In this episode we talk with Toby Murdock from Highway Education about the gap in the market today for Marketing Ops talent. He is focused on providing training, education and opportunities to people who are early in their career and want to get into Marketing Operations.
We talk about the gap, why there isn’t a “traditional” educational model for Marketing Ops (hint: it’s about incentives in the university system) and more.
Recorded live August 19, 2021.
PASTE TRANSCRIPT HERE
Hi, I’m Michael Hartmann, I’m Naomi Lou,and I’m Mike Rizzo. And this is ops cast, a podcast for marketing ops pros and rev ops pros created by the MO Pros. The number one community for marketing operations tune into each episode. As we chat with real professionals to help elevate you in your marketing operations career.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 22 of ops cast by the MO Pros. I’m Michael Hartmann. Today I’m joined by my cohost Mike Rizzo, Mike. Hey everybody today, we are excited to talk to Toby Murdock. Who’s the CEO and co co-founder of highway education. He’s with us here to talk about the gap in marketing ops training and education.
Something that if you listen to our episode two episodes ago, we talked a little bit about what that means, and he’s especially doing that for those that are early in their career. So highway ed is a B Corp with a social mission to expand opportunity to inclusion. He is also a multi-time founder and CEO all with successful exits his last business Kapost was a content marketing platform for B2B businesses that raised $19 million.
Sold it for 52 million. Sounds like a pretty good return, Toby. Thanks for joining us today. Michael and Michael, thank you so much for having me delighted to be here. Awesome. So, uh, let’s just go ahead and dive right into this. So I think the first question for our listeners and I’m interested is what prompted you to start highway.
Sure. Well, thanks again, guys, for having me. Um, as you mentioned, I started a company called Kapost, which hopefully some of your listeners recognize that I appreciated their, uh, their being customers back then. And so I’ve been in B2B marketing tech for quite a long while. And, um, I know the space and, uh, in 2019 selling Kapost I sort of had some distance from the industry.
It was also kind of an interesting time for what was going on in society. If, if we all remember there, that was right. When a lot of the BLM movement got going, uh, then we rolled into the 20, 20 election and there was just a lot of tumbled, um, and frustration venting in our society. And I looked at all that and I thought, gosh, behind that frustration is just, uh, people who are pissed, who just don’t have.
Opportunity. And a lot of the pathways and structures that we had for an industrial society, for people to like reach prosperity just are not working well as we’re more in a information economy, in a digital economy. So, um, I became interested in wanting to. Do something to provide pathways to, you know, for people to enter in and participate in the digital economy and more accessible, more inclusive pathways.
And then, because I’ve been, um, in B2B, uh, digital marketing, uh, I thought that was a good place to start. And, uh, that’s how highway was.
Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s hard to believe that like all that stuff you just described happened in the last two years. It’s crazy, right? Um, yeah, I was talking to somebody earlier today. It was like 2020 was the longest decade I’ve lived through. Um, so, um, okay. So one of the things we we’ve talked about this.
With many of our guests and we definitely had an episodes about this was just what is marketing operations. And one of the things we kind of run into is there’s a lack of consistency in what the scope of marketing ops is. And the definition, what, you know, when you think about marketing operations and what you’re doing with, uh, with highway, right?
How do you, what do you do? What do you think of as the definition of, of marketing? I think of marketing ops is the function that’s responsible for the tools, processes, and metrics behind marketing. Um, hopefully that’s not too simplifying it, but I’ve always thought of it as, uh, as those things. And obviously as, um, marketing.
It’s becoming much more scientific and much, much more critical part of the overall revenue engine, those processes, those metrics, and especially those tools are becoming more and more and more important. And I think as that happens, marketing ops role and it’s important, and its criticality within marketing continues to grow.
Yeah, I would definitely agree. And I think, um, one of the, you know, Toby you, and I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to not only do that great event, um, you know, the hot market for, for talent right now. And we talked a bit about this, on that webinar, but also have talked on the side a handful of times. And I think one of the things that I’ve, you know, really find, um, particularly like fascinating and interesting about your model is.
This idea that, you know, you’re giving people access to this technology. That’s becoming so critical, um, to these revenue generating departments and rolling. Um, because it’s a real struggle to, to hire into that. Like I was just sitting with my friend and we’re talking about how, um, you know, on a lot of these pages audit agency, for example, it says needs agency experience.
