Building effective teams in Marketing Operations: Post 3 (of 6) in our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking Series

By Chuck Leddy

See post 2 in our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking series: Why alignment matters for Marketing Operations (and how to get there): Post 2 (of 6)

If the role of the MOPs team is to ensure that marketing and the wider organization can dynamically adapt to changes in customer behavior and emerging technologies (see first post in this series), then what skills are required for effective MOPs professionals themselves, including MOPs leaders? Answering that “required talent” question is the focus of this post.

Our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking report makes it clear that MOPs leaders themselves see a large gap between the skills they need to build effective MOPs teams and the skills they actually have. Even among high-performing companies, only 41% of the leaders we surveyed fully agreed that “our MOP team has the knowledge and skills required.” Among the rest of companies, a woeful 17% of leaders believe they have the know-how and skills needed to drive MOPs effectiveness. That’s a huge talent gap that surely impacts (and limits) what the MOPs can do.

The skills needed for MOPs success

The required know-how and skills needed for MOPs success will obviously depend upon the particular needs of each organization, including its specific customer orientation and defined go-to-market strategies. What works for one business or industry might not work for another. That said, there are common skills required across the MOPs landscape, as Sojourn Solutions Managing Partner Rebecca Le Grange explains. “Data analytics is one important skill that’s often missing or insufficient,” she says, “as are skills in collaboration, in people being willing and able to broker key relationships between other departments. Also, MOPs teams need people who are willing to learn and try new things, who aren’t afraid to fail and grow from failure.” Let’s explore in detail why each of these “foundational-for-MOPs” skills are required for individual and collective effectiveness:

  1. Learning mindset. The capacity to keep learning is essential in a climate of fast-paced change. “MOPS professionals need to be continually learning and seeking to better themselves and the results they’re producing for the company,” says Le Grange, “If you’re not open to change, then MOPs probably isn’t the right career for you.” MOPs professionals don’t need to become cutting-edge experts in topics like marketing technology or customer behavior, but they should know enough to ask relevant questions that can unlock value and then dive into uncovering answers.
  2. Cross-functional, collaborative mindset. The massive shift towards customer experience and customer-centricity requires a cross-functional approach by MOPs because customers are affected by nearly every corporate function. Our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking report offers some examples: “customer service and marketing must work together to define the CX itself and seamlessly hand off the individual from one set of hands to the other . . .Product and marketing teams have to collaborate to support the customer as the lines between them blur.” Examples of cross-functional collaboration to drive better customer experiences are everywhere. What are other key functional areas where MOPs professionals should work across the business? “It comes back to how you’re servicing the customer,” says Le Grange. That answer will inform who you collaborate with. “One main focus of collaboration is data, working with people who are cleansing or maintaining data during the customer journey. Another area is reporting results, and how you communicate those reports to the wider business,” notes Le Grange. “You’ll also need to collaborate around processes, especially those that support your technology.”
  3. Data analysis. For marketing professionals today, data is the oil that fuels marketing campaigns and strategies. If you can’t analyze customer data and transform it into actionable insights, you’re not marketing effectively. As Carmen Gardiner, Marketing Operations Manager at Progress Software, explains in an interview: “You have to know how to read the data, understand what it means, and then make actionable predictions and plans based on findings. . . A lot of it’s based on experience. That’s where the people come in too, there’s understanding your organization, understanding your product, understanding what your goals are when you read that data.”
  4. Managing and aligning your talent. Another key driver of MOPs effectiveness involves closely aligning what MOPs is doing to the key strategic goals of the business (i.e., driving revenues). This capacity to align MOPs talent around organizational strategy takes strong MOPs leadership, great communication/collaboration skills, and strategic acumen. Our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking survey found that only 4 in 10 of the top-performing companies fully agree that they have “a process for managing Marketing Operations talent with strategic goals and objectives.” Among the rest of companies, that number drops below 1 in 5, which is problematic at best. As our report explains, “managing talent has many component parts, but none is more important for MOPS than effectively aligning the team with strategy.” The current gap between where MOPs management wants to be and where they are in aligning their talent to the strategic goals of the business represents both a problem and an opportunity.

In conclusion, there’s no easy, definitive answer to the question, “what skills does my MOPs team need to be effective, and how can we best recruit and manage our talent?” Your needs will depend upon the strategic goals of your business and the emerging demands of your customers, as well as the evolving capacities offered by technology, as well as the level of maturity of the organisation or marketing team. As our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking report says: “The evolution of marketing operations is the methodical accumulation of the skills and capabilities that support growth. These will vary by organization but in all cases . . .must reflect corporate strategy.”

The best possible “talent” advice we can offer is to bring in people who can learn, who are willing to try new things and who work cross-functionally to drive MOPs effectiveness. Finally, you’ll need highly-capable MOPs managers who not only have great skills but who also constantly focus their teams on the strategic goals of the business.

To learn more, download our 2019 Marketing Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report. Also check out our related on demand webinar, where we discussed the 7 key findings from our report with Econsultancy’s Stefan Tornquist, SVP Research and Content Strategy.

Note: The fourth post (of six) in our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking series will focus on the necessity of effective data and lead management for B2B marketing success and overcoming the challenges in order to improve those processes.