5 Operational Marketing Challenges Every Transformational Leader Must be Prepared to Overcome

If you’re like me, you’ve likely been following the news about Hurricane Harvey and the devastation in South Texas, or closely tracking Hurricane Irma as it rips through the Caribbean and now takes aims at South Florida and the eastern seaboard.

While the immediate impact of these massive storms has been and will continue to be devastating, the mayhem created in their wake will ripple-on for months ahead. From the colossal costs of recovery and reconstruction to spiking fuel prices, these natural disasters will likely touch every American in one way or another. Mayhem on this scale is impossible to imagine for most of us – until it actually hits home.

For years, my wife’s family had a home in the Florida Keys. We dreaded the beginning of every hurricane season as they battened-down the hatches and prepared to ride out devastating storms with names like David, Andrew, and Opal. Mayhem was at the doorstep at the end of each Summer, it couldn’t be managed away. However, through advanced preparation and storm-readiness techniques, much of the risk could be mitigated and the ultimate damage minimized.

While the day-to-day disasters for marketers are not so dire or life-threatening, there are many lessons from hurricane preparedness that can be applied to mitigate risks and disturbances to the business from marketing mayhem.

If you already caught our recent webinar on Marketing Mayhem you may already be ahead of the curve; but here are five common marketing operations challenges that every transformational leader should be prepared to overcome if they want their marketing team to generate “TopRight quadrant” performance:

1. Assure that “important” activity is not distracting from the achievement of “urgent” strategic outcomes

The activities of marketing operations are, by their very nature, tactical.  As a result, sometimes the important tactics consume more time and money than they should and do not align with more strategic outcomes that the business needs.

Whether it’s designing lead nurturing workflows within your marketing automation tool, making sure CTAs (calls-to-action) are linking correctly, or ensuring the creative assets for your content campaign are getting out at the right time., it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of marketing operations. You’re not alone if you’ve asked yourself “wait… what is our strategy”.

Transformational marketers should lead with strategic questions like:

  • How do these tasks tie back to our overarching strategy?
  • What’s our goal for this tactic?
  • Does that goal align with our strategy?

If your marketing team can’t clearly and succinctly answer these questions – it’s time to rethink priorities and reallocate resources.

2. As demands for action and results rise, make sure your team has “extra fuel in the tank”

In our most recent survey of marketers about their experience with marketing mayhem, 72% of marketers reported that managing the capacity of their marketing teams was a challenge that needed to be prioritized.

Solving for capacity starts with visibility. By creating a clear view of your teams’ capacity, you are enabled to shift resources internally to meet changing demands. Also by creating a clear view, you are able to understand where there may be any potential skill gaps. This can be very helpful when you are trying to accurately determine which tasks need to be outsourced.

3. Establish a framework for making tradeoffs when outcomes are unclear and you need to abandon assets

Many marketers today still don’t have clarity when it comes to evaluating return on marketing investments or a framework for understanding how different marketing assets transform their relationship with a target audience and their buying journey.

In fact, 67% of marketers in our Marketing Mayhem survey reported that quantifying return on marketing investment continues to be a challenge for them. As a business leader, if more than two-thirds of my marketing team couldn’t tell me what was making money for the business, I’d be (rightfully) worried!

All marketing spend on media and asset creation should be very visible. There should never be any “black holes” in your budget. By creating clear visibility towards where dollars are being spent, it also makes it much easier to abandon assets and campaigns that are not working and reallocate those resources to efforts that are proving better returns.

4. Keep track of “leading indicators and “outcome-oriented” measurements that matter

With marketers leaning towards a marketing technology stack of multiple point solutions, it’s no surprise that marketers would struggle with measuring results. Having to pull data points across an average of 91 cloud services can’t be good for the capacity issues mentioned before, but it certainly can’t be good if you’re trying to measure marketing effectiveness.

Having a clear criterion for adding marketing technology solutions to your tool belt is critical. What problem will the technology solve for? Does it integrate smoothly? Are we creating a solution today that will become a problem tomorrow?

5. Avoid playing whack-a-mole and getting stranded in the mayhem

Marketing operations requires a holistic approach. If you treat each moment of mayhem as an individual event, you’ll never win. A holistic approach is the only way to control the chaos. It’s imperative for marketing operations to first get aligned internally. By having an aligned team and a more transparent structure, organizations can eliminate duplicate tasks and reinvest the time, money, and effort in activities that drive the most ROI.

Our research pointed towards a multitude of pain points across all 5 essentials of the marketing value chain. Mayhem is such a pain because it’s pervasive. Just when you think you’ve mastered the mayhem of getting budgeting and planning aligned, mayhem pops up within your distribution processes.

So while you may not have spaghetti plot charts showing you exactly where your marketing mayhem will come from this week, if you’re not certain that your team has a grasp on the five essentials you can feel confident that mayhem is headed your way. Marketing mayhem isn’t just a problem for the lost time your teams go through, but you risk putting your customer relationships at danger.

By knowing the common signs of marketing mayhem, you can take proactive measures to prevent the chaos from getting out of control. Learn how to identify and overcome these problems in our whitepaper Overcoming Mayhem: 5 Common Marketing Challenges and Their Solutions.


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