marketing operations 2.0Gary Katz authored a chapter in my book, Marketing 2.0, appropriately named Marketing Operations 2.0. Here is the definition of Marketing Operations (MO) from that chapter. Gary is CEO of Marketing Operations Partners, located in Silicon Valley. He has a background in PR. He developed a concept which intrigued me because it fits well with the mindset shift in my book.

Marketing Operations is a relatively new discipline that can be defined as a comprehensive, end-to-end operational discipline that leverages processes, technology, guidance, and metrics to run the marketing function as a profit/value center, growth driver, change catalyst and fully accountable business. MO reinforces marketing strategy and execution with a scalable and sustainable infrastructure. MO seeks to nurture a collaborative, well-aligned ecosystem, both within and outside the marketing department, to drive achievement of strategic objectives.”

MO Delivers the Operating Plan for the Marketing Department
When I asked Gary to translate that explanation into plain English, he used an analogy which I believe does the job. Gary says that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a business is like the driver of a car. The purpose of getting into a car is to drive to a destination. The driver is responsible for the outcome, but there are many other factors that must be in place to get there. The car’s engine must be operating well. The tires must have enough air. The wheels must be aligned to drive safely.  The roadways must offer an efficient pathway. And, the driver must have knowledge of the roadways or have a navigation system for guidance. And, the car needs periodic maintenance to stay prepared for ongoing use.

MO builds a high performance car and makes sure there is a plan to get to the destination. Gary points out that MO is essentially like an operating plan for the CMO. He refers to his company, Marketing Operations Partners as a COO for the CMO. This explanation makes sense to me because the CMO needs an operational plan to manage all the marketing activities which include a myriad of marketing campaigns comprised of advertising, email, SEO, SEM, social media marketing, media relations, etc.

Gary says that MO places a lot of emphasis on alignment of messaging with the rest of the company. MO helps deal with change management for the marketing function acting as a chief of staff for the CMO to guide in effective execution of all marketing activities. In other words, the CMO is like the CEO of their business. MO is the COO to the CMO.

Accelerating the Sales Process
In my book, Gary addresses how MO can accelerate the sales process. Here are two key points on this popular topic.

1) Lead Flow: Nurtuing prospects who are not ready to buy today into prospects of tomorrow. A Sirius Decisions study indicates only 20% of leads get followed up by sales, 70% of which are disqualified. Shockingly, 80% of those leads buy from someone within 24 months.  The issue for any CMO is the pressure to show ROI in the face of so much waste.

MO offers a lead process supported by a technology solution. Many companies put in place the technology (CRM systems, tracking systems, etc.) before creating the lead development and nurturing process. Can you say “cart in front of the horse?”

2) Alignment of Sales Process with Buying Process: Since social media is meant to be a platform where conversations occur and relationships are built, new processes must be defined. Remember MO is also a mindset.  Gary was inspired from the book Think Like your Customer. He encourages marketers to ask: “How attractive are we to our prospective buyers?”

Thinking Differently
Businesses need to think differently in an environment where economic pressures ask you to close deals this quarter. Sellers have big pressures. But, buyers don’t want to be engaged in a sales pressure situation. Sellers need to get the buyer to “like you.” MO provides the roadmap for a CMO to implement marketing strategies with process and discipline.  Organize marketing activities around the customer. Break down the silos that exist in your business. Examine how the functions in your business align with marketing such as customer service, P.R. sales, manufacturing/distribution, etc. They are all part of the marketing function. If they are not aligned, those who touch the customer directly will reflect a different message or attitude than your marketing message.

Demonstrating Measurable Returns on Marketing
Using MO to measure results always comes back to the business goals. Social media is a new channel. You can measure details such as RSS subscriptions, website traffic from new keywords used in social media, names of employees producing great content, etc.  The challenge for many companies is that using social media is still new. There is no history or benchmark. The analytics usually provides indicators but not results. Executives ask the CMO how these metrics impact revenue today? In most cases they will affect revenue in the future, not the immediate present. So, it’s imperative the CMO has strategic alignment with the CEO and all other key stakeholders in the business for short term survival and long term success.

MO Take Away
Regardless of the size of your company here’s the take-away on marketing operations…How do you execute a marketing strategy regardless of individuals? How can you build a marketing organization that sets the right processes and can scale effectively as the company grows? The more you grow, the more marketing programs you run and the more challenges you will face in measuring, managing and staffing.

Companies are wise to think with an MO mindset before you get into trouble. You can’t defend your marketing budget, your people or your programs without processes. You’ll get marketing programs (or people) cut when things go wrong without MO processes in place. Often senior management doesn’t understand the value of what was cut in the absence of MO processes until after it’s been cut. Reduce your risk and maximize your long term success with an MO mindset.

If this topic interests you, you can learn more from Gary Katz and his company Marketing Operations Partners at his website, his MO blog, his LinkedIn groups, and his MO presentations on Slideshare. You can also follow Gary on Twitter.

So, what’s your take away from this MO discussion?

by Bernie Borges , Founder of Find & Convert

Note from Gary Katz: In conjunction with his new book, Bernie Borges recently interviewed me about Marketing Operations 2.0. We’ve received a lot of great feedback about the value of the conversation. Check out the  podcast. I thought it also would be instructive to share what Bernie wrote in his blog in introducing me and the podcast. I’m sure you’ll appreciate his interpretation of the work I (and fellow Marketing Operations practitioners) perform every day to help change the MO of Marketing.