What skills should I be building as a MOPs professional?

Hi Jo,

I recently started a career in marketing automation, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. It feels like I’m expected to know so many different things and I’m not sure I can keep up. I want to keep building my skill set and learning as much as I can, but I don’t know where to start. Should I prioritize soft skills or learn about as many automation tools as possible? 

Can you help me?

Thanks,
Learning Laura

Hey Laura, 

 

You’ve hit on a challenge that I think a lot of people face in marketing operations (MOPs). The marketing technology space is always evolving. In fact, it feels like there’s a new platform or solution every week. For MOPs professionals that are seen by the rest of their organization as the guardians of that technology (even if they’ve never worked with most of it before), there’s a lot of pressure to have an opinion about each and every tool. But that’s not really possible, is it? 

At the same time, MOPs covers such a large scope of functions—from content creation and campaign production to reporting, marketing automation, and even CRM management—and many companies are only just figuring out that they need multiple people to fill those different roles. This means that marketing ops professionals tend to be expected to have a large breadth of knowledge and, like you said, that’s overwhelming. 

So, how do you prioritize your learning and skill building time so that it’s most effective for you and your organization? I’ve come up with a handful of suggestions below. 

 

  1. Build on what you already know

Let’s make one thing crystal clear: you don’t have to be a specialist in every single automation tool. That said, there’s also no rule saying you can’t be proficient in more than one of them. If you want to expand your technical knowledge, I’d suggest sticking close to what you’re already familiar with. 

For example, if you’re managing Marketo for your company and you’ve been asked to bring on a cool new tool that integrates with the system, that could be a good candidate for you. If you’re interested, see if there’s a way to dive deep into that new solution and get certified in it. Trust me, your leaders will be thrilled that someone wants to build knowledge in a technology the company is using.

Another thing to remember is that automation principles are the same across all tools. So, if that is the part of the tool that you love, then you can likely be an automation expert across multiple tools.

 

  1. Lean on your community

One of the truly unique things about the marketing automation space is that there is a massive community of professionals that are all willing to share their knowledge. As the space keeps changing and growing, we all know that we don’t know everything, and that makes us eager to help others when they come up against a challenge we may have faced before. I for one love getting messages from people in my network and helping them navigate issues on Marketo or in any other aspect of marketing operations. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check in with other people using the same tools. And if you feel you don’t have the network yet, start building it with the help of communities like MO Pros.

 

  1. Practice your soft skills 

Your technical skills will be key for succeeding in marketing ops, but there are also some really important soft skills that you should be honing from the get go. Among the most important is the ability to translate what you’re being asked to do into technical steps, and communicate those steps back in a way that’s easy to understand. Ultimately, you need to build common ground with your leaders and stakeholders so that there’s as little room for miscommunication as possible. My advice? A good diagram goes a long way. 

Another important skill to practice is puzzle solving. So much of marketing automation is built on logic, and you’ll be responsible for finding the easiest, most effective, and most scalable solution to any problem that arises. Part of that is about being curious and being open to exploring new ways of doing things—and the other part is tapping into your logical brain and uncovering the right patterns. So, if you don’t have a puzzle book on your bedside table, maybe you should put that on the wishlist for your next birthday.

 

You’ve got this,
Jo Pulse

How Strategic Changes Impact Tech: What Your CEO Should Know

TLDR: Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, new goals can change the tools that are relevant to your business. Early into planning, they should speak with people in MOPs at all levels to assess if a proposal demands more time or budget than first anticipated, along with any new hires or pieces of tech.  Before any strategic shift, visualize how each piece of your tech stack fits together (and why) to gauge the impact of a strategic change on technology. If a new tool is the way to go, allow for overlapping contracts, time to map out new processes and changes to data architecture, and for training people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

The link between strategy and technology is essential for any leader to understand. Strategy sets the direction for the business and shapes your goals; your tech stack is the means by which you achieve them. 

