How Marketing Ops Can Prepare for 2022


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Planning for 2022 is just as complicated, if not more complicated than it was for 2021 when the trajectory of COVID-19 remained unknown.

Over the last month, we’ve been doing a lot of 2022 planning at my company. Budget planning, target setting, objectives and key results (OKRs), headcount — you name it. It’s a rite of passage for marketing ops and sales ops (yeah, yeah, revenue ops!) this time of year. 

What’s striking about this planning process vs. the same time last year, is the craziness I encountered last year which I expected to subside, has not. Granted I’m at a new company, but the fact remains that planning for 2022 is just as complicated, if not more complicated than it was for 2021.

While 2020 was the year of COVID-19, 2021 has been the Great Resignation, so I’ve been asking myself, “What will 2022 bring?” 

As I pondered this philosophical question, one theme stood out: 2022 is the year of “Introductions.”

Why introductions you ask? Well, chances are if you pull up your department’s current org chart and compare it to the org chart from a year ago, a lot has changed. In 2022 you will say goodbye to old colleagues and introduce yourself to new colleagues. You will say goodbye to the old processes your former colleagues owned and hello to new processes that your new colleagues will bring from their past. You will say goodbye to the flexible and dynamic goals of 2021 that were set in the midst of the pandemic, and you will be introduced to more aggressive goals now that business normalcy is (hopefully) creeping up on us.

In 2022, it will be the first time you introduce yourself in person to the new colleagues you’ve been working with for 20 months now. Will they be 5’3” or 6’3” is the question that’s always on my mind?!?

So in honor of 2022 being the year of Introductions, here are my marketing Ops tips for preparing for the new year:

Introduce the Idea of Additional Headcount in 2022

Don’t wait until someone on your team leaves and you are scrambling to stay afloat to realize your Ops team needs a bench. Have you ever heard of an Ops team that has people sitting around doing nothing? Of course not! There is always more work to be done by and for Ops. Ask for additional headcount now. 

Pro Tip: If it’s a budget problem, suggest that it’s budgeted to start midyear. That way you can start interviewing in Q1 or early Q2 to give yourself plenty of time to find the right candidate and also build out a roadmap that will require that additional person.

Related Article: Marketing Turnover Is Inevitable, But It Doesn’t Have to Be Painful

Introduce a TBD Line-Item in Your Marketing Ops Budget

You are probably the one managing the budget planning process, so this shouldn’t be as hard as it sounds. Everyone in Ops knows the marketing team will at some point next year need some new fancy tool, and they will say “I have money in my budget” and they will try to go buy it on their own. But if you have the budget available, then the power shifts in your favor and you can control the project and the evaluation.

Pro Tip: If your CMO doesn’t understand why you need this TBD money in your budget, then you need to do a better job educating your fearless leader about the importance of Ops and why Ops investment should lead to improved marketing ROI.

Introduce the Idea of Thinking Like a Research Librarian to Marketing Ops

My wife is a librarian, but this isn’t me trying to gain brownie points, I promise.

What I mean by this is marketing ops needs to constantly be doing research on its trade. They need to know the competitors of the tools they are using, the best practices for how to use the tools, the hot new technologies, and the latest and greatest trends in marketing analytics. The only way to do this is to dedicate time to read, research and network to become not just knowledgeable about marketing ops at your company, but to know what’s going on in the industry.

Related Article: CMOs: Your Marketing Ops Team Is a Secret Weapon

Introduce Your Team to Their Future Self

Employees are looking for something in their job and their career. To be honest, most of us have no idea what that thing is, but knowing what it could be can be very powerful. As a manager, a key part of your job is developing your people and setting a career path that challenges and excites them. Employees who can’t envision where their career path can take them at your company will find that path elsewhere.

If these tips aren’t resonating with you because you have plenty of people resources, and plenty of budget, and you are an omniscient marketing ops professional, and your career path is perfect, then I have one last piece of advice for you: re-introduce yourself. Take your marketing ops team on a roadshow across your organization, sharing your plan and your roadmap and how everyone can leverage the knowledge and expertise of the marketing ops team. They’ll thank you for the visibility and partnership in 2022, and hopefully you’ll thank me for suggesting these tips!

Justin Sharaf is a marketing and marketing operations leader who has worked at some of the biggest names in B2B and B2C during his 15+ year career. He is currently Vice President of Marketing Operations at Collibra.



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