Relationship lessons from marketing operations


It’s a clichéd rom-com scene: The couple is sitting at a table in clearly awkward silence. Finally, one of them announces that the relationship is over and in doing so delivers the classic line “It’s not you, it’s me.” And what I always hear in those scenes is “It’s not me, it’s you. Or if it is me, it’s me blaming you.”

A man and a woman looking at a screen together.

You could be this comfortable with your vendor.

So how could the couple avoid getting to that point?

While every relationship is different, failure usually can be avoided, and Marketing Operations Management (MOM) offers some valuable lessons. As the veteran of many MOM implementations, I have seen enough situations crop up that could escalate to failure to know that the causes are usually avoidable. And seldom will a customer tell the service provider, “It’s not you, it’s me." But I digress. Assigning fault seldom is productive, so when possible it's best to have all parties focus on the same commitment to see the implementation through to success.

I will leave the relationship advice to others, but I can offer you four key ways your organization can significantly increase your MOM implementation chances for success.

  1. Know the problem you’re trying to solve
    I have been involved in many sales cycles and implementations where the customer wants the software but has no idea what they’ll use it for. This is akin in a relationship to hoping your partner is going to “fix” you, even if you aren’t aware of what your own issues are. If you can’t answer the question of why you bought or are looking at a software solution, then you’re not ready for that relationship. State the business problems clearly. “We don’t have a set process, so people are managing their work in a number of ways. We have no visibility into who is doing what or what is due when. This leads to confusion, wasted effort and money.” Knowing what you want to address will help frame the solution and set expectations for its use and success.
  2. Be prepared
    Just as you’re going to groom and dress for a big date, you want to make sure you’re looking your best prior to meeting that special software solution, too. And some of that preparation means taking a critical look in the mirror. If you’ve clearly defined your business problem statements, then this should be simple. Collect the evidence that supports your points. Siloed efforts? Bring in those Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents that show this. Lack of visibility? Have evidence of how this inhibits your marketing efforts. Remember to really show off your good qualities, too. Bring examples of things that you are doing well,– a particularly efficient process, or reports that is widely used throughout the organization. These are like the jeans that you KNOW make you look good.
  3. Be willing to be flexible
    You may have a certain way of folding the laundry, passed down to you from generations past. Don't let the fact that your partner folds the shirts differently torpedo an otherwise great relationship. Just because your organization has always done something a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best or only way. Focusing on “but that’s not how things are done here” leaves you closed to improvement and growth. As different and new ways of doing things are suggested, try to think and evaluate if these things will improve the organization. Quantify the benefits of the change so that you can clearly communicate it to others and overcome their “that’s not how we do it” thinking.
  4. Have defined success criteria.
    Only you know what you are looking for in a partner – romantic or marketing software. And just like you need to know why you’re in this situation, you need to understand what it will look like to succeed. Sure, in marketing operations this can be hard to quantify, but it should not be hard to qualify. Again, you should use your problem statements as the framework for your success criteria. And like everything, keep it simple:

Siloed efforts? Then your criteria are something along the lines of “All involved stakeholders have visibility into all marketing efforts.”

Wasted effort and money? Then how about “Execution of Standard Operating Procedures within 5% of the standard timeline."

The clearer the success criteria, the better the chance for success. Think of this as avoiding a series of bad dates and imagine going directly to the altar having found “the one.” Nothing can guarantee implementation success, however, doing the work on your own organization and adhering to the points above will certainly increase your chances of marketing operations bliss.

For more information on preparing yourself for Marketing Operations Management success, check out our white paper “How to Prepare for Marketing Operations Management Success." If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please feel free to contact me at


About Author

Brian Alfond

Sr Systems Engineer

Brian Alfond is a Solutions Architect specializing in Marketing Operations Management in SAS' Global Customer Intelligence Practice. With 10+ years of experience selling and implementing MOM solutions, he works to help his customers identify and solve the process issues that are holding them back from being the best marketers they can be. With experience in Process Re-Engineering, Change Management, Project Management, and Training, Brian brings his understanding of what implementing an MOM solution means - both the benefits and the challenges - to help promote his customer's success.

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