According to the old Irish proverb, “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.” Lucky indeed, because a true friend tells you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. As prolonged economic unpredictability introduces the potential for short-termism, CMOs must look to their marketing ops leader as their good friend who tells them the truth. Only with mutual symbiosis between CMOs and the marketing ops leader can organizations demonstrate the perpetual value that marketing brings to the business.

The hypothesis behind Forrester’s Planning Guide 2023: B2B Marketing Executives is that prolonged unpredictability of the global economy will drive short-termism (giving priority to immediate revenue and quickly executed programs), exposing marketing executives to unprecedented budget scrutiny and justification. As the CMO’s four-leaf clover, the marketing ops leader plays a critical role in guiding budget opportunities to safeguard an organization’s long-term survival and support growth.

For B2B marketing decision-makers at high-growth (greater than 20% annual revenue growth) companies, the top three priorities requiring focus to support marketing’s goals and objectives over the next 12 months are to address changing buyer behaviors, implement a purpose-driven brand, and focus on postsale customer engagement. CMOs must partner with their good friend, the marketing ops leader, to:

  • Address changing buyer behaviors. Marketing operations leaders who play a more strategic role can orchestrate the execution of a CMO’s vision and directly tie it to the company’s goals, marketing’s goals, and campaigns’ goals. In fact, Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2022, shows that high-growth companies are two times more likely to revise the integrated campaign planning process to address changing buyer behaviors than companies that are flat to declining in revenue.

Action: CMOs must work with marketing ops leaders to place emphasis on orchestrating the planning and measurement processes holistically and reduce the marketing ops leader’s administrative, back-office efforts that primarily support demand operations.

  • Implement a purpose-driven brand. B2B companies often struggle to measure brand and reputation performance. As organizations look to shift the perceptions of the brand to be purpose driven, measures must be in place that manifest the impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) activities.

Action: Marketing ops must help CMOs report on the organization’s social impact by measuring the brand differentiation created through any CSR and/or ESG initiatives. Social impact metrics can include, but are not limited to, brand perceptions, new customer acquisition, customer retention, and cost efficiencies, as well as partner engagement and employee retention.

  • Focus on postsale customer engagement. In other words, treat retention and growth within the account with the same operational and measurement lenses as new demand. The first sale into any new account always serves as the entrée to postsale customer revenue opportunities through cross-sell, upsell, and retention. Yet, many B2B organizations do not include retention, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities in their waterfalls for measuring and reporting on postsale engagement effort.

Action: To rigorously track postsale opportunities, CMOs need to support their marketing ops leader by hiring a dedicated headcount to move from a lead-based to an opportunity-based waterfall so that all opportunity types are tracked and marketing is viewed as a more integral part of the business.

You Don’t Need Luck Because You Have Ops

CMOs will always be expected to demonstrate marketing’s value to the business, even more so in the coming year. If “value” continues to be portrayed as only sourced and influenced pipeline, then marketing will be seen as a siloed branch expected to drive pipeline. The marketing operations function directly contributes to an organization’s ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences and attain revenue growth. Only when the CMO and marketing ops leaders work together as true allies can they improve perceptions of marketing’s role, the value it delivers to the business, and the return on marketing investment.

Forrester clients can schedule guidance sessions to talk about their specific challenges. If you’re not a client and would like to learn more, please reach out.

Two hands holding a four leaf clover.
Image source: Pexels