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What Makes a Good Marketing Operations Employee?

August 20, 2012 | By Craig Moore

A marketing operations leader should have a strong background in the discipline of marketing, but people with strong operations experience and a propensity to develop their skills in marketing can also fulfill many roles within the team. Here are some attributes to look for in marketing operations team members and leaders.

Marketing’s focus on measurement and ROI is challenging CMOs to hire employees into the emerging discipline of marketing operations who have skills and experience that have not been in the traditional domain of marketers. These attributes include technical savvy and systems-thinking skills, as well as a diverse blend of cross-disciplinary expertise and management skills.

A marketing operations leader should have a strong background in the discipline of marketing, but people with strong operations experience and a propensity to develop their skills in marketing can also fulfill many roles within the team. Here are some attributes to look for in marketing operations team members and leaders:

From the Left Brain – Process and Technology

Experience with marketing automation platforms (MAPs) is important, but it is also important to recognize that there is a shortage of people experienced with specific systems. Technology changes constantly; it is best to find people who have an inclination to learn new technologies. Ideal candidates have skills and experience with marketing automation platforms, marketing resource management, business intelligence or reporting applications. Don’t overlook candidates with sales force automation, Web, reporting or other automation systems. Look for the following:

  • Experience with systems planning, procurement, operations and training
  • Project management training and experience
  • Aptitude for analysis and reporting

A solid understanding of the foundations of systems, a love for technology and sense of curiosity should trump a training certificate.

Experience in the Discipline of Marketing

Many marketing operations teams have responsibility for planning, budget management and skills transfer. Marketing operations leaders and team members with these responsibilities need to understand how the different functions of marketing work and how they combine their efforts to meet overall organizational goals. For these specific positions, look for experience working within product marketing, demand creation, field marketing, communications, marketing communications or channel marketing.

Cross-Organizational Experience

Marketing interacts with several functions, most notably sales and sales operations, product development and finance. As the disciplines within marketing become more specialized, fewer people outside marketing operations have solid experience working in other functions. For marketing operations it is essential to establish competency and trust across organizational lines. Examples of cross-organizational skills include:

  • Experience with budgeting and working with cost accounting to manage the books
  • Exposure to sales and an appreciation for the process of managing and reporting sales forecasts
  • An understanding of how leads are consumed in the sales organization
  • Appreciation of how a product organization is managed, especially when as a P&L (i.e. revenue and profitability); this will develop a keen awareness of the pressures facing product leadership and bring valuable insight to marketing – particularly in campaign planning and market intelligence

The Marketing Operations Leader

Today’s marketing operations leader has responsibilities spanning measurement, reporting, campaign planning, budgeting, systems, data management and market intelligence-related activities. The role blends technical aptitude with marketing skills and perspective from other parts of the company. An emerging role for the operations leader is chief of staff, supporting the CMO in marketing planning, cross-organizational communication and organizational strategy. Change management is an important area as many marketing organizations are implementing demand centers, a holistic approach to content and Web strategy and campaign strategies, all of which require organizational transformation. When staffing marketing operations leadership positions, look for breadth of experience and consider the value of solid management skills.

 

Craig Moore

Craig Moore is Service Director, Marketing Operations Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. His three decades of experience span such areas as marketing operations, partner marketing, strategic alliances, product marketing and management, software development and entrepreneurship. Follow Craig on Twitter @cramoore.

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