Easy as it is to get attached to particular tools, strategic intent gives purpose to each piece of tech. Your stack is fluid, evolving to solve problems and provide capabilities as your business needs change—a quality that’s especially clear when strategic change is on the way.

Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, the establishment of new goals can potentially change the tools that are relevant to your business. If Martech leadership is working on or has recently announced a new strategy, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. You’ll learn how to discuss the impact that strategic changes have on technology, so you can invest the time and budget you need to get your team and stack in shape.

Fitting the pieces together

First, your boss should consult with people around the business to better understand the impact of a proposed change, from Director-level and management to the people in MOPs handling tools on a day to day basis. Having these conversations early into the planning phase can reveal if a proposal demands more time or budget than first anticipated, along with any additional hires or new pieces of tech.

While putting together a plan, leadership needs to know exactly how your tech stack works across the whole organization; changes to technology can reverberate across the ecosystem and cause unexpected trouble. If your new strategy entails using a different marketing automation platform, for example, you then have the task of replacing a platform with lots of data tied into it and integrations with many other tools. Certain tools you’re using might not integrate smoothly (or at all) with the new platform—and that means new problems.

Message to impart: hit pause on a big shift until you’ve mapped out the tech stack across your business. Visualize how each piece fits together to establish the tools you have, why teams use the tools they do, and how each tool integrates. By doing so, you’ll better gauge the impact of a strategic change on technology. As an added bonus, you can spot opportunities to consolidate tools with overlapping use cases and save on budget.

Before surveying the market for new tools, ask your leadership to lay out their specific needs. Is there a particular problem you’re looking to solve? New capabilities to add? Integrations that a new tool should have? This promotes intentional, goal-driven tool adoption. Sometimes, the trial period for a new tool isn’t enough to accurately determine the fit for your business; limitations can become apparent after the demo and trial are complete. The clearer they are at establishing the necessary components of a new tool, the better equipped you are to find a tool that’s fit for the strategy.

The human touch

For the time and effort it takes to craft a strategy, punctuate it with clear goals, and make the appropriate changes in technology, the plan risks coming off the rails without a human touch. You need people with the right skills and time allotted to make sense of any new tools and use them constructively.

When scoping out new technologies for the business, you’ll find that salespeople often understate the difficulty of learning a new tool and the time required to see real results. The learning curve for the likes of a CRM, CMS, or a MAP is steep—realistically, it’s a job for multiple people. Adding a complex, foundational system onto the plate of a two-person MOPs team, in addition to their current responsibilities, is a recipe for burnout. If your boss’ new strategy requires significant extra work or a new set of skills, the most sensible step they can take is to budget for new hires or an agency’s help.

Likewise, leadership wants to achieve a particular result as fast and cost-efficient as possible. Throughout a tool’s implementation period, allow for overlapping contracts, time to map out new processes and changes to data architecture, and for training people on a new system while they’re still using the current one. If budgeting several hours a week out of 40 for your MOPs team to learn a new system, the timeline to understand how a new tool works and integrate it into the team’s day to day workload is naturally going to take several months—something to consider when setting strategic targets.

And while your boss sets the strategy, the tactics are best left to the MOPs team. The learning process is all about trial and error; experimenting and finding out the best ways to use a tool to do the things you need. The people using the tool will eventually understand better than anyone which methods work and what results are realistic—leadership should trust them to feel out how to execute on a daily basis and encourage their feedback to shape performance goals. 

The takeaway

While strategy is your guiding star, the capabilities of your tools and the people in your MOPs team are what make achieving goals possible. Plan for changes in technology and human resourcing as early as possible when developing a new strategy, and leadership can expect success.

How do I help my parents understand what I do for a living?

Hi Joe,

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but every time I try to talk to my parents about what it is I do in marketing ops, I get nowhere. Regardless of how I describe it to them, they always seem to walk away from the conversation with more questions than they started with. Do you have any suggestions for how to make it easier to understand?

