3 Problems Marketing Operations Can’t Solve

When Not to Hire a Marketing Operations team

We’ve talked quite a bit this season about marketing operations: what it is, why you need it, when you need it, and what you might be doing instead. But now it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Why wouldn’t you use marketing operations? There are three problems marketing operations can’t solve, and that’s what we’re discussing today.

Listen Season 3: Episode 20

What Marketing Is—and Isn’t

Marketing and sales are the lifeblood of an organization. Think about it: nothing can happen until people come and buy things. But shiny objects can distract us or give the illusion of shortcuts that don’t really exist.

I’ve seen organizations make the mistake of believing that a tactic is the silver bullet. This isn’t just a pitfall of marketing; it applies across all areas of business, but it’s particularly prevalent when it comes to marketing, likely because of the rise of automation and technology. Because the marketing operations field is new (and shiny), and technology can really have an amazing impact, sometimes organizations will think adding marketing operations, or rolling out a new app, will solve everything, and we all know that’s just not true.

Previously, I’ve talked about the marketing operations team being the pit crew for the marketing race team. To be clear here, marketing operations isn’t the race team nor the driver of the car. Marketing ops doesn’t decide which races are going to be run, but it does ensure the equipment is operational and optimized for the chosen races.

Marketing Operations Can’t Fix a Lack of Strategy

The first problem that marketing operations team can’t solve is a lack of strategy.

My new shortcut to test marketing strategy is if an organization can state:
We offer [what] to [whom] for [why].

Marketing operations cannot fix fuzzy offerings or define audiences. This is really the backbone of your strategy. If an organization or business is unclear here, please don’t try to automate or make anything more effective or efficient because you don’t know what you’re doing.

Marketing Operations Can’t Fix Messaging

The second place where marketing operations cannot help with is messaging. That is the connection between the pain, challenge, or problem of your audience to the solution you are offering. That messaging piece is critical to nail, more now than ever because there is so much noise in the market. Again, if you have a poor message, or if your message doesn’t resonate with the people who need and are willing to pay for your products or services, making that more efficient, more effective, or adding automation here is just adding fuel to the wrong fire. Instead of heating the house, you’re going to burn the place down.

Marketing Operations Can’t Generate Leads

Finally, marketing operations can’t solve a problem with leads. If you are not getting leads into the organization, there’s really nothing to automate yet. You have to have a proven channel strategy, an understanding of the campaigns you’re running, and where to find your customers before you start employing marketing technology, automation, and operations.

The Benefits of Knowing What Marketing Operation Cannot Fix

Being clear about where you are and what the priority is to fix in your organization is key to making sure that you’re going to hire, internally or externally, the right people and experts and employ the right systems to get where you want to go.

A lack of clear marketing strategy, not having a proven message, or starving for leads are challenges marketing operations can’t solve. These are not times to pull in a pit crew because your race car is in pieces, and you don’t know what kind of race you’re going to run.

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