For many CMOs, the marketing ops team is the killer of dreams, stopping creative marketing strategies in their tracks or diluting them beyond recognition. The best CMOs balance creativity with marketing ops constraints and partner with rather than dictate to this vital team. Where your technology expenditures top marketing budgets, ensuring your marketing ops is a fulfiller of dreams has never been more important. Here are five CMO tips to help your MOps team become a fulfiller of dreams:
- Temper the reality distortion field: CMOs can learn from Jobs. MOps works under many constraints: what marketing tools can do, how data is structured, whether the data is clean and what team capacity is available. Rather than distorting reality, take time to understand constraints so you can build marketing strategies that work with rather than against these limitations. For example, CMOs understand what MOps platforms are designed to do, but few understand how they are engineered. If you're using your enterprise-grade CMS to create hand-crafted, custom-coded websites, you're missing the power of its configuration and modularity.
- Avoid the $100 hamburger: Savvy CMOs understand this law of diminishing returns and seek progress over perfection. It pains some to think of putting out "really good" versus "near perfect" content, but they should ask themselves, "by making these changes, how many incremental conversions am I going to drive?" Thankfully, site analytics can be an impartial judge in determining how tasty the site needs to be to drive conversion before additional flavor becomes superfluous. Making practical content tradeoffs will secure MOps' loyalty.
- Stay on target: A fellow MOps colleague built a bullet-proof process for his CMO to prioritize MOps work, complete with a martech stack roadmap, program enablement, and new features. His first priority meeting went swimmingly as the CMO raved about the process, gloried its clarity and set a clear direction. My friend was delighted until the next priority meeting. It was as though the CMO had amnesia, experiencing the priority process for the first time. Despite MOps cautions, she made dramatic shifts, reordered priorities, and inserted new, ambitious asks, citing shifts in strategic direction that were largely unknown to the team. When asked to make tradeoffs, she struggled while questioning the longer delivery lead times. My MOps friend left deflated only to experience a Jekyll and Hyde CMO for the next few months with more "strategic" shifts in direction that masked the CMOs inability to hold to a consistent strategy. In the whiplash of changes, my MOps friend suffered disproportionately as his platforms and data were not as pliable as creative and copy, making him look like a laggard. Of course, MOps teams expect change, but they will bend over backward for the CMO that holds a steady course.
- Reward more fire prevention, less firefighting: CMOs should recognize that MOps can optimize the marketing supply chain, getting faster, efficient, and increased throughput as chaos is tamed. Through methods like standard processes, RACIs, intake forms, SLAs and powerful platforms, MOps can better organize and orchestrate marketing. CMOs must ditch their HOF security blanket and reward MOps' efforts that prevent HOF rather than perpetuate it. Too much process will choke any organization, but sensible structure increases productivity and will charm the socks off your MOps team.
- Empower the people: Some CMOs have a high need for creative control. I was assigned an ambitious, from-the-ground-up redesign and re-platforming of our marketing website by one marketing exec. Enthused, I presented the strategy, gained sign-off from my exec and planned our project kick-off. The exec asked to attend, and I assumed he would be there to see that things got off to a good start. Within minutes it was clear he would drive the marketing strategy. As time progressed, he selected the design theme, spent late nights writing copy and hand-picked images, all while requesting iterative, finely-nuanced changes (see $100 Hamburger). Over time, key decisions backed up as he struggled to push decision-making deep enough into the organization to hit milestones. While the entire marketing team struggled with micro-management, the MOps team was hit hardest as backups begat emergencies, and their schedules were crashed to hit milestones. MOps teams appreciate a CMO that articulates clear governing principles and empowers the people to do the work.