Justin Sharaf will lead a panel on marketing operations and AI at The MarTech Conference.

“Do more with less” is a popular theme in marketing today. I cringe every time I hear this phrase because it usually means one of two things:

  • Reduction of headcount with no reduction in expected results.
  • Reduction of budget with no reduction in expected results.

Including this phrase in your 2024 marketing plan deck may prompt at least one team member to start job hunting. Nobody wants their leader to tell them to “do more with less” because of what it will ultimately result in — missed targets. 

Instead of telling your team to “do more with less,” I’d recommend re-phrasing the statement to “Get more value out of what we have.”

I like that this rephrasing acknowledges gains can be made regardless of budget or headcount. Even if both are reduced, there are still gains to be made from what remains. Ideally, this means the leader is willing to risk that results can improve with more efficiency and focus on existing efforts. Any good MOps professional would agree. 

So, if the leader is willing to take that risk, what areas should they focus on to “get more value out of what we have”?

1. Complete a department-wide technical skills evaluation

Before jumping in and downsizing people and technology, a better first step is to audit the marketing team’s skills. This can be done through a survey, through employee interviews or an external audit.

Understanding who uses which technology and the team’s skills in those tools is crucial. It helps identify essential tools and personnel versus those that are optional.

This shouldn’t be just limited to the operations team but should be done for the entire department. Everyone uses tools and should be measured on their ability to use them effectively.

Dig deeper: How experimental marketers can drive martech utilization

2. Training and enablement on existing technology

Many technology vendors will tell you that most of their customers use a very small percentage of the features and functionality of their tools. Why is this? I believe it’s because MOps teams are not given the direction, trust or time to learn the full power of their martech stack. They are told to evaluate, implement and execute as quickly as possible and never spend enough time mastering the tools themselves or training others to use them.

If the CMO clearly articulates that an important priority for the department is for everyone to learn to use the tools in the martech stack, I am very confident that results will improve due to increased efficiency and productivity.

Bonus: If the MOps team and the larger marketing team begin to use more features and functionality of the existing tools, they may realize they don’t need other redundant tools. Not only will they “get more value out of what they have,” but they will have the added benefit of reducing spend.

Dig deeper: In this economy CMOs need to spend more on training, not tech

3. Review vendor contracts objectively with an open mind

In a “do more with less” scenario, leaders often consider canceling vendor contracts to cut costs. They might also switch from a pricier vendor to a cheaper one, which could lead to significant internal change management efforts, consuming hundreds of hours.

On the other hand, leaders who adhere to “getting more value out of what we have” will renegotiate current vendor contracts. They do this to either lower costs for the same features and functions or to get extra features and functions for the same price.

Paying less for the same and paying the same for more are huge wins. However, the team must still invest time and resources toward learning and using the tools in both cases.

In 2024, as leaders face business pressure, making the most of what you already have is a smart move. Instead of spending more money, invest in extra training and features to maximize the value of your existing tools.

Dig deeper: 4 ways to get more value from your martech investments

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