Thanks,
Tired Tim


Tim, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a conversation with a friend or family member where I start telling them about my job while secretly wishing that they’ll say something like “Oh, marketing operations! Yeah, I’ve heard about that.” It just doesn’t happen. Instead, I either get to watch their eyes glaze over as I dive into why marketing ops isn’t the same as marketing, or spend way too much time answering questions until they finally have a sense of what it is I do. Neither is particularly fun. 

With many of these conversations under my belt, I’ve managed to come up with a handful of strategies that seem to do the trick. Try them out and let me know how they work out for you.

 

  1. Keep it simple

Marketing operations is inherently a hard thing to describe—particularly to people who don’t have much exposure to this space. The fact that it’s a relatively new function, that it’s embedded in technology, and that it has so many moving parts makes it pretty hard to grasp at a surface level. That’s why I suggest keeping your descriptions as simple as possible. 

  • Avoid using jargon that might raise more questions. Remember, marketing ops is practically a different language, so you’ll need to use words that make sense to the person you’re talking to.
  • Try not to get too deep in the weeds. The more detailed you get, the more things you’re going to have to explain. 
  • Connect the dots between what you do and other business functions. If you tell people that you organize information, do the work to understand customers, and manage things on the back-end, they’ll be able to paint a clearer picture for themselves. 

With this in mind, I tend to say something like “I manage the software that allows companies to run their marketing” or “I help businesses understand how their investments in marketing convert to sales.” Simple, yet comprehensive. 

 

  1. Use a metaphor

Another thing you can do is use a metaphor that makes marketing operations more relatable to what they know. Here’s one that’s worked quite well for me. 

Marketing operations professionals are like the mechanics of the marketing world. Think about a factory line, for instance. The line is producing the different marketing materials (e.g. content and design) and there are machines (i.e. marketing automation software) that support that production. Those machines then need mechanics that set them up and fix them when they’re not operating properly. That’s what I do. 

 

  1. If all else fails, stop trying

It’s always great if you can talk about your job with your friends and family, but at the end of the day, it’s OK if they don’t fully get it. The only thing that’s truly important is that you know what your job is and that you love doing it. As long as you can showcase that, your loved ones will just be happy that you’re happy—and there’s not much better than that.

 

You’ve got this,
Joe Pulse

What’s my role in the shift to RevOps? 

Hi Joe,

I’m a marketing ops professional and I’ve just been told that my company is moving towards adopting a RevOps model. I actually think it’s a great idea—I’ve read about the approach and think there are a lot of benefits to bringing typically siloed teams together under a combined goal. However, I’m not quite sure how to help make it happen. Do you have any advice?

Thanks,

Helpful Harriet

Hi, Harriet. Let me just say: it’s so great that you’re asking this question. As things keep changing in the marketing ops world, we need people that are willing to put their hands up and be enablers. Thank you.

You’re right that, while still a relatively new concept, RevOps has a lot to offer. It’s the notion that marketing, sales, and customer success teams can operate better when they’re working towards a collective goal—helping their clients and prospects succeed—rather than as disparate silos. Plus, it relies on an integrated tech stack that easily shares customer data and lets prospects flow through the customer lifecycle with a personalized experience. Sounds great, doesn’t it? 

While it might sound easy, getting to this integrated place is a long-term project. First off, you need to do a lot of work to ensure alignment between these three teams. That means a lot of conversations around goals, metrics, and performance to get rid of any discrepancies. There’s also a technology and data aspect here. To build a RevOps tech stack, you need to look into where there are gaps or redundancies, and make decisions accordingly. 

All that said, there are also things you (as a MOPs team member) can do at an individual level that will make a big difference, and help things move faster. 

 

Expand your knowledge 

If you want your sales, marketing, and customer success teams to be fully aligned, it can’t just happen at the executive level—you need alignment on the ground as well. Start this off by learning more about how things are done in those teams, including how they communicate, what their metrics are, and how they measure performance. Talk to a colleague and ask if you can shadow them for a couple of days; you can observe them as they go through their daily tasks and join them in team meetings. 

