In life, we all have guiding principles that inform our decisions. They show us how to approach certain situations, what to focus on, and what to do when things get tough.
For some it’s “show don’t tell”; for others it’s “keep calm and carry on” or something else along those lines.
But are there any guiding principles that should guide the work of a marketing ops person?
Personally, I’ve found a few that help me get sh*t done, remind me to prioritize the important things, and inspire me to do my best work. If you work in marketing operations like I do, I think you’ll find them helpful too!
1. “Challenging of basic assumptions is essential to breakthroughs.”
This is a quote from Eliyahu M. Goldratt, the author of a book called The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement that introduced the world to the theory of constraints and the concept of production bottlenecks.
I wholeheartedly believe that The Goal needs to be mandatory reading for everyone in marketing ops, so I encourage you to read it as soon as you can! (Pro tip: try the audiobook; it’s fantastic.)
Back to the quote, though. As an operations professional, you’re expected to be a logical thinker, concerned with uncovering the truth and figuring out the right way of doing things.
“We’ve always done it this way” should not be a good enough explanation, ever.
On the contrary, it is your job to ask hard questions about the way your business and your team work. It’s imperative that you dig deep and question everything, especially the things that are taken for granted.
For example, in The Goal, the author talks about a company in which operational efficiency is everything and every employee must be busy with work at all times. If anyone is “on stand-by” or under-utilized, it is considered a massive failure.
But through a set of logical questions, this basic — intuitive even — assumption get completely challenged and a much better one is introduced. I won’t spoil the book for you, but rest assured that this leads to a breakaway success.
So. What are some of the basic assumptions in your business that no one has challenged? What difficult questions are you going to ask? And how deep are you willing to dig for answers?
2. Build to scale. Design for humans.
Edward Unthank is the founder and chief revenue technologist of Etumos. His passion is architecting robust and scalable marketing automation setups.
- Robust, meaning that your solutions are flexible enough to work with most of the creative use cases your marketing team can envision.
- Scalable, meaning that the setup can handle as many users, programs, and leads as needed.
Although Edward’s definitions definitely imply it, I do like adding one more dimension to the list: Human-Friendly.
Being in marketing ops, it is easy to sometimes forget that the end users of the systems that we build aren’t as technical as we are, nor do they need to be.
So whenever you design something: an automation workflow, a CRM page layout, or even a metrics dashboard, remember that it needs to be easily understood and usable by all people on your team.
If building an email requires extensive knowledge of HTML, you’re doing it wrong…
If there’s not clear and concise documentation, you’re doing it wrong…
If you are the bottleneck, you’re doing it wrong…
Think about what you do as running a small software company where the customers and users are your team.
What NPS score would you get? How much time do you spend on user support? What’s the state of your onboarding flow?
Ask yourself these questions often. It will make you and your team much happier and much more effective.
3. One elegant solution is worth a dozen hacks.
I get it: you’re busy. So am I, and so it everyone in MOps. Our colleagues want something; our bosses want even more; and nobody has any patience.
But! Every time you sacrifice the quality of your work in favour of a quick “hacky” fix, you create more work and headaches for your future self.
In software engineering, there’s a term I like called “technical debt.” Every time a developer takes a shortcut, hacks something together, or just writes dirty code, they contribute to the debt. And as the product becomes more complex and new features are added, this debt becomes deeper intertwined into the codebase, creating dependencies and making it harder and harder to fix.
Every time you add another Salesforce field for a one-off use case, solve global issues (like lead scoring or attribution) at the local program/campaign level, or just say “I know it’s not the right way to do it but whatever”, you’re not doing yourself any favours.
So stop. Take your time and think through the tasks in front of you. And then come up with elegant, sexy, scalable solutions.
Learn from others where you can. Ask for help if you need to. But please don’t “duct tape” your problems away. Because sooner or later, your hacks are coming to haunt you.
I really hope you’ve found these guiding principles helpful. Either way, let me know in the comments!
And if you want more, I’ve got good news…
Allocadia has created The Marketing Operations manifesto for you – a letter-sized poster that celebrates the role of marketing ops and the impact it has on marketing teams.
The manifesto is a collection of statements and quotes like the ones I talked about in this article. It can be seen as a useful reminder, a token of encouragement for when the pressure is on, or a challenge to always see your work as a craft and to put your heart and soul into it.
I think the manifesto is really cool and, needless to say, I was the first person to tape it to the wall by my desk, and replace the background image on my laptop as well.
If you want, you can get either the digital download or the printed poster (or both!), for free, so check it out and let me know what you think.
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