Welcome to a new series on Marketing Operations, which builds on our previous posts about Sales and Marketing, and Social Selling.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, Executive Management, Finance, Marketing and Sales should work as part of one large team, with a single clear vision and strategy. The only difference between these departments is the tactics employed to meet the corporate goals.
Marketing Operations is a key area for all organisations in all sectors and, in a digital age, it can be viewed as the ‘glue’ that ensures the Senior Management Team vision and the organisation’s Sales outcomes remain connected and successful. If the ‘glue’ is faulty or neglected, the whole business will feel the effects. Many larger businesses pour extra people and money into their Marketing departments and are puzzled when this does not deliver instant success. The issue may be that something is broken, and a 360° Marketing Ops Analysis is the fastest way to expose the problems and provide a fix.
What are the warning signs?
A Marketing practice that is not functioning well will exhibit many or all of the following characteristics:
Sales team’s needs are not met
Quality, screened leads should be developed jointly between Sales and Marketing. Prospects should be aware of the company’s name, brand and value proposition and the leads database should be regularly updated and growing. There should be continuous dialogue between the Sales and Marketing teams, to review leads and refine the lead-generation process. If the Sales team’s needs are not being met the bottom line will be impacted, and the relationship between Sales and Marketing will be damaged.
Test: How is your Sales team feeling about the Marketing service they are receiving?
No core strategy
A 360° Marketing Ops Analysis often exposes the fact that the Marketing strategy cannot be articulated. This may be due to the absence of a written Marketing strategy which everyone can reference. If a well-defined Marketing strategy is in place, each member of the team should be able to speak to it, and its objectives will have been broken down into individual job descriptions. This will lead to clearly defined responsibilities and tasks that are carried out in a timely manner, contributing towards meeting the department’s objectives. If there is no strategy, an anarchic ‘lone wolf’ approach ensues, where individuals begin working on initiatives as they see fit, or reacting to urgent demands from other departments, without a way to ensure that they relate to the overall objectives of the team. This chaotic approach is a management nightmare, since cohesive and efficient work streams cannot be established.
Test: Can all members of your Marketing team articulate the Marketing Strategy?
Poorly defined framework & processes
Some organisations have a strategy, but find this has not led to a clear tactical plan with a structured breakdown of tasks covering every step required to achieve the defined goals. So employees understand the overall vision, but not how individual team members will contribute to achieving it, or how to check that all steps have been completed along the way. The framework and processes may be granular and detailed using forms and checklists. For example, if new leads are not analysed in a structured manner, the data around lead origination is lost very quickly, and ROI data cannot be produced to support future marketing programmes.
Test: Are personal objectives structured around an established Marketing framework and process?
Lack of documentation
Documentation is a critical success factor for Strategy implementation and Process improvement. An effective Marketing practice has established documentation excellence, readily available to every member of the Marketing team, Senior Management, and all other stakeholders. Decisions on Strategy and Process must not remain attached to emails exchanged between decision-makers; it should be made widely available on SharePoint. This enables all stakeholders to participate in ongoing improvement. A central policy document means that updates can be made quickly, and members of the Marketing team can check activities against the document to ensure that they are on track. It also means that new team members can quickly pick up on earlier decisions and contribute more rapidly to the overall plan.
Test: Has your Marketing team produced a set of internal Strategy and Process documents?
Reactive and ad-hoc behaviour
It’s important to mention that the systematic working practices mentioned above can only be established with the support and approval of the Senior Management Team. If this is the case, then most of the work passed to your Marketing department should be anticipated, and relevant to the overall strategy, with occasional exceptions that can be run as separate, small projects. However, if your Marketing team is constantly improvising and reacting to new challenges, then either the strategy planning project was inaccurate, or Management is ignoring it. Essentially, reactive behaviour and continual reinvention is a red light that indicates a fundamental problem. Ad-hoc efforts are time-consuming, expensive, and often abandoned later. Remember that your employees (one of your most costly assets) don’t enjoy working in a chaotic environment and may either lose confidence or leave.
Test: The Executive team should collaborate with the Marketing team to understand whether the default modus operandi is structured or reactive.
Poor reporting and data quality
Marketing is an increasingly technical and data-driven field, employing technology to gain an understanding of the way in which Marketing efforts reach the target audience and improve business performance. Marketing Technology tools (Mar Tech) can enable a degree of automation, data quality assurance and crucial analytics to facilitate solid decision making.
There are a number of issues arising from Mar Tech:
Marketing teams may have access to these tools, but few members know how to use them effectively.
These tools may have been delivered to the team, but the technology requires further investment or customisation to ensure business needs are met.
The tools may either be not fit for purpose or simply missing.
Make sure the right Mar Tech tools are in place, properly customised with adequate training, to improve the availability and quality of important data. If best practice is applied then your Marketing team will enjoy increased confidence and produce accurate data, enabling budgetary refinement and improved revenue acquisition.
Test: Ask your Marketing Director to summarise the Mar Tech, Lead Flow and Attribution tools currently in use, and provide an evaluation of their effectiveness.
360° Marketing Ops Evaluation is an Enforma speciality. We carry out video interviews with every member of the Marketing and Sales teams including Managers, to gain an understanding of the current situation. The interviews are anonymised to encourage frank and honest participation and include scope to explore further any points that crop up during the conversation. These discussions produce a clear snapshot of the issues we have unpacked in this article - often surprisingly uniform across the organisation - and feed into a report that highlights the areas of concern. We can either make recommendations and leave your teams to action them, or work with your Marketing department over the course of a few weeks or months to close the gaps identified during the evaluation.
Want to know more about repairing a broken or ineffective Marketing practice? Get in touch with us for a free, no-obligation conversation about your business challenges.
And watch this space for our next Blog post on Marketing Strategy.
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