 

Become a champion for the RevOps approach

You know it, we know it: Marketing and Sales aren’t always best friends. In fact, we often find ourselves in a rather antagonistic relationship. So, once you’ve taken the time to learn more about what your sales team does, and why they do it, share that knowledge within your team. These insights should help build comradery and make it easier to collaborate better down the line. 

You’ve already done the work to learn about the benefits of the RevOps model—so make sure you share that as well. People tend to be wary of change, but a lot of the time that comes down to a lack of understanding. Empower your team with the knowledge they need and it might make for an easier transition when the time comes.

 

Keep putting your hand up

As I mentioned before, rolling out RevOps is going to be a long process—and your leaders are going to need help. Talk to your manager about how you can actively contribute to the project. You never know, they might need someone to bring the MOPs perspective to the decision-making table, or they may be looking for someone to champion the project and help communicate it’s value. Good thing you’re likely already doing that last one!

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

How to Pitch a New Marketing Automation Platform to Your CIO

TLDR: Marketing automation platforms are difficult to insert and replace, impacting teams around the business. Your CIO can allocate personnel from IT and Data Science to help implement the platform successfully, but they need to know the investment makes sense. Gather the data to forecast the impact of the platform on revenue and productivity, accounting for costs and long-term personnel demands. Position this platform as urgent for survival, and back it up with a thorough cost/benefit analysis, and you stand a strong chance of getting your CIO’s support.

 

One of the most important skills of people in Marketing Operations is to read the martech landscape and identify technologies that can add real value to the business. While MOPs succeeds at intuiting the relevance and benefits of new technologies, it’s often trickier to translate industry know-how into persuasive arguments why C-Suite should invest in bringing tools onboard.

This is especially difficult when talking about marketing automation platforms—key pieces of infrastructure that impact teams around the business, integrate with many other tools, and require significant time and cost investments. 

If you’re pitching a new marketing automation platform, that conversation will take you beyond Marketing and to your CIO; someone who can allocate technical personnel to implement the project successfully. In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn how to plan and present a case for a new platform that your CIO can get behind.

 

Building your case

Before putting together a plan, it’s worth reflecting on the scale and value of the implementation. Marketing automation platforms are difficult to insert and replace, with downstream impact on different teams in the organization; most notably IT and Sales. By nature, a platform implementation demands collaboration across disciplines; at a minimum, Sales, IT, and Data Science should support the project and contribute their expertise. Marketing might exclusively use and spend on the platform, but getting cross-departmental resources means selling the platform as a lift to productivity and/or revenue that boosts the business as a whole.

Crucially, you’ll need people outside of Marketing to handle the technical wiring and create training resources. CRM Admins, Developers, Data Scientists, and Data Warehousing Specialists are examples of key people who can bring the implementation to life, all of whom usually report to the CIO. Personnel contribution, rather than dollar investment, is why you’d approach your CIO.

To get buy-in, your CIO should understand that the platform you’re advocating is necessary for the organization’s success and survival. Obsolescence = lights out for any business, so frame this as a do-or-die opportunity: you can adopt this platform and transform your business, or fall behind. 

Assume that your CIO isn’t plugged into the martech space; meaning, your observations about how the platform fares in the industry and with competitors won’t persuade alone. Instead, numbers speak louder than words. What are the hours saved and efficiency gains per month? What revenue increase do you expect? How does the platform make personnel quantifiably more productive? 

When it comes to revenue projections, you might not have the data on-side to create a solid forecast. This is where you reach out to Sales—it’s equally in their interest to have a platform that brings in the dollars. Projections from Sales like opportunity and win rates, lead types and quality gains, and conversion rates for the highest-scoring leads can help to frame the revenue opportunities on offer with the platform.

Gather the data points you need to forecast the impact of the platform on revenue and productivity. Then, accounting for the costs of implementation, walk your CIO through the hours and dollars that the business can expect to save or gain by implementing the platform. Even when working with estimates, a thorough cost/benefit analysis is exactly what your CIO wants to see.

