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Podcast Episode 6: The Science of Marketing Ops – Ambiverts and Excellence

How do you measure marketing operations? Is success measured in revenue? Closed business? Lead gen? In Episode Six of ONNAMP, Will Davis chats with Fidelis Cybersecurity Marketing Operations Manager Moni Oloyede about marketing ops responsibilities and traits, what makes a successful campaign, and when you should evaluate program success from a timing standpoint.

Listen to Episode Six: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

ONNAMP Ep. 6: Marketing Ops – Ambiverts and Excellence

Episode Transcript

Will Davis: With me today is Moni Oloyede, marketing operations manager with Fidelis Cybersecurity. Moni, I always like to explore something interesting and unique about folks as we introduce them. And, just before we started recording, you mentioned that you are half African and half American. And so, you said, your dad is from Nigeria?

Moni Oloyede: My Dad’s Nigerian. And my mother side, her grandparents are from North Carolina, but she grew up here in DC proper.

Will Davis: Okay, and then you told me earlier you identify as a Baltimore person.

Moni Oloyede: So, I would say a Marylander. I went to school in Baltimore. I did my undergrad at UMBC and I did my graduate at Johns Hopkins. So, I have Baltimore roots for sure.

Will Davis: Cool. So, tell me a little about yourself. Your background in marketing is really interesting. I mean, as I introduced it, a marketing operations person now, but you came up through kind of a more traditional marketing background.

Moni Oloyede: Exactly. So, right out of UMBC, I got a job at Sourcefire, a cybersecurity company that recently got bought out by Cisco a few years ago. And I started out in their marketing department as a marketing coordinator. And that’s typically where most people start in their marketing journey. And that’s true for me too as well. And I did that for a couple of years and then I actually moved over to doing basic data management for them in their marketing automation platform, which was Eloqua at the time. And the person who was running their Eloqua actually decided to leave and take another position. And I was the only person in the company who even logged in so they asked, “do you want to do this?” And I was like, “uh, sure why not,” not knowing anything about how much of a behemoth Eloqua actually was. To be my first marketing automation platform and not knowing anything about anything. It was like, here’s Eloqua. Go do it. So I did. I went and dug in and figured it out and made a lot of mistakes, but I learned a lot at that company. We actually ended up switching from Eloqua to Marketo, which was huge deal at the time. So I ended up having these two major marking automation platforms under my belt as far as being a power user of both of them. And that made me very attractive to consulting companies and agencies. So, I was heavily recruited and did the consulting thing for a while. And again, massive learning opportunity. I got to see different environments at different kinds of companies, B2B, B2C, small, medium, large, kind of all over the place. So, the learning was vast and I would never trade that experience for anything in the world. But I got burnt out on the travel and it was very grueling work. So, I decided to come back in-house. I learned exact target, learned HubSpot, learn all these different marketing automation tools and here I am today.

Will Davis: So if not for that one person leaving source fire at the time, your path could have been completely different.

Moni Oloyede: Maybe. Actually, Sourcefire has a lineage of marketing automation girls who’ve come out of there and have done great things. So, they’ve actually homegrown a lot of great marketing automation professionals in the DC area.

Will Davis: That’s great. So, you talked about some of your experiences on the consulting side. I feel like that’s a really interesting background for people to jump into that really drives you into learning a lot of different things. Very cool.

Moni Oloyede: Absolutely. You get to see different organizations in different environments. And as much as companies think that their issues are unique. You learn that everybody has the same problems across the board. Everyone thinks they’re so different and their problems are so unique to them and you’re like, no, everybody’s struggling with this. Everyone’s struggling with internal politics. Everyone struggling with process and operations. It’s across the board. But the pace of it is very, very quick. The different types of learning that you get — not just on the business side but on people management — and how different organizations run internally. It’s just a good business learning on top of tactical day-to-day consulting as well.

Will Davis: So, it’s funny but we often think about our clients as having challenges we’ve seen before but they’re still really important. It’s still special, right? It’s like, we’ve seen this before, but it’s still valuable. It doesn’t demean the problem you’re having. It just means you’re not the only one who has this problem. Which is sometimes reassuring.

