Being a marketing ops leader takes a certain degree of wizardry and requires a unique blend of technical skills, communication mastery, and strategic thinking.
Need we say it a fourth time? Communication skills are often (wrongly) overlooked in more technical professions like marketing operations. Communication is critical in giving marketing ops professionals a seat at the table and enabling them to work effectively with various stakeholders, from their peers to executive leadership. Jeff Canada, Marketing Operations Leader at Segment, views marketing ops as a service organization and stresses the importance of being a strategic partner, which is impossible without solid communication skills.
So, how do you level up your communication skills?
Refine your writing skills: Darrell Alfonso, Global Marketing Operations, at AWS believes that writing is critical to help clarify your thinking, vet your ideas, and communicate effectively with others. He writes content on LinkedIn and suggests others find ways to incorporate writing into their day-to-day. It can be as simple as sharing your thoughts on LinkedIn or Twitter or contributing to your company blog. Another exercise Darrell suggests when writing is to think about the breaks in the process and where the message can get lost. When you write, there’s an idea in your mind, then you put it on paper, and then someone reads it, and then they have to interpret it. It’s a bit like the game of telephone — what starts out meaning one thing can transform entirely. Consider the ways your message could get misinterpreted and how you can communicate more effectively.
Tailor your pitch: Prepare for conversations by knowing your audience. You may need to break down complex technical topics or dive into the details depending on the recipient. Daniel Murray, Marketing Operations at ServiceTitan, says it’s essential to tie each conversation to the needs and priorities of the recipient. For example, if you are talking to the CMO, connect the discussion to pipeline and revenue efficiency. If you’re talking to a digital ads manager, understand how their programs work. Successful MOPs leaders have chameleon-like abilities.
Listen carefully: While proactive communication is critical, how you receive information from others is also important. A successful MOPs pro doesn’t just share data and information but listens to others to understand their business problems and needs, even those not explicitly stated.
It’s no question that marketing operations professionals must have deep technical expertise to manage different systems and tools effectively, but should they be required to know coding languages like SQL and Python? Today’s marketing ops job descriptions seem to be increasingly technical, with a focus on SQL. In fact, according to Zippia, SQL was the most common skill on Marketing Operations Analyst resumes in 2020.
Tamir Belzer, Marketing Operations Manager at Logz.io, advises MOPs professionals to learn SQL. He believes you don’t have to be a developer, but understanding the core of SQL and how it works will help you better collaborate with your Business Intelligence (BI) team. If learning SQL isn’t in the cards for you, Tamir recommends at minimum mastering your own platform and having regular, recurring meetings with your BI team. These meetings will drive critical alignment on technical requirements and business processes.
Julie Beynon, Analytics at Clearbit, realized the importance of technical chops early on in her career. She could not access critical data because it was hidden behind engineering, a common challenge for marketing operations. So she learned SQL to query the database and get the information she needed.
We believe today’s tech should empower marketing operations professionals to act as data scientists without knowing SQL, but unfortunately, that can’t be said of all tools. So, while knowing SQL isn’t always 100% essential, it has its benefits. Mastering SQL can help you stand out in job pools and empower you to uncover crucial data.
To succeed in marketing ops, do you focus on refining your technical chops or mastering the art of effective communication? Darrell Alfonso, Global Marketing Operations at AWS, suggests honing your technical skills early in your career. It will enable you to become a subject matter expert for your colleagues. Then, as you progress and manage larger initiatives, your role becomes more about people skills, with a large portion of your job focused on internal selling and communication.
While technical and communication skills are critical, understanding the big picture is vital in your marketing operations career. Asia Corbett, Head of Revenue and Community Operations at RevGenius, shared that while analytics are essential, you can’t get there without a foundation of business processes. It’s not helpful to pull data without understanding the foundation. Knowing how to communicate with others and access the correct data will help you be a more strategic partner to the business.
We also decided to look at what skills show up on marketing ops professionals’ LinkedIn profiles.
Out of the LinkedIn profiles we analyzed, the three most common skills were marketing, email marketing, and marketing strategy. When it came to endorsements, marketing, lead generation, and email marketing led the pack. In both cases, Salesforce showed up closely after that, aligning well with the technology expectations of job descriptions.
Interestingly enough, the more technical skills like SQL, Python, HTML, and others ranked low on the list. One hypothesis is that the role has become increasingly technical in recent years, and LinkedIn skills may not be updated frequently. Or, perhaps marketing ops professionals view their skills more broadly, rather than narrowly focusing on one coding language or tool.
There are a LOT of skills required to be a marketing ops leader. It’s not an easy job, and we applaud the fearless leaders in the space!