You see the same thing, even for something that’s not a terribly, um, advanced role. You’ll see that. And then the same is true. Marketing operations stuff where it’s like, you know, needs HubSpot experience. It’s like, well, how do you get that? It’s a whole carpet for the horse chicken and egg thing, right. Is problem.
I mean, exactly. There’s this lunacy almost. I’d say that’s going on, on, on both sides of the equation. So we saw serve two sides of a market, right? We, uh, we serve aspiring young professionals who are looking to enter the digital economy, particularly through marketing. And then we serve. Employers marketing operations employers who are looking to hire a talent.
So, but both sides need each other, right? So young people they’re there, there are so many underemployed, young people who, people who are, you know, they’re working, but they’re not working at their potential. Um, they, they don’t have the pathway to the opportunity to work at their greatest potential. Um, and then, uh, on the flip side, there’s a lot of employers.
We’re really struggling to find talent. And Lord knows specifically. Marketing operation. There’s a gigantic shortage, right? Marketing operations, as we talked a little bit about has skyrocketed in terms of its criticality to companies. And so the demand for the function and for talented professionals is through the roof, but compare marketing operations to like mechanical engineering, right?
Like both things where there’s a lot of demand and people pay a lot for, it became cool engineering. We have in our society. You know, a systems that generate a new crop of well-qualified talent every year and they just kind of come off the assembly line in marketing operations. There’s no such thing.
You no wonder we have this shortage, it’s fricking crazy. And this is what I’m thinking about. Kind of our old system of preparing and training. Young people is not keeping up with the pace of change of the digital economy. And it’s creating problems. Both society wise in this frustration for aspiring young people who aren’t, um, you know, meeting, meeting their potential and also critically for employers and for businesses who can’t find the talent.
So. All we’re really doing is trying to serve as a bridge, kind of connecting those groups because they are what they really need is to each other. And we’re just trying to kind of connect them together with some training in between. Yeah, yeah. That, that makes, that makes a ton of sense. And it’s, I’m so glad that you’re doing this.
Like for so many years, I earlier in my career, I said, I just. In fact, I gave a speech about this at my college on my way out. And I said something to the effect of, you know, we need to spend more time thinking about the apprenticeship model that we left many, many, many moons ago. We left that behind, um, and figure out how do we, how do we weave that back in?
And then, you know, fast forward a handful of years and bootcamps for launched and then, you know, for code schools and things like that. And so that’s sort of taking that model right now. Now we’re getting into something. That’s not sitting on that model. Sorry, go ahead. Well, I was like what you were just saying, like really hits me cause I, you know, I’m a parent.
Soon to be like college age in quotes. Right. Um, student. And I think he, along with others in his age group are like, is college worth it? Right. And I think, I think having alternatives like this for specific expertise where, you know, maybe you don’t really need a college degree, but you need, you need something that an employer wants.
Right. That they’re going to need so that you can get the basics. And I know my first job out of college was one where I really learned the value of hiring smart people who are willing to learn and, and then teaching them what they needed to learn. So, I mean, I was taught, this will really age me. I was taught COBOL at my first job.
Right. I had never used cobalt,
but like one of the people I was in, in a, in a training group was, uh, had been a religion major. And she was smart as hell. Right? And so it was a real eye-opener for me, who had been in an engineering that, you know, it, you know, places can teach you as long as you’re willing to put in the effort and learn.
So I love what that, what that does. And Michael, I love the point that you raised too, because a part of, I think of the status quo, not working well is the exorbitant cost of college and university degree today, which is crazy and the really, really horrible outcomes that delivers its customers. So, you know, you mentioned schools like duke or SMU, you know, those sorts of elite institutions still deliver.
Good outcomes. Although they cost a ton, but you know, most people don’t go to those schools. And in fact, this. Uh, in my research that I find of every seven students in the U S who enroll in college to get to a good outcome. I E a job that required the college degree, the other five either end up underemployed and that they have jobs that didn’t require a college degree and are paying way less and, and frankly can never pay back their debt.
Or, um, they don’t finish and get that degree at all. And, and here we are with $1.7 trillion in student debt and counting. So I think, you know, we need better systems, not only to satisfy the employers, but also defined to have something that’s much more inclusive and accessible economically for people. Um, in order to get into these kinds of, uh, prosperous well-paying jobs.
Yeah. Yeah, totally agree with that. Just pulling on the thread of like inclusivity and community kind of aspects, obviously like from our angle, right. We care a lot about elevating each other inside of the MO Pros community. Um, and, and it’s, it kind of goes hand in hand with the conversation of this idea of apprenticeship, right.
