Marketing Operations Explained: The 3Ps and Real World Analogies

Marketing operations is not a new role to most people in B2B technology, but it is still misunderstood by people in marketing and across other functions. Most people on the outside just see a fraction of what it takes to keep the whole marketing function operating effectively, just as the graphic below shows. This can be frustrating for a marketing operations leader and their team who provides immense business value and is quite literally the team that is holding together the entire marketing engine and often much of the sales engine too.

 
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At CS2, our major focus is on the marketing operations team because we know the impact a great operations set up can make on a business. However, we still feel like we have a hard time articulating to our clients and outsiders what the true role of a marketing operations department is. While brainstorming ways to explain it, we realized there are three main areas that we focus on optimizing that encapsulate where marketing operations should focus. These three areas, are People, Process, and Performance.

We go into more depth on the 3Ps across our new website and how it relates to how we help our clients, but for this purpose of explaining the role of marketing operations, we can relate each area to the role of marketing operations.

3Ps: People, Process and Performance.

People

Even in this automation driven world human beings are still required to run successful B2B marketing programs. Therefore, the marketing operations team has to make sure the different teams responsible for generating demand and closing deals have the infrastructure and processes required to be successful and to scale. To do this, marketing operations needs to be an expert in each team to make sure they collectively have the tools, processes, and training to deliver the required returns to the business.

Process

Streamlined, flawless processes are the backbone of B2B marketing and inefficiencies can cripple the whole marketing and sales engine. Marketing operations is responsible for building and maintaining a strategic, technology-forward process that has all the required complexities, running smoothly, to meet the unique needs of each team, and the business itself.

Performance

When people are trained, supported, and operating efficiently using the processes the marketing operations team has set up, the performance of the team can skyrocket. As the team with the keys to all the data, marketing operations ensures the right processes are in place to collect, present and analyze the data. This helps the business make the right decisions and prove marketing’s impact to the wider team and all the way to the boardroom.

These principles can work as a handy reminder next time you are asked what the role of marketing operations is and we hope you will remember the 3Ps to help guide you on your explanation.

While we are talking about how to explain the role of marketing operations, we thought we could share some of our best real-world analogies that describe marketing operations, which can be very helpful when describing to people outside of marketing or even to your friends and family.

Real World Marketing Ops Analogies

Jerel says, “Marketing Operations is like a Fine Wine”

People all over the world enjoy the taste and experience of wine, but don’t really understand how it is made. Much like the wine making process, there aren’t many that understand marketing operations’ impact on business, let alone know that it even exists. For the sake of clarity, here is how the wine making process is synonymous with how marketing ops contributes to business success.

Harvesting The Grapes = Acquiring & Generating Leads

An important step in the wine making process to ensure that wine tastes its best, is harvesting. This is where grapes are picked either by hand or mechanically, and the moment they are picked determines the flavor of wine. Much like harvesting, marketing depends on its operations team to properly and delicately source new leads.

Crushing & Pressing The Grapes = Profiling & Segmenting Leads

After harvesting, grapes are sorted into groups keeping only the best grape raw material for vinification. They are then machine crushed and pressed at different rates and times depending on the profile or color of the desired wine. Crushing and pressing is much like profiling and segmenting leads. As leads are acquired, there must be quality checks to ensure that flawed data does not pollute an existing database. So, marketing ops develops efficient processes to cleanse the data before it is uploaded for further organization, such as defining segmentations and personas for proper targeting

Fermenting = Nurturing Leads

Fermentation is when all sugar from the juice is converted into alcohol. Fermenting can either begin naturally or through intervention by wine makers to predict end results. This can last between 10 days to more than a month, depending on desired flavor. Synonymously, marketing ops implements nurture programs to target leads with tailored content depending on their buying cycle stage.

Nurturing leads properly increases engagement and sales funnel transition. It’s common to want to perfectly predict the journey and intervene, but leads must also be allowed to take unpressured action when ready.

Aging and Bottling = Converting Opportunities to Closed Won

Wine can be bottled right away for storage and consumption or left for additional aging. The same is done in marketing operations as sales conversations lead to final negotiations and decision making for potential customers. Hopefully they can close the deal, but sometimes further nurturing needs to be done, and that’s when they become recycled to nurture.

And there you have it! All of those “once-seeds-turned-grapes-on-the-vine” have been delicately cultivated, separated and nurtured, and bottled up just to deliver the best variety and quality tasting wines to a sparkling glass near you. Hands get shaken and dotted lines get signed. Cheers to the upfront work of marketing operations – ahh the fruits of labor!

Charlie says, “A Marketing Ops Expert is Like a City Planner”

I like to think of a marketing team as a fast growing city trying to attract investment, tourism and talent. Let’s call the city “San Brancisco.” Just like in marketing ops, there are many aspects of building a city, which includes engineering, architecting and development.

Aligning Key Stakeholders

In the planning stages of building San Brancisco, the events team is putting on festivals, marathons, and art exhibitions to attract people. The demand gen team is putting up “San Bran is the new San Fran” billboards nationally and building their mailing list. The customer marketing team is advocating for building more parks and wider bike lanes. Partner marketing is partnering with businesses to set up their new HQ in downtown (in exchange for a nice tax break). And sales is telling all the marketing teams that they need more people coming to San Bran in order to sell the $1m studio apartments that were just built.

Building the Roadmap

In this complicated mix of agendas, priorities and a hell of a lot of work, the marketing ops team has evolved to be the city planner and developer. They coordinate with all the stakeholders to make sure the city has the buildings and technology to run effectively, they develop the right strategy to attract new people, streamline traffic so each visitor has a wonderful experience getting to world class events, then they capture the visitors information and a way of contacting them through every method possible. With the goal of the experience being so great they consider moving to San Brancisco, especially as they just saw a very well paid job at ForceSales.com.

Building a Modern Infrastructure and Capturing Data

However, the marketing ops team doesn’t just talk about strategy, they get to work building a modern technology-forward infrastructure to make sure every aspect of the city is optimized to achieve the city’s lofty goals. And while building this world-class city the marketing ops team is required to manage complex data sets through big brother style monitoring of the people. Every detail of every person in the city is recorded, including their unique behaviors and even hidden intent to move to other cities, to best ensure the marketing and sales teams can target each person with great (often a little scary) personalization and effect.

Determining the Best Candidates

Now is the time to start hiring city officials. Marketing Ops combs through the data they have on all the city dwellers to determine who may be the right fit for Mayor and Councilmen. After all, the people we select need to have deep pockets, and be willing to put money and effort into the city. Once all our candidates are selected, we can present them to the key stakeholders (the sales team) and they will decide if those candidates are good enough, or if we should look for some more.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Once you build an entire city you can’t just leave and go build the next city, you need to keep everything in order, and implement new laws if necessary. Marketing ops does all of the monitoring and cleaning of the city. Consider them the Police, tracking down any bad guys (junk data or bugs!) and keeping them out of the city.

It’s a tough job for the “city planners” in B2B tech, but someones got ta do it, San Bran just can’t be San Bran without them.

With a job as intricate and under-the-radar as marketing operations, we’ve found the best way to explain what we do is through either the 3Ps or real world analogies. If you weren’t familiar with the aspects of marketing ops, we hope this has given you a little more understanding of its function within businesses. If you are a fellow marketing ops member, hopefully this will help you better explain your job when mom asks what you do all day.