Marketing Operations Freedom: A remix on Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom

I had the great pleasure of taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class earlier this year. I’m getting married soon, so my mom gifted this class to my fiancé and I so that we could discuss finances before getting married - which I highly recommend to anyone getting married! It was in this class that I learned “Dave Ramsey-isms” such as, “A credit score is an i-love-debt-score” and “you have to live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” Read those quotes again, but this time with a thick Texan accent. Now is not the time for a financial lecture, but I do recommend checking out some of Dave’s podcasts for a great outlook on finances.

One thing I love about the structure of the class, and his financial freedom methodology are the “Baby Steps.” Each baby step is a to-do list item to check off, to get you closer to controlling your finances and setting yourself up for future wealth. He insists that these steps must be completed in sequential order to succeed.

Like a lot of people in this profession, I sometimes try to do everything at once and bite off more than I can chew. This can leave you feeling like you’re scrambling for time, and getting to the end of your day wondering where it went. By completing the Baby Steps in sequential order, you don’t even think about Baby Step 2 until you complete Baby Step 1, and that frees up a lot of energy to you can focus on where you are, rather than worrying about where you should be. (Someone needs to put that on a t-shirt.)

So I’d like to propose the “7 Baby Steps to Marketing Operations Freedom,” as a way for us to take control of our roles and set ourselves up for success. Here is what I am thinking:

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1. Build Your Team

If you don’t have the right people in place, you will forever be treading water trying to accomplish all the marketing ops responsibilities. At minimum, your team should have 1 marketing ops expert that will lead the charge. This person should be a great problem-solver, with the confidence to communicate with different teams in the company and speak up on things that need to happen. Maybe that person is you, or maybe you are a VP or CMO and need someone to fill that position. So if this person isn’t hired yet, it’s time to put that job posting up.

2. Write down your goals

What is the #1 goal of marketing ops at your company? Is it creating leads for sales? Creating awareness of your brand? Forming partnerships? When everyone is aligned to what the main goal is, it’s easier to build out steps to reaching that goal (hey, kinda like these 7 baby steps!) To determine what this goal is, you might need to go as high as the C-Suite to determine where your function fits within the overall company strategy.

3. Develop the game plan

Each goal should have fairly straightforward steps on what needs to be done to achieve it. Need more leads for sales? Maybe your plan will be to develop creative campaigns to drive engagement. And/or, maybe the plan includes setting up a lead scoring program to determine the best leads to hand over to sales. Whatever the case, there should be a framework put in place of what your team is going to do, so you don’t resort to random acts of marketing.

4. Check your tech (stack)

Before you go full speed ahead running campaigns, you need to make sure your CRM system and marketing automation platforms are in great shape. We happen to have an audit framework that we think is a pretty dang good place to start. By going through this audit, you’ll be able to find any data issues you may have and that everything currently in place is running smoothly. Wouldn’t it be a shame to run a killer email campaign, only to find out that half of your leads were marked suspended incorrectly?

5. Fine tune your process

As you begin launching campaigns, try to get a good process in place and document it. Having a tried and tested process will be clutch when you start running more complex campaigns. Socialize your process documentation with other teams you work with, so everyone is aware of how to work with marketing operations effectively. Kick off your brainstorming by listening to this podcast we did on using an agile framework for marketing.

6. Elevate your marketing

Now that you have a great process in place, you can step your game up. Ready to start building a persona-based nurture? Go for it! Maybe you want to implement multi-touch attribution? Permission granted. When you have done baby steps 1-5, you can rest easy knowing that there are no fires to put out, so put that extra brain power to use to blow away the executive team with your genius marketing ideas.

7. Monitor and analyze

Failing to do this baby step, could set you back a few baby steps. As your well oiled machine is running and your kick-ass marketing campaigns are influencing opportunities, take time to review the results of your initiatives. If you get feedback from other teams about issues they are seeing, get to the core of it to see if there could be a greater issue at play. If the company strategy pivots, go back to baby step 2 and run though the steps again. A high functioning marketing team knows how to adapt to change.

I know it’s in our nature to take on multiple things at once, or skip some of the foundational steps, but see if you can refrain from skipping steps. Implementing the latest and greatest technology isn’t going to get you very far if you aren’t even using your marketing automation platform correctly. Put in the effort up front, and reap the benefits down the road. If you want to work like no one else (where you can happily take a vacation without worrying what will go wrong), you have to work like no one else (becoming proactive instead of reactive).

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