Is Your Marketing Organization Ready To Change Its MO? by Chris Trayhorn, Publisher of mThink Blue Book, April 7, 2009 It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether your company is ready to implement “Marketing Operations.” As described in “7 Deadly Sins” (also in this chapter), Marketing Operations (MO) is an emerging discipline with the potential to significantly increase performance and accountability in complex marketing organizations. It leverages a strong front-end infrastructure to reinforce marketing strategy and back-end programs and tactics. This paper identifies the characteristics that signal your organization’s readiness for MO and answers these questions: What does that organization look like? What are its primary pain points? What is its vision for the future? What pressures are driving it to consider undergoing substantial change? MO Readiness: A Checklist for Your Company To see if your company is a good candidate for MO, check any of the following characteristics that apply: My company is mid-size or larger My company’s marketplace is dynamic and highly competitive My company’s marketing has evolved into a complex and multidimensional function My company has a significant marketing budget My company has a diverse mix of programs and resources are funded to reach a breadth of audiences (segments, sales channels, internal and external stakeholders, etc.) My company faces government and regulatory compliance pressures My company’s marketing processes have evolved to the point that they are no longer well-coordinated or even well-understood My company values best practices but lacks process, technology and metrics to achieve them My company is pressuring marketing to assume a more strategic role Within my company, many believe that marketing must deliver greater value for the company’s investment If you checked at least half of those statements, your company is a great candidate to benefit from the power of Marketing Operations. MO Readiness: Where Do You Feel the Pain? If your company is feeling some pain, you’re probably acutely aware of it. Arriving at an accurate diagnosis, however, requires a careful examination. Before digging into the specifics, first consider the general health of your marketing effort. Does marketing currently receive wide recognition for its strategic leadership and bottom-line contribution? Is marketing in complete alignment with your company’s strategic goals and other key functions? Can marketing clearly measure its success and demonstrate ROI to your executive team? Marketing Operations is specifically designed to address these corporate pain points: Marketing is focused on firefighting and tactics rather than on strategy Marketing experiencing difficulty measuring ROI and demonstrating value, causing it often to be on the defensive, needing to justify its role and contribution to C-level executives and investors Marketing success tied to other groups that have different or even conflicting goals A corporate environment that fails to support collaboration and, consequently, loses opportunities for synergy Employee defections that jeopardize continuity, place institutional knowledge and expertise at risk and contribute to high customer churn Marketing processes that too often constrain internal efficiencies and effectiveness instead of enabling them Poor coordination of shared processes across functions Difficulty assimilating and integrating programs, systems and resources obtained from corporate mergers or acquisitions, leading to duplicated effort, loss of momentum, lack of focus and resistance to change If you can relate to two or more of those statements, your organization may be in enough pain to embrace Marketing Operations. MO Readiness: What’s Your Vision of Marketing’s Contribution ? In a perfect world, marketing operates as a very creative, fast-paced, results-driven function that stays close to the customer and its other stakeholders. It is not only aligned with the enterprise’s strategic agenda but also helps define it. It leads the customer experience and innovation processes. It is well-integrated with other corporate functions and takes full advantage of the power and discipline of a strategically designed Marketing Operations infrastructure. The MO infrastructure builds into the marketing function the processes, technology, guidance and metrics required by an efficient operation that delivers outstanding value on a consistent basis. Such an MO infrastructure enables informed decision making, accountability, sustainability, visibility, teamwork, strategic thinking and repeatable best practices execution. A marketing organization is ready to think seriously about embracing MO when it feels internal and external pressures to make systemic changes because it has not been delivering on its vision and has consistently failed to achieve its operational goals. Marketing Operations: The Bottom Line Bringing the benefits of Marketing Operations into your marketing function should be considered an evolutionary process. MO is both a serious commitment and a great opportunity. Like all change initiatives, it requires careful and comprehensive thought and exacting implementation. Key players in marketing and other cross-functional organizations, such as sales and product development, need to be invited into the process early on and need to stay involved to achieve stakeholder ownership and buy-in. The effort, however, yields impressive rewards. As Figure 1 shows, Marketing Operations has the power to reposition and re-energize a company’s marketing function, moving it past stubborn barriers to unprecedented levels of performance and success. Leveraging the discipline and rewards of an MO approach places marketing in the perfect position to influence strategic decisions and help increase corporate revenue, decrease costs and sustain high levels of customer and employee satisfaction. In short, Marketing Operations, when thoughtfully implemented, has the potential to transform a “marketing function” into a “marketing powerhouse.” MO Readiness: Making the Assessment By this point, you probably have a good idea whether it would be worthwhile for your company to learn more about Marketing Operations. But it’s also true that it can be tough for marketing insiders to have a clear and objective view of their own operation. That’s where professionals can help assess your organization’s readiness to move forward with a new MO. Filed under: White Papers Tagged under: Gary M. Katz, Perform, White Papers About the Author Chris Trayhorn, Publisher of mThink Blue Book Chris Trayhorn is the Chairman of the Performance Marketing Industry Blue Ribbon Panel and the CEO of mThink.com, a leading online and content marketing agency. He has founded four successful marketing companies in London and San Francisco in the last 15 years, and is currently the founder and publisher of Revenue+Performance magazine, the magazine of the performance marketing industry since 2002.