The changing face of marketing operations

It’s frequently said “…he who controls the software controls the world” and this, I believe strongly, applies to marketing. Throw control of data, best practices, reporting, budget and planning into the mix you can easily see how unsexy marketing ops may well become king.

Traditionally, marketing ops has been uncool- it was typically under-funded and over worked and all too frequently the teams were ignored or simply usurped by the HiPPOs (highest paid person’s opinions) in the room. Rarely were operational marketers paid anywhere near the level of strategic marketing.

We do need strategic marketing; there will always be a need to create and develop brands using creative out of the box thinking; the next Aleksandr or Churchill dog will probably not come from operational marketing.

However, when the world got connected, geek became chic, and consumers were won or lost on the digital battlefield. The consumer experience has caused a shift to those that understand the machinery of marketing. In most fields, around 2/3rds of the consumer journey is now played out in the digital space, through web-sites, comparison, reviews, search engines and social networks. Consumers form their impressions of companies based on content and experiences delivered to them via this digital channel.

To impress consumers, the content from marketing and sales has to be consistently great and the machinery that delivers it has to function in a frictionless manner. Usefully, a whole bunch of innovative suppliers are creating great solutions in this space. From web frameworks to customer relationship solutions, the availability of sophisticated marketing machinery in now off-the-shelf, fast-to-deploy and (most importantly) in the hands of operational marketers.

The success or marketing is now often in the hands of the operators, those that head up operational marketing teams are rapidly becoming the new rainmakers. Unfortunately, not everyone has twigged onto this yet, and strategic marketers, steeped in creativity and opinion, still rule the roost and hand-down tasks and campaigns to operational marketing teams. Shame.

So let’s try to focus on the needs of operational marketing, give them a place at the top table and listen to what they have to say; much of it is data driven and little is subjective which generally appeals to boards and executive management functions.

The core areas for marketing operations to work on are:

  • Marketing automation
  • Best practice delivery and process management Testing methodologies
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Data mining, management and valuation Market intelligence

It’s interesting to note that the above are all driven by software; by that I don’t mean an evil XL spreadsheet, I mean structured application, usually delivered over the web and frequently collaborative in nature.

It’s become an exciting time for marketers. Embrace the change.