Alignment across the company is one of the most valuable and important elements to organizations succeeding. It’s just like the rowing team in the featured image of this post … if you don’t have the team rowing together you’re not going to win the race. I know this article specifically called out “marketing and sales alignment” in it’s title but in reality this is applicable to the entire organization.

Staying aligned within an organization is hard — particularly if you’re in a fast-paced environment where every day feels like a fleeting moment — and supporting alignment within a rapidly growing company (particularly the marketing and sales teams) can be extremely fulfilling and challenging at the same time.

One of my favorite activities to improve marketing and sales alignment is to build the Marketing Operations Playbook [MOP]. The remainder of this post is to share what that is to me and how I build them… let me know what you think in the comments!

What is a “Marketing Operations Playbook”?

The Marketing Operations Playbook is meant to serve as the organizations official document on the processes, procedures, and tools for handling all the people that move through the Marketing & Sales funnel.

The Marketing Operations Playbook should also act as an anchor for the organizations lifecycle program. This means all new and existing employees should be able to refer to the MOP to have a clearer understanding of how a record will move through the lifecycle stages of the business.

Tip: Because every business will have unique departments, roles, tools, and terminology it’s important to build out the MOP with stakeholders from across the organization to ensure nothing is missed.

Why Build a Marketing Operations Playbook?

One of the reasons I build MOP’s in my organization is to support employees. The Marketing Operations Playbook clearly defines all the tools, systems, and processes a new (or existing) employee should know. The clearer an employee is on the systems and processes that are in use, the easier (and faster) it will be for a the new employee to ramp up.

Ultimately, It’s all about ramping up with speed and efficiency. Any good manager or business owner will tell you to spend time training your employees and get them ramped up quickly. The sooner they are more autonomous the better.

What’s in a Marketing Operations Playbook?

There are some pretty common questions that come up when a company is growing, particularly if you are growing fast. Some of the ways a MOP can help is when employees need answers to common questions like:

  • What is the difference between an iMQL and MQL?
  • What tools do we use for CRM and Marketing?
  • How do we manage marketing campaigns?
  • How are lead sources attributed to records?

Although every organization is different, I believe there are at least 9 key elements that should always exist in the standard MOP.

  1. Demand Generation Tools
  2. Sales Tools
  3. Internal Communication Tools
  4. Lifecycle Management
  5. Lead Source Attribution
  6. Opportunity Source Attribution
  7. Marketing Campaign Management & Reporting
  8. Internal Document Management
  9. Definitions / Index

Below I’ve expanded on what goes into those 9 elements (in no particular order) that I have often placed in my MOP.

The Standard Marketing Operations Playbook Elements:

Demand Generation Tools

Use this section to define any and all demand generation tools your organization is using. Include as many tools as your organization has in place and be sure to ask your team and other colleagues if you have missed something.

Once you have them all listed, take the time to individually define what the purpose of the tool is and how your organization is using it.

Tip: If you have multiple tools and managers and maybe multiple stakeholders, it’s also helpful to add the Manager of the tool and the stakeholder(s) involved. Something like this:

[Name of Tool]
Manager: Mike Rizzo, Marketing Person
Stakeholder: Bob Smith, VP of Marketing

Sales Tools

Be clear about the tools you’re using in the Sales organization. This is the same methodology used in the “Demand Genration Tools” section but specific to the Sales team.

It’s extremely important to be thorough, so if you’re not sure what tools are being used by the sales team, ask the head of sales and any of the sales reps what they use to do their job.

Some examples of tools you might list are:

  • CRM (Salesforce, SugarCRM, HubSpot)
  • Prospecting Tools (Salesloft, etc.)

Tip: Even if you think you’ve covered all the tools, don’t hesitate to ask a few sales reps what they use. You might be surprised and discover some overlapping tools within the organization. Your technology budget will thank you when you find those 🙂

Internal Communication Tools

Although this doesn’t feel like something that should be in the MOP, I would argue that a full understanding of the ways people communicate is essential to aligning the team (and the company).

I personally like to list the tools used at my company for internal communications. Some of those tools that fall into this section might be:

  • Skype
  • Slack
  • G-chat
  • HipChat

Again, more clarity around what people should be using for specific actions means less friction between the organization.

Lifecycle Management

Be clear, be thorough. Explain each stage of the potential customer’s lifecycle like you were talking to a five year old…. okay maybe not 5, but try to make it really easy to understand. I like the way HubSpot describes their lifecycle stages so I often use their descriptions.

Lead Source Attribution

Every lead comes from somewhere. Use this section to define how you’ll attribute leads to the source they were driven from. Each company will have a different approach to lead source attribution so it’s important to take the time discussing how leads will be counted against their source. You’ll probably want to involve a few stake holders to make sure this is accurately captured. Those involved are often leading Sales and Marketing and a few mid managers from each department.

Opportunity Source Attribution

Although this is more commonly outline in a Salesforce implementation, it’s still valuable to clearly define when an Opportunity should be left at it’s old originating source or changed to a new source.

Marketing Campaign Management & Reporting

I use this section to clearly outline where campaigns will be managed (in more depth than the “demand generations tools” if they overlap). I also cover the following:

  • Naming conventions
  • Conference and Event Lead Management
  • Multivariate Campaign Tracking
    (for later stage companies typically)

Tip: It’s never too late for a good naming convention. If you haven’t established naming conventions for your campaigns yet (or anything for that matter) I strongly recommend doing so.

Internal Document Management

I like to use this section to make it really easy for the organization to understand where to locate files within the Sales and Marketing org. Sometimes this section of the MOP is a more complex digram that explains when documents should and should not be shared with external vendors and customers (and how to do so). While other times this section can just simply outline where to find certain types of files for certain types of activities.

Some directions and links to the folders you might have in this section could be:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Box
  • etc.

I’ve been fortunate to use Google Drive for all of our internal file organization so internal linking between the Google Doc and the Google Drive file / folder has been a breeze.

Definitions/Index

This is probably one of the most beneficial sections out of the entire Marketing Operations Playbook. I leverage this entire section to place all of our definitions and links to important documents. I’ll even repeat the definitions I had previously placed in other sections like “Lifecycle Management” just to make it easy for anyone to jump in and find what they’re looking for.

In most word documents you’ll be able to have a Table of Contents at the top of the page to link to the elements within the document itself. If you’re using Google Docs it’s as easy as “Insert > Table Of Contents”

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Most importantly: Don’t forget to update the MOP!

Over time the MOP should be updated with any changes/updates to the processes and tools your organization is using. These updates are crucial to maintaining one source of truth for all employees to reference.
If you have any questions or comments please let me know.
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