The Seven Deadly Marketing Sins: Solving Marketing Challenges with B2B Marketing Operations 2.0

Busy marketing groups can be so focused on tactics and firefighting that they jeopardize their marketing investment. The tendency to overreact to events, tackle symptoms rather than underlying fundamental problems and jump at the opportunity to please the boss can prove fatal. Crippled marketing efforts can leave promising companies in the dust, or at least handicapped at the starting gate.

While B2B Marketing Operations (MO) 2.0 is uniquely suited to tackle marketing’s most challenging problems in Fortune 500 companies, one doesn’t have to be a GE, Cisco or Bank of America to benefit. Here are the seven deadliest marketing sins that plague companies of all sizes and how Marketing Operations 2.0 addresses them:

Sin #1: Ill-defined metrics for success

Today’s marketing departments must justify their existence. The need to measure results is inevitable. However, the instincts and skills that make a corporate marketing professional great—a bias toward action, verbal and written acuity and a talent for relationship-building—often don’t translate into an ability or willingness to scientifically and objectively evaluate success.

Broken systems and the unwillingness of the organization to pay for marketing measurement also conspire against the effort to define meaningful success metrics.

Solution: B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 ensures that the right processes are in place to establish meaningful metrics at the front-end of marketing process, enabling success measurement processes at key intervals and as each program concludes. Invest in the resources and tools to implement B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 properly inside your organization.

Sin #2: Slammed resources

The prevailing attitude of “doing more with less” can leave key people discouraged and overwhelmed, near burnout – and, eventually, circulating their resumes. The consequences for organizations are costly mistakes, high turnover, collapsed programs when key people leave and missed opportunities to leverage important, but ownerless, programs.

Solution: B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 addresses resource limitations by ensuring workload is effectively allocated, roles are clearly defined, interdependencies are understood, team members feel satisfied with their jobs and valued-added programs and associated resources—whether through additional headcount or outsourcing—can be justified to executive management.

Sin #3: Leaky institutional memory

Successful marketing programs depend on accurate information, a historical view into past successes and failures and the ability to recognize patterns that link seemingly unrelated data points.

Unfortunately, in many marketing organizations with poor knowledge management systems and processes, this crucial knowledge is scattered all over the company. It’s in the heads of individual workers, on shelves, on people's hard drives and in long-forgotten filing systems. Often, when people leave, a big piece of organizational knowledge goes with them. Information loss is a huge productivity killer for marketing teams. Trying to regain this lost insight wastes previous marketing investments.

Solution: B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 – through technologies such as DAM (Digital Asset Management), Brand Asset Management (BAM), Marketing portals and a variety of other solutions – facilitates knowledge sharing, creates an enduring repository of information, perpetuates best practices and encourages decision-making based on fact, rather than hunches or gut feelings.

Sin #4: Constipated innovation and creativity

Innovation is the lifeblood of an organization. Yet too often Marketing has relegated this critical responsibility to an engineering or R&D group, who tend to be very good at building products and solutions that are fun and cool to them, but may not be what the market really demands. Marketing needs to be intimately engaged to ensure that the voice of the customer (current and future) is heard and acted upon. Further, breakthrough innovation comes from non-linear thinking, an approach that is more likely to be emphasized by creative (marketing) than scientific (engineering) thinkers. The best innovation processes balance the linear with the non-linear.

Marketing is also counted on for its creativity in bringing well-differentiated products and solutions to market in compelling ways. However, the best creative solutions come from the collaboration of many brains. A consequence of the age of the “individual-contributor/director” is constipated creativity. When the entire creative burden falls mostly on one corporate marketer, the ability to think out of the box can be severely impacted. Creative synergy results from many minds thinking as one.

Solution: B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 encourages a balanced linear and non-linear innovation processes and enables the creative process to benefit from the synergy of team.

Sin #5: Poorly-aligned team, cross-functional and supplier relationships

Team collaboration is a real challenge in dynamic – and even stagnant, mature – organizations typically modeled on competition, power and control structures. Over-reliance on legacy systems and tools also perpetuates this problem. At a Marketing Operations conference not that long ago, one company MO director proudly shared how it was using Excel spreadsheets to capture knowledge that required more than 100 columns in width. This may be an effective tracking process for an Excel guru, but it is certainly not scalable and does not support team decision-making processes.

Problematic supplier relationships are also an indicator of trouble. Most successful companies can point to numerous strong, long-term marketing supplier relationships they consider to be integral to their success. Likewise, a pattern of failed supplier relationships is often an indicator of marketing department failure, rather than poor vendor performance. Unfortunately, companies that have had consistently bad relationships with outside vendors and suppliers often react by bringing everything in house. While this strategy may provide the illusion of control, it allows marketing managers to deflect the blame for failures, rather than teaching them how to manage their outsourcing program by taking responsibility for the results. In addition, this “band-aid” strategy won’t scale with the organization as it grows.

Solution: B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 helps set realistic expectations and mutual accountability between suppliers and the organization, increasing the effectiveness of outsource partners by empowering them to act as an extension of the internal team.

Sin #6: Tough-to-justify decision-making

Budgets are never set in stone. Often, it’s a “use it or lose it” situation. For some managers, it’s “misuse it and lose it anyway.” Unfortunately, many corporate marketing departments end up leaving program budget on the table or allocating it to the wrong initiatives. This “Catch 22-marketing budget dilemma” occurs because…

  • It’s very time consuming to manage the budget effectively, especially in companies with broken financial systems
  • Each marketing spend-decision creates more work for the one-person or small-team marketing department in terms of project management, measurement, supplier management, etc.
  • Doubt persists about the ability to successfully justify the expenditure to management
  • Focus is instinctively on high-visibility marketing activities and C-level executive requests over good fiscal management
  • Most marketing types are inclined toward creativity rather than finance

Poor budgeting processes and kludged financial/marketing systems also contribute to perpetuating this sin.

Solution: B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 facilitates implementing the system-support infrastructure and financial-management discipline needed to protect valuable marketing budgets.

Sin #7: Disappointing marketing portfolio impact

Many companies align their fate with the success of too few marketing programs – whether it’s lead generation, public relations, trade shows or advertising. Over-reliance on any one particular program can derail a company, especially if a key program unexpectedly loses momentum. In the meantime, programs that could have had strong leverage never get a chance to prove their mettle and are forever relegated to the “B” list. Classic examples include customer references; lead nurturing and analyst research/consulting subscription ROI management.

In addition, poor intelligence about program ROI also creates a challenge in sustaining the right marketing mix.

Solution: MO 2.0 puts the means in place to launch potentially high-value marketing programs that would otherwise never get out of the starting gate.

While the solutions to the Seven Deadly Marketing Sins have all been B2B Marketing Operations 2.0, implementation of a true MO 2.0 organization can seem overwhelming. Here at Marketo we recommend taking a structured approach engaging in the right resources (partners, consultants and employees) and the right tools (including CRM, Marketing Automation and web analytics) to ensure your team is best in class.

Even if you are already following Marketing Operations methodology you should still take time on a quarterly basis to ensure you are getting the most from your programs. Use this paper as a checklist to help identify problems in your marketing operations strategy.

If you have not yet implemented a B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 organization, check out our white paper on B2B Marketing Operations 2.0 Readiness to see if you are ready to move your organization to the benefits of marketing using technology from Web 2.0.

Some or all of the content contained in this white paper was contributed by Gary M. Katz, CEO of Marketing Operations Partners (