Jeff Clark asks whether you know if your machine needs lubrication, more oxygen or an overhaul, rather than the duct tape you’ve been using, to put your marketing team on the track.

The fifth of our F’in Fundamentals of Marketing, The Machine (aka marketing operations), is an essential building block to ensure that your marketing team runs efficiently and effectively to help the team meet its goals. 

Start-ups and small businesses start building their machine with the absolute basics. Somebody needs to run tech, and it’s simple like a marketing automation platform (MAP). The MAP requires data and produces even more data, which needs to be managed. And, you need standard reports and analysis. One, multi-talented person and a slim tech stack could do all this, but they quickly get overwhelmed as you grow. 

How do you know where to staff up? How do you know if your tech, processes and data resources are up to snuff? Maybe, you’ve got the bodies, but they may not be pulling the right levers to make the machine work. The one-armed superstar and tech stack will need help! Perhaps, it’s more technology, more efficient processes or analytics platform. Perhaps, it’s specialists that focus on the capabilities of tech, data, analytics, process improvement and even skills training. 

Your People, Process & Technology … & Data … & Analytics 

The three in our capability list is a familiar triad when people talk about the tools that management have to work with. These days, you have to add data. Data-driven organizations are best positioned to know how programs are working and what to do next. Which is why I tack on Analytics. Having the data is one thing – knowing what it means is where the magic happens. 

You can assess and manage these capabilities across the whole team, but who’s going to do that? That’s where marketing operations come in. You need the people who can put the time and attention to making sure that the rest of the team is equipped with these capabilities. It’s the engine that ensures your machine is purring like a well-tuned sports car.  

What Capabilities Do You Have? 

It is hard to specify exactly what capabilities you need to add to address the gaps you’re experiencing. The best place to start is to look at each of the sets of skills to evaluate how you are currently staffed and what capabilities are they bringing. Sometimes those capabilities are from staff with your marketing operations function, but they can also exist in other marketing teams or in sales ops. 

When looking at each skill set, you must honestly answer whether you’re at a basic, intermediate, or advanced stage by looking at the characteristics of each level. The following is an example of just one range of capabilities with marketing technology management: 

  • Basic level: Someone has knowledge of your current marketing and sales technology and recent innovations, and can execute basic administrative tasks. 
  • Intermediate level: Your staff should be able to regularly assess the entire marketing and sales technology to identify redundancies, lack of adoption, or other issues before making new investments. 
  • Advanced level: Your staff should be able to develop, present and implement a long-term technology roadmap.

Once you review the skill level across tech, data, process, and analytics, you have an objective assessment of the capabilities of your machine. It is helpful to score your team on each dimension, as shown below, to have a record of your status at that point in time.

Now, What Do You Need?

When developing your master plan, I recommend that you clearly articulate the capability gaps, which are dependencies for meeting your goals. Does your team need to master AI functionality of new or existing tools? Do you need someone to help redefine your process for tracking engagement and opportunity management? Is the analysis of your performance metrics lacking? 

Those dependencies can be charted on the same matrix as above to show you the gaps that exist between the current status and where you need to be. This provides a roadmap for where to upskill your current staff, hire or bring in consultants to provide the necessary capabilities. 

How Is the Team Organized? 

In your assessment, you will find that these capabilities can be shared with sales operations. Companies that are sales driven may actually form a “revenue operations” team that reports up to the Chief Revenue Officer. Large, mature companies often split these responsibilities into wholly separate teams, such as an analytics team that operates independently of marketing or Project Management Office (PMO) that looks at process holistically. 

Need Help?

At Rockstar CMO, our Marketing Operations “Machine” Capabilities Guide provides you with the ability to do your own gaps analysis. You can also leverage our advisory service to get an objective view of your strengths and weaknesses.

Photo of engine by Mike Hindle on Unsplash

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