Make it Matter: Strategically Tackling Marketing Ops

Most marketers work in a world with too little time and too much to do – moving from task to task, rushing to accomplish as much as possible. For instance, right now I’m updating our go-to-market communications, making numerous additions to our website, developing a new preview of Integrate’s demand orchestration software, supporting a half-dozen field events, increasing our website traffic and boosting conversions, managing a couple of top-funnel marketing programs, writing this blog post… plus at least ten other things that I won’t get to this week. It seems like my to-do list is a mile long. And I’d venture to say that our resident Demand Marketing/Marketing Ops expert, Kate Athmer, has twice as much on hers.

Why do you think that is?

It’s because marketing operations pros aren’t just responsible for managing their own stuff. They’re often charged with doing all the dirty work necessary for everyone else to get their jobs done as well. Sorry, Kate (and all my other marketing ops peers)!

Ryan Schwartz, Marketing Ops Game Changer at MongoDB, pins this as a symptom of being ops order takers, consumed with making things happen. Ryan shared some secrets from his playbook recently on the #OpsGameChanger webinar. What stood out to me the most was his approach to shifting from a “Make It Happen” to a “Make It Matter” mindset.

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 “Make it Happen” work involves:

  • Sending emails – seriously, do you know how many people ask Kate for help sending emails from our marketing automation platform?
  • Building nurture tracks – if you’ve ever built one, you know this can be daunting work in and of itself…
  • Lead quality, scoring, normalization and routing
  • Landing pages, registration forms, list uploads, asset management
  • Supporting sales and fielding pretty much every question that’s even remotely related to marketing
  • Evaluating new technologies, integrating systems and training team members on said systems
  • Pulling reports – this by itself is a full-time job; that’s why we added an analyst to our team… so Kate doesn’t have to do this anymore (hopefully this makes up for all the lists we ask you to build!)

And while these are all important tasks, being stuck in this tactical execution mode leaves little time to focus on more strategic initiatives – keeping you and your organization stuck at status quo. If you want to be a game changer for your company, you must make room for some more strategic ops work. As Ryan puts it, you have to "Make It Matter."

This doesn’t mean you can stop doing all the things that you make happen today. Your organization needs you to get those things done. What it does mean is that you need to identify the things that will make a major difference for your organization, and invest at least equal energy into those areas.

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Some of the "Make It Matter" work we see Marketing Ops Game Changers taking on are things like:

  • Workflow Automationautomating processes and workflows now will save hundreds of hours over time.
  • Deal Acceleration – what insights can you draw, tools can you add or processes can you implement that will help you shorten the sales cycle? After all, it’s not just about creating demand – but converting demand to pipeline and pipeline to revenue… and doing it fast.
  • Program Planning, Account-Based Marketing, A/B Testing, Personalization – great ops work isn’t just about data, process and tech. The most valuable marketing ops players plan, execute and optimize programs aimed at moving the needle on key company goals.
  • Full Funnel Reporting and ROI Analysis – always take the time to zoom out and see the big picture, then drill down into individual pieces so you can extract insights and make recommendations that will yield stronger returns.

Ryan shares a few recommendations that can help make this shift. Because executing all the “Make It Happen” tasks mentioned above is simply, as he calls it, table stakes. It’s the bare minimum. And if you want to be an ops leader who makes a difference, you’ve got to up the ante.

So how do you stack your hand in your (and your company's) favor?

  • Get involved with planning – Strategy is not an afterthought or something you can jump into midway. Ops needs to be involved with every aspect of growth strategy – from defining goals and developing execution plans to analyzing results and making recommendations to improve outcomes. When you define quarterly goals and develop program plans to achieve them, you’re no longer just pulling lists and sending emails. You’re executing specific tasks that contribute to greater outcomes. And more importantly, you can focus on ensuring resources and technologies are available, not just to to execute those programs but to innovate them.
  • Build alliances across the organization – We know that Marketing Ops needs to be closely aligned with Sales Ops. Several of the Marketing Ops Game Changers predict that these roles will grow closer together. Some organizations are already blending the two, hence the new Revenue Operations model. But the need for alignment doesn’t stop with other ops teams, or even with sales. Marketing ops leaders need to work closely with Customer Success, Finance, IT, etc. Ryan shares how MongoDB ensures alignment across teams in this webinar.
  • Play a role in budget development – How often you we find yourself at the mercy of budget restrictions? Unable to add a new tool or expand your team because the dollars just aren’t there to support the addition. Be sure to get involved with budget planning. Start research now for the tools you’d like to implement next year. If adding a new person to the team would take a lot of “Make It Happen” work off your plate so you can focus more on “Make It Matter” strategy, build the business case and include the new addition in your budget recommendations.

The truth is Marketing Ops work matters more than many companies realize. Most organizations are still treating it as a small function within marketing, but this perception is definitely shifting... thanks to the stellar work of ops leaders like Ryan and Kate who are driving companies forward and letting the results speak for themselves.  

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