There are so many roles that you can fill in your marketing team. Marketing Executive, Digital Marketing Manager, SEO Manager, Senior Copywriter, Social Media Marketing Manager, Growth Hacker, Brand Manager, Marketing Director, Media Planner, Graphic Designer, Brand Manager (did I say Brand Manager? Yes I did), Direct Marketing Specialist, Marketing Data Analyst… OK, I’m going to stop now, as I think I’d go on forever.

The point is, there is an almost unlimited list of roles that could form part of your marketing team, depending on your business, industry, strategy and priorities, but there could be one role in your marketing team, who would be crucial to your success, that you’re not currently considering… That’s employees involved in the operational side of your business. Your Account Managers, Customer Success Managers, Client Relations Manager – the members of staff who are responsible for delivering your service and liaising with and fielding questions from real customers on a daily basis.

I’ve learned first-hand the benefit of having operations involved in the marketing team. We’ve been implementing an Account-Based Marketing programme for a client over the past 12 months, and in the regular workshops, we’ve included a couple of Account Managers from their organisation. Their role is organising the delivery of the service they offer and making sure everything runs smoothly. They’re speaking with customers all day, every day and because of that have built up such a wealth of knowledge and context that it would be impossible to share it all through any CRM or internal messaging app. By having them involved in our ABM workshops, they get to input on our ideas and drop absolute bombs of insight and knowledge based on real-life scenarios and issues their customers face, what they particularly like and what’s really important to them.

Now, you might be saying – yeah, sure, but we build personas to gather that insight. Our personas include who our audience is, what pains they want to avoid, gains they want to achieve and the challenges they face. That’s all well and good and I’m a big fan of personas (we create them for a lot of our clients), but what people say that they want when you’re conducting research and what they actually want can be quite different. Also, personas are a snapshot of your ideal customer at a given moment in time. In business, things move quickly and your clients’ needs will be evolving daily. Only by living the experience and working so closely with real customers do you regularly get the golden insights that can make all of the difference when creating your marketing strategies and campaigns.

The next time you’re having a marketing planning meeting, include someone from your operations team and see for yourself the input they can offer. If nothing else, they will love being involved and will see that meeting as like ‘double Art on a Friday’.

However, it is important to consider that us marketers tend to talk quite differently to the rest of the world. It’s only when you’re in a meeting with a non-marketer, talking marketing, that you realise how foreign some of the concepts can be, and what makes absolute sense to a marketer might not be the same for someone in a different line of work. Therefore, be sure when including other departments in your marketing meetings to cater for this, provide some upfront education on what we’re doing and why and don’t talk in marketing mumbo-jumbo.

If you try getting operations involved in your marketing meetings – or if you already do it – I’d love to hear how it has helped with your marketing planning.