 

Thinking long-term

Even after digesting the benefits of the platform, one key question remains from your CIO: How is this going to be a permanently successful venture? To answer this, you want to factor in post-implementation planning. Users and people who experience a downstream impact from the platform need to clearly understand how it works, so account for any training sessions, change management, and the creation of educational resources that personnel under the CIO need to lead.

Realistically, the ways your Marketing team uses the platform will evolve over time. This means increased support should be available from technical staff long after the implementation. Let’s say your current platform requires the support of two admins from IT. You might budget for a surge of 10 system administrators to implement the platform; after working at this cadence, the demands on your business will change. 

Rather than scaling back down to two admins post-implementation, you might need four admins permanently to manage the platform. This is especially likely if you’re scaling upwards to a more robust platform. 

Your CIO wants this platform to succeed on a long-term basis. The more precisely you can account for the investment of personnel, during and past the implementation, the more accurately your CIO can size up the investment and commit the resources you need.

 

Selling your vision

Cross-departmental support can be tricky to secure, but it’s crucial to successfully implement a new marketing automation platform. Come prepared to pitch the platform to your CIO as a vital and sensible move for the business—necessary for survival, with a thorough forecast of the revenue and productivity gains against costs and long-term personnel requirements. This is how you build a persuasive case for buy-in.

Need some support with implementing a new marketing automation platform? Revenue Pulse is here to help.

 

How Can I Avoid Having Dirty Data?

Hi Joe,

I keep hearing about the cost and risk of having dirty data in your MOPs systems, but I’m not quite sure how to check if my company’s data is up to snuff. Do you have any advice for how to root out dirty data and how to prevent it from happening? 

Thanks,

Data-driven Dave

 

 

This is a great question, Dave—and one we should all be talking about. 

Let me start by making sure we’re on the same page around what dirty (or rogue) data is. The short version is that dirty data is any data that has erroneous information in it. The slightly longer version is that there are different types of dirty data, including duplicates, errors and typos, outdated information, prospects that don’t align with your target persona, and incomplete entries (e.g. without an email address).

For example, you could have an entry that’s from someone who no longer works at the company they did when they downloaded your ebook—so any email that goes to them would bounce back. Alternatively, you could have an entry that wasn’t typed in properly, and has “.con” instead of “.com” on their email address. Another thing that happens all the time is duplicate (or triplicate) entries. I’ve worked with companies that had thousands of duplicates in their database, and that’s not sustainable or practical. 

You’re right that having dirty data can be costly. One issue is email reputation. If you’re sending marketing emails to people who shouldn’t be in your database, for instance, and they mark your email as spam, that counts as a ding against your email sender reputation. This is a measure that’s taken by internet service providers to determine whether they deliver your emails to the inboxes of the people on their network. The lower your score, the lower the chance that you reach your audience when you need to — and it can be really hard to recover from a low score. 

Managing dirty data can also be expensive. Some martech databases will charge per the number of entries in your database. For the companies that have thousands of duplicates, that can mean that they’re spending way more than they should—which isn’t great. (The costs also add up when you have to spend on tools that clean that data.) Having that many duplicates also gives you a false understanding of how many people are actually in your audience, leading you to make decisions that don’t necessarily make sense for your business. 

 

So, how do you stay ahead of dirty data? Here are my suggestions. 

 

  1. Build habits into your processes

Every six to 12 months, you should be performing checks on your database to identify and remove any dirty data. Beyond just looking for duplicates and errors, this requires a concerted effort to identify the people that no longer fit within your target persona—as well as those that haven’t engaged with your content for a particular period of time. 