And being nurtured by someone who’s been there or can teach you things because that’s their role. Um, can you just, uh, you know, I, I realized this, this show is not about just promoting higher education, but it is about the communal aspect of like, Y you’re you as a B Corp, why we as a community exists and it’s, you know, this idea of like teaching each other and elevating.
Um, just for the listeners who are just trying to understand, like, how do you come up with your curriculum? Obviously I know about it, but I’d love to hear it right out of your mouth, the nurturing and the concern and the empathy from the marketing operations community. Has been critical for us, uh, to, to get, uh, our school off the ground and rolling.
So we had a number of folks and there’s kind of too many to list them all here. Um, but who helped us develop our curriculum to your point? So we had a group of around 12. That trends in marketing operations. And, and so I have a great co-founder her name’s Lee Oxley. She used to lead education and training at Eloqua.
So she’s has a unique blend of training and it just kitchen skills, but we didn’t want to make any assumptions. So we wanted to. Black blank, slate and fit. And we asked these advisors and said, okay, so for a junior level mops role, what capabilities do you want? And then we work backwards from there. So we had all sorts of help from those people.
Um, I’ve had all sorts of help from, uh, mentors, every one of our students that our current program has mentors in these. Marketing operations folks who are volunteering their time and meeting, uh, with our students oftentimes, uh, once a week or even more frequently to just help them through the program.
And then frankly, I have a first kind of. Uh, group of employers who are right now, uh, evaluating our students, um, and, and seeing if they’re good fits for hiring. And again, at a lot of really kind of concerned, you know, marketing operations folks who, yeah. They want to fill a business need and hire good talent, but they’re also really supportive of our mission as well.
So across the board, Mike, we’ve had tons of support from, from the wider marketing operations committee. Yeah, and I think it’s just credence to, to the need. Right. So I, I, and I love, I just loved your approach and it was, it was great to bring you onto the show in the, in the other events that we’ll continue to work on together, but, um, championing the cause of education through, through, you know, peers and, and things like that.
It’s been. Thank you. Do we love doing it to Toby? I want to kind of drill in a little bit. So you brought up mechanical engineering, so that’s near and dear to my heart. I actually was like lead the, I was the president of the geeks at my university, my last year. And part of what I had to do was help support the, you know, the mechanical and civil engineering programs from getting cut.
Right, but there, but you’re right. They exist. Why do you, so why do you think there’s this gap? Right. And what are the, you’ve mentioned some data points about what you’ve seen. What, what, what do you think are the drivers for having this gap on clearly there’s this there’s been a growth in marketing operations, regardless of how it’s defined.
Right. And the need for that. You know, why, why aren’t. There universities or other traditional kind of places where people would get education that are catching up with that outside of the only place I know of are places like yours that are just getting started or vendors. Yeah. I just think universities, frankly, without being too preachy, but they just don’t have the incentives to change.
Now they have a lot of tenured faculty in the whole model for universities. Is, you know, they get the tuition paid up front and they don’t really care about the outcome for the students. I mean, they care some, but the actual, you know, someone up in administration or maybe at admissions cares, but the actual faculty in the business school, or in this case, you know, the marketing section of the business school really doesn’t care at all.
And they’re certainly not an incentivized to change. Marketing and specifically marketing operations, it’s been changing super fast and these kinds of faculty members are just not in touch with all those changes and don’t have the skills, the knowledge to, to bring that training to bear. So we have a very different model.
Tries to do two things. One, it tries to make things, um, more economically accessible and that’s more inclusive, uh, in terms of what we’re doing in to aligns incentives. So we don’t charge our students upfront. Um, and, and so, you know, again, it makes it much more economically viable for people to join in our program.
And then it’s only if, and when they get a job in marketing operations, that they owe us the tuition and they. By little over time. So we are very incentivized to be in, in, in great connection with marketing operations and employers and the needs of employers and ensuring that our curriculum is, is teaching the skills that employers want because we only succeed if our students succeed, but their objective of getting hired.
So. You know, the ultimate answer. Your question is, is incentives alignment. And I just think the traditional model of the university doesn’t have the incentive alignment to, to drive that curriculum, staying up to date. And so, but it changes so fast. As marketing operations has it falls behind in the model we’re trying to bring to bear has as incentives, much better align, and hopefully we’ll be able to stay a lot more current with what employers want and thus be able to generate that in the talent that comes out of our program.
