We spend a lot of time in our business speaking with marketers that are looking to level up their own skills at the same time as they’re kicking goals with their brand’s marketing. The discussions often revolve around questions like ‘what’s the best conference or event I should go to?’ or ‘what new creative approaches can I try in our marketing?’.
And these are great questions to ask if you want to go to the next level as a marketer because they reveal a hunger and curiosity to step outside the routine of bouncing from one campaign to another.
Increasingly, however, we’re seeing more and more marketers ask the less flashy question ‘how can I make the process of doing marketing better, easier, faster and more enjoyable?’. In my opinion, that question opens up the most exciting and rewarding conversation about how to become a killer marketer.
This question goes to the heart of an emerging practice within marketing that has evolved from a combination of where marketing technology is at on its maturity journey and a new generation of marketers who never did marketing without digital tools as a part of their work.
I’m talking about marketing operations; this practice is about developing a holistic view of all marketing activity across your organisation to then draw out efficiencies from different elements and, ideally, eliminate the silos that lead to wastage of time and effort.
It might come as no surprise that my co-founders and I are on fire for this new practice of marketing operations and the potential it has to create a much-improved model for how marketers work with each other and how marketers work with other business units. There are two major reasons why coming to grips with marketing operations can help you become a killer marketer.
The first of these two reasons is that by developing a structured marketing operations approach, you and your team can reclaim a pretty decent chunk of time on a regular basis. Marketing takes time and effort, but, just like your colleagues in the sales team, there are ways to make sure that time and effort is invested more efficiently.
Developing structured, repeatable and scalable marketing operations processes is a game changer. By shifting your marketing team’s mindset to one that is focused on executing a number of proven, effective tasks in a specific order when producing content, developing campaigns and reviewing creative, you’re going to immediately unlock spare time and brain power from the most junior to the most senior members of your marketing team and agencies.
Think about how you can remove or automate the parts of your marketing operations that duplicate effort, require manual intervention or take activities offline that can easily be completed in a digital context. A classic example we see in our conversations with marketers is when teams are creating article content in Word documents or storing social media posts in spreadsheet calendars only to have to rely on another team member to copy and paste content into a CMS or social channel for publishing.
Freeing up this time can easily give you back 10 or even 20 percent of your team’s time to channel into creative marketing activities or to test-and-learn new content types, formats or other marketing approaches. Say you managed a small marketing team of five people, reclaiming just 10 percent of that dead time spent on inefficient steps in your marketing operations, you’re likely to have an extra 80 hours per month that can be re-invested or maybe even returned to your team. And if your team is bigger than five people, well, you do the math.
The second major reason why marketing operations is a game changer for your own personal marketing game is that you have greater visibility over all your organisation’s marketing output. The mastery of this detail can prove the differentiator that catapults you into a whole new level of marketing awesomeness.
Previously, if you were running a team, managing a campaign or just responsible for one channel or audience, you may have missed out on the opportunity to understand what the rest of the marketing team was doing. Even if you’re not in charge of the whole marketing shebang, this is still problematic because you don’t have access to the best practice and lessons of your peers’ activities and you can face significant challenges in appropriating or remixing some of the best assets in your business.
This kind of artificial separation can breed pointless competition between internal marketing teams and, at worst, can lead to duplicated effort and spend on every single item of marketing content and collateral.
Getting a handle on marketing operations means you can access and optimise all your organisation’s resources in a more practical and efficient way. Using a marketing operations tech platform aids this greatly as the technology itself centralises assets, plans, approvals and commentary from the broader marketing function all in one place.
This may seem like a lot of work, but that’s only the case when you’re setting up these systems. Like every new technology, business process, and even staff members, there is a heavier lift at the start which often gives way to greater efficiency and more epic outcomes over the long term. Taking the time to setup and create this visibility and accessibility is already the domain of some marketers in roles such as Brand Operations Manager and these are the marketers that are on the leading edge of this new practice of marketing operations.
So, you may be thinking that the key to being a killer marketer is just about making a ‘more creative campaign’ or ‘being across industry trends’ or even ‘using my media spend more efficiently’. And while all those aspirations will definitely help put you on the right path, the next wave of marketers that are recognised as leaders in their field will be those who have a clear view of their marketing operations and how to make the most of the resources at their disposal.
It’s these marketers that will be able to work with whatever type of creative, channel, campaign, technology or audience challenge that comes their way. And it’s these marketers that will create real value for their organisation and their own careers as well.