Marketing Operations Play Growing Role in Bringing Much-Needed Agility to CUs

Cecilia Nysing
Source: Shutterstock

Over the past year, marketers of credit unions have had to adapt to rapid changes in consumers’ behavior, as well as physical branch closures and work-from-home arrangements. Many marketing organizations are grappling with how to make fast and effective decisions. Traditional approaches to annual/quarterly campaign planning, budget management and workflows hinder their ability to respond to the changing landscape at a moment’s notice. These marketing teams need to quickly and effectively shift course to address new realities on the ground – they need agility to change weekly, daily and even hourly to fully engage consumers, ensuring relevance and a high-quality experience.

The importance of agile marketing operations has, arguably, never been more acute to:

  • Reduce or reallocate budgets around the U.S. or globally at a moment’s notice;
  • Shift focus on managing a measurable number of city offices to support a myriad of “home offices” with thousands of work-from-home contributors inside and outside the organization; and
  • Improve visibility and control over thousands of marketing assets that must be added, removed, changed and customized for each campaign.

Before financial marketing got as complex and fast-paced as it is now, it was easier for chief marketing officers of credit unions to focus on the core tasks like creating campaigns. “Operations” was an overlooked and under-appreciated part of marketing tactics assigned to young marketers as “proving ground” and an opportunity to learn the business from the ground up. It was not high on the CMO’s list.

Now in a new wave of digital marketing, the marketing operations function has grown up quickly. No longer the backwater of the department, operations is taking a central role in the intelligence, development and management of the marketing function. It is paramount, and it is strategic. It is the difference between marketing groups functioning smoothly and responding to marketplace challenges and opportunities and those that are not.

Marketing operations is now the central nervous system of the whole marketing function. As such, it provides the neural impulses that:

  • Inform headquarters about what is happening in each country or business unit, and communicate headquarters’ messages to the regions;
  • Coordinate the creation, customization and distribution of content around the country/world;
  • Optimize the way each unit or member of the enterprise team contributes to the whole, so the organizational muscle is exhausted or under-utilized;
  • Monitor how the budget is flowing around the country/world, report how quickly it is being used and converted into useful outputs, and redistribute funds to yield better results; and
  • Connect marketing with other functional systems such as sales and finance.

Today, approximately 80% of daily work is focused on operations and determines how well everyone in the organization operates. It drives best practices to enable CMOs to digitize marketing operations to weather the current storm and come out stronger on the other end.

Key areas and best practices it enables include:

Organizing budgets in real-time: Because marketing today must contribute to the credit union’s success, CMOs and their teams need to approach marketing planning and management from a financial perspective and always report and react to changes. Accordingly, marketing budgeting should be run by marketers for marketers, and in a way that equips them for smart data-based, real-time decisions and business discussions with the CFO and CEO.

Mature marketing operations give marketers the ability to plan, iterate, manage, control and optimize their budget from a fully comprehensive marketing perspective. CMOs and their teams gain new-found agility with real-time visibility into and control over the entire marketing budget.

Streamlining marketing and campaign planning: Marketing requires efficiency, speed and control: Today, large companies ($1 billion-plus) manage 12 times as many agencies and six times as many campaigns – but only have 15% of the time to implement them (Source: GISTICS Executive Insights). With the right martech platform, marketers can save time and money while improving effectiveness and efficiency in running campaigns and other marketing projects, across multiple stakeholders and regions aligned on the overall strategy in an agile manner. Specifically, they can accelerate production cycle times and go-to-market times while reducing project cancelations and agency iterations.

Optimizing the content creation process: Marketing operations technology can also directly trigger the content-creation process so marketing leaders can more efficiently create, distribute and launch the new content they need to address pressing challenges. For instance, if you are turning an in-person conference into a virtual event, you can simplify the content-development process by more efficiently assigning tasks to internal and external partners, and quickly making assets available for review, editing or publishing.

Building brand consistency: It is more important than ever for everyone within an organization to follow the same guidelines and act in unison at a time of constant market change. A martech system can also help ensure that all your product marketing information is current across all your geographies and that the latest, correct branding is used for every financial product/service in every market/city at every moment. Efficient marketing operations is key to better managing budget, communication, and content production around these brands.

Operations can power your team ahead, but if not adequately supported, it can slow the team, drain its energy and confound its direction. In other words, the operations process is already adding to the marketing ROI … or not.

Credit unions that recognize automating marketing processes and workflows will strengthen member service, provide streamlined communication, and enable new and compelling marketing campaigns. In addition, they’ll optimize spending to be better placed on advancing their digital transformation journeys and coming out strong through this pandemic.

Mirko Holzer Mirko Holzer

Mirko Holzer is Founder and CEO of BrandMaker, a global provider of marketing software with headquarters in Atlanta and Germany.

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