Yeah, it makes, it makes a lot of sense. I hadn’t thought about the incentives that are there for, you know, university professors and whatnot. That’s, that’s a good point. So you bring up the skills, right? So. You know, at this, at this we’ve talked a lot, I think about how people have somewhat stumbled into marketing ops.
Right? And so we’ve learned things along the way, but I’m always curious to hear what other people, especially leaders are looking for when they hire a junior kind of level of people. What are, what are you hearing from your, you know, your advisors and then putting into your curriculum as the most important skills that you’re teaching for those folks who are wanting to enter in.
Sure. So I can, uh, let me answer that through a few phases. So one, as you might expect, they, they wanted kind of three major buckets of capabilities. One is obviously the technical skills inside of marketing, marketing automation tools. Um, the ability to. Those tools as well as other tools, you know, that, that we know mops, people have to use a lot.
So a lot of V lookups and pivot table capabilities inside of Excel, the example. No, no, you’re talking my language. Yes, exactly. That, that reality. Right. So we needed those skills, but then. No, they can’t just have those skills and not understand the business context. So we want them to understand what a buyer’s journey is and what a persona is and a messaging strategy, and, you know, a waterfall, you know, or, you know, a funnel forecast.
So we teach all of those things and then they went. Uh, a certain level of communication and collaboration skills, because obviously mops is a team sport. So we have those three buckets generally. And then when we drill them further, we said, okay, how, why do you guys want to go in terms of the span of capabilities?
Like, do we want to get out? Advanced lead scoring and you know, a really sophisticated ABM. And they’re like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You know, not for this role. We want them to do the basics, but we don’t want them to have just like passed a test that certifies that they can do set basics. We want them to have actually done the basic.
Over and over and over again, and thus be, um, experienced and comfortable enough that third job ready on day one. But you know, the real, the real value add for employers that they, these people are job ready, and that employers do not have to invest a lot of time and resources and training them. So that really gave us, you know, we give them a little exposure obviously to what lead scoring is and, uh, you know, an ABM, but we’ve.
Based on these inputs we got from employers, we tighten the scope, but then we have what we call practicum. So for every kind of dose of training, we give two or three doses of practicum of, of, of projects that simulate the real job and them doing it over and over and over again. So that again, they. They haven’t just passed a test, but they’re really familiar.
They’re comfortable and they’re ready to go. And then what we found is all of that real world. Has them, um, it fills up a portfolio of project artifacts that really serve as, as, um, rich demonstration of that capability. So now that our employees are coming in, we walk the employers through these project portfolios and they give material for that conversation and for that evaluation.
So our employers can see. Are, you know, our students have made, have interviewed a stakeholder and made a campaign brief and built out an audience inside a map system and built a campaign and its artifacts and built a metrics dashboard and built a waterfall analysis to forecast, you know, what this campaign’s going to generate.
And all these artifacts are again, the kind of material for discussion and for evaluation. That’s really how the capabilities and, and how we’re operating the program have evolved. That’s awesome. I, um, I’m curious though, if in the middle of the practicums that you, uh, you have like someone interject and say, actually, I need you to do this one before that one, and then force them to fires to be put out.
Right? The other, your, your professor’s actually asking that you do this one first instead, and then come back to. No, we do try to simulate the real world. So halfway through all assignments, we erase the assignments and take a new set of assignments because what we heard from employers is they just need that agility and that resilience against the insanity of, you know, corporate priorities.
Yeah. There you go. Perfect. I love it. cardiovascular training for marketing ops, right? It’s like that endurance endurance. Yeah. I love that. That’s that’s awesome. Uh, so you talked about the, I think you’ve focused a little bit on the tactical ones. I know when, uh, when Mike and Naomi Lou who’s our other co-host w we talked a couple of weeks ago about, uh, This kind of topic in general.
We, sir, I think we settled on the term soft skills, which I think you alluded to Toby, like the ability to communicate and that kind of stuff. How are you, how are you helping the folks learn those skills? Cause I, I personally think those are almost, if not more important than the technical skill. Yeah. W w we, we teach them very overtly, you know, even basics like calendaring.
So, you know, a lot of people haven’t been in context necessarily where calendars or how. You know, the Workday gets organized and, uh, you know, that calendar requests are important and you need to respond to them and you need to, uh, you know, say yes or no, and, and you need to have a Calendly link up and you need to be responsive to stuff that comes in and, and, and show up.
