Six skills marketing ops leaders should master for 2017
Know a marketing operations superstar? Nominate them as a Marketing Ops Game Changer!
Marketing operations has become the epicenter of marketing activity. Businesses look to their ops team to align people, processes and technology in ways that create maximum business value. These leaders wear many hats, move at the speed of light, and constantly strive for both macro- and micro- improvements that will impact the organization.
While there are some valuable resources to help marketing ops professionals refine their strategies, great ops work goes beyond copying someone else’s playbook. If you really want to advance your ops career, you first want to understand the traits that make ops leaders invaluable and then integrate those traits into your marketing DNA.
After working closely with some of the best ops pros in the industry, we’ve boiled game-changing marketing ops work down into six core traits. These are the skills up and coming operations professionals want to master.
Process Innovation: Making marketers more productive and effective every day
Every ops pro I know is obsessed with process. Not just defining it, but refining it again and again until it runs like a well-oiled machine. As Ashleigh Davis at TrendMicro says:
“Process innovation is a main key—with the breakneck speed at which organizations are moving, there is no shortage of things to do. That said, finding ways to remove or automate steps, streamline processes, etc. is super critical.”
Ashleigh often talks about the importance of micro-movements and how those changes, particularly when applied on a global scale, reap big results. While it can take a lot of hand-holding to get teams to adopt new processes (many of us are still trying to figure out how to get sales to enter the damn data into Salesforce), the rewards are truly worth the pain.
MarTech Mastery: Applying marketing technology to create business value
With the sea of technology options available today, it’s important not to get enamored by the newest shiny object. Game changing ops leaders know that MarTech decisions must be purposeful. They evaluate any new tool from a broad perspective and gauge how it fits into their organization’s marketing tech blueprint. They’re building tech stacks that enable demand- and marketing- orchestration so their demand generation counterparts can engage increasingly higher numbers of targeted prospects and drive more qualified opportunities into sales pipeline.
Data/Performance Obsession: Delivering actionable insights to drive performance
Every ops team member is managing data to some degree, whether it’s preserving the company’s database or analyzing monthly pipeline growth. But for the drivers inside marketing ops, it’s about much more than just managing data. It’s defining the key metrics that make an organization successful and constantly measuring performance against those definitions. Leslie Cocco Alore of Iron Mountain puts it best:
“A big part of my role is to define the measures that matter to marketing (tactical, campaign and operational), set marketing targets for each marketer, forecast outcomes throughout the year, measure performance and help marketing leadership manage performance against targets. It’s not unlike the sales performance management process but even more important and more complex (in my opinion), because there are multiple levels of performance indicators that need to be adjusted, and more variables at both the top and the bottom on the funnel.”
Cross-Department Integration: Building cross-functional and departmental trust
Marketing and sales alignment has always been a common focus for ops teams, but the strongest players are expanding their impact to every corner of the organization. Initiatives are spreading from sales to customer service to product development to accounting. Many ops leaders are investing energy into building alliances across teams and breaking down departmental silos.
Strategic Vision: Shaping and executing strategy to deliver on the company vision
The umbrella that encompasses ops’ roles and responsibilities is growing as well. Spanning beyond tech and processes, operations leaders are being asked to conceive and drive overall marketing strategy. Tom Kahana of Infusionsoft says this is because:
“Ops leaders often sit in a position of “neutral” observer and are not biased by initiatives focused on individual groups (such as demand gen vs corporate MKT vs content creation etc).”
CMOs are looking to ops leaders to not only help develop the company’s marketing strategy, but identify and execute the tactics that will bring that vision to life.
Customer-First Focus: Developing a culture of external and internal customer focus
Marketing’s number one mission has always been to delight customers and prospects but great ops leaders infuse this mentality into the culture of the entire organization. With every tech implementation and process adoption, they constantly evaluate how the customer is impacted. They use data as key to understanding each customer’s story, extracting insights that will enhance outcomes and experiences. The game changers in marketing ops are vigilantly aware of the balancing act between revenue and customer satisfaction, but they know the end game is about the customer.
If you know someone working in an ops role (yourself, someone on your team, clients or peers from other organizations) who exemplifies these six traits, be sure to nominate them as a Marketing Ops Game Changer so we can share the great work they’re doing.