What is Marketing Operations? A Primer

We’re spilling the deets on what marketing operations *actually* means and the easiest ways to keep your teams in sync.

June 4, 2024
5 min

When we think about marketing operations, some of the first (stressful) thoughts that come to mind are the tedious processes, searching for emails, and lost time that could have been spent, ya know, *actually* creating. 

We know stakeholders are looking closely at process efficiency and impact as two of their top KPIs, so how can we craft our marketing operations in a way that’s beneficial in their eyes and effective for our workflow?

Not to worry — we’ve put together a blueprint for what marketing operations is and how to build a successful ops process. 

What is marketing operations (MOps) anyway?

What marketing ops is vs. what it isn't

Sounds great and all, but how do we put this into practice? 

3 Ways to Stick to Your Scope

Whether you’re a seasoned team or a solopreneur just starting out, it’s easy to find yourself being a yes-person with stakeholders. Read: scope-creep, more revisions than agreed upon, spending all day on calls and emails—you name it, we’ve probably said yes to it. Sigh.  

When outlining the marketing operations process for a new project, set expectations from the start. Share specific deliverables, reasonable timelines, and outline clear communication expectations—i.e., no surprises. How do you go about this, other than just a walk-through call?

1. Google Sheet

If your stakeholders are excel-lovers, this is the perfect way to plug into a format they’re already familiar with. 

2. Timeline Deck

For visual learners, showcase timelines and workflows in this presentation format to help bring concreteness to what might otherwise get interpreted as ~elusive~ ideas and processes. 

3. Project Management Tool

Our favorite way—a platform that helps streamline end-to-end marketing operations all in one place for cross-collaborative teams. (Hmm, that sounds a lot like what we do here at Plot… 👋) 

5 Tips to Artfully Manage Up

When there’s a snag in your process because you’re waiting on a to-do (or multiple to-dos) from your stakeholders or clients, it’s time to manage up. Not sure how to approach the conversation? Here are a few ways that feel less like pointing fingers and more like routine opportunities to ask for what you need:

1. Weekly Check-Ins

Slate recurring meetings to chat through questions, needs, and updates in real-time with your stakeholders. Sometimes getting on Zoom is more efficient than slipping through email cracks.   

2. Weekly Recaps

Get your stakeholders in the habit of reviewing a weekly topline recap. You’re covering your bases and sharing outstanding needs with your partners while helping them stay up to speed.

3. Automated Slack Stand Up

Are your teams on Slack? Take advantage of the Slackbot feature to schedule an automated message at the end of every week. It’s a low-lift way to remind stakeholders to ask any questions, raise red flags, or align on priorities.     

(P.S. Plot’s integration with Slack gives you the latest updates on your projects, like when feedback is requested or a project is delayed, so you never miss a beat.) 

4. Track Changes

If new to-dos start creeping onto your list, document the scope changes so you can either a) show that you’re outside scope and re-evaluate contracts or b) pinpoint where to scale back.

5. Video Walkthrough 

When everyone’s schedules are too crammed for a meeting, send a Loom instead. Walk through any questions, roadblocks, feedback, or other loose ends, and send the video to your teams to review. Think of it like a [insert your name]-gram. ツ

3 Methods for Continuous Project Transparency 

Don’t get it twisted; the thought of partners having visibility into our projects is nerve-wracking, to say the least. Buuuut, clearly tracking everything in one place so we’re on the same page makes it all worth it. We’d recommend: 

1. Meeting Recaps

You’re probably already jotting down updates and action items from your calls, so send the spark notes to keep everyone looped in (without asking).

2. Highlight Important Threads

Whether there’s conversation in a Slack channel or updates happening on email, note the key info in a running document or shared notes space for an at-a-glance project status. 

3. Build a Resource Hub

For everyone’s sanity, house all documents, links, and notes in one place that’s easy to find, track, and check in on for updates, feedback, and decisions. To take notes and keep track of links, Notion can be a great tool (that’s also easy on the eyes). If you’re making announcements and looking for an intranet-style platform, give Guru a try. 

3 Questions to Ask Re: Resourcing

This is an internal tip for those still getting their bearings managing marketing operations. Behind the scenes, you might consider tracking your team’s capacity to better plan for future project allocation. Keep these in mind: 

1. Who is Needed?

As you start on projects, you’ll begin to understand what skill sets your team needs. While each project is inherently unique, the basic framework of who makes it possible should roughly stay the same.

2. How Long Does it Take to Deliver?

If you’re working with the same team on similar projects, you’ll learn how long it takes each person to deliver in their area, which helps to refine timelines.

3. What's Everyone's Bandwidth?

Hand-in-hand with fine-tuned timelines, you can also better gauge how many projects the team has bandwidth for. Then, you know if it’s time to take on a new project or pump the breaks. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Marketing Ops 

1. What’s the difference between marketing and marketing operations? 

Think of it like your left- and right brain. Marketing operations is your left brain; it’s all about processes, deadlines, and decisions. Marketing is your right brain; it’s the strategic initiatives and creative outputs that come together thanks to your operations. 

2. What’s an example of marketing operations? 

One word: systems. Find a system that works best for your teams and stick with it. Maybe that’s a running Google doc that acts as a shared resource hub for links, tasks, and dates. Or, it could be using an operations platform that does it all for you, à la Plot, to create a centralized source of truth. 

3. Why do you need marketing ops? 

Let’s face it—there are a lot of moving parts to any great project, and when you have disjointed processes (or no process at all), it’s tough to keep up. With a marketing operations system in place, you can manage your project, timelines, and people more effectively and efficiently.

The Wrap Up

TL;DR? Marketing operations management is not the enemy; it can be your BFF when done well. The perfect process doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get close. 

If you’re wondering where to implement these ideas, Plot might be just what you’re looking for to keep even the most asynchronous teams and stakeholders in sync. Our beta program is open and ready to simplify your world of marketing operations. Let’s do less, together! 

(Marketing operations? Check. Creative operations? Errrm…not so much. Don’t stress; we’ve got you covered in our guide to creative ops.)