 

  1. Take proactive steps

Dealing with dirty data shouldn’t just be a remedial approach; there are also things you can do to avoid creating those errors in the first place. When it comes to duplicates for instance, they tend to happen when teams import lists from multiple sources (e.g. Marketo and Salesforce) without checking for repeat entries. As such, if you’re importing data, make sure there’s a check in place to flag duplicates. You should also perform a cleanup of any list (e.g. to check if there’s a missing email address) before it gets migrated. Lastly, building a process to identify and delete common bogus email addresses (like test@test.com or abc@xyz.com) can also help you keep your data clean.

 

  1. Normalize your data

You’ve probably seen that some companies and teams use full country names (like Canada), while others use country codes (like CA). To keep your data clean, the best thing you can do is normalize your entries so that there aren’t any discrepancies in your data set. 

These might sound like small changes, but they’re important ones. Trust me, once you start doing these things, you’ll be able to have a lot more trust in your data.

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

How Do I Manage New Requests From My Boss?

Hi Joe,

My boss just reached out and wants us to try out a new project that we’ve never done before. I’ve never even heard of some of the things she’s talking about. I told her that I’d look into it, but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks,

Clueless Corey

 

 

Hi, Corey, you’ve come to the right place. 

First off, telling your boss you’d look into it is a great first step. It shows initiative and that you’re ready to find a way to make it work for your team. So many people worry about not having the answer right away, and they end up saying “yes” to things they can’t actually accomplish, or “no” to things that might actually make a positive difference. The fact that you’ve given yourself the time to research the feasibility is great. Nice job.

Second, there are two main things you’re going to have to do before you get back to your boss. The first is figuring out what the ask actually is and how it’s typically addressed. Once you’ve done that, you then have to map out the scope for the project, while also understanding the value that will come from implementing it. Let’s dive into these two things a little more.

 

Understand the ask

A big part of what your boss (and their boss) is going to want to know is how much money, time, and resources the project is going to cost. But before you can even map out the scope of the project, you need to have a clear picture of how you’re actually going to execute it. Here are some ways to go about that. 

 

  • Tap into your network. The truth is, it’s unlikely that this is the first time someone is looking into this project. The marketing ops community has tons of people that are willing to share their experiences and answer questions — so ask.
  • Check out relevant forums. There is a rich collection of forums on various marketing automation topics — you’ve probably already used them to answer questions before. Revisit these and post your questions so members can answer. 
  • See if there’s a company dedicated to this particular issue. A lot of companies in the marketing automation space started out trying to solve a particular issue. Take Knak, our sister company, they exist in part because they realized that Marketo didn’t have robust email editing capabilities, and they wanted to give marketers more freedom to design emails. There might be another company out there that’s built around helping marketers execute the type of project you want to run.

 

Figure out the scope

Once you know what the project will look like, then you can assess how much it will cost. This will go beyond the price tag of a new tool: you also have to consider how many people will need to be involved and for how long, and whether it makes more sense to bring in a consultant. On the flip side, you should also consider the value the project will bring to your team. How much time will it save? How many new leads will it generate? 

This may be the point where you realize that the project isn’t actually feasible or sensible for your team. Don’t be afraid to say that to your boss. As long as you can show that there’s a good reason for it, and that you’re looking out for the best interests of the company, they’ll understand a “no”.

That all said, don’t let finances or the fact that a project seems to “make sense” for your business be the only factors that guide your decision making. Sometimes, it’s the projects that look banal on the outside that end up making the most impact in the long run. Maybe everything works fine as it is, but it’s worth experimenting and fostering a culture of innovation and iteration within your team. That way, you can avoid becoming complacent and instead position yourselves as leaders within the space. 

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

Should I Join a Remote MOPs Team?

Hi Jo,

I’m in the market for a new job, and so many of the MOPs positions out there are for remote-first or international teams. To be honest, I’m wary of joining a team where I don’t get to meet up with people in person (I haven’t had the best experience working remotely during the pandemic) and I’m not sure I have the bandwidth to onboard into a brand new company from afar. Am I making too big a deal out of this?