And so we. We’ve you know, so we have a little miniature lesson like that, about that at the beginning, and say how, you know, you have to be accountable to these things. And if, if you miss out on these basics, the employers will write you off before they even see, you know, your next level of capabilities and, and see what you can actually do in these tools and these systems.
So. That’s just one example of a lot of these kind of basic skills that we put through and then sort of higher level soft skills. Again, the key in, and Mike brought it up, but is the support we’re getting from the community and a lot of our mentors. So, you know, we role play again and again and again with our students.
So that. You know, are actually practicing these soft skills and getting feedback. So these soft skills occur when, you know, we’re, we’re running a project and now they need to give a presentation to the stakeholder on how the campaign performed. And that’s really hard to do in a vacuum, but if you have.
Mentors who are those director level stakeholders, you know, putting in the time and volunteering the time to, to run those role plays and give feedback on how they’re going. That’s really what has enabled us to, to work on the softer side of things. I love that. I love that the role-playing that comes in and all of the, like real-world examples and, and personally, like throughout my career and kind of marketing operations, like if anybody’s listening to this, who’s a student or would be student of higher ed in the future.
Um, and you know, I’m not your students, so you may cover this. But, uh, just one thing that I just was remembering is in those presentations where you’re talking about campaign performance, sometimes it’s really hard to remove yourself as. Like, like somehow the results are reflecting on you. Like the campaign, the campaign didn’t perform.
Um, no. Yeah. That is not your fault. Yeah. Right. And that’s like, we probably miss because you know, our data, isn’t actually real, definitely all the campaigns perform, but yeah, that’s probably, and the professionalism to kind of keep your composure, regardless of the performance, it’s still have a professional conversation.
That’s an important thing. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s hard. And so like, those are the things that you will pick up in a, maybe in an, even more real world, a real job. Right. Um, but just for those listening, uh, for the sake of saying it, most of the time, it’s not your fault, the data might not be that great. And it’s, it’s not going to be completely.
So don’t take it so personally, well, and there are going to be, I will say, like, I think every one of us, I had somebody at my last role who was new to this, and I remember the nervousness that CA that she experienced when she was about to do her first email blast. Right. And, and I was like, I have those every day and it doesn’t go away or should.
And the message I said is good. You should be actually, that’s a good thing. Right. It’s like stage. Right. But the other. There’s actually going to be a problem at some point, and you’re going to have to accept that. Right. And it may be your fault. They may maybe, you know, shared responsibility, but you’d say the other part is taking that responsibility and knowing how it, how to deal with it.
Um, yeah, totally. That’s why we spun up that series on, uh, you know, Oh, no, it’s great. We all haven’t we, but you have to learn to deal with it, or sometimes it is your fault and you still have to learn how to deal with it. I’m like, yeah. You know, none of us is, uh, you know, saving lives in the Wells. Maybe there are a few handful of people in marketing ops that are doing something that actually is going to affect some people’s life outcomes, but.
Probably mostly majority of us aren’t right. Just because I accidentally uploaded a million blink records to my database. I want to crawl under a rock and die, but you know, it’s probably not the end of the world. Right. So Toby, what another question I have, I mean, I think it’s somewhat related is. Maybe it’s two part, like, is there anything that you, you know, you, you don’t have in the curriculum that you think based on the feedback you’ve already gotten, you should have any topics or areas to cover.
And then kind of second, how are you approaching as, as the, as the landscape changes over time, right? How are you planning to approach adjusting the curriculum based on, uh, the led changing landscape and the results you’re getting for people going into jobs? Sure. You know, I would say we really surveyed, uh, employers and we thought we’d hit all the bases and designing the curriculum.
The one thing that, um, Then I’ve heard a lot from the employers who we’re working with right now is, um, sales, engagement platform. So sales loft in the lake, and they’re like, and we’d like you to, you know, run our Marketo and connect it to Salesforce and then make sure it operates well with sales loft as well, or w w you know, whatever flavor of, of that tool.
And I was like, oh crap. Like I didn’t license that we, we don’t have like, Well, part of our curriculum exposes, uh, of our students to the, uh, ecosystem and, uh, so that they’re aware of all the tools and what they do, but I’m also, I’m starting to wonder whether sales engagement platforms should be something that we license.
The next they have is a hands-on hands-on part of the training. So that’s what I would say in terms of what we might be missing. The key to how we continue to evolve. Um, the, the program is staying in terms of curriculum is staying close to the employers. And so we have a great first set of employers who are evaluating students right now.
