The Other Alignment Problem That’s Not Sales & Marketing

Published: June 12, 2023

1rajaIf I had a proverbial penny for every time someone talked about misalignment between sales and marketing, I’d be living in the Cayman Islands. It’s not bad that this is such a common topic; B2B organizations should notice and improve it. But while this disconnect is important to understand, there’s another one that’s been brushed under the rug but is every bit as important: The misalignment between marketing leadership (e.g., the CMO) and marketing operations (MOps). Here’s more about why this matters and what you can do to make it better.

The Nature Of The Broken System

Marketing is often seen as a unified department that works in unison to achieve shared goals. In reality? It’s more of a dystopia. Usually, the CMO will set the strategic vision and then MOps will be responsible for executing on it. While that might seem like a reasonable arrangement, it’s the breeding ground for numerous problems.

To start, CMOs tend to be visionaries in terms of strategy while MOps professionals know how to take tactical steps toward execution. So, when a CMO tells MOps the strategy they need to have executed, there’s a very good chance they don’t understand what it takes to actually do so.

The CMO might recommend implementing a certain technology and associated strategy, for example. But even though the idea might be a good one in theory, the CMO might not realize that executing on it is impossible given current tech constraints and systems. So, what gives?

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Should MOps tell the CMO they need a new strategy? Well, they could try… but they usually won’t. Instead, they end up trying to maneuver the strategy to fit their tools, which often dilutes the original strategic intent or makes the whole ideal unravel. To say the process is neither efficient nor effective is an understatement.

The Status Quo Needs To Change

CMOs typically have excellent ideas, but they’re also used to operating at the highest level. They set strategies that are important and well-intentioned, like improving the bottom line, but they’re also incredibly broad. How do you even start to execute against something like that?

Additionally, there are parts of the execution that only hands-on practitioners really grasp. For example, the organization’s target audience, tech stack, customer engagement and more can make a difference in how a strategy is implemented. If the CMO doesn’t have direct visibility into these very tactical elements, it makes sense they wouldn’t know how to best shape their strategy around them.

It’s also helpful for such strategies to be rooted in process, people and technology. Their buyers’ buying cycles should be considered, as should the extent of their internal systems. A CMO setting a strategy on their own might be able to effectively grow brand awareness, but without knowledge of all these factors, they won’t be able to drive revenue like they want to.

How To Get It Right

While this might all seem like it’s pointing fingers at the CMO, it’s not intended to. Siloed organizations are usually that way because of how the business is structured and/or years of operating in a disjointed fashion. CMOs are usually doing their best; they’re just not set up to succeed.

Fortunately, the solution to fixing this marketing to marketing (M2M) relationship is actually relatively simple: It requires both parties getting in a room and collaborating about the marketing strategy before it becomes permanent. This way, the CMO can share what they are trying to achieve with the strategy they’re envisioning, and then MOps can offer insights into how feasible such a strategy is given all the factors covered in this article.

It’s worth noting that MOps’ contributions should go beyond simply telling the CMO that a strategy won’t work. They should use data analysis, tech evaluation and performance measurement to help inform the strategy and back up their opinions. Then, once a strategy is formed that everyone agrees is both realistic and promising, MOps can weigh in on how to optimize marketing processes so the execution can be done more smoothly.

The M2M misalignment problem is just as imperative to fix as the one between sales and marketing. Luckily, it’s not a hard one to solve; it just requires both parties being willing to share their individual insights and work together to create the right strategy and tactics that put the organization’s best interests first. As with all things in business, a lot can be improved by simply breaking down barriers and prioritizing honest, constructive communication.

Raja Walia is the CEO of GNW Consulting, a data-driven marketing automation agency.

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