Thanks,

Fretting Frankie

 

 

Hey, Frankie. First things first: your job is a big deal, and you’re more than allowed to ask these questions as you try to find the right one. 

 

Looking at your question, I’m hearing you say that you don’t think remote work is the right fit for you. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why that might be? 

 

For generations, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we can only be productive in the office, surrounded by our colleagues. But is that really true? For me, the fact that I can more easily weave in and out of my work and home lives makes me much more productive in both areas. If I ever get five minutes between meetings, I can put on a load of laundry instead of just waiting around at my desk. 

 

Another concern might be the social aspect—and I hear you. It can be hard to imagine how you replace casual water-cooler conversations with text on a screen, but just because it’s different doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Slack and all its various integrations (does anyone else use the giphy randomizer?) make it easy to communicate your insights, share style of humor, and meet new people on other teams. Every day, I see people take advantage of these tools to build relationships both within and outside the professional setting. Not only that, joining a remote team helps you expand your network outside your region. That’s particularly valuable for the marketing operations industry, which has such widespread expertise.

 

Now, if you’re someone who just can’t imagine working at home because you live in a small apartment with your very loud roommate, who also works from home, that shouldn’t stop you from looking at remote positions. Companies taking a remote-first approach are really looking for the best possible candidates, and if that means providing a stipend so that you can rent a small office, I’m sure they’ll find a way to make that happen. We’re in an unprecedented time in the workforce, and you should never be afraid to ask for what you need to have an optimal work experience. 

 

Another important thing to remember is that your aversion to remote work might be based on working with your current employer, who had to scramble to figure out remote work during the pandemic. For a lot of companies, the shift to remote work was messy (at best) and it left a lot of people disillusioned with the idea of joining decentralized teams. Consider this: leaders today have spent a lot more time thinking through what they can do to empower their distributed teams, supporting them with the right tools, policies, and processes. Don’t let that one experience put you off from testing out something different.

 

You may be saying to yourself “OK, you’ve addressed a lot of my concerns, but am I equipped to join a new team remotely?” I think you are. The skills you need to succeed in a remote team are the same ones you need to be a good MOPs professional: proactivity, accountability, problem solving, and good communication. As long as you’re able to proactively think about solutions to any problems that might arise, and communicate those solutions effectively, you’re golden. 

 

You’ve got this, 

Jo Pulse

How Do I Help My Parents Understand What I Do for a Living?

Hi Joe,

I’m not sure if this happens to you, but every time I try to talk to my parents about what it is I do in marketing ops, I get nowhere. Regardless of how I describe it to them, they always seem to walk away from the conversation with more questions than they started with. Do you have any suggestions for how to make it easier to understand?

Thanks,
Tired Tim

 

Tim, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. 

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a conversation with a friend or family member where I start telling them about my job while secretly wishing that they’ll say something like “Oh, marketing operations! Yeah, I’ve heard about that.” It just doesn’t happen. Instead, I either get to watch their eyes glaze over as I dive into why marketing ops isn’t the same as marketing, or spend way too much time answering questions until they finally have a sense of what it is I do. Neither is particularly fun. 

 

With many of these conversations under my belt, I’ve managed to come up with a handful of strategies that seem to do the trick. Try them out and let me know how they work out for you.

 

  1. Keep it simple

Marketing operations is inherently a hard thing to describe—particularly to people who don’t have much exposure to this space. The fact that it’s a relatively new function, that it’s embedded in technology, and that it has so many moving parts makes it pretty hard to grasp at a surface level. That’s why I suggest keeping your descriptions as simple as possible. 

 

  • Avoid using jargon that might raise more questions. Remember, marketing ops is practically a different language, so you’ll need to use words that make sense to the person you’re talking to.
  • Try not to get too deep in the weeds. The more detailed you get, the more things you’re going to have to explain. 
  • Connect the dots between what you do and other business functions. If you tell people that you organize information, do the work to understand customers, and manage things on the back-end, they’ll be able to paint a clearer picture for themselves. 

