How to build and budget your 2019 customer-centric MO playbook

As you pivot your organization to become more customer-centric, the changes will likely have a significant impact on your budgetary needs. Contributor Debbie Qaqish guides you on what to consider as you plan for 2019.

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2019 Marketing Operations Playbook Ss 1920 KcqrvcLet’s admit it: Budgeting is not the sexiest topic. I’d rather stand in a cold shower tearing up $100 bills than do budgeting.

However, it is a business necessity, as the budget represents your marketing operations (MO) playbook for 2019. To develop this MO playbook, you can’t just look at your budget items from last year and try a “rinse and repeat” tactic.  You need to begin with the 2019 strategic goals for marketing the business. This becomes the North Star for your 2019 playbook and budget.

The rise of the customer-centric organization is having a major impact on the role of MO and how it is budgeted. The MO team enables marketing success. As marketing, and the company, pivot away from product-centricity and begin to embrace customer-centricity, it is the MO function that is tasked with operationalizing this shift. Therefore, you will likely be making one-time as well as ongoing changes, so the line items on your 2019 budget and/or your allocations need to adjust accordingly.

As you begin building your MO playbook and creating the appropriate budget, you will need to rethink three areas of your budget:

  • People and process.
  • Technology and data.
  • Budget collaboration.

In this column, I’ll describe the elements within these categories that are most likely to undergo a significant change so you can allocate the necessary resources going forward.

People and process — continuous customer journey mapping

Customer Journey Ss 1920 Edit Xzv5r2One key area that is probably not on your 2018 budget (and you may not have considered it for the 2019 budget, either) is customer journey mapping. At first glance, you might think customer journey mapping belongs to another part of the organization. In the past, this has been true. However, as we move into the customer engagement economy, customer journey mapping needs to reside, at least partially, in the MO group and needs to be regarded as an important capability.

Mapping the customer journey is not a stand-alone event done by one group in a company. In today’s customer engagement economy, customer journey mapping has evolved to become a capability. I define a capability as a packet of people-process-technology that drives a business result. Inherent in this definition is the idea that a capability is an ongoing construct. It needs constant care and feeding.

This is especially true for any customer journey work. Successful customer journey work involves a constant review of how customers are changing and thus, how every single customer-facing part of your company should respond to that change. The more this happens in real time, the better. All of this impacts the MO budget, as you’ll need to allocate resources to ensure this is possible.

Operationalizing the customer journey
There are three key reasons the MO team needs ownership of the customer journey capability. First, the team will be operationalizing the customer journey. Even if another group is responsible for the initial mapping, the MO team has to operationalize the maps. The reason most customer journey maps sit on the shelf is that an MO team does not exist or is not involved. I see a direct correlation between the maturity of an MO team and how well the customer journey is operationalized in a company. MO must be intimately involved in this process.

The constant work of keeping all of the elements aligned and responsive requires efficient processes, constant communication and understanding. From a budgeting perspective, if a company is serious about customer-centricity, the MO team might want to allocate a customer journey champion and define and manage the process for continuous optimization. This is definitely a set of activities that requires dedication, effort and a few line items on the budget.

Data and analytics expertise
Second, the MO team should possess the data and analytics skills required for making customer journey decisions. The data scientists who live in the MO group are instrumental in helping to review and continuously improve the customer journey through data interpretation. The customer journey is not a “set it and forget it” initiative. Having the people to analyze the data and provide insights and direction for continuous improvement is critical for any customer-centric initiative. So, you may need to allocate time to this data process, or you may need to hire for this data process. Either way, it affects your 2019 budgeting.

Cross-functional relationships within the company
Third, the marketing operations team typically has developed the cross-functional relationships that enable collaboration for customer journey success. I often see the MO team working with sales, with customer service and with other key customer-facing parts of the organization. With MO’s data-driven approach, they often garner respect not achieved by other parts of the marketing organization. Orchestrating an optimal customer journey requires massive cross-functional collaboration and communication. If the MO team is fulfilling this role, then you may need either another hire or someone partially dedicated to the collaboration effort.

Technology and data

Data Info Ss QanstlIf your company is pivoting to customer-centricity, this can have a huge impact on how you buy, integrate and manage your martech stack and your data mandates –- all of which can impact your 2019 budgeting. A customer-centric martech stack is characterized by more integration across all customer touch points in your company. This might involve investments in new integrations and certainly involves new investments in where data lives, how it is used and by whom. Reviewing your current martech stack in light of a customer-centric strategy may reveal new investments required for 2019.

Consider the whole customer life cycle
Most companies have a great deal of technology they use to acquire customers, but much less technology to keep and grow customer relationships. In this case, new investments in technology might be required to keep and grow current accounts. Quite often, these investments have huge payoffs, as returns from cross-selling, up-selling and customer retention can be quite high. As marketing becomes responsible for the entire customer life cycle and the MO team supports marketing goals, MO needs to review the martech strategy for current customers.

Often the most challenging part of operationalizing a customer-centric strategy is getting the data in order. Customer data is everywhere in your company. It lives in your marketing analysis position (MAP) system, in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, in your back-office systems, in your customer support systems and in your customer service systems. Being able to use all of this customer data to create an optimal set of customer experiences at every point of contact in your company is a huge competitive differentiator for any company. Reviewing your 2019 goals for customer-centricity and deciding the data initiatives required will definitely be a part of your 2019 budget.

Budget collaboration

Collaboration Operations Meeting Ss 1920 Voppqg

As a company moves to customer-centricity, the traditional walls between functions often come tumbling down. The act of orchestrating a real-time and cohesive response to a customer at any point on their journey requires more cross-functional collaboration than ever before. For the MO group, one particular area for budget collaboration may be technology — this may be a cost savings on your 2019 budget.

Here is an example of how this might play out. Let’s say marketing needs to buy a particular piece of technology. In the old world, the MO team would work with marketing to understand needs, then buy and implement the technology. In the customer-centric world, the MO team now needs to make technology decisions with other cross-functional groups.

With the customer journey as the glue that binds all technology together, the use case for the technology might now need to extend beyond marketing, or another team may have technology that marketing can use. Either way, the MO team now needs to collaborate with other parts of the company on technology budgeting. This will allow you to benefit from volume discounts that software companies offer customers licensing multiple seats for their products. These benefits can impact your 2019 budget in a big way.


While most marketers are not passionate about budgeting, most are passionate about the businesses they lead. If you are working as an MO leader or team member in a company that has begun the pivot to customer-centricity, this initiative affects your MO playbook and your 2019 budget.

Taking the time to clarify the role of MO in your customer-centric pivot will enable you to create a more exact playbook and ensure you have the budget required to execute that playbook.

Don’t take anything for granted in this process. Ask as many questions as possible, because others may not have thought this pivot all the way through. It is an opportunity for the MO function to shine and lead during budget season and to help you be better prepared for a successful and profitable 2019.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Debbie Qaqish
Debbie Qaqish is Principal Partner and Chief Strategy Officer of The Pedowitz Group. Debbie manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years. Debbie is author of the award winning book – “Rise of the Revenue Marketer,” Chancellor of Revenue Marketing University, and host of Revenue Marketing Radio, a podcast series for revenue marketing leaders which showcases marketing executives from companies like GE and Microsoft sharing advice on marketing transformation. A PhD candidate, Debbie also teaches an MBA course at College of William & Mary on Revenue Marketing. In March 2016, Kapost named Debbie among the Top 40 Most Inspiring Women in Marketing. For the last five years, Debbie has been named One of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management. She has also won SLMA’s Top 20 Women to Watch distinction.

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