an essential outcome of a successful CoE initiative? A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that agile firms grow revenue 37% faster, and generate 30% higher profits than non-agile companies. Agile marketing organizations are better able to adapt their marketing efforts, quickly and successfully, in response to changing customer behavior, market conditions, and business direction to improve market share and/or customer value. So, within BIC marketing organizations, MO focuses on these six key areas to transform marketing into a COE:
Alignment: We know with statistical significance that BIC marketers take a different approach to aligning marketing with the business. They connect marketing activities and investments to business results, and take their alignment efforts beyond the sales function.
MO facilitates the alignment process and oversee the development of a customer-centric marketing plan that ensures that the marketing investment portfolio supports measurable marketing objectives that will have a direct impact on the business.
Accountability: BIC marketers have a framework for establishing the metrics to measure and report on marketing’s value, impact, and contribution. They know which outcomes and metrics matter to the leadership team.
MO drives the development of the framework and key performance indicators (KPIs). They manage the mechanics of measurement, perform the analysis, and publish the performance results. MO translates marketing metrics into an actionable marketing dashboard that the leadership and the marketing teams can use to make strategic, tactical, and investment decisions.
Analytics: In today’s fact-based environment, data and analytics are table stakes. Marketing organizations need to be able to quickly synthesize data and gain actionable insights. Marketers need the analytical muscle to build and use models to make smart investments and strategic decisions.
MO constructs and maintains an environment that enables marketing to better use data and analytics.
Automation: From marketing resource management to business intelligence to data management systems to reporting platforms to scenario analysis tools the technology available to help marketing measure and report on performance is extensive and growing.
MO selects, deploys, and manages the automation and technology infrastructure to support the department. The deployment of a technology infrastructure, training, and change management falls under the auspices of MO and serves as the big “I”— the infrastructure that marketing needs to guide decisions, improve its capabilities, and prove its value.
Alliances: Much has been written about the need for Marketing to form strong, more explicit, alliances with Sales, IT, and Finance, as well as with the service and product functions.
MO acts as the conduit between Marketing, Sales, Finance, and the executive team. It forms and manages these alliances so that everyone on the team is “rowing in the same direction.” As part of its work, MO should craft the operating level agreement that serves as the “rules and roles of engagement” for each of these partnerships and ensure that the liaisons from each group are included in appropriate meetings and decisions.
Assessment: Continuous improvement is at the heart of assessment and benchmarking. It can only be achieved within a culture where there is genuine concern, dedication, and a willingness among management and employees to improve.
MO conducts the benchmarking and assessments to determine what standards are needed to achieve the direction and vision set for the team by the marketing executive.
Learn more about how to transform your marketing into a center of excellence by following this link and download whitepapers to map your marketing workflow, performance management and measurement processes, select your systems and tools and design your marketing operations function.
by Laura Patterson – VisionEdge Marketing