 

With this in mind, I tend to say something like “I manage the software that allows companies to run their marketing.” Simple, yet comprehensive. 

 

  1. Use a metaphor

Another thing you can do is use a metaphor that makes marketing operations more relatable to what they know. Here’s one that’s worked quite well for me. 

 

Marketing operations professionals are like the mechanics of the marketing world. Think about a factory line, for instance. The line is producing the different marketing materials (e.g. content and design) and there are machines (i.e. marketing automation software) that support that production. Those machines then need mechanics that set them up and fix them when they’re not operating properly. That’s what I do. 

 

  1. If all else fails, stop trying

It’s always great if you can talk about your job with your friends and family, but at the end of the day, it’s OK if they don’t fully get it. The only thing that’s truly important is that you know what your job is and that you love doing it. As long as you can showcase that, your loved ones will just be happy that you’re happy—and there’s not much better than that.

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse

How Can I Show My Leaders That MOPs Has More to Offer?

Hi Joe,

 

I love my job in marketing ops, but I constantly feel that my time is spent on tactical tasks and putting out fires rather than more strategic initiatives. I know I have a lot to offer, but unless we hire more people to run our marketing ops efforts, I’m not sure I’ll be able to share those insights. What are the conversations I need to have to ensure that MOPs is seen as more than just a tactical function and brought into the fold more strategically? 

 

Thanks,

Strategic Stacey

 

 

I have to tell you, Stacey, you’re not alone. It’s not unusual for marketing ops folks to be seen as doers rather than thinkers, and that’s not fair at all. As a MOPs professional—one that’s likely running the show on their own—you have a unique perspective on the organization and any gaps it might have. This means that you could add valuable insights that inform how your business moves forward, what tools to invest in, and who to hire. But that hardly matters if you don’t have the time and space to think about these things. 

 

I see this all the time. MOPs teams get stuck in a cycle where they’re constantly jumping from one executional task to another, and they don’t have the bandwidth to think about the future. So, what are the steps you can take to maximize your MOPs team’s efforts and showcase your strategic value? I’ve thought of three that you can consider. 

 

  1. Get buy-in from your manager 

If your direct lead isn’t a marketing ops professional, they might not realize all the ways you can add value. Start by getting them to approve a certain amount of time a week that you can spend on strategic thinking for your team. This time can be spent mapping out the future structure for MOPs at your organization, redesigning a process between MOPs and Sales that could be more efficient, or having conversations with other technology owners (e.g. Salesforce) to better learn how they integrate with your marketing automation tools. Once you have this space to think more strategically, you’ll be able to go to your lead with specific recommendations on how they can boost the role of operations at the organization—and the resulting value of doing that. 

 

Here’s a tip for you as you take this on: don’t forget to delegate. A big part of showing that you’re ready to take on more strategic thinking is removing some of the more tactical elements from your plate and upskilling other members of your team to take them on. This leads me to my next point. 

 

  1. Make sure your MOPs team is the right size

For your MOPs team to really deliver on its potential, you need to have a team of people you can rely on. Beyond the standard daily tasks, there needs to be headroom for the times when things go wrong and for thinking about the future. Your day-to-day shouldn’t fill 100% of your team’s time. This is an important consideration that you should bring up when you’re talking to your leadership team.

 

I know this is a tough one. It can be hard to make the argument that things could be better when they’re already running well. After all, people don’t notice when MOPs is running properly, they only notice if it’s broken. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from having the conversation. Map out where your team is spending your time now—and then talk about where you could be spending it better to drive more value for the organization. That’ll get their attention.

 

  1. Set real metrics for MOPs

You know this, the performance metrics that your marketing and sales teams use aren’t the right way to evaluate MOPs performance. You need a specific set of metrics that are tailored to what your team is doing and how it truly provides value to the business. To get this right—and better show your value to the rest of the organization—take the time to collaborate with the teams you work with to set up a framework that makes sense. 

 

You’ve got this, 

Joe Pulse