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Marketing Operations: Pit Crew or Service Station?

by Laura Patterson  |  
August 22, 2013

A Marketing Operations (Ops) function can serve as the choreographer and conductor for helping Marketing realize the expected return on investment (ROI) from investments on data, analytics, technology, processes, and talent resources.

Many organizations are using their marketing ops to help the CMO run marketing like a business and to transform and maintain Marketing as a center of excellence.

Organizations invest in marketing operations to help...

  • Ensure marketing strategies are executed seamlessly
  • Create, manage, and track marketing processes
  • Analyze and develop metrics to improve effectiveness and reduce inefficiencies

The vision, scope, and charter of a marketing ops function can vary:

  • For some organizations, 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.
  • In other organizations the role may be different, in some case primarily serving in a tactical way, for example supporting campaign automation and tracking, or budget tracking.
  • And, finally, in some organizations, marketing ops is a dump station—the place where things are done that no one else wants to do.

No one wants to be a dump station, so perhaps a better way to think about your marketing operations function is whether it will operate more like a pit crew or a service station. Both maintain and support a car's performance, so what's the difference?

The Pit Crew

In automotive racing, pit strategy is critical to success. When a car is running at over 100 miles per hour, it travels approximately 150 feet per second. That means, during a ten-second pit stop, a car's competitors will gain approximately one-quarter mile over the stopped car.

Now consider the speed at which Marketing must operate in today's environment. We need to run faster and be more agile than ever. Marketing Operations can serve as the marketing team's pit crew, carefully orchestrating the pit strategy to balance out efficiency (time lost in the pit) with effectiveness (ground gained on the track).

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Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM

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  • by Dwight Thu Aug 22, 2013 via mobile

    A well meaning article that dissolves

  • by Gracious Store Sun Aug 25, 2013 via web

    Well said, every brand needs to evaluate itself to be able to define its goals and plan the way forward for growth and expansion.

  • by KK Molugu Tue Sep 3, 2013 via web

    Interesting and true comparison of Ops with Pit Crew. Ops should be nimble and agile and change its course and direction as needed

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