Marketing and operations alignment starts by understanding each other! When you’re ready to align your Operations Team with your Marketing Department, the first thing you’ll need to do is to make sure each group understands the other. Let’s examine the roles of each team and how they naturally intersect.
The Role of Marketing
Marketing is taking your product to the market and communicating its value to potential leads and customers. It’s the one-to-many communication of your product or service and its value. It’s the decisions and actions that a company takes to promote a product and itself.
This means your marketing department is working on:
- Defining your customer, their needs, and desires
- Framing your product and how you address those needs
- Positioning your product versus the competition and how you’re different
- Developing your pricing strategies
- Establishing your distribution channels
- Creating and executing your communication strategies
The Role of Operations
Operations, on the other hand, is executing on the business’ strategy, using systems and processes to deliver on the product promise. For a manufactured product, operations are the factory and all activity that goes into making and producing the product. In a service-based business, operations are focused on delivering the service.
In a general sense, operations can be any activity that executes a strategy. Specifically, marketing operations are the actions that deliver on the marketing strategy, such as writing content, designing materials, or negotiating marketing agreements.
Why Align Marketing and Operations?
“Operations must serve the customers that marketing helps attract. If marketing and ops aren’t in alignment, no one will be successful.”
– Juli Durante, Director of Inbound at Impulse Creative.
Two heads are better than one. A cord of three isn’t easily broken. Isolation is the enemy of excellence. You can go fast alone or further together. However, you say it, aligning two teams means you have more influence, more stamina, more ideas, and more power to get more done.
When your Operations Team, the people behind the processes, systems, and technology executing your business, align with the Marketing Team, those mavericks in charge of building your brand and driving leads (and revenue), your business benefits from improved efficiencies and increased velocity.
Execution + Ideas = Growth
Walking Hand in Hand, Marketing + Operations Alignment Looks Like This.
Are you ready to align your operations and your marketing efforts and teams? Do you want to see what that can honestly look like? When the Marketing Team considers Operations to be an ally, and the Operations Team considers Marketing a partner, putting their full support behind a growth mindset, the business wins.
Here’s what that looks like.
Acquisition Strategy → Fulfillment Alignment
Are we generating the right kinds of leads and customers for the organization? Lead generation without focus is an inefficient way to run your marketing efforts. So why wouldn’t a marketing team ensure the company can fulfill the business it generates?
Hint: Most marketing teams aren’t thinking about this. So if this is you, you’re in good company.
When marketing and operations align, marketing understands the company’s capabilities and what it takes to follow through on what’s promised.
Operations can help marketers understand acquisition strategy and fulfillment alignment by committing to an open, transparent dialogue. Sharing production reports and scheduling, for instance, shows marketing that the company can satisfy the demand they plan to drive.
Conversely, marketing can help operations plan for fulfillment by committing to a real conversation about its marketing plans with accurate data— share your projections and historical context, not just what you hope for.
Do the tools used by marketing work with the tools and processes that operations need to function? Can and should they be the same tools?
From marketing automation to email marketing, to analytics tools and beyond, today’s technology platforms allow you to design a completely new digital enterprise— when you’re aligned!
The hard truth is that the life cycle of marketing technology becomes shorter every year. New brands disrupt the industry by leveraging state-of-the-moment technology and innovations.
Just as new Martech solutions get pushed to market at warp speed, customer expectations are continually evolving in an accelerating race for the most advanced, hyperconnected, seamless experiences.
When marketing and operations align in their technology strategy, they can run the race faster and farther for successful, scalable marketing.
When your overall business has aligned marketing and operations departments, your marketing team proactively looks for tools that fit its strategy. In contrast, your operations team will consider marketing’s needs when finding the operating systems it needs. Think of it this way: Make technology fit into your business, not the other way around.
Before: Fit your business into HubSpot CRM.
Now: Fit HubSpot CRM into your business.
— Brian Halligan (@bhalligan) September 24, 2020
How can marketing and operations make sure they are collecting data in the ways that both teams can implement? We collect a lot of data in the modern business world. But that data doesn’t have the same value to everyone. Operations may not care about email click-through rates. And marketing probably doesn’t care about overtime hours compared to output.
However, when operations and marketing align, reporting tools will align. The useful dashboard with the necessary reports means the business units know what they need to know and when.
Building the best business dashboard that helps marketing and operations align over-reporting happens when you: know your key business objectives, include relevant metrics, and continue to communicate between teams.
