Budgeting only has one rule; Do not go over budget.
– Leslie Tayne
We appreciate Leslie’s advice, but it’s easier said than done, right?
It’s completely normal to agonize over your budget when figuring out how you’ll meet your lofty marketing operations goals in the coming year. After all, you can only stretch your dollar so far.
With 13 years of experience under our belt working with marketing operations teams in high-growth and enterprise-level businesses, we’ve been able to recognize common needs, and a few overlooked areas, related to budgeting.
These overlooked areas are talent, targeting, and time. Keeping these three areas top of mind while creating your marketing operations budget will help set the stage for success as you enter the new fiscal year.
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Start with Talent
It goes without saying that in order to execute a successful marketing operations strategy, you’ll need a competent, tech-savvy team who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Talent will make up a significant portion of your marketing operations budget, and now more than ever, budgeting to find and hire MOps talent has become critical.
Marketing operations professionals are in high demand – we know it, and so do MOPs candidates. This means your organization should be prepared to pay top dollar for talent – especially if they are well known in the community or stacked with certifications (i.e. Marketo certified, Solutions Architect, current or former Marketo Champions).
💡 Tip: Learn our recruiting team’s best practices when it comes to sourcing marketing operations talent. Read more!
Alternatively, you have the option to hire a seasoned or early-career digital marketer, even if their experience in Marketo is minimal. A strong desire and capability to learn can go a long way.
As you’re thinking about the work ahead, you’re probably asking yourself questions like “how many MOps people do we need on our team to accomplish our goals?” Here are a few more questions to get you thinking:
- What kind of people skills do we need to reach the goal?
- Do we have them now?
- Can we train them?
- Do we need an agency?
- What types of roles should you budget for?
From our experience working with various high-growth and enterprise-level businesses, here are the most common roles we see across organizations:
- The Data Analyst: He or she sees the patterns and connects the dots on a higher level, providing technically sound advice for future campaigns, targets, and spending.
- The Senior Marketing Operations Manager (or Marketo Admin): This person is the kind of superstar who understands the power of Marketo and realizes its ability to drive innovation, streamline processes, improve workflows, and drive results.
- The Marketing Operations Specialist (or Manager): Your MOps specialist is a powerhouse — a tireless machine creating and launching campaigns in Marketo.
- And, then there is you…the Fearless Marketing Operations Leader.
Should I hire a marketing operations agency?
Short answer: Yes.
We recommend including a budget for agency (or independent consultant) help whether that be on a project basis or ongoing.
Picture this: you have an integration on the horizon. It would be wise to hire an implementation partner to make sure it’s done according to best practices. From here, you might want to have an agency on retainer so that you can hold regular training sessions, eliminate unforeseen roadblocks, or fill gaps in talent.
💡 Tip: Don’t be afraid to plan a few months in advance when considering agency help. Agencies are in just as high demand as MOPs. This way, you can keep your projects running on time and get into their project queue.
If you are still assessing the pros and cons of hiring a Marketo agency, ask yourself these questions:
- Will expanding headcount or hiring an agency lead to the best outcome and ultimately do a better job?
- Do internal candidates have resources to pull from when challenges arise?
- What are the opportunity costs of using your internal team only?
Here’s a quick scenario you may consider when deciding if an agency is right for you:
You hire a Marketo practitioner with 2-3 years of experience for $80,000 annually.
You know that there are other costs associated with hiring an employee, but do understand just how much they are adding up to?
Factor in benefits, hiring costs, training cost, management time, paid time off… when all is said and done, that $80,000 employee could really cost upwards of $200,000.
When you look at the numbers this way, the cost of an outside agency may not seem so steep.
Both business and audience targets should be considered when planning your budget.
Business targets consist of what you plan to accomplish both on a quarterly and annual basis. It’s crucial to understand your business targets before the budgeting process begins. Working backward from your goal will allow you to outline what you need to do and create a plan for reaching your business targets.
Audience targets consist of who you want to target in order to reach your business target. This includes activities such as developing your ideal customer profile, audience segmentation, personalization, and account-based marketing. These all take serious expertise and investment to develop and execute properly. This is another opportunity to bring in an outside consultant with expertise in these areas.
Here’s an example of how a consultant could help you develop your target audience. When developing personas for a given line of business, the consultant will typically gather all stakeholders across the organization and one or two representatives from the field (if applicable) for a one or two-day persona development workshop.
