Processes are the backbone of every function in business. How well your processes work impacts your effectiveness and efficiency.

When processes run smoothly they are invisible.  When they break down, they cause havoc and chaos.  Processes and systems are what make it possible to ensure no customer commitment is missed. Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite reminds us that there are good systems and there are bad systems. “Good systems make things easier. Bad systems do exactly the opposite. They make everyone’s lives harder.” It is a disservice to your organization to perpetuate a bad process. “Bad processes institutionalize inefficiency. They ensure that things will be done the wrong way, over and over again.:

It’s a good practice to revisit your process maps.

Process maps visually illustrate the flow of work. They show the relationship between the steps and inputs.  Marketing like any function runs on processes.  Processes are at the heart of operational excellence. They fall within the domain of the Marketing Ops function.

If you haven’t mapped your processes make this one of your priorities. Process mapping takes some experience and expertise so reach out if this isn’t one of your capabilities. In the meantime, if you don’t do anything else this year to improve the operational aspect of your Marketing, at least do these five things:

a. Use SMART. Work from specific, realistic, measurable objectives that are written down. If it’s not written down, it’s not there. Have a plan, work your plan.

b. Target. Precisely identify your highest potential market segments. Establish key opportunity and accessibility criteria so you can compare market segments on an apples-to-apples basis. Check out the Avantage Target Tool to help.

c. Customer-Centric: Map your potential customers buying and journey process. You should be able to identify the sequence of decisions a typical prospect goes through to decide whether to buy your product or service. This process should be based on observable behaviors and serve as the basis for your marketing and sales activities. This step requires strong data and analytical muscle and being able to translate data into actionable customer insights.

d. Focus on Value. Best-in-Class marketers are value creators. Move away from being a service provider and momentum for serving as a value creator.  Track and report on how long it takes and how much it costs to create a customer.

e. Manage Performance. Develop an actionable dashboard of marketing measures that are tied to management's expectations about marketing.  Ensure Marketing is aligned with the company’s business outcomes and strategies. The process is the foundation for alignment—and one of the critical complaints with marketing is that it lacks alignment with sales, finance, R&D, and the business. Your marketing ops serve as the depot for defining and establishing processes that facilitate alignment. A marketing operations function should ensure that the right processes are in place to support performance management and measurement.

The role of Marketing Operations in terms of process, systems, and tools is to develop and manage an integrated process that includes setting performance goals, modeling, planning, and reporting. Your Marketing Operations function is the engine for enabling Marketing to be more transparent, efficient, and accountable.