Moni Oloyede: Yes, exactly. They find comfort in that as well.

Will Davis: Your job is sorta like 60% therapist, right? And 20 percent marketing consultant, 20 percent, all sorts of things.

Moni Oloyede: Oh yeah, exactly. Grab bag of other things. But it’s good that, I mean that was the best part. That’s what I loved about them. The clients are the best. They really are. It’s like, you know, some can be tough and demanding, but once you actually complete a project and see it to some success and see experience success as well, it’s the most rewarding part.

Will Davis: So, going through that on the in-house side then going out to agencies and coming back in-house, you’ve largely been focused on technology companies. Has that been intentional? Or was that just where things lead?

Moni Oloyede: It’s sort of been where things led because the technology companies are on the forefront of technology. They see the use of a marketing automation platform or some of these other tools more than some other companies or other industries. It’s kind of just been happenstance, but, now I would say if you asked me if I was looking for another opportunity (which I’m not) but if I were, I would focus on technology just because of the advancement of the strategy as well. I always want — a lot of us want to keep learning and keep growing within our roles. We don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. I feel that’s especially true for marketing operation professionals.  We want to be challenged and “what’s the new program? What’s the new hot thing or the new tool?” You get that in the technology industry where some industries a little lagging behind and you have to slow down with them and go as slowly as they go.

Will Davis: Drag everyone along with you.

Moni Oloyede: Exactly, make these arguments that you wouldn’t have to make in a technology company.

Will Davis: So, you brought up something interesting about going with new technology. As we kind of go in our daily lives, we run into all of these new platforms and new verticals and there’s a whole new Gartner magic quadrant for something that wasn’t even a quadrant two years ago. What’s on your radar? What are some of the new industries, new areas, new technologies that you’re watching?

Moni Oloyede: So, it’s a good question. I mean I know ABM is hot right now. I think it’s going to continue to be hot, but what I’m really actually focused on is data. I have been for the last couple of years. More like CDPs or data management platforms — I think, are going to be huge coming up. To make any of the things in marketing automation work — campaigns, programs, technology — it comes down to the data and how good it is. So, none of it works if the data is bad or dirty. I think that is going to have to be a continued focus for marketing professionals moving forward. That’s what I’m focused on. So, right now we’re working with a company to merge our marking automation data and our CRM data together to kind of get a more complete view of a customer profile and then make decisions based off of that. Wait, they’re not perfect already? So disappointed.

Will Davis: People on my team are going to be cheering at your identification of data as one of the big areas that’s growing. And really almost everyone’s data needs to go through that next step and really get synchronized, get improved, and cleaned up.

Moni Oloyede: Yeah, the processes around data it just has to be there. It’s a big issue. I think people are actually focusing on outside data a little too much. Right? You want to augment our data to look for that complete view when really you probably have most of the information you need in-house. You just don’t have a good way of looking at it or analyzing it. So I think my advice to people would be to start with your own data in-house, your proprietary data — analyze that and try to augment that as much as you can and clean that up as much as you can. And then based on your data goals, then go outside and try to augment it with a third-party. But I feel like people are just buying all these lists and trying to get all this intent data and all this other data without having a goal of what they’re actually trying to do with it. And it just dirties up your data 10 times more than you needed.

Will Davis: It’s sort of that mentality of, you know, the one who dies with the most data wins. But if you don’t have use for the data or you’re not even sure how accurate your own data may be and you went out and got other stuff, now you’re just polluting the pool.

Moni Oloyede: Exactly. And you’re assuming that these companies have clean data and they don’t either. I don’t want to name names. I’m thinking that we all know these tools and even some of the bigger ones, you know, as big as they get. It gets dirtier by the week, minute, hour, second, you know, whatever. It’s true for these big companies too as well. I mean, a person leaves or changes their email address or changes their address and it’s no longer valid. How would they know? And you’re buying that. So, work with your own data, see what you can get out of that. And then augment if you need to.

Will Davis: Good advice. So, shifting gears, I introduced you as a marketing operations person. For some of our listeners, they may not even know what that entails or they may think they know what that entails, but may not be a hundred percent accurate. I mean, this is a role that didn’t exist five, six, seven years ago and now is probably a critical lynch pin in so many different organizations. So, with that big build-up: what does a marketing operations professional do and how does a given day look for someone?

