marketing operations professionIn my last article, Marketing Operations — State of the Profession, I described the evolution of the Marketing Ops business and our successes to date. Over the next couple of articles, I’ll focus on the gap between where we are and what we could be. I hope this message especially resonates with my brothers and sisters providing MarTech solutions or Marketing strategy, operations or tactical consulting services to our practitioner cousins inside the enterprise. We have the unbiased perspective, and freedom to bring new ways of thinking and doing to our clients’ attention, if we are not too focused on the winds of economic insecurity that seems to be a constant visitor in our current worlds.

I’m a systems thinker and I tend to focus on fundamental issues that have pervasive impact on our ability to achieve goals, make changes or realize a vision. Unless I’m in survival mode (hey, I’m only human), I don’t put too much weight or energy into transient events, methods or fads of the day, fear-based what-if’s or tactical how-to’s. I figure if I trust myself, other people, my spiritual guides and the process, I’ll eventually achieve what I set out to accomplish.

I have 12-year broad, deep and longitudinal view of this business and I can very clearly see what is holding it back. And we are all contributing actively to it, myself included.

The biggest obstacle to the maturity and growth of the Marketing Operations business is us — especially our modus operandi as a MO value chain. Think about how we go about our business.

Do you see what I see?


  • Thousands (conservatively) of do-it-yourselfers trying to figure out this MO thing — one-person shows, mostly tactical, isolated and at risk.
  • A similar number of do-it-for-me types — outsourcing all or part of the job, fast becoming over-dependent on an agency partner, too burdened with too much responsibility to truly own MO leadership, strategy or results.
  • Hundreds of connected practitioners — mostly demand ops or MarTech specialists, trying to help one another long, peer-to-peer (the original MOCCA model back in 2005).


    • Hundreds (conservatively) of individual consultants — occasionally banding together (opportunistically), mostly following the money (often leading back to full-time employment)
    • Dozens (conservatively) of boutique firms — riding a consulting specialty wave (if they are lucky) or pre-existing client relationships as far as they can take them — mostly going it alone, at risk as market demand shifts.
    • Thousands of MarTech vendors vying for attention — confusing buyers with poorly-differentiated product offerings, proprietary point solutions that add complexity and duplication to the stack, an insular focus toward selling what they’ve got with little regard for the buyer’s need to approach MarTech investment holistically.
    • A handful of leading consultancies and vendors setting the tone for everyone — mostly consumed with advancing their business models, generally lacking motivation to address

emerging opportunities to advance innovation, inclusiveness, co-creation, new partnership and business models that better align the sell-side to the needs of the buy-side.

Now let’s zoom in to what this might feel like to fellow professional inside a corporation. Consider the plight of Mo, a representative Marketing Operations leader within a midsize enterprise:

  • “I’m bombarded endlessly with unwanted telephone and e-mail offers from clueless sales reps.”
  • “Many of the people on my team are actually implants from another function and don’t fully understand the mojo that makes great marketing happen.”
  • “My management is pressuring me to do as much as possible using existing in-house, consulting or vendor resources; however, I see gaps that aren’t being addressed and don’t know how to fix them.”
  • “When I investigate MarTech solutions or consulting options, I’m overwhelmed with the massive fragmentation and complexity I see; I don’t know where to turn for objective guidance.”
  • “My corporation is cutting back its training investment so I need low-cost professional development options or a really good business case to do something more comprehensive.”

If you’ve been in Mo’s shoes inside a corporation recently, his struggles should especially resonate with you. Earlier, I mentioned Demand Ops as a sub-discipline of MO. As you know, Demand Ops focuses on making the buyer’s journey easier for buyers to buy from corporations or clients. We’re getting increasingly good at it.

Except, perhaps, when it comes to marketing to other marketers! Come on now, don’t we all feel overwhelmed with the volume and complexity of offers coming at us via e-mail, web, mobile, phone, you name it? I know I feel like Mo when trying to navigate a marketing solution or consulting buying experience (or, in most cases, trying to avoid one I never said I was ready for).

Bottom-line, so far we are better at doing our own thing or promoting our own stuff or taking care of our own needs than we are tuning into the buying journeys of CMOs, Marketing Ops leaders, Marketing functional executives or even one another — the people we should theoretically know the best and care about the most!

Only by finding new ways of collaborating together in a unified and meaningful way can we transform that buying experience at the core. We owe it to ourselves, our peers, our enterprises and our profession to do everything we can to leapfrog our old ways and co-create a new MO together.

For more information, see 10 Ways Marketing Operations Creates Value