What questions do operations hear from customers? What resources do they need? The customer feedback loop is one of the most effective ways to improve your product or service. It’s built on your customers’ satisfaction and allows you to continually gather, learn, and apply your users’ suggestions to enhance your offer.
The operations team is involved in gathering the data already. Why not align these efforts with marketing to ensure great feedback becomes a marketing tool? When marketing aligns with operations and offers the tools needed to gather feedback, a mutual understanding of the customer needs is born. This is when the magic happens.
Marketing gets to be part of the conversation that operations have with customers. In contrast, operations get to communicate its customers’ real story, not just what the marketing team thinks is happening.
An effective and efficient feedback loop is born out of the marketing and operations alignment you’re implementing.
How to Align Marketing and Operations
It’s time you understand the power behind aligning Marketing and Operations. You’re not sure what to do first? Let’s get into the how.
Establish a unified vision of total team alignment. That’s first. And it’s the most important aspect when working towards team alignment. Without a reliable and shared vision, the teams have no concrete path to follow.
The goal is to get out of the ‘me’ mentality and into the ‘us’ mentality. Start investing in each team member and celebrate their growth. When the team wins, so do you.
Here’s the path.
Step 1 to Aligning Marketing and Operations: Communication
As with most anything in business, communication is critical. Constant, transparent communication between the marketing team and the operations team is vital. The idea is to encourage the free flow of information. Open the barriers between departments and allow everyone to communicate openly, whether around the office or through conferencing tools if you have a virtual business.
Set expectations for regular meetings among leaders on the teams, collaborations between team members when possible, and communications tools everyone is comfortable with. Additionally, work on varying communications styles and needs. Some team members may thrive with face-to-face meetings or video conferencing. That works for some communications needs.
Other needs lend themselves to more asynchronous communication like recorded videos or email.
Collaboration Breeds Communication
The open office may not work for every business. But the lessons learned include collaborating and bringing teams together. While we don’t need to knock down every silo, it’s essential to keep the dialogue thread running between the windows.
Collaborating between marketing and operations will help to foster real communication. And that communication breeds alignment.
Step 2 to Aligning Marketing and Operations: Technology
The right technology can make or break your alignment initiatives. For example, a customer relationship management system (CRM) isn’t just for sales, and marketing automation is not just for marketers.
Your CRM should sit at the base of your technology stack, and every team member should have permission-based access to view relevant data points. For example, when each team member, no matter the department, can log into a CRM and view key growth metrics, everyone can see progress towards the common goal.
This is why your CRM is the basis of a Customer Experience Platform.
As you can see, it doesn’t stop at the CRM. Invest in a complete solution that integrates crucial departmental components such as marketing automation and customer service features. Integrated platforms help teams collaborate more effectively, so every department can view relevant data from across the organization, not just their department. For example, sales and marketing teams must view customer service data.
When you can manage all of this data in a single database, your business has a consistent flow of accurate data in realtime. This means marketers can better tailor their messaging; sales can focus on their hottest leads, customer service has a better context for providing exceptional support, and operations can help manage all of it. All of these elements build a more cohesive customer experience.
Step 3 to Aligning Marketing and Operations: Who’s in Charge
It’s not about titles. But it’s about ownership. The best teams have a coach, a manager, and even captains. Who will you have helped shepherd the members of your marketing and operations teams?
Silos aren’t inherently evil, as we acknowledged earlier. However, they do often complicate things. And they typically start with management.
Each department head is focused on accomplishing their own set of goals without taking the rest of the team into account. This silo mentality is destructive to team alignment. With that being said, team alignment also starts with management. And with the person “in charge” of aligning marketing and operations.
This most likely looks like a Revenue Operations Leader. That person must help make collaboration, communication, and the free flow of information a priority.
Quick Detour: What is Revenue Operations?
Revenue Operations (RevOps) is a convergence of sales, marketing, and customer success that drives full-funnel accountability across the revenue engine. The people, processes, and technology that power every part of your customer lifecycle need to be optimized and synchronized under one unified strategy to drive the most revenue and profit possible.
Can you see how aligning your marketing and operations teams can fall under RevOps?
Why Your Next Step Might be Engaging a Consultant
Sometimes aligning teams go more smoothly when someone not already in the mix helps guide the ship. Ever heard the cliché “A prophet cannot perform miracles in their hometown“? The same is true in many businesses.
Bringing in a fresh perspective from someone who can see your business from a 30,000-foot perspective can help you guide the alignment you’re looking for.