Marketing has changed dramatically for many companies, but not the perception that those who work in marketing operations are “button-pushers” — carrying out tasks that require minimum skills.
And that “button-pusher” stigma not only devalues what a marketing operations department does, but it hurts businesses that could benefit from marketing operations’ empowerment to do much more.
Too often marketing operations is viewed as a button-pushing department, and now is the perfect time for it to transform into a strategic leader. Marketing — as a discipline and a function — is changing.
That evolution correlates to the advancements of technology. At the same time, it is also tied to market shifts and societal upsets such as the pandemic. In this massive upheaval, marketing operations can and should be an accelerator and a guide for harnessing change as well as a new way to drive revenue and growth.
The solution for a changed image and overall function of marketing operations is up to leaders in that department. Here are six ways they can influence a bigger impact — and a better perception of marketing operations:
- Become a business leader. The business-oriented marketing operations leader has an extensive understanding of the business as a whole and is proactive in thinking about the business and bringing new solutions to the table. They engineer marketing performance and the attainment of business goals through their combined business acumen, technology and data expertise. They know how to create partnerships and have the ability to create business insights that can better inform product decisions.
- Transform from a tech geek into a digital visionary. A digital visionary brings a broader scope to technology, understanding both current and future technology and seeing its potential to transform a business and build a competitive advantage. Marketing operations leaders can step forward to harness technology and data to pursue business goals. They can shed the tech geek persona and replace it with a leadership style that is change-oriented and highly strategic.
- Evolve into a process engineer. For years, both marketing and sales have been frustrated by their inability to get on the same page in terms of lead flow and lead processing. Marketing works hard to produce high-quality leads that are often dismissed by sales. In contrast, there is something almost magical when the strategic marketing operations leader takes over reengineering this core process.
- Become a change agent. The marketing operations leader in this role must be a catalyst who influences change through vision and inspiration. While technology and process are parts of the change, a change agent also focuses on the people aspect.
- Don’t just hire, but build teams. This time is the wild, wild west days of marketing operations as a capability, and as such, the marketing operations function is defined by the evolving needs of marketing, the needs of the company and where the talent is located. Looking at a team structure is easy, but building it out is often problematic. The strategic marketing operations leader must determine how to fill in the boxes, help develop skills, focus on the team’s strengths and bring it all together to deliver for the future.
- Go from the silo to cross-functional facilitator. Ideally, you want a collaborative network in which marketing operations works with sales leadership, sales and inside sales, customer success and sales operations. Marketing operations orchestrates the development and implementation of lead management by involving all the key stakeholder groups.
Many marketing operations professionals are tired of the backroom stigma. They are frustrated, and they deserve to move up, claim a more elevated voice, and a more strategic role.
Dr. Debbie Qaqish is Queen of Revenue Marketing, a term she coined in 2011. She is ForbesBook author of From Backroom to Boardroom: Earn Your Seat With Strategic Marketing Operations and partner/chief strategy officer of The Pedowitz Group, where she manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years and is a motivational speaker, a columnist for numerous marketing publications, host of Get Real with Revenue Marketing and teaches an MBA class at The College of William & Mary on revenue marketing.