I’ve been very upfront with them and saying, um, I’m all ears for your feedback, not just about the students and their capabilities, but this process, because I’m organizing a process like next week. Speed dating where everyone’s going to beat everyone really quickly for little five minute meetings and sort of make making that up, frankly.
And, and so I want their feedback on the process, you know, speed dating helpful. Was it a waste of time, et cetera, et cetera. But obviously of course, you know, feedback on, um, on, on the capabilities that are emerging and, and you know, what do we need to do better? How do we need to evolve? What’s coming, you know, I have a.
What I really, if I, if we succeed well, I want to hopefully to have some employers who look to us on a recurring annual basis, and then those people, if we have a really good close relationship with them, you know, you know, we want to have just like a software company, a customer council who who’s willing to on a recurring basis, spend time on.
The feedback and give us indications on, on how we should continue to evolve our curriculum and our process. Another part of our process is we’re planning on having, or at least we’re suggesting, but not requiring a, an apprenticeship, like back to your term. So they go through the program, um, while they’re finishing the program.
We’re saying, okay, hire these folks. Part-time like 10 or 15 hours a week for a nominal fee. So, you know, both sides get to know each other a little bit more, um, before they have to make a final decision. So, um, a lot of people in this kind of field of, um, emerging post-secondary education, They talk about removing friction.
You know, when we talk about removing friction from the buying process, obviously in mops, this is about removing friction from the hiring process. Right. And so, you know, for an employer, it’s gosh, do I know this person well enough to make a yes or no right now? We’re like, Hey, you don’t have to make a yes or no right now.
Bring them on for, for 10 hours a week for a while. Get a little bit more data and then make that yes or no. So these are all the kind of aspects of our process that we’re experimenting with. And hopefully we’ll get a lot of good feedback from an input from employers and keep learning how we can make it better and better.
Yeah. I love that. And I think it’s great for the students, right? Like they’re just getting, you know, when you create programs like that, for that feedback loop, um, it’s just an opportunity that just, you know, doesn’t happen very often. And, um, I’m curious though. As it relates to some of the conversations that you are having with these employers, they’re giving you feedback on kind of obviously your unique, um, kind of product and your offerings and you know, how you’re helping these students enter the market.
Um, have you found a, like, do they consistently. View this role. Is there some sort of consistency, like where the executives understand the importance of it or, um, there, you know, or is it really just most of your conversations coming down to like, what are the tactical like skills that these, these people that you, you, you know, ABC Corp specifically need for a particular entrant into this.
Or has there been like some sort of clarity on like I, all of these companies are saying something similar about the importance of having someone in this function. You know? Oh yeah, I see what you’re saying. So we’re basically only talking to employers who already have a marketing ops function because our people are frankly too junior to be the first member of that function.
So that’s not really a conversation we’re having a ton just because, yeah, there’s, there’s at least already one person. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That makes, that makes a lot of sense. Um, yeah, I think we’re, you know, we’ve talked about this pretty openly on the podcast. We’re working on ways to just think about like, how do we help these, uh, these employers and these executives understand the, the day in day out function and the importance of this.
Um, you know, I think, I think sometimes it gets lost at the C-suite or executive level, you know? Like what is it that you do all day long? Yeah. Marketing operations.
What’s that the office space question. Yes, totally. Yeah. It seems crazy to me that that question would be asked, but I guess I’ve been like, you guys have been kind of involved in this for too long to think. Otherwise, I guess some really big companies that are newer to this sort of need that. That’s still a big question.
I think, I mean, yeah. And we’d kind of hit on it a little bit earlier on in this conversation, right. Where, like, there just seems to be a lack of like definition around the function. Um, and, and, you know, you’re, you’re teaching, you’re giving your students, um, real world access to tools and helping them, um, just check some boxes that are, that are really helpful to get that first little step in the door.
But like the reality is that there isn’t a common. Well understood and established definition for what it means to be a professional in this space. It’s it’s wide ranging. In fact even said like, oh, Uh, maybe we should think about sales and how that, how you interface with like sales solutions. Right. And it’s like, well, does that start to touch on sales ops or not?
People think about it? I mean, I don’t know if you know this question of how executives should understand what marketing ops does. Most companies that we probably be talking about they’ve but these TEDS sales ops probably for quite some time. And I think the quick explanation is like, okay, remember back in the day when marketing was just like, did the brochures and maybe the events and was just kind of like just kind of pretty, pretty, uh, finding things for sales, you know, how that’s changed a ton of now, like marketing is at least an equal partner in the revenue.