The outcomes of the workshop are alignment and an understanding of your target persona(s), demographics, firmographics, their pain points, success drivers, digital watering holes, and what events they attend. You would also produce a roadmap for campaigns and a message map; explaining how to communicate with them throughout the buyer’s journey. This method ensures total alignment across the organization and is worth budgeting for.
Another activity you should budget for is a positioning workshop.
At Perkuto, we use a framework created by April Dunford in her book, Obviously Awesome, for our regular positioning exercise.
Here are a few steps from her 10-step positioning process:
- Understanding the customers who love your product
- Listing your true competitive alternatives
- Isolating your unique attributes and features
- Mapping the attributes to value themes
Persona development and positioning are at the heart of all marketing activities.
It’s important to note that marketing operations should always be involved in these positioning workshops. Why? To ensure business targets are being met, and that marketing campaigns are targeting the right audiences, with the right messaging, at the right time.
So what does this have to do with my budget, you ask? Not only may you need to budget for the activities mentioned above, but you will also need to budget for higher advertising costs. Targeting comes at a price. Additional MarTech also may be necessary to execute this level of personalization.
Start Tracking Time
The last area of budgeting often overlooked is time.
Is your marketing operations team tracking their time? If not, now is the time to start. Tracking the level of effort on various tasks and projects will allow you to forecast what resources you’ll need to reach your business targets, and the insights from time tracking can be incredibly useful.
We recommend tracking time moving forward so you can properly budget; not only for capacity to complete work but also to estimate project completion dates or to right-size a Sprint (if you’re using agile marketing processes).
Curious to see how this plays out? Here’s an example based on building an email program in Marketo.
Take the total number of email programs you’d like to create in the coming year. Let’s say you want to build 100 email programs.
Determine how much time it takes to build one email program. Let’s say it takes 20 hours to build an email program including copy, creative, the build-in Marketo, and QA.
Then, multiple the time it takes to build one program by the total number of programs you’d like to create in the coming year. (ex. 100 email programs X 20 hours each)
The result is the total number of hours required to reach your business target. (ex. 2,000 hours)
Finally, divide the total number of hours (above) by 2,080 hours per year to better understand the headcount required to deliver. (ex. 2,000 / 2,080 = ~1)
In this example, it would take one full-time person to execute the email programs. That said, don’t forget that the number of hours available to work should also be calculated. A 40 hour per week employee may only have 32 hours of execution time once you remove meetings and strategic work.
At Perkuto, we believe budgeting and time tracking allows your marketing operations team to stay accountable and on track.
Time tracking can also be empowering when done right. This simple task allows you to take a look at the larger picture – where is your team spending their time, and are there opportunities to cut down on time? With that said, time tracking should not be used to micromanage your team.
Don’t Forget These Commonly Overlooked Areas
Now that we’ve identified three key areas to consider for your 2022 budget, here are a few more to consider.
In today’s world, training and development opportunities are of huge value to your team. Not to mention, ongoing education opportunities will help you retain top talent.
For example, we offer access to LinkedIn Learning courses and encourage employees to increase their subject matter expertise (SME), whether this means getting their MCSA, MCE, or any other relevant certifications.
Aside from obtaining certifications, we encourage MOps teams to regularly attend webinars, conferences, or training courses – even if they come at a cost.
At Perkuto, we also have a subject matter expertise grid in different technical areas where employees can track their progress, from beginner to SME. And the best part? Once an employee is an SME in a particular area, they can now cross-train and level up other team members. It’s a win-win situation.
This one is simple – if your team plans on attending conferences and events, visiting partners, or stopping by a customer field office, plan to incorporate travel costs in your budget. Travel costs can accrue quickly, so we recommend setting a budget for hotels, flights, food, rideshares, and more.
Continuous improvement is the name of the game. At Perkuto, our growth mindset allows us to tap into the current trends and ensure we’re ahead of the curve.
We hear from customers that one of the reasons they work with an agency like Perkuto is to stay ahead of the trends. Our team is continually reading up on the latest Marketo, Workato, and CRM feature releases, learning how new MarTech integrates with these platforms, and so on.
It’s crucial to keep your ear to the ground – whether that’s one of your team members or an agency partner who is reading up on the latest MarTech, new feature releases for your current stack, keeping an eye on the competition, and more.
Budgeting to stay on top of trends could mean investing in learning and development or working with an agency or Marketo consultant to stay up to speed.
Take your marketing operations to the next level
Have you been frustrated with the transparency or outcomes of working with another Marketo partner? We invite you to book an introductory call with us. Let us demonstrate how we’re different, and the results we can achieve together. Get in touch.