Chris Toy is the co-founder and CEO of MarketerHire, the #1 digital marketing talent platform connecting companies with expert marketers.
The dictionary definition of marketing is pretty dry: “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services.” In truth, marketing is an art and a science. There is nuance and subtlety. And there is a whole lot of data.
Once a data-informed discipline, marketing has evolved into a data-driven discipline. This is largely due to the major digital shift that’s taken place in the last 20 years. The advent of the internet ushered in a new way of living and working. And it absolutely turned the marketing world upside down. Marketing is the industry most changed by the internet age and its biggest user.
This shift is why a marketing operations team has grown into one of the most valuable pieces of a businesses marketing strategy. Gartner defines marketing operations as, “the function of overseeing an organization’s marketing program, campaign planning and annual strategic planning activities. Other responsibilities include technology and performance measurement and reporting and data analytics.”
With so many facets of marketing relying on data, it’s clear why a marketing ops team is necessary. They’re expected to keep track of the growing number of moving pieces, analyze what’s working and what’s not, and keep the train moving forward. Here are some strategies to help set up and manage your marketing ops team.
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1. Get a leader.
If you don’t know how to run a marketing department, you need someone who does. A marketing team runs very differently than other departments, and having an experienced leader who understands the ins and outs of marketing is imperative.
2. Test tactics, not strategy.
Oftentimes in marketing, “strategy” and “tactics” are used interchangeably, but they’re quite different. Strategy is the “why” of the equation, and tactics are the “how.” Set a sound strategy early, and then test tactics to figure out how to win. Strategic changes are the most expensive.
3. Have the business set the goals, budget, and cadence for marketing.
Sales? Fundraising story? Some other milestone? Be clear about what you need to achieve, by when, and what resources you can invest. A great marketing idea that doesn’t help your business achieve its goals isn’t actually that great a marketing idea.
4. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Don’t “hack” anything: keep your product the only variable by sticking to tried and true strategies, run by people who have done it before. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying shiny new tools or trends, but when it comes to marketing, trust the experts who’ve been in the game and know what works, and even more importantly, what doesn’t.
5. Avoid false positives and false negatives.
Don’t fool yourself by running bad experiments or not properly factoring statistical sample size or other variables. You can make numbers say just about anything, but don’t skew them in an effort to support a hypothesis you want to be right.
6. Brand and creative matters.
How your customers feel about your brand, and how they experience it, is as important as ever. Consistent, smart branding leads to long-term customer loyalty and success. Stay on message and stay steady. As we all know, brand awareness is at the top of the customer funnel, and keeping a positive brand affinity leads to enhanced credibility and increased sales.
Putting together a strong marketing operations team is crucial in 2021, as data becomes one of the main pillars of the marketing world. Make sure you have the right people, tools and structure in place to help your team succeed.
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Author: Chris Toy, Forbes Councils Member