Why marketers and MOPs people need to be in a relationship

  • Brendan Farnand

    Brendan Farnand

    Co-Founder & CCO, Knak

Published Mar 5, 2024

Why marketers and MOPs people need to be in a relationship

Inside any company, the marketing operations (MOPs) people provide the foundational structure for the marketing department. They select, create, maintain and otherwise manage the processes and tools marketers use every day.

But that doesn’t mean that marketers and the MOPs people interact very much.

They should.

In fact, they should be in a relationship. A tight, cozy relationship.


Because my experience has shown that both MOPs people and marketers perform better when they listen to, interact with, and generally support one another.

And when they perform better, so does the company.

Let me explain.

MOPs people are essentially enablers. Their main reason for existing is to enable the marketing team to be successful.

But MOPs people and marketers in large enterprises generally do not work together or even sit together, and as a result they rarely connect on a daily basis.

Marketers work at what I call the coalface.

In coal mining, the coalface is where all the heavy work is done. It’s where the miners cut the coal out of the rock. Without miners with pickaxes hacking out the coal, the rest of the mining process doesn’t function.

In a company with products or services to sell, marketers are at the metaphorical coalface. Without them doing the hard work of seeking out and signing up new customers, the company won’t prosper.

MOPs people work a long way away from the coalface. To continue with the mine metaphor, they are in an office above ground. Their job is about staying on top of technological trends (has someone invented a more efficient pickaxe?) and evaluating the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. In other words, they take a holistic view of marketing, looking down at the whole process from above with what I’d call a drone’s eye view.

Marketers and MOPs people also operate at different speeds.

Marketers can be a bit manic.

They have numbers to hit, targets to meet.

So for them, it’s go, go, go, all day, every day. They rarely have time to come up for air.

The world of MOPs isn’t fueled by quite so much adrenaline. It’s more deliberate, more thoughtful, more holistic.

To complicate matters even more, marketers and MOPs people rarely report into the same group inside a company.

Marketers are usually part of the business unit, the part of the company that focuses on measuring profit and loss.

In that unit, it’s all about numbers and targets. I remember, when I was a field marketer, how scary it was to realize that I had to bring in enough business not only to pay for all our sales & marketing investments, but also to grow the company.

Talk about pressure!

MOPs people don’t have that kind of pressure on them.

They report to a global or central team, where the focus is enabling and supporting others. For them, success is not just about numbers, it’s about the overall success of the marketing and sales teams and overall business.

And of course there are many more marketers in a company than MOPs people. For every 100 marketers, there might be three or four MOPs people. So it can be difficult for marketers to even find them.

Given all that, is it any wonder marketers and MOPs people don’t connect?

And yet, they should.

That’s because connecting the two groups will improve everyone’s efficiency and prevent costly mistakes.

Marketers are so focused on the daily grind that they can sometimes miss the bigger picture. They need to connect with MOPs people to be up on the latest trends, the newest tools and the cutting-edge ideas. If they are using what’s current, they will improve their numbers.

And MOPs people should be talking to marketers to find out directly from the coalface what customers and prospects are saying and reacting to. They need to know which tactics, tools or techniques work best for their audiences – and which don’t work quite so well. Being in the loop will help them avoid costly mistakes, such as getting the company to invest in a process or technology that doesn’t resonate with prospects.

How do you get marketers and MOPs people to connect? How do you get them to enter into a relationship with one another – a happy, supportive and mutually beneficial relationship?

Basically, it comes down to being deliberate about making the connection.

MOPs people need to make the first move, since marketers have such frantic work days. It will help if other people in the company (in particular, the Chief Marketing Officer) encourage the relationship, but it really is down to MOPs people to get things going by reaching out. Perhaps start by having a conversation about your ideal marketing operations model and making that a reality.

There will be obstacles to overcome.

Geography, for example.

Field marketers generally live in the areas they service. The marketer for Mexico lives in Mexico; the marketer for Brazil lives in Brazil. So it takes some effort to make the connection.

An even bigger obstacle is just getting marketers to take time out of their busy schedules to listen to what MOPs people have to say.

The best way to do that is by making marketers understand how MOPs people can help them meet their targets.

MOPs people should be asking marketers specific questions about things that will help them boost their numbers:

  • Do you know about such-and-such new technology that can boost sales? Are you using it?
  • Are you using these new designs we’ve rolled out?
  • Are you using these cutting-edge new tactics we hear are really effective?
  • Do you feel enabled to use the new tool we trained you on last quarter?
  • Did you see that very successful campaign that was run in APAC last month?

MOPs people can also capture marketers’ attention by showing how they can track their success. They can ask questions like:

  • Do you know how your last campaign performed compared to industry benchmarks? No? Here’s how I can get you those figures…

My experience from having worked both as a marketer and a MOPs person is that marketers often don’t know they are using tools or techniques that are outdated or inefficient. But this is something they really do want to know, because they want to meet their targets and keep their numbers up. So if you can get their attention, they are ready to listen.

But it can’t just be a one-off thing. As with any relationship, each party should always be checking in with the other.

So marketers: Take a minute to reach out to someone from MOPs. I can guarantee you will find an ally who can help you improve your performance.

And MOPs people: Get to know the marketers in your company. Ask how their day is going. And listen to what they have to say. You will both get useful information.

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  • Brendan Farnand


    Brendan Farnand

    Co-Founder & CCO, Knak

    Brendan is a career enterprise marketer who's passionate about making modern marketing accessible to everyone. He has worked at organizations of every size, from startups to global enterprises, and is experienced with the full spectrum of marketing operations, including analysis, go-to-market strategy, asset creation, sales enablement, and demand generation. He also loves dad jokes, even though his kids do not.

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