Moni Oloyede: I mean it’s crazy that you even asked that question. I feel like I’ve done the same job for a decade, but the title has changed every year that I’ve gotten a new job. Now it’s settled on operations and technologists and this thing and that thing and digital marketing and demand gen and like all of these kind of specialties in marketing are rolled up into this operations role. I used to think that the center of the operations role was the technology, but it’s quickly moved onto the process, right? It’s like you are the hub of the marketing processes and that’s how I see it. How your organization runs and your marketing department runs is set by the operations person and it’s a legacy thing. Anybody who has dealt with the person who runs a marking automation system and they’ve left and someone new comes on. You inherited their processes the way that they’ve done things. And that may be right or wrong or indifferent or not. That person has a lot of power — setting up how your leads flow in, who gets what, and how it gets assigned. And that’s powerful stuff. That’s key to how your organization runs in somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing may have set that up. Some consultant may have set that up, someone who does know what they’re doing, but like stopped halfway through the process. There’s so much that goes into the role. I’m seeing it at my job current right now. We have a web developer, I have a content person, I have a programs manager. I have an events person. And all of those roles heavily incorporate what I do. So, they can’t do their jobs without me to a certain extent. The center of excellence for a marketing department is the operations person. Because anything that touches a lead, I have to be involved with. Anything outgoing campaign-wise, I’m involved. Anything that has to deal with sales and the sales process I have to know about and touch. So, it’s like I’m touching every part of marketing and their jobs and I’m correlating their success, right? Because I now I also do analytics, so I’m telling them the results of what they’re doing campaign-wise, website-wise, content-wise, they need to come to me to say did this work or not? So, I’m touching every part of the marketing department in the center of that cog. So, it’s now become like a key role within a marketing organization. If you don’t have an operations person or someone responsible for that, I don’t know how you’re functioning as an organization.

Will Davis: Yeah. It’s interesting when you were talking about things like lead flow and maybe leads are flowing the way it was set up years ago and. And whether someone knew what they were doing or not, the business is probably not operating the same way it did years ago.

Moni Oloyede: Exactly. These things evolve. They’re living, breathing things like people — you just don’t set it and forget it.

Will Davis: Yeah, exactly. So, it’s really a critical position. It’s interesting to me how many companies are operating with a marketing operations function in a different title or they’re blending that across a few different jobs. You know, one of the things I was saw last week — I was talking with some people about marketing ops. Is it a marketing function or a technology function and sort of reporting through the marketing organization or reporting through the CIO and the technology organization. I don’t know your perspective. I think I know your perspective.

Moni Oloyede: It’s a marketing function. Technology is just the tool. If you don’t have the processes around it, none of these technologies will work. I think anybody who deals with technology on a day-to-day knows that it’s just a tool, but it’s the processes around and that really make it sing. So yeah, I’m on the marketing side, not the technology side.

Will Davis: You’re on the marketing team… yeah. And how do you work with roles like IT and things like governance and things like technology selection, procurement, how does that tend to work where marketing operations kind of interfaces across those channels, even if you’re not directly reporting in to IT or for that matter sales, right?

Moni Oloyede: Oh, 1000%. And I was just gonna say, the hierarchy depends on the department I’m dealing with. Being at a cybersecurity company, IT is going to trump whatever I want to do every single time. I get no governance whatsoever. I’m completely at their mercy. But with sales, I have a little bit more influence because they’re a little less knowledgeable about technology in the process. So, it kind of depends. And with IT, like I said, I’m completely relying on them to dictate what they will and will not allow and what the parameters of it are. For example, we have a sales loft, which is a sales calling and emailing a tool. But the marketing department, me, from operations standpoint, I manage the platform for them. I have complete say over how that process works. Even though that’s a sales tool and I’m not in it day-to-day. I just manage the admin part of it. I have governance over that. But if we were to sum it function, no, it’s like, this is how you’re going to use this. This is how it’s going to work. So, it depends on the department you’re working with.

Will Davis: So, what about something like CRM? Where does that stand?

