Prioritize Marketing Operational Excellence in 2021

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Operational effectiveness is getting a mini-makeover with the phrase “operational excellence” taking its place in business lexicon. A review of earnings transcripts and financial analyst calls shows that business executives across industries as diverse as retail, life sciences and manufacturing refer to operational excellence while discussing 2021 plans. Consider these statements by CEOs: Execution in this challenging year continued to be guided by our enterprise strategic priorities of accelerating profitable growth, driving productivity and operational excellence, and empowering people. In pursuit of operational excellence, we've established operating targets designed to reduce the environmental footprint of operations while also reducing operating cost. Operational excellence is more inspirational than operational effectiveness, reflecting pressing mandates in business to address disruption and support digital experiences and innovation. Still, we cannot overlook Harvard Business School’s Michael E. Porter’s advice in “What Is Strategy” from 25 years ago, where he states that operational effectiveness is important, but not the sole ingredient to business success. Operational excellence must be accompanied by strategy. What does this mean for CMOs? Today’s CMOs must continue to eliminate inefficient processes, improve marketing results, motivate employees and support agility—all while ensuring that marketing programs are aligned to business strategy. As a CMO, where can you begin? Here are ways to make marketing operational excellence a priority in 2021: Document key elements of your strategy, establishing a plan for moving from your current marketing state to a desired future state. See “Strategic Plan on a Page for Marketing Leaders, 2020-2021.” Employ a marketing operations function. Develop well-defined responsibilities to avoid placing unrealistic demands on the new role. See “Marketing Operations Survey 2020: A Successful Function That Requires Change to Sustain.” Deploy a marketing work platform to better manage, prioritize and align projects to business goals. Gartner clients can review market trends and vendor categories in the report, “Market Guide for Marketing Work Management Platform.”

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