How marketing ops can learn to speak C-suite

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The scenario is all too common: a marketing operations team, armed with detailed analytics and performance metrics, presents their latest campaign results. A busy CEO, however, now barraged with marketing terms from CTR and ROAS to Z-score and SERP,  may struggle to piece together their place in the bigger picture of business objectives.

This disconnect isn’t just a minor inconvenience; it’s a significant barrier to strategic alignment and shared success. At the heart of this issue lies an important issue: MOps must learn to speak the C-Suite language.

Why the disconnect?

MOps is increasingly recognized as the backbone of successful marketing strategies, wielding data, technology, and analytics to drive decision-making. However, the value of these efforts often gets lost in translation when communicating with executive leadership. 

The C-Suite, primarily focused on the bottom line, growth, and shareholder value, requires insights presented in a language that resonates with their strategic vision.

The challenge for MOps is not just about simplifying jargon but about reframing their insights and metrics in a context that underscores their impact on overall business health and growth. It’s about transforming data into narratives that capture the attention of the C-Suite, connecting the dots between marketing activities and the company’s broader goals. 

This alignment is crucial for securing executive buy-in, justifying budgets, and shaping future marketing strategies that are not only innovative but also intrinsically aligned with the company’s ambitions and targets.

Or to put it in marketing terms: make sure you’re speaking the language of your target audience. That includes speaking in terms of what matters to them.

The impact of misalignment

This lack of alignment often leads to initiatives that, while innovative and well-executed in their own right, don’t support or advance the broader business objectives set by executive leadership. And the consequences of this miscommunication can be huge:

Paddling in two directions

Sometimes, the marketing team is heading in one direction while the execs are in another. This mismatch means everyone’s working hard, but not necessarily together, which can water down the results we’re all after.  A cutting-edge social media campaign focusing on brand awareness doesn’t do much good when the C-Suite’s primary goal is to increase direct sales.

Poorly allocated resources

Imagine putting time and money into a marketing project that doesn’t quite fit with what the company needs. It’s a “square peg plus round hole” situation, and it can lead to a lot of wasted effort and resources.

Missed opportunities

Now and then, the marketing folks have some golden insights that could make a difference in the big picture. But if these nuggets get overlooked or undervalued, there can be a high opportunity cost.

Consider a scenario where a company might invest in a new marketing automation tool like HubSpot, but the C-Suite is unaware of its potential impact on customer experience and revenue. The Marketing Ops team is excited about the capabilities of HubSpot – from tons of automation and easier social media management to better analytics tools and alignment with sales.

However, the C-Suite, not fully understanding the tool’s potential, views this as just another marketing expense rather than a strategic investment. Without someone to speak their language, they might miss out!

Beware the (marketing) language barrier

With so many terms and so little time the world of MOps, jargon, abbreviations, and acronyms are commonplace. This type of terminology is great when you’re around people who live and breathe a topic as well as you do — it saves time and makes communication easier.

Yet technical terms often act as a barrier when communicating with any non-MOps people (here we go already, shortening things), and that includes the C-Suite. Executives may find themselves having to sift through the sea of terms, which can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for alignment.

So what can marketers do when communicating with leadership?

  • Connect the dots: Demonstrate how marketing strategies align with overarching business objectives, such as market expansion or brand recognition. Show how these metrics impact the bottom line.
  • Speak plainly: Pay attention to how you use acronyms and technical terms, and try to avoid them when possible.
  • Get creative: Consider whether you should use analogies or relatable scenarios to explain complex or lesser-known marketing concepts.
  • Narrative-first: Use storytelling techniques to present data. Instead of just showing numbers, tell the story about what this data means for the business.

Consider how you might dig a little deeper into the “why” in the terms you use. Personalized customer interactions at scale? That translates to better customer experience, which means higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. Sophisticated analytics tools? Maybe you mean insights into new market opportunities, or the chance to optimize your process to convert more leads.

When you frame your marketing achievements in terms that resonate with C-Suite priorities—like market growth, operational efficiency, and revenue generation—you bridge the gap between technical expertise and strategic business impact. This alignment is not just about improving communication; it’s about driving your organization toward its goals and securing the resources your team needs to thrive.

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