Moni Oloyede: Yeah. Uh, so we have salesforce and I think salesforce should be the database of record. The problem with that is not everybody who’s inputting data into salesforce thinks the way that an operations person thinks. So, the data that they input is not correct or not following processes. So, it doesn’t always end up being a clean database of record for many reasons. But in my personal opinion, that’s what it should be.

Will Davis: We’ve talked about the vital role of marketing operations, whatever it’s named in different organizations, how you interface with sales, how you interface with technology teams. How are you measured? How does someone measure marketing opps?

Moni Oloyede: I mean, it’s a good question. So right now, I think most people would say and how we’re actually measured is on revenue. But I would fight back and I do try to fight back. But that’s not really a fair measurement of marketing operations or marketing in general to be honest with you. Because we have no control over closed business. That’s sales job. Now, revenue generation? Okay. I can give you that. But the issue with that is (especially in my businesses) a lot of campaigns and programs take time to show results. So, at what time are you evaluating the success or failure of a marketing program? Our sales cycle is currently nine to 12 months. So, if I’m looking at the successful campaign quarterly, that’s not a fair way to look at it. We have a long sale cycle. We have a big buying committee. It’s an enterprise sale. So there are multiple people involved. It’s a large price point, you know. How should we be looking at these things? Actually, we just did an exercise because we are trying to go down the road of attribution and attribution modeling. So, just an exercise where we mapped out (for a couple of opportunities) we mapped out our buyer’s journey of those opportunities. And as you would think, it’s all over the place. Right? One of my prime examples is we got a lead from a trade show. That lead referred us to his boss within the organization. That guy did a couple of webinars and we put them in a nurture. He responded to a nurture email and that got a meeting. So they create an opportunity. But then he went dark. Then he downloaded a white paper and then he came back and they reached back out to him. I was like, yes, this is all over. And this is over like again, a year plus.

Will Davis: So what do you can just model that behavior for everyone?

Moni Oloyede: How can serious decisions not figure this out? So, yeah, it’s not linear. It’s up and down and back and forth. And that’s typical. And trying to actually map that data in a chart is hard and probably not going to happen. But that’s what people want to see, right? The c-suite level wants to see a chart of something. I don’t know how to put that in the chart yet. If anyone’s figured it out, let me know. But that’s the struggle.

Will Davis: So, with all that said in the marketing ops role, everything from how are you measured to one of the different responsibilities — what’s that skillset look like when companies are looking to hire for marketing operations?

Moni Oloyede: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s tactical skills. I don’t necessarily think what you should be looking for is does this person know Marketo or know this tool? I think it’s a combination of: analytical is a key attribute of someone in this role. I think flexibility is a key for someone in this role because businesses and processes change all the time and they’re fast moving and you have to be agile. So, someone who’s not really stuck in their ways and is very flexible. Someone who can communicate very well, is very important. Those soft skills are important. I think you can teach anybody the tool, but that’s not the driver of what you should be looking for that type of role. You can teach people the tool, it’s not that hard.

Will Davis: I think it’s really interesting when you hit on communication. You and I have known each other a while. And that’s something that really sticks out to me as one of your amazing attributes, but I don’t think people typically think of operations roles and communication as a critical portion of that. But that really is, as you’ve talked about where you see success, it is being able to bridge those gaps, being able to build those relationships and be able to communicate.

Moni Oloyede: It’s what makes the role unique and kind of actually hard to find because you’re looking for a combination of an introvert and extrovert. You want the introvert part, the analytical part, and the extrovert part is the communications part. You have to work across buying committees and you have to work across different stakeholders within your organization. So it’s really key in trying to find those two things together is what makes filling the role very difficult not the technology background.

Will Davis: It’s the “ambivert” as Daniel Pink refers to it (I’ll give you a copy of that book later). So, we’ve talked really very little about technology, but let’s dive in there a little bit. What does your current marketing technology stack look like and what role did you have in selecting those tools (I’m sure inherited some as well)?

