Make Your Marketing and Company Faster, Stronger and More Agile

Marketing Ops for Peak Performance

The Formula One (F1) race was recently held here in Austin. As you watch the cars zoom around the track, one of things you begin to marvel at and admire is the pit crew. In seconds, an F1 pit crew works in perfect harmony to perform a large number of actions that enable the driver and car to quickly return to the track. The pit crew is a critical part of the team. As the CEO, just like the owner of a race team – you want to win – and it’s never been more challenging to achieve market leadership and to meet stakeholder expectations than it is today.

To achieve market success, consider the speed at which marketing must operate in today’s environment, the need to run faster and be more agile than ever before.  Hence the need for a Marketing Operations function. Marketing Operations serves as the marketing team’s pit crew, carefully orchestrating the pit strategy to balance efficiency (time lost in the pit) with effectiveness (ground gained on the track).  When organized and staffed correctly, Marketing Operations helps marketing improve effectiveness and the value from your investments in data, analytics, technology, processes, and talent resource investments. In short – enable Marketing to drive company success.

Whether your organization has a Marketing Operations function or is considering adding this capability, a pit-crew mentality is the key to the Marketing Operations function being able help your marketing organization improve and prove its value and contribution. But if you are like many other companies we work with, your marketing organization and Marketing Operations function operate more like a service station (tactical and oriented to providing excellent on-demand ad hoc service) and less like a pit crew (strategic and focused on winning). No function is purely a service station or a pit crew, so the first step is to work with your marketing leader to determine the current state, i.e., where they are on the continuum.

Service stations are characterized by:

  • Excellent Customer service- responsive and friendly.
  • The basics are always available – fast and cost effectively.
  • The processes for basic services are consistent and reliable.
  • The work product appearance is attractive.
  • The skills of the personnel are kept current.

Pit crews are characterized by:

  • Highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals, each of whom has a specific role tied to the overall objective. The engine specialist on the pit crew is concerned with one thing and one thing only: the health of the race car’s engine.
  • A highly choreographed team with a performance orientation. A one second improvement in a pit-stop can make the difference in winning the race.
  • “Right the first time” is the top priority. Do-overs are not possible in Formula One.
  • They train and practice regularly, both individually and as a team.
  • They use “scenario analysis” as part of their training so they can learn to adapt to the dynamics of a race.

Next, build your framework. It should include the function’s future-state mission, scope, charter, role and milestones. In leading companies, the marketing ops function is responsible for strategic planning and alignment, financial management and reporting, workflow definition and management, performance measurement and management, change management and innovation adoption, and marketing technology.

These ten questions will help you outline your framework:

  1. What is the purpose of the marketing ops function in our organization? Why do we need this?
  2. What will be better or different as a result of this function?
  3. What is the umbrella philosophy of the function?
  4. What areas/processes will be delivered by the function? (i.e. planning, financial management and oversight, marketing technology, workflow management, data and analytics, performance management and reporting, talent development, marketing culture)
  5. Which of these areas/processes will the function own? Drive? Support?
  6. Who are the stakeholders and/or customers: Internal to Marketing? External to marketing (IT, Finance, Sales)? External to the organization (suppliers, customers, etc.)?
  7. What will the specific measurable objectives for the organization be?
  8. What essential skills, characteristics, capabilities, and resources are required to achieve these?
  9. What are the tasks and associated milestones that will enable the organization to achieve its purpose?
  10. How will the success of the function be measured?

Once you have a framework for your Marketing Ops function, develop a plan for staffing it and communicating this information to the rest of the Marketing team and other stakeholders.   This step will help the organization understand where and how the function fits.

Companies who invest in a pit crew strategy, versus a tactical service station approach, benefit from improved agility, strength and speed.  Ultimately this helps to ensure that marketing strategies are executed seamlessly, that marketing processes are managed and tracked efficiently, and that results are analyzed in order to improve effectiveness and reduce inefficiencies.

Having the best pit crew is just as important to your company’s winning strategy as it is to winning a Formula One race.

Learn more about how Marketing Operations Enables Marketing Centers Of Excellence.  For the DIY crowd, check out the cost- effective Roadmap to Excellence: Six Essential Steps for Developing a Marketing Operations Function workbook.

© 2015, Laura Patterson. All rights reserved.

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