marketing efficiencyI’ve enjoyed working in B2B marketing for the last fifteen years. And I’ve seen it all, from online behavior analysis to lead nurturing; from personalized messaging to social media marketing. Some of these trends have provided dramatic traction for B2B marketers and some have been less impressive.

But in recent years, as companies have pressed for a tangible demonstration of ROI for their marketing spending, I have wondered about the metrics of the marketing ‘deliverable’, and whether or not companies aren’t perhaps missing something critical.

What vs. How
As marketers, we spend a lot of time evaluating what we do in the marketplace and hardly focus on the how – in other words, the “creative & strategy” versus “operations & processes”. And if we were to take a survey of the most experienced marketers around the world, I’m fairly certain that they would say they’ve made their career on the what. And here’s where I see a gaping hole. Precisely because we don’t usually focus on the how, marketing departments tend to, unknowingly:

  • Waste time
  • Waste money
  • Stretch teams & individuals to their max
  • Overlook synergistic opportunities
  • Spin wheels unnecessarily

Now, more than ever, B2B marketers need to understand the importance of the how — the Marketing Operations — within the context of today’s tangled ecosystem. Without doing so, they will fail to support their business and even more importantly, they will make the what — the end product — far less meaningful and effective.

The Marketing Operations Dichotomy
Marketing executives have faced a fascinating dichotomy over the course of last decade. An unprecedented number of new media channels have emerged, transforming the digital space and changing the ways in which people communicate, market their products and services, and make purchasing decisions.

And while these trends have certainly influenced our decisions about what we market, our strategies around marketing operations have remained surprisingly static and unimaginative.

When you consider the amount of marketing spending each year, it’s unfortunate that so many marketing projects are managed through a jumble of disjointed applications, too often resulting in wasted time and money. Furthermore, these inefficient processes restrict collaboration, undermine strategy and compromise our best intentions.

But this dichotomy also underscores an exciting opportunity. With the introduction of new marketing technologies and insights, there is no better time for marketers to turn things around, save money, streamline processes and realize meaningful and tangible cost savings.

The Price of Complacency
By ignoring Marketing Operations, companies are paying a price — literally and figuratively:

  • Marketing professionals are overworked, exhausted, and unfocused and undervalued, which leads to turnover burnout and poor teamwork.
  • Quality is compromised across the board (output, timeliness, brand, etc.)
  • Companies face increased vulnerability due to inefficiencies and the erosion of profitability

Think about it like this . . .

Marketing ultimately produces a product (whether it’s a message, brand, image, campaign, etc.) so essentially it can be considered a manufacturer.

And manufacturers tend to be fairly accountable to their supply chain. Inefficiencies in the supply chain are quickly addressed to optimize processes strategically.

But as marketers, we are not taught to think this way. We are all about creative and brand and output and conversions and integration with the sales pipeline.

Supply chain logic just isn’t part of our vernacular. Nor is it considered a business practice for marketing – at least not right now.

The Times They Are A Changing
Companies are demanding that we adapt to deliver more accountability, proven ROI, more revenue generation, and to do this effectively, we must examine how we operate — we must evaluate our supply chain.

Strategic consultant Robert Shaw has said, “Marketing is the least efficient process in business today, while at the same time being one of the most important.”

To leverage the full impact of strategic marketing, companies need to start thinking about their marketing spending and operations, and begin exploring ways to enhance efficiencies.

Your Thoughts
What do you think? Do you agree that marketing professionals need to become more accountable relative to their operational processes? Do you see this as an opportunity or a challenge? Or both? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to share this post if you found it interesting!