Moni Oloyede: Actually, I got to build my own stacks. I didn’t have much coming into it. I started with Marketo and Salesforce and that was basically it. There’s a local event here in the DC area called MarTech Magnified. And I spoke there this year and I spoke there last year about my stack and I wish I had a slide of my stack visually for you guys to see. But it was basically like three things. I didn’t really have much to go on. So I actually got the opportunity to build my stack, which has been cool. So our stack is the typical core. Obviously, we have Marketo as our marketing automation tool and Salesforce as our CRM. I was able to bring in a tool called Bright Info for the popups on our website. I know popups has been kind of very controversial as you know, of late as a tool. People think they’re kind of intrusive. I like them. I think they actually work as a kind of demand gen tool. I’m a pro popup person. So I brought that in. We could just to veer off the stack just a little bit there. The reason why I like them is because the more that you can engage people on your own website, the more success you’re going to have with them. So, that’s one of the things. A chat bot is another thing that’s very kind of successful. Like anything, all the tools that you can use while they’re on your site and engage and get them engaged is what’s going to be most successful. I have a Bright Info as our popups. We have Wistia as our video hosting and analytics tool. We have a tool called Caliber Mine, which we are using as a CDP or a customer data platform that merges with Marketo and our Salesforce data together to get a more unique singular view of our customer. So we’re doing that. We are trying to add on an ABM platform TBD on that one. We’ll see where we’re going to go with that one. But if, if we don’t go to ABM, then we’re definitely going to do some type of online advertising for sure. Obviously, we have Google Analytics as our analytics tool. That’s, you know, probably basic. And there’s a bunch of other small tools that’s the core. That’s kind of the heart of our stack right there.

Will Davis: Great. Shifting gears a bit, you and I have spoken to pass about some of your successful marketing programs. You mentioned Martech Magnified where I got to see you present on some of your successful programs. Talk to us a little bit about those and kind of the genesis of the programs and what made them stand out, what made them effective, particularly as you already identified, you know, long sales cycles, large buying committees, you know, things that feel like it may be hard to demonstrate success. So how did you come up with the ideas? And then how did they get into market?

Moni Oloyede: As would say, like just in general, anything that I’ve done from a programmatic or campaign standpoint that’s worked has been stacked on top of each other. So it’s not in a silo. Some people will say, I did this online advertising campaign and then I did this content syndication thing and then I did this white paper and then I got a blog over here. And it’s all siloed campaigns and then you try to evaluate which one is successful. And none of them really are because it doesn’t work like that. So, anything that I’ve done that has successful has been programmatic and I actually thought about how I bring someone from this one point to the next point, to the next point to get them to whatever the goal is and the goal can be different and that dictates the success of the program. Right? I think that’s the key to any type of program. I start with the goal and then work backward and I challenge my CMOs every time to define a goal that is not revenue. That’s the other key too as well. It’s like I don’t have any control over that. So give me something else. I’ll take MQLs. I’ll take a conversion rate. I’ll take account penetration for ABM or you know, give me another metric to work off of. That’s not just a revenue because a thousand things can go into the successful program that doesn’t result in revenue. Right? So we can say, if I got a content syndication program and I got 20,000 downloads, but no revenue, is it a success? Yes or no? It depends on what the goal of what I was trying to do is. So that’s why defining the goal is critical to the program.

So, I always tried to kind of establish that first and then work backwards. One of the things that we are working on right now is a basic competitive takeout campaign. And developing programs, because a campaign is going to have multiple steps to it, but developing that program — I was challenging my CMO. It’d be like, okay, so what’s the goal of this? And he was challenging me like, oh, revenue. I’m like, no, no, no. Let’s back this up. Is it meetings? If we get enough meetings, is that good enough? If I get MQLs is that good enough? if I improve the conversion rate or engagement rate, is that good enough? So pick one of these metrics to say this is success of the program or not? Because again, I don’t have any control over revenue.

