How to Get Senior Leadership Onboard with Marketing Operations

BY: Lindsay Fay

PUBLISHED: 3/22/2022

Does your senior leadership team understand the function of marketing operations?

If you answered no, you’re not alone.

A study conducted by MarketingOps found that the larger an organization is, the less likely marketing operations professionals feel understood in their role. Despite the fact that 93 percent of B2B marketers believe marketing operations is crucial in delivering digital transformations, there’s still some progress to be made when it comes to getting senior leadership onboard.

That brings us to our question: how can we get senior leadership onboard to realize the full value of marketing operations?

Two words: storytelling and technology

When the elements of storytelling and technology are merged together, a clear link is drawn between marketing operations and concrete results.

In this blog, we’ll talk about elevating the conversation to the executive level. We’ll arm you with the tactics and strategies for driving tech adoption, including:

  • Common misunderstandings leadership has about the strategic nature of marketing operations
  • Key insights that will change their mind
  • Tips to communicate these insights effectively

Alexandre Pelletier, EVP of Platforms at MERGE, and Mike Rizzo, founder of MarektingOps, led a session on this topic at the 2022 Adobe Summit? Watch the full video.

Marketing operations, defined

Before you can get senior leadership onboard with marketing operations, you’ll need to first align on the function of marketing operations. So, what is marketing operations?

Marketing operations is the art and science around connecting the right technology with the proper processes, people, and training. Setting the direction for internal communications, workflows, and processes, marketing operations allows marketers to work with efficiency toward one common and defined business objective through proven frameworks and data analysis.

When communicating with senior leadership on the value of marketing operations, always remember to speak their language. They’ll want to hear big picture things, like how marketing operations impact revenue. We recommend coming prepared with statistics to make your case stronger. (We’ll provide some statistics a little further down).

So, why are marketing operations teams misunderstood, and how can we flip this perception on its head?

The State of the Marketing Ops Professional report found that marketing operations teams are being pulled in a million different directions. They don’t feel understood on the true function of marketing operations, and 32 percent of respondents don’t have a defined MOps team or role.

When asked what is the biggest thing your company could do to better support MOps, the study found these were the two most popular answers amongst respondents:

  • Hiring and headcount
  • Senior leaders to understand what we do in MOps

Now you may be wondering -  what does it look like when senior leadership understands the value of marketing operations? Let’s paint a picture:

  • Cross-functional teams are working together to achieve growth and revenue
  • Resources are readily available, including headcount to manage workload
  • Automations are in place to reduce inefficiencies that cost your company money
  • Investment in business insights and modeling
  • Marketing operations team are being fairly compensated

With all that said, how do we change the minds of senior leadership?

Key insights to get senior leadership onboard with marketing operations

As mentioned above, you’ll want to come prepared with statistics that measure the effectiveness of marketing operations. Think of the big picture, and how marketing operations impacts the organization as a whole.

The benefits of marketing operations

  • Grow Revenue: Marketing operations impacts revenue by gaining an understanding of customer interests and patterns. As a result, MOPs are able to generate higher-quality leads to pass onto the sales team.
  • Improve Customer Experience: Genesys found that companies who make customer experience an investment priority have better revenue growth (59 percent vs 40 percent) and are more profitable (64 percent vs. 47 percent) than companies that don’t prioritize the customer experience.
  • Achieve Impact and Efficiency: According to Gartner, only 15 percent of organizations are able to achieve impact and efficiency with their marketing efforts. So, how can the remaining 85 percent of organizations achieve impact and efficiency? Processes and frameworks are the answer. Utilizing processes and frameworks allows your organization to do more with less - resulting in a more efficient and productive organization.
  • Better Alignment With Sales: With greater visibility into real-time customer information, MOps teams can pass insights to the sales team to help them be more competitive and win more deals. When B2B organizations have tightly integrated marketing and sales operations, Sirius Decisions (Division of Forrester) found that they’ll see 24 percent faster three-year revenue growth and 27 percent faster three-year profit growth.

“The best companies are more than 40% more productive than the rest. And this difference in productivity results in significantly higher profits — operating margins 30%–50% higher than industry peers — and faster growth.” Harvard Business Review


Elements involved in securing senior leadership buy-in

To help you structure your quest on securing executive buy-in, we’ve developed a simple framework called SAFARI.

  • Sponsorship: You’ll want to find an executive sponsor who will help tell your story amongst their peers. Since a majority of MOPs report to the CMO, the path of least resistance would be to arm your own CMO with materials to socialize marketing operations initiatives and successes more broadly.
  • Alignment: Make sure senior leadership understands the functions of marketing operations while also focusing on sales and marketing alignment. With all roads leading to revenue, aligning with your revenue-generating arm, the sales team, is a path to success.
  • Frame the Conversation: You’ll want to put yourself in senior leadership’s shoes. Begin by framing your marketing operations story, which should be relevant to senior leadership’s goals. Lead with the facts, outline the problem, and provide the recommended solution with confidence, all while keeping your story relevant.
  • Attract Raving Fans: Simply put, you’ll want to create a buzz around your work.
  • Revenue Path: Document and share a path to revenue. We recommend taking a look at attribution tech like Bizible, for example.
  • Impact on Business: Lastly, you’ll want to show the business impact of marketing operations. Be sure to share process improvements, documentation, and exactly how you’re automating manual processes.

Now that you’ve crafted your message, ensure you’re prepared to present this plan with senior leadership.

Tips to communicate with senior leadership

Securing buy-in requires change management, and a key tenet of any change management framework is communication.

Change management is the differentiator between well-run projects that have adoption and projects that are released but struggle to gain traction internally.

Any work that requires a process change will involve a change cycle for the affected team members, so come prepared with a change management strategy. Take a look at our change management strategy below for inspiration!

The three phases of change management communication

  • Pre-initiative: You’ll want to prepare your team for change before it happens. We recommend having an informal and open dialogue with team members covering pain points within your processes. This will be the time to hear individual concerns, discuss roles during and after the initiative, and secure buy-in. You’ll also want to communicate your plan with senior leadership at this time. Don’t forget to follow up accordingly!
  • In-initiative: In this stage, you’ll establish functional communication paths to team members who are executing the work, as well as the early adopters and leaders from across the organization who are key stakeholders. We recommend using daily communication and summaries to provide shared and rapid visibility into blockers. For senior leaders, prepare a less frequent, high-level update. If additional resources are needed or if there are blockers, outline those and explain what is needed and by when to stay on track.
  • Post-initiative: This is where the adoption and change actually happen. You’ll want to deliver group training and one-on-one working sessions to encourage new process integration into existing workstreams. Provide an executive summary to the senior leadership focused on the results and define what’s next. Remember: senior leaders are always thinking about what’s next!


And lastly, remember these two strategies when going through change:

  • Put People’s Needs At the Top: By being proactive and taking a people-first approach to change management, you can alleviate much of the tension and apprehension surrounding change. Develop a detailed communication plan that identifies direct and indirect stakeholders and outlines who, what, when, and how they will be informed of the reasons for and the benefits of the change, as well as the path forward for getting there.
  • Provide Opportunities for Wins, Early and Often: Leveraging earlier wins as evidence of the potential of future wins is an incredible way to get even more mileage out of the hard work that your team has already provided and to give them an incentive to strive to do their best again.


Does your organization need help achieving ROI from Marketo? Learn how the Marketo experts at MERGE can help. Contact us today!