If Harry Potter led marketing operations, where would his team sit?

Understanding the pros and cons of locating the marketing ops function within your firm can pay big dividends. Here’s a spell that can help.



You’ve just graduated from MOpswarts and been declared a marketing ops (MOps) wizard. As you step off the train armed with a wand, sweet robes and cache of spells, you’re ready to help your company thrive with martech magic.


You’re especially jazzed about the AlohoMOpsa spell you found hidden away in the bowels of MOpswarts, which allows you to remake the org structure of any company and move MOps closest to the department where it can best flourish. Should it sit with marketing? Wait, maybe IT? Perhaps sales? 


Thinking of your company, you break out your MOpsrauder’s Map, and state, “I solemnly swear I’m trying to help customers,” and the options magically appear with their pros and cons.





 


Move MOps closer to marketing


It is marketing operations after all, right? Maybe. Success depends on the CMO. If they see MOps as a trusted advisor and have a solid understanding of martech tools and governance, prepare for raging success. If the opposite is true, consider another department destination.


Goodies:  The closer MOps is to the heart of the marketing organization, the higher the MOps marketing IQ and empathy, focusing innovation and energy on what matters most. This enables an agile MOps organization that can power a CMO’s vision. With closer proximity to MOps, marketers are also better sensitized to martech, governance and process. The more marketers know, the more likely they will design programs that work with (and not against) MOps’ strengths.


Gotchas:  Like a Ferrari with the wrong driver, a rockstar MOps team with an unreasonable CMO can end in a fiery, Fast and Furious-like explosion. When CMOs thwart governance, ignore process and prioritization and disregard tech constraints, MOps is better situated in an adjoining department to create a protective buffer. Another gotcha to watch out for: if MOps is situated too far from IT, it will be harder to get larger systems integrations or data projects funded and prioritized.


When this works well: When CMOs truly partner with and understand MOps orgs, magic happens. CMOs must also be tight with CIOs, framing the prioritization discussions regarding revenue and ROI to get a seat at the table. If the CIO solves 500k problems, a CMO’s revenue or cost-saving opportunities must exceed that bar to gain traction. Consider funding marketing dedicated resources on the CIO’s team to benefit from IT’s overall tech bench and get marketing prioritized.


Move MOps closer to IT


Being closer to the “big iron” of infrastructure in a company can unlock sophisticated capabilities; it can also result in slower programs or efforts that stray from marketing priorities.


Goodies:  MOps teams have better access to IT budgets, prioritization processes and technical firepower, giving larger systems integrations and data projects a higher chance of success. Compared with marketing, IT orgs tend toward more structure and process, making governance easier to enable. The org buffer that being in IT creates is also useful for MOps when CMOs are unreasonable (you know who you are), making sensible pushback possible.


Gotchas:  Removed from the marketing team, MOps can lose touch with marketing pain points and stray from the CMO’s vision, resulting in strategic misfires. The sense of urgency can also be lost as the CIO’s shadow shields MOps from the heat of the CMO’s sun – or completely blots it out with other company priorities.   


When this works well: When MOps is closer to IT but funded by marketing, you get the best of two worlds: first, IT doesn’t stray from marketing priorities; second, marketing gets the benefit of IT’s technical depth needed for more sophisticated programs. Without budget or another form of authority, marketing is often too low on the IT list of priorities.


Move MOps closer to sales


The closer MOps is to customers, the tighter marketing programs are interwoven with revenue objectives. Go too far, however, and longer-term marketing priorities like brand suffer.


Goodies:  Sitting closer to customers will focus MOps like a laser on enabling revenue-producing programs. As MOps participates in sales discussions, marketing gets crisper and more focused to ensure a healthy, high-quality pipeline, as there is little support for anything that doesn’t immediately add value. The heat is also on for better, more consistent sales enablement content to keep sales leaders closing deals rather than creating decks.


Gotchas:  Sales’ intense focus on short-term revenue can come at the expense of longer-term growth. Sales orgs may not see or wish to invest in brand or other more esoteric forms of marketing that don’t generate immediate benefits for bearers of quota. While demand gen campaigns provide more tangible fuel for the sales engine, cultivating brand, advocacy or social media presence clears the road for a longer, more profitable journey.    


When this works well: Exec leadership must buy into the power of marketing to engage with customers at scale. In-person customer conversations are superior to emails or webinars but far less economical to execute. By casting a wider net, marketing can more economically identify valuable prospects and transition revenue-ready leads to sales. 


Which model is the best? No model is perfect, so it depends on your needs. Desire to power a CMOs vision to deliver world-class programs? Marketing could be your best bet. Need sophisticated programs that require deep technical expertise? Proximity to IT will help. Want to ensure sales and marketing work hand in glove? Closer to sales is a good bet. 


What if you want the benefits of all three? As RevOps matures, incredible possibilities exist in the harmonized world of sales, marketing and service. But you may have to head back to MOpswarts and find a potion or spell to crack that one. 


You close up the MOpsrauder’s Map and whisper, “AlohoMOpsa,” while flicking your wand. With revenue targets and customer delight on your mind, the company’s departments swirl before you, and you make your choice.


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About The Author










Spence Darrington is a Managing Director and marketing scale expert at Bridge Partners. Prior to Bridge, Spence worked for Microsoft, Expedia Group, and Ford Motor Company helping transform their marketing models to achieve scale. While at Microsoft he pioneered B2B marketing shared services for delivery, building an organization of 500+ execution experts based in hubs around the world. Spence holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a Masters in Business Administration from Purdue University. Spence lives in the Seattle, WA area.

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