So, I need to come up with another metric to define success here. And then based on what you tell me, I’m going to work backwards. So if it’s meetings, then I’m going to set my program up to get meetings, right? That’s a very different goal than getting engagement or conversion of the engagement, right? So if my goal is the conversion of the engagement, then I’m going to put a bunch of content gates and in this campaign over a series of emails or ads or whatever it is to get you to engage in the content and get the conversion of that. If it’s meetings, then I’m going to have a whole subset of this program be a campaign around sales in order to have sales nurture to get you meetings. See how my program changes based on the goals? So, let’s establish what that is and then we work backwards from there. So, any program that I have, that’s how I start. A couple of successful ones I did, I’ll talk about the one from Martech Magnified where we stack campaigns on top of each other into a program. That had a bunch of steps to it. So, we did a content syndication program with a company called Tech Target. Very popular in the cybersecurity space. And we were getting some intent data from them on like here are the areas of focus that people are interested in when they’re downloading your content and you’re like, oh, that’s great. We’ve got all this information, we have this intent data and they downloaded our content that’s marketing qualified, send it over to sales, call him right now. And sales would call them and be like, “they don’t know anything about us.” Like what are you talking this is a waste of my time. And we were like, oh yeah, that makes sense. They’re on a whole different third-party site and don’t know anything about us and just engaged in this one thing. And may or not have read it. That makes sense. So, we got the leads from Tech Target. We’re like, okay, let’s put them in a kind of welcome nurture. Let’s educate them on who we are, what we do, what our offerings are. That’s step one, that’s a three-month nurture. And just put them in there, don’t touch them. If they engage cool, if they raise their hand. That’s awesome. But if not, let’s let them ride. All right? They’re done with that. And we put them into a secondary, what we call air cover campaign, which is emails that come from sales. It was kind of softly asking for a meeting or to be more helpful, or if you need more information, just let me know. Trying to be a resource for them as well. So, it actually worked really well and we got an engagement, you know, to a certain extent in that. And then after we got some engagement for that, those people weren’t necessarily ready to buy. They got one to kick tires a little bit. So we ended up doing a direct mail piece for those people who actually did engage after that. And that was very, very successful. So at that point, you’re talking about nine months of where they didn’t know us at all. And now they’re familiar with our sales representatives and they’re familiar with our companies and feel much better about having a conversation about our products. And we just got them cold from a third-party site.

Will Davis: So very cool. I don’t want us to go without asking this question because you and I spoke about it briefly offline, what you just made as an example. People didn’t even know about you going all the way through to that engagement. I think many people now are valuing technology and marketing so high that maybe they’ve lost sight of, dare I say, brand. And as you said, you know, people not knowing who you are. And I know that’s a topic you’re very passionate about. Yes. The fundamentals of marketing. Yes. I think it is lost completely with the focus being on technology and revenue. I think that combination has forced people to kind of miss the foundational parts of marketing, brand, messaging, market analysis, you know, four p’s, you know, those kinds of things. I know, I can’t make magic out of nothing if you don’t want to have a brand presence and no messaging. Yeah. It seems kind of like a “Duh.” But how many companies miss those key fundamentals is shocking out here in the marketplace.

Will Davis: Yeah. And, yeah, Dov sitting here next to me as the AMA person smiling and nodding along. Definitely, definitely agreeing with you. So, one last question: I like to ask this of all of our guests. If you could give kind of early career Moni a piece of advice what would you tell her?

Moni Oloyede: Relax. Relax. I was very ambitious in my younger years and kind of always wanted to reach this goal that I didn’t know what it necessarily was, but when I got there I would know it and that’s really not the case. I’d have just chilled and relaxed and kicked it and just kind of road the wave a little bit. I think from a business standpoint, what I wish I would’ve told myself, it’s like this is all malleable and it can change. I think sometimes, especially like a seeing young marketing operations people, they think like once I set up this process, this was the process it’s going to be forever and I can’t ever mess it up and it has to be perfect the first time I do it. And it’s like, no, this is going to change constantly. Like you don’t understand probably by the month’s end somebody is going to come hit you with something new and you’re going to have to change it. So that’s my advice I give to kind of like all marketing ops professionals is: your goal is to not make it perfect. Your actual goal is to make it scalable, right? You got to give yourself enough room within the process in order for it to change. So, it’s like don’t choke-hold this and try to make it perfect and get what everybody wants and get all my stakeholders and make them all happy. It’s like, no, no, no, no. Make this, you know, a good enough process for right now and make it so that you can change it in the future.

Will Davis: Yeah. Flexibility and scalability. I mean, the earth spins every day. We’re all moving and things are constantly changing all the time. Great. Well, thanks so much for joining us today.