How Marketing Ops Roles Are Primed for Growth in 2023


Trends in marketing switch fast, and organizations need to keep up to maneuver a changing landscape. Dr. Debbie Qaqish, principal & chief strategy officer at Pedowitz Group, shares the importance of embracing a change-ready attitude for marketing ops professionals and discusses how a growth mindset, agility and resilience can enable success in the years to come.

I was recently honored and thrilled to speak at a 2-day marketing conference for a private company in Milwaukee. The new CMO brought together many great speakers – both external and internal. The various sessions created a fantastic primer on the most critical elements of growth marketing and marketing operations. The 150+ folks in attendance paid attention (better than any group I’ve seen in a long time) and asked great questions.

My topic was “Primed for Growth.” It was the last session before the new CMO introduced her new marketing leadership team and closed the conference. All the prior conference sessions focused on growth marketing topics, elements of successful marketing operations, essential company knowledge, and various related groups and plans. I designed my session to be different. I created it to highlight the PEOPLE element in change. I wanted to look this group of 150 marketers in the eyes and challenge them to embrace and thrive in an environment of change. The messages from this talk are particularly true for marketing operations professionals.

See More: Why the Chief Customer Officer Will Overtake the CMO 

My Passion

Anyone who knows me or anything about my professional career knows I am passionate about forever changing how marketing is perceived and deployed in an organization. I call that revenue marketing, and it entails a 180-degree pivot for marketing supported by a strategic and aligned marketing operations organization. When I work with organizations on this type of transformation, I hear marketers say: Dr. Debbie, we want to change from being:

  • The pens and mugs department… to a data-driven business unit
  • The make it pretty support team…to a partner in revenue & growth
  • The email batch and blasters…to users of sophisticated, digital technology to execute new GTM strategies
  • A cost center…to a growth driver based on ROI

Since 2004, I’ve focused on helping marketing and marketing ops teams to navigate this kind of top-to-bottom transformation. Of course, I call it a revenue marketing transformation. As a professional, I’ve lived it, consulted on it, written about it, taught it, and earned a doctorate on it. Thankfully, it’s also what my company does daily for enterprise marketing teams.

Two Questions for You

As you look at being primed for growth and change in 2023, let me ask you two questions:

  1. Are you ready for growth and change?
  2. What will it take for you to be ready or more prepared?

If you are currently working in an organization experiencing a fair amount of change, take this quick poll to assess your readiness. Which statement rings most true for you?

  1. With all the changes going on, I feel like aliens have captured me, and I don’t speak the language!
  2. All this change sounds terrific, but I am more than a little nervous and apprehensive!
  3. I’m excited and motivated by all this change and ready to jump through walls to get it done!

OK….now you have a starting point for change and growth.

Three Characteristics Required for Growth and Change

You will find a tsunami of information about change and growth – both at a company and personal level. Let’s focus on three essential characteristics – a growth mindset, agility, and resilience.

1. A growth mindset

To better understand a growth mindset, let’s begin by looking at its antithesis – a fixed mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes their talents are innate gifts and cannot further develop and improve. People with a fixed mindset framework often avoid challenges to avoid failure. They also tend to ignore feedback, and the success of others often threatens them.

For much of human history, we believed in the fixed mindset framework. What talents and gifts you were born with were the ones with which you died? Thanks to further research on how the brain works (neuroplasticity), we know the brain can modify its connections or rewire itself. As a result, we continue to have the ability to learn new activities, skills, or languages even into old age.

Let’s contrast this fixed mindset with a growth mindset. An individual with a growth mindset believes their abilities and intelligence can further DEVELOP and IMPROVE through hard work, dedication, and learning. They see challenges as opportunities for growth and embrace failure as a source of learning. Individuals with a growth mindset have a more positive outlook on their abilities and believe that, with effort, they can achieve their goals.

The wrong mindset in action

How does the mindset – fixed or growth – affect a marketing department and a marketing team? Here’s an example. In March 2020, we were working with a new CMO of a technology company. This CMO was hired because this company needed marketing to become a revenue driver. As a result, our task was to build and operationalize a global marketing operations team and capability. As we began to work with the existing team, it was clear a cadre of individuals was not on board with the changes. They struggled to understand the new direction, the new marketing mix, and how to do their jobs. They were defensive, not coachable, and felt threatened by change. They did not see being part of building a brand-new global marketing operations organization as an exciting and defining career opportunity.

A growth mindset is the foundation of marketing performance and career progression. We must learn, grow, accept criticism, and put ourselves out there to keep up with consumers/clients trying desperately to stay one step ahead!

2. Agility

Agility is a popular topic for marketers regarding how business is run and as a singular characteristic of an individual. I want to talk about the latter. The pace and change we are all experiencing require us to be agile. Technology is forcing us to adopt new ways of doing and responding in every part of our lives. Just look at how technology has changed your work lives:

  • How many pieces of marketing technology do you now use daily?
  • How often do you learn a new marketing tool or understand more about an existing one?
  • How many pieces of work technology do you now use daily (Word, Excel, Slack, Zoom, etc.)?
  • How often do you learn a new work tool or learn more about an existing one?
  • How do you conduct business? How many virtual interactions vs. face-to-face interactions do you have daily? Emails vs. phone calls?
  • Does anyone really own a filing cabinet or have a landline phone anymore?

Compare the answers to these questions to how you might have answered them three years ago, five years ago, and ten years ago. A lot of change, right?

In addition to the change volume, we also see the acceleration of change. How much and quickly you needed to adapt, even three years ago, is very different from today. The adage that

Marketers with agility understand, adapt, and adjust quickly in an ever-changing environment. In addition, agile people do it with ease, grace, and quick thinking. Sounds a lot like working in marketing, right?

3. Resilience 

The last characteristic I’d like to discuss is resilience. This is your ability to recover quickly from difficulties, challenges, and setbacks. It requires psychological and emotional toughness to bounce back from adversity and adapt to new conditions. Resilient individuals have strong coping skills, a positive outlook, and a support system that helps them manage stress and overcome obstacles.

We see the need for resilience in our everyday lives and work lives. For the marketing operations professional, resilience is a defining characteristic. Individuals who are not resilient aren’t typically attracted to the role and don’t usually stay for long if they are in the position.

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Resilience In Action

Here is an example of resilience on a marketing operations team. Last year, I worked with an enterprise organization with a relatively new marketing operations department. About 60% of the team had traditional IT backgrounds, and the other 40% had digital marketing backgrounds. The two groups’ differences created problems, especially in helping marketing drive revenue. Rather than drowning in adversity, the team worked together to create a new set of goals and defined what skills were needed where. They also described missing skills. They then built cross-skilled work groups that delivered on the plans while cross-training and cross-educating the team.

Leading Change in Marketing Ops

Marketing operations professionals are at the forefront of change and often lead it in their organizations. As an individual marketing operations professional, taking the time to consider your change profile and how you actualize a growth mindset, agility, and resilience is time well spent. As a marketing operations manager, you might run this as a team exercise and use it during your hiring process. As the leader of a marketing operations function and capability, you want to ensure that a growth mindset, agility, and resilience define your team.

How are you instilling growth, agility and resilience into your marketing operations? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .

Image Source: Shutterstock


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