5 signs you need a marketing operations function, how to hire for it, or become one yourself
Simon Daniels, marketing operations consultant at Percassity Solutions and Shane Redding, marketing consultant at Think Direct share their easy access advice on hiring for, or becoming, a marketing operations employee.
Maybe you’ve realised your competitors are running marketing operations and feel you should too. Perhaps you’ve spotted an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage while others are resting on their laurels. Whichever camp you’re in, we’ve got advice on hiring for a marketing operations role, or stepping into one yourself.
First off, let’s look at whether your business needs this function:
5 signs you need a marketing operations function
- You’ve invested in marketing automation but aren’t getting the promised return
- You’ve got lots of data sitting in different siloed systems and are struggling to get a single customer view
- Marketing is reliant on data in CRM and it’s not cutting the mustard
- You’re aiming for high growth and to scale at speed using the best tech to support you
- CX is high on your company agenda and you want to design better customer journeys
If two or more of those strike a chord, then you should launch a marketing ops function. Here’s how…
How to hire marketing ops talent
Building the marketing operations function must be a people first approach, and it takes a certain type of marketer to pull it off. We asked Shane Redding, marketing consultant, Think Direct to give her take on what to look for in terms of talent. So before haggling salaries, start dates and sending over offers, look for these six attributes:
- Excellent project management skills
- Attention to detail
- A whole picture viewpoint (like a business analyst)
- A love of data
- Inquisitiveness (they always start with ‘why’)
- Excellent communicator and stakeholder manager
How to get a job in marketing operations (and fast-track your career)
Perhaps you want to take the role yourself. Here’s how to do that… Like every good marketing ops practitioner, let’s start with “Why?”. Other than riding the wave of marketing technology and becoming a pivotal player in the business, marketing operations has been touted as a route to the top marketing job – that of CMO.
Simon Daniels, marketing operations consultant at Percassity Solutions believes that marketing operations professionals can flourish in any company that “has a focus on marketing and delivering value for the customer and the organisation”. Nowadays, that’s part and parcel of any good business.
No, really. Start by taking a free psychoanalyst test and see if you’re cut out for the role. Shane explains: “If you can match your personality type with a career path, then you’re pretty guaranteed to fast-track your career.”
If you’re made of the right stuff, it’s time to go a level deeper and work out where in marketing operations you’ll be more fulfilled because, as Simon points out, “marketing operations is broad.” In fact, he’s identified three types of professionals to help you think about which route to take.
- The technologist: Will you thrive off marketing automation – identifying requirements for it, selecting solutions and managing them
- The data enthusiast: Is the data itself of more interest – managing data quality and wider data governance?
- The analyst: Does the digital execution and management side turn your crank?
Learning the hard skills
In whichever you choose, there are hard skills to learn. This gig takes real business acumen – not just marketing know-how, but a deep understanding of business and the drivers of those within it. Simon suggests you start asking: “How able are you to talk in commercial terms to anyone in sales? How effective are you at talking to IT and translating that back to marketing? Think about taking courses to plug any skills gaps.”
Learning the soft skills
The soft skills of stakeholder management and communication are equally important as the hard skills. “Think about how you can always be open to change and brokering relationships,” says Simon. “These are skills that come with practice and experience. Think about each period in your review cycle. Evaluate yourself on a quarterly or yearly basis, asking yourself which skills you can learn. How can you become better at relationship-building, be more open to change and adaptable?”