Modernizing Marketing Operations With Marketing Business Acceleration 

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
October 26, 2022

You wouldn’t put a go-kart engine in a sports car, would you? So why is it that some marketing teams seem comfortable investing in fancy tools and a sophisticated martech stack on the execution side of things, but when it comes to operations, they are happy to run the business of marketing on multiple spreadsheets completely disconnected from one another? 

In this blog, we’ll highlight the rich conversation that our CMO Jim Williams had with Bret Sanford-Chung, the managing director of KPMG’s marketing consulting arm. Jim and Bret talked in-depth about the current state of the business of marketing, as well as the importance of modernizing marketing operations.  

Keep scrolling to learn about: 

  • CMOs and their relationship with the rest of the C-suite 
  • The importance of marketing operations 
  • The role of marketing operations and marketing business acceleration

Let’s get started! 

CMOs and Their Relationship With The Rest Of The C-suite 

It’s essential for the CMO to have a strong relationship with the entire C-suite. However, we often see that the CMO and other members of the C-suite are at odds. There is a reason for this. It’s because they have differing motivations. For example, while the CIO’s role is to mitigate risk, the role of the CMO is to create new opportunities that can open the business up to risk.  

So how do you fix this as a CMO? Bret says, “You need to speak the language of the various departments and be able to communicate the value and relevance brought by marketing to each part of the business.” 

In her conversation with Jim, she points to an example where she was getting nowhere fast, speaking with financial consultants about the importance of a strong brand. It wasn’t until she framed it as reputation—something they could clearly understand—that doors started to open. 

The Importance of Marketing Operations 

Marketing operations is an essential piece of the marketing puzzle, but as Jim points out, it often gets overlooked. Today, so much of the focus for marketers is on the activation side of marketing—things like the: 

  • Martech stack 
  • Automation systems 
  • Personalization engines 
  • Content engines 

This aspect of marketing is important, and Bret adds, “You can have all the pretty toys that you want, but it’s not going to help if you don’t know how to use them.”

Bret tells Jim about a situation where she was actually contacted by a company that had just implemented an entire martech stack but didn’t understand how to use it. And this is more common than people might think. 

To avoid situations like this, it’s essential to ensure that your marketing operations is on point. Bret is constantly bringing the importance of the operational side to marketing. Often you can get to the root of the problem by asking the following questions about your marketing operations:  

  • How is the team structured? 
  • Are the right people in the right seats? 
  • Do they have the necessary skills? Are they upskilled in the right way? 
  • Do you have the culture in place to metabolize the changes, martech, data/analytics, and other fun tools to optimize them? 

Not every problem can be solved with a tool. Often they can be solved by looking inward at the marketing operations. 

The Role of Marketing Operations and Marketing Business Acceleration 

Today, the business of marketing is more complex than it has ever been. To be effective, marketers must be capable of pivoting if (and when) the need arises. Bret adds that the function of marketing becomes a competitive differentiator when you can move at speed and change and pivot to an opportunity that your competition can’t. 

So, why is it that nearly all of the operating models or frameworks are for the execution side of marketing, with next to nothing available when it comes to operations and how you run the actual business of marketing? As Jim points out, the operational side of marketing is usually managed in disconnected spreadsheets while the campaign execution happens on a sophisticated stack of 50 tools or more.

Despite more tools being created, and martech stacks continuing to grow and become more sophisticated, marketing operations has remained stagnant. Too many teams today continue to keep the various aspects of their marketing operations, such as plans, budgets, and work streams, on spreadsheets that are completely disconnected from one another and don’t allow marketers to keep pace with dynamic markets or changing consumer preferences. As Bret says, “Marketing has been an exercise in changing the tires while the bus is moving, but now it’s changing the tires while the jet is moving.” 

That’s where marketing business acceleration comes in. Jim explains how marketing business acceleration is an operating model for enterprise marketers that optimizes planning, performance, and productivity in a way that is simply not possible when the various aspects of your marketing operations are stored on hundreds of different spreadsheets.

This connectivity gives marketers a holistic view of their data, which provides a clear picture of marketing ROI. Instead of frantically trying to analyze data living on hundreds of spreadsheets, marketers can get real-time insights and data at the operational edge of marketing. This aids marketers in their quest to achieve true marketing agility by helping them react to changes in buyer expectations and market conditions.   

Jim brings the conversation back to marketing operations and the need for them to take more of this strategic role. To go beyond marketing automation, and to bridge the gap between planning, spending, and execution.

Marketing operations is so much more than configuring martech stacks and marketing automation systems. Bret says, “In a truly well-functioning marketing organization, marketing operations becomes the engine in which marketing becomes successful.” When marketing operations is not functioning properly, there is no visibility and they lack efficiency.

Jim describes marketing operations as the “eyes and ears of the CMO.” When marketing operations is functioning properly—and strategically—it gives CMOs better visibility into the entire organization allowing them to make smarter decisions.

If you want more of Bret and Jim’s conversation about modernizing marketing operations, you can watch the whole video here. And don’t miss the rest of the videos in our three-part marketing accelerations series, where Jim dives into more about marketing business acceleration and running the business of marketing with other experts like Scott Brinker

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