Well, because marketing is do that. It needs marketing ops, just like sales has always had sales ops.
one of my theories is that, you know, it’s just a general inconsistency in marketing type marketing job titles in general. Right? I mean, demand gen can be. Very different things. If other organizations, you know, yeah. I almost never hear marcomm anymore, but I hear field marketing right. In revenue marketing, or so, uh, I think I, and I think that has led to some of the lack of consistency in the terminology for.
Marketing ops or the scope of marketing ops, which, so this is an interesting question. So what do you think that, um, programs like what you’re doing at highway ad and others? I know there’s maybe a handful of others out there that are trying to address this. Do you think that’s going to help drive the industry to a little more consistency in what the scope and definition of marketing ops is?
Or. Like w or, or, or do you think there’s going to be the other way around, do you think there’s going to eventually be more cause see in the definition, which is going to lead to, you know, more opportunities to do like very specific training around it? I don’t know. I don’t know if we’re going to become like university.
Is that more the PhDs that are like declaring what’s happening? I think we’re being much more vocational than that. Uh, I think people like you guys are really smart people in marketing ops will probably make those definitions. And as the w word, this focused on helping marketing operations implement.
Find and hire junior level talent, and then helping aspiring professionals break into the digital economy, um, via marketing and marketing ops. I’m just, uh, in all candor, Michael, I feel like my plate is so full with that. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make these definitions. There’s P there’s a lot of other people who are a lot smarter about what’s happening in marketing ups than I am, who will probably be much better suited and make.
Definitions. This is to being honest and not. I lie. I love that. I think, uh, you know, frankly, as we March towards creating our, you know, what we, as a community are working on defining as a certified marketing operations professional, I think we’re going to learn from you, right? We’re going to, I wouldn’t have probably pick your brain and whoever you want to introduce us to.
Right. All right. Well, what are you teaching to your entry level students? And then how does that apply to, you know, ideally this, this, this established and accepted, you know, uh, way to think about marketing operations as you, as you progress through your career. Um, so probably an opportunity for us for, to learn from you.
Maybe there is maybe the issue is less about having a common definition, but helping to educate. The, uh, stakeholders that we work with, whether it’s, you know, up the chain through the senior leadership, in marketing and sales or across to other, other parts of the organization, what it, what it is we do.
Right. Um, and helping that, like understand the value that we’re providing. To the organization, maybe this should be less focused on what is the scope? What do we, how do we put boundaries around it a bit more about how do we help enable the business and become it kind of gets back to this wire. How do we get involved with the strategic discussions about how we’re going to go to market and drive revenue?
Can I bring up another topic? I don’t know what etiquette is absolutely related, but can I expand on. So I’m curious, you guys, what you guys think of marketing ops and it’s fit within revenue operations? Because as I, you know, I, when I was the CEO of a SAS company that got, you know, over a hundred people and pretty big, and, uh, we, I think pretty early, I think as in 2017 that we, like, I was like, we have rev ops, which for us was very small.
It was like two or three people, but I was like, I want rev ops because. I want one source of the truth about what is happening across the entire customer journey, marketing, sales, success, everything, um, and goodness gracious. I made a lot of dumb decisions, but, uh, that I felt was a really good one. It really helped our whole business work so much better to have one team to be responsible for all that.
Now, maybe in. Much, bigger companies that gets more, um, complex and controversial. I found it so great. And it, you know, it seems like it keeps on happening this rev ops trend. In other words, like within rev ops, you know, you can still have a marketing ops team, a sales ops team, a success ops team.
Absolutely. And that makes a ton of sense, but all together, one team, one set of data, one approach to handling the customer journey. I found it an enormously beneficial, you know, do you guys, where, where is that? And especially when you guys are thinking about how, uh, marketing ops has defined and categorized.
Yeah. I, I think, um, for me personally, and Michael, you can jump into, I do believe that those pillars that you identified fall under the rev ops umbrella, and they have these very distinct. Um, you know, categorical kind of alignments, right? You are going to have client success, ops marketing ops sales ops.
Um, and it is the agenda that I continue to push is that it’s critical for you to win that organization, whether it exists or it doesn’t that rev ops or get umbrella. Whether it exists or does not exist as a marketing operations professional. It is your responsibility. As you continue to move through your career and gain years of experience that you need to be thinking about how as Michael started to touch on a moment ago, how, what you were doing impacts the rest of the business and how do you create alignment across those different departments.
