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Marketing Operations – The Unsung Hero of Marketing Teams

I wrote about the art and science of marketing in my last blog post. It’s an everyday problem for a lot of marketers and there are moments every day when it can be hard to determine which side of the marketing brain needs to be applied.

As your marketing program and efforts evolve, it can very quickly begin to feel like you are permanently playing catch up. This can get overwhelming, very fast, and cause teams to start operating in a reactive manner or in complete siloes. Both aren’t the best approaches to tackling the situation and it require a little more planning and a strategic approach for a sustainable long-term solution. Here are a few ways I tackle situations like this.

Brand vs Performance

First, define the balance of your marketing efforts between brand and performance. A very rudimentary way to make this distinction is to identify brand programs as the ones with intangible outcomes and performance programs as the ones with tangible, measurable outcomes.

One-time vs Ongoing

Differentiate between a one-time event and a recurring one to decide whether to focus on ideation or structure development. Day-to-day programs require an investment in developing an effective structure for planning, implementation, and monitoring. It makes it easy to scope requirements and deliver work to a structured plan. A one-time effort can be planned for the specific intended outcome.

Proactive vs Reactive

Identify if the program functions as a response to a demand from other internal functions or is a marketing-led initiative. In either case, it is important to establish objectives, time frames, and measures of success. A reactive program requires a good framework to handle demand, process work and enable visibility to all stakeholders. A proactive program on the other hand requires marketing to champion the program, enlist support from teams and run the program.

Enter Marketing Operations

Marketing Operations is often overlooked, underrated, and stretched too thin. I cannot stress enough the importance of an effective marketing operations team. Think of this team as the people that ensure the rest of marketing can focus on their work. From being project managers, planners, and coordinators, to dealing with agencies and vendors, spreadsheets, and tools, MarOps team members have their fingers in many pies. Enlisting them early on in any planning cycle is critical to ensure that teams have everything they need for success. 

I’ve seen dedicated teams set up around MarOps effectively operating to service the other marketing teams. The more common approach is to have a designated person with each team to champion marketing operations – think content, digital, social, brand, etc. While there’s no right or wrong way around this, it’s essential to recognize that this responsibility is assigned to someone.

Empower your MarOps

First plan outcomes, then plan time. This will likely end up in a negotiation between the outcomes you desire and the time you have available. Find the sweet spot, commit to it, and start detailing. Add dates, priorities, and assign teams to start executing. Marketing Operations can only be successful if there is full transparency and visibility into workloads and status. 

MarOps is in a unique position to spot patterns, trends, and identify areas of improvement. This is especially important for ongoing projects that will benefit from improved frameworks.

I’ll soon share frameworks and templates that teams can use to capture plans and organize work.

How are you managing your marketing operations?

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