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I attended the – first, ever! – MO Pros Summer Camp in Atlanta. Here are my 5 key takeaways

I attended the – first, ever! – MO Pros Summer Camp in Atlanta. Here are my 5 key takeaways


By Danae Moya, MBA, MCIM (@danaemoy_a)


I was recently introduced to the MO Pros community by a fellow marketer on twitter and I was instantly intrigued. The conceptual idea of a community intended for – and led by – marketing operations (MO) professionals got me excited and curious to know more. Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Summer Camp organized by MO Pros in Atlanta, GA on behalf of HubSpot.


MO Pros Summer Camp 2021: Developing Marketing Operations Excellence


A common thread among marketers is that we often take an unusual path that eventually leads us to marketing operations. Although my personal journey has not been particularly unusual in discipline (perhaps more in geography), what I found remarkable about the MO Pros Summer Camp was that the overall event theme & content resonated with most -if not all- MO professionals in attendance, irrespective of their particular area of practice or level of experience.


So, here are my 5 key takeaways from the 1st MO Pros Summer Camp 2021 in Atlanta, GA:


1. Growing impact of communities. “None of us are smarter than all of us


The underlying theme of the inaugural MO Pros event was that creating and being part of a community is unequivocally beneficial, both to its members and its wider industry. 


Mike Rizzo, founder of MO Pros, started out by introducing MO Pros as a “community-led, always” organization that intends to be a safe place for MO professionals of all backgrounds. Its philosophy is about celebrating diversity of thought and looking for ways of bringing value to its members. At the end of the day “it’s all about connecting and learning from one another.”


Later in the day, Michael Tucker, The Conversion Store Founder and Marketo Group Leader, reinforced this message during a passionate take on the importance of MO Pros’ community-led mission. “What makes this community different from others, is that it is agnostic; you may work for competitors but you still share the same values. It goes to show that ‘none of us is as smart as all of us’.” [Kenneth H. Blanchard]


As MOs professionals may experience moments of loneliness or isolation, whether in smaller organizations (where they are often a team of one), or in larger organizations (where large company structures often lead to siloes), finding a ‘tribe’ that is both inclusive and enabling MOs to learn and grow can be incredibly valuable, especially in a post Covid-19 world. 


2. The Marketing identity crisis  


A common pain point many marketing professionals experience today is misperception, or rather, a seeming discrepancy between expectations and reality of the MO scope in today's organizations. Helena Abramova unpacked this complexity by breaking down what a functioning Marketing Operations Maturity Model looks like; from enabling change, transforming strategies to driving impactful results. “MO is no longer just a job. Virtually everything in a business organization today is somehow linked to marketing”


One the one hand, she argued, MOs have become a lot more ‘mainstream’, and MO professionals get exposed to more non-MOPs teams for cross-collaboration. 


On the other hand, there is an increasing tendency for specialized full-time professionals that has become more “technical”, both in job descriptions and within organization structure/org charts. As a result, the job market has become more challenging for all stakeholders involved. 


The reality today is that MO progression is non-linear and the approach that needs to be taken depends on which state of the MO maturity lifecycle each marketer is at. 


The only way that we, as marketers, can take ownership of our professional and operational identities is to aim for clarity, make a genuine effort to understand others and seek frequent alignment conversations with key stakeholders, both within MOs teams but even more so outside direct reporting lines. “We almost need to become life coaches,'' said Helena Abramova (to which most of us enthusiastically nodded in agreement). 


3. The importance of strategic envisioning & planning


Another recurring theme was the importance of understanding the need/problem, testing proposed solutions and evaluating post-implementation.


“Nowadays about 60% of integrations fail,” shared Stephanie Pounders, SpaceIQ Marketing Operations Manager, “and most of the time it’s due to poor planning”. 


She shared four overarching steps that contribute to a successful integration:

  1. Plan, plan and plan some more
  2. Transfer what you can and create what you can't
  3. Test everything
  4. Turn off old tool


Along the same line of thought, Brandon Benjamin, Spear Marketing Group Senior Marketing Technology Consultant and Marketo Champion, emphasized the importance of project planning and understanding the scope of a transition before implementing it. 


“When things don't go well, there will most likely be some “finger pointing”, not to mention the human capital loss as well as the project loss that will need to be accounted for. An easy way to minimize risk is by owning the process even if it is not directly to MOs, and ensuring alignment with all parties involved.” 


The importance of alignment was also echoed by Taylor Enfinger, Annuitas Demand Technology Senior Director and Katarina Su, Annuitas Demand Technology Senior Consultant, as they explained how to go about setting up a revenue cycle model. “Involving the sales and sales enablement teams from the beginning is imperative in driving any meaningful insights when analyzing data reports.”


4. MOs deal with a lot more data & channels than ever before


Mike Kaput, Marketing AI Institute Chief Content Officer, addressed the increase in the amount of data, content and channels that MOs are being exposed to today.


“Our ability to filter through the noise is limited. As a result, we are falling behind. And whether we are mentally prepared for it or not, 80% of what marketers do today will be intelligently automated to some degree in the next 3-5 years. A McKinsey Global Institute research estimates $6 trillion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other analytics on marketing and sales.”


AI can help with a lot of the challenges that marketers face today, and – contrary to what people may think – it’s not necessary to know everything about AI. 


An easy way to identify AI use cases are to ask three simple questions:

  • Is it data driven?
  • Is it repetitive?
  • Is it making a prediction?


But it should also be noted that AI may not always be the right tool. And the only way to know is to start trying out small scale projects and then see what problem it is trying to solve for. 


As M.H. Lines, Stack Moxie CEO, put it: “How do we, as marketing operations professionals, make the big strategic stuff applicable with the technology that can support it?


5. From “Button pushers” vs “Strategic cross-functional executives” 


Despite the variety of tools that have been developed, at the end of the day “marketing is not about the technology, but about the impact it has on the business”, says Dr. Debbie Qaqish, author of “From Backroom to Boardroom” and The Pedowitz Group Chief Strategy Officer.


Dr. Qaqish has spoken with a variety of senior MOs executives during her doctoral research and, despite the diversity of individual backgrounds and industries, she discovered some recurring themes among senior MOs leaders. 


A common sentiment regarding marketing and technology was about not only learning how to use the newest technology tools, but also asking questions such as “How can we best optimize the technology that is available to us?”. This process of being intentional with new technology is what she referred to as reaching an “efficient and effective stage” within an organization.


But another common thread among senior executives today is the enormous pressure for revenue performance. The question CMOs ask themselves today is: “How do I take that power of technology and data to help me make the biggest impact on revenue for my organization?”


In terms of strategy, the pace of digital evolution has brought the customer to the center of operations. Consequently, organizations are quickly pivoting their business models in order to, not only bring the customer to the front, but also to seek better and more effective engagement.  


“This is the single biggest opportunity for a MOs team to shine. The transition of focusing on the customer instead of the product is becoming a strategic imperative in organizations, and that will continue to be the priority moving forward.”  

I hope you found these takeaways valuable. Feel free to reach out to me via twitter @danaemoy_a or email at letstalk@danaemoya.com to share your own takeaways or continue the conversation.