Marketing Operations ... the technology whose time has come

By Jodie Byass


Marketing operations management software has been around for a couple of decades, first coming to market 20 years ago as Marketing Operations Cloud, and more recently morphing to become the marketing operations professional’s platform of choice. But now, it’s a technology whose time has come.

What’s driving this? There has never been a greater need for the governance, engagement and cost-effectiveness that an intelligent marketing operations platform can provide.

Four key trends are creating the market conditions that have made marketing operations management more relevant than it’s ever been:

  1. Fragmentation — Brands are using more and more channels, many agencies and often an extended network of external representatives to reach their fragmenting target audiences.
  2. Specialisation – The rise and rise of digital marketing has led to the move towards specialists and away from generalists in marketing teams, creating silos and making it harder for CMOs to see the big picture and understand the true impact of the full range of marketing activities.
  3. Regulation — The growth of regulatory requirements such as privacy legislation and GDPR, which promises big financial penalties for breaches, means the cost of not managing marketing risk effectively is higher than it’s ever been. It also attracts greater scrutiny on social networks and other citizen-driven channels.
  4. Cost control – Linked to regulation, the need for a cost-conscious approach to marketing will never go away. Marketing budgets are always tight, and in a number of disrupted industries, they’re only going to get tighter. How do you get a competitive advantage in that situation? Learn to do more and collaborate better with the resources you already have, then focus more of those resources on what’s working and less on what isn’t.

Let’s look at each of these circumstances in more detail.


Marketing operations as a growth driver

Taking the last point first, it’s a little understood fact that the value proposition of MRM is really about EBITDA growth: Organisations want top-line revenue growth, but they want it at lower cost. The technology delivers this, not by removing head count or reducing spend in marketing, but by better directing the many moving parts of the marketing machine to work more effectively.

We see it in our clients’ marketing teams: Streamlined, documented work processes that facilitate efficient collaboration, reduce agency cost overruns and improve alignment and productivity — thereby lowering campaign lead times, increasing speed to market and ultimately boosting capacity, for no additional cost. Assuming your marketing activity is effective, more campaigns out means more revenue in.

Marketing operations platforms are like the conductor in an orchestra: they’re the score, the baton, and the brain.

In real terms, they provide the marketing plan, driven by intelligent briefs, documented workflows and automated processes, informed by results collated from all your channel-based tools, with the most effective activity highlighted for rapid repetition.

Most CMOs have a vision, they create a plan maybe once a year, and they’ve got teams working to it, but it’s an iterative process that they review maybe once a month or once a quarter. A marketing operations platform captures that marketing plan and makes it a living, breathing experience that is omnipresent. It becomes an executable plan, reinforced with the daily activities of your team.

To return to our musical metaphor, Marketing Resource Management (MRM) enables marketing teams to make beautiful brand music in which the impact of a well-orchestrated output is far greater than the sum of the component parts.


The audience fragmentation equation

Nothing new to marketers, the growing fragmentation of audiences means more activity will always be required going forward to reach the same number of people. And when you have a lot more channels to manage, efficiency becomes more important – and so does the need for better brand governance and brand consistency.

Most marketing teams struggle to see and manage the broad customer experience – but a centralised MRM or marketing operations platform puts the CMO in the box seat, providing visibility not only over all approved activity, but what’s already in market, what came before and what’s in the pipeline.

In addition, if local execution across all these channels is managed by an external network of agencies, agents, outlets or franchisees, how do you ensure they stay on brand? MRM gives you the tools to manage your process across all your brand representatives and channels.


Where are the brand generalists?

The specialisation of the marketing workplace came up at a recent event Simple held in the UK where one company was saying they thought they had 280 agencies working for them worldwide – but in fact they had 340.

In that situation, how do you co-ordinate your marketing and understand what’s happening across all the moving parts? In times gone by, there were 4 main media channels and 1 brand manager. Now in addition to brand, there’s a digital team, sometimes there’s an email marketing team, a loyalty team, communications and social – and many of these highly specialist divisions have their own agencies.

If someone only manages their component discipline, how do they know that what they’re doing fits well with all your other activity? MRM creates that visible, unified plan and provides a central repository that can help you pull it all together and overcome those silos that always seem to occur – not only in marketing but in organisations more broadly.

What Simple is trying to do with our intelligent marketing operations platform is create a stored corporate knowledge – so teams know what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t and what you’re planning to do next.

And for larger teams out there, they need to understand the data that comes out of all these siloed systems. Our technology provides a path for marketing teams to do that.


The ever-present regulatory threat

Finally, the growing threat that regulation poses to brands looms large. It has always done so. If you look at what peak advertising bodies as far back as the 1920s named as their key concerns, the spectre of increasing regulation was one of them. Now, a century later, that hasn’t changed.

What has changed is the magnitude of the threat.

Industries such as banking and insurance have already had to pay out billions for the clean-up following numerous scandals: Australia’s Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking industry; the £40 billion UK clean-up to compensate customers who were mis-sold insurance; and US bank Wells Fargo’s USD$80 million to reimburse half a million consumers for auto insurance they didn’t need – to name just a few.

In these times, marketers need to ensure not only that what they’re selling, and saying, has been rigorously reviewed, but also who they’re targeting. It’s not only the content that needs to be checked and double-checked across numerous organisational functions including risk management, legal and compliance – but also the audiences that are receiving these messages. One of the most common – and costly – mistakes that marketing teams make today is simply sending a marketing email to the wrong list.

Marketing operations platforms are in a unique position to address these concerns, so flexible and customisable that every required check and balance your organisation needs can be met – every time.

One final thought to leave you with: you can become a CMO today and only ever have worked in the digital world. CMOs need the ammunition that being well-informed about all the levers that need to be pulled can provide – regardless of their own personal expertise.

Marketing operations management software provides the data that makes marketing visible and understandable to the boardroom and surfaces the value that marketing creates. It safeguards brand reputation and budgets. It drives productivity and business growth. No wonder its time has come. What’s not to like?

Simple’s intelligent Marketing Operations Cloud platform empowers marketing teams to market smarter, faster and leaner to achieve more. Reach out to one of our consultants for more information.

Call to action