And so sometimes it’s all, you know, sometimes it’s all categorized in the rev ops. Um, I think you have a place. It, you know, you are a marketing operations professional, but it is, it’s also everybody else’s responsibility in those other operational roles too. You know, it’s there. Well, I’ll let other communities go create certification process for those rules, but for us, it’s about how do we show that there’s this opportunity to prove I’ve I do this right.
I create alignment around these things. Right. Okay. So, uh, my, my answer, I will, I totally agree. Like the pillars should be aligned. I’ve always, when I’ve had marketing ops roles have always specifically made an effort to. Be connected with the sales ops teams, because I wasn’t always at organizations where there was a customer customer success ops or customer, you know, there was maybe customer support, but just like I I’ve, I become really like alignment across those and consistency, um, is absolutely required.
Like Toby your idea of you’re thinking ahead about, I want one truth of the, on the data and the numbers, right. It’s almost impossible to do if you’re not aligned on, on the systems and the processes and all that. So I’ve totally believe that. The thing about the thing, I think becomes a challenge with these newer rev ops roles, it ends up being sort of two, two fold.
One is, do you, there’s this decision about, do you continue to have them ally have, have within a revenue ops leader? The leadership team or role have still continued to have sort of pillars of marketing ops sales, ops, customer success ops already moved to one where you have, okay. We have a team that’s focused on the tech across those when there’s doing reporting and analytics, like know when he’s doing processes enablement.
Yeah. And I think there’s different ideas about that, but I think the bigger challenge is where does it report to. And to me that makes all the difference, because if you don’t have a CRO who really is, is sort of equally focused on all of those three pillars that him or herself, right. Or then, then ultimately one in it, especially if they came up through one side of the, one of the pillars or the other, when things get tough and decisions to get to may, they’re going to kind of lean back into what they understand the best.
Right. So you’re going to have. Shortchanging one for the other potentially. So I’ve got, there’s no perfect way to do it. It’s a great question, but I think it’s a big issue, you know, who’s, you know, maybe it’s you guys probably talked about this on the show a lot, you know, Scott Shepherd, you guys know Scott at Pro-core.
He runs marketing ops, a pro core. He’s been, he started using like Eloqua in like 2007 or something. He said, Long time, pioneering in marketing ops. He’s awesome. He’s been one of, he was one of those curriculum advisors for us. He’s been a great help to highway, but I know he runs marketing ops within a team that’s rev ops, uh, at pro core, which is a pretty big company.
And so they must do it in a pretty sophisticated way. Could be a good guy to have on the show to continue this. We’re coming for you, Scott. We, we, we haven’t had, we’ve had the rev ops conversation come up. We actually had one episode early on. That was just about like, what the hell is rev ops, because it’s, it is just, it’s overlapping now.
So, uh, I think we’re probably about to wrap up. Toby has been great. Any last words of wisdom or things to leave with our listeners. Um, you know, how about shameless? Pug? Yeah, go for, let’s go to, let’s go there. I mean, that was going to be next. Like how could people find out more about you and highway and so let’s go for it.
Yeah. So our website is highway E d.com. That’s highway ed.com. And we have all sorts of information there about what we do. And so if you’re tired of pulling your hair out and spending a ton of time, Trying to recruit people and then struggling to recruit them and then take it forever to train them and get so tired of it.
You don’t even have junior people and you just keep on overworking your senior team with, with mundane tasks that they shouldn’t be doing. We are here for you. Uh, if you’re looking to bring more diversity into your team and want to be part of our social mission as well, we’re here for you is you start thinking about your plans for 2022 and your budget and your head count and want to have a discussion about how we can partner.
We’d love to talk to you about that too. You know where we have people that, that are coming out, they’re qualified. They’re battle-tested they’re job ready, and we’d love to help you, uh, satisfy your talent. Fantastic. Awesome. I love it. Yeah. And I would encourage those listeners who are interested in following it, like look up what a B Corp is, and you’ll see kind of what the social mission is behind this as well.
So, um, Toby, this has been great, Mike, thank you for, for being a part of this, uh, listeners. Thank you for being a part of this and, and the growing part of our audience. Continue to, uh, subscribe, rate. And, uh, review us, send us your feedback and suggestions for topics. Uh, Scott, we are coming for you. Um, and with that, I think we’re done by everyone.
All right. Bye everybody. Thanks. Bye-bye.