Ops Cast

How to Elevate Marketing Ops from a CMO's Perspective with Kyle Lacy

November 07, 2022 Michael Hartmann, Mike Rizzo, Kyle Lacy Season 1 Episode 73
How to Elevate Marketing Ops from a CMO's Perspective with Kyle Lacy
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Ops Cast
How to Elevate Marketing Ops from a CMO's Perspective with Kyle Lacy
Nov 07, 2022 Season 1 Episode 73
Michael Hartmann, Mike Rizzo, Kyle Lacy

In this episode, we talk How to Elevate Marketing Ops from a CMO's Perspective with Kyle Lacy. Most recently, Kyle was the SVP of Marketing at Seismic after Seismic acquired Lessonly, where Kyle was the CMO. Kyle has held several marketing leadership roles at several different companies. In addition, Kyle is an advisor to several organizations, a speaker and author of three books [this is something I just learned]. And, I think it is safe to say that Kyle believes in the power of community to accelerate careers. 

Tune in to hear: 

- Kyle's experiences working with different Marketing Ops teams, whether there were there lots of similarities in structure/size, and how he viewed those teams from a marketing leadership perspective. 
- How he thinks most Marketing Ops teams are perceived by their marketing leader (or executive team) and why?
- What advice would he give to Marketing Ops professionals to be more involved with marketing strategy and planning. 


Episode Brought to You By MO Pros 
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk How to Elevate Marketing Ops from a CMO's Perspective with Kyle Lacy. Most recently, Kyle was the SVP of Marketing at Seismic after Seismic acquired Lessonly, where Kyle was the CMO. Kyle has held several marketing leadership roles at several different companies. In addition, Kyle is an advisor to several organizations, a speaker and author of three books [this is something I just learned]. And, I think it is safe to say that Kyle believes in the power of community to accelerate careers. 

Tune in to hear: 

- Kyle's experiences working with different Marketing Ops teams, whether there were there lots of similarities in structure/size, and how he viewed those teams from a marketing leadership perspective. 
- How he thinks most Marketing Ops teams are perceived by their marketing leader (or executive team) and why?
- What advice would he give to Marketing Ops professionals to be more involved with marketing strategy and planning. 


Episode Brought to You By MO Pros 
The #1 Community for Marketing Operations Professionals

MOps-Apalooza is back by popular demand in Anaheim, California! Register for the magical community-led conference for Marketing and Revenue Operations pros.

Support the Show.

Michael Hartmann:

Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of OpsCast, brought to you by marketing ops.com, powered by the MO Pros. I am your host, Michael Hartmann. Joined today by co-host Mike Rizzo. Mike, what's this year again? Uh,

Mike Rizzo:

just to solidify it in the hearts and minds of all of our listeners. It is the year of the Mo Pro

Michael Hartmann:

the year, the Mopro, we are definitely gonna have to come up with something else next year. Um, alright, well we're excited to have joining us today, Kyle Lacy. had the, the, the fortune of, of meeting Kyle during the pandemic and feel like, uh, he's one of a great marketing leaders. So most recently Kyle was the SVP of marketing at Seismic and he joined Seismic after. The company he was with, Lessonly, where he was a CMO, was acquired by Seismic. He has held several marketing leadership roles at several different companies. In addition, Kyle is an advisor to several organizations, a speaker, author of three books. We're gonna get into that and, uh, I think it's safe to say Kyle believes in the power of community to accelerate careers. So, Kyle, thanks for joining us.

Kyle Lacy:

Thank you for having me. It's a.

Michael Hartmann:

All right. Well, so I, I did, I mentioned the, uh, well, let's get, we'll go into some of this later, but really, I know for, we're, we're recording this in early November 22. Um, and you are currently on sort of a, I'll call it, I guess, a sabbatical, but why don't you like, maybe share with our listeners, you know, uh, you know, kinda what let you do through your career, your decisions, and. making the decision to take a sabbatical. Cause it sounds like you, you intent were very intentional about this.

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah. Is sabbatical the right word? I've been calling it, it's sabbatical. Let's just call it, we should call it a break. It was just a break.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah.

Kyle Lacy:

I think I've been, there's been a couple of my coworkers from seismic have made fun of me cuz they're like, Dude, this isn't a sabbatical. You're just, you're taking a break, you're gonna find something new. But um, so I think that, I think that anyone who's in a high gross software environment, right, that's venture backed or PE owned, You've got growth goals that are comparatively to other businesses are pretty ridiculous. I believe it is very important for leaders and even individual contributors to understand when it's time to take a break, both from a physical nature as well as just mental health. And for me, it had been four and a half years lessen. The seismic acquisition happened. I, I was very lucky and privileged that I had the opportunity to lead the marketing team at Seismic for a year, but it's, you know, we all know that different stages of companies require different types of people, right? And seismic, you know, 10 x larger than, less than we 1500 employees. Um, I, I realized pretty quickly that I am built for more of the a, b, C round type company than I. The growth stage that seismic's at. So for me it was mostly just, Hey, if I, if I'm looking back two years in the future, am I gonna be in a good place? And I just didn't believe that mentally I would be. So I made the decision to say I was, and I'm very lucky that I could make that decision. Where it's a very privileged, the fact that you have a question about sabbatical is just a privileged thing anyway, that I can actually do this. Right? So I just wanted to throw that out there because I'm lucky that I can make that decision. But, you know, it was more for for me to reset and to try to figure out what my next, what my next step is gonna.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, it's, it's interesting, uh, we talk about like the, the sort of reset on both physical, mental, It's, it was really interesting. I happened to have to take a red eye, uh, flight. Like two weeks ago, coming back from the West coast to Dallas and I've also been, was just, well let's say reading, I've been listening to the audiobook of Essentialism. I dunno if you're familiar

Kyle Lacy:

Mm-hmm.

Michael Hartmann:

And, and it literally, like around that same time I was the, was the, the section about how important sleep was and, and how it's actually like when you don't get enough sleep, it can be like, Drunk. Right. Or you know, under the influence. And I literally, that day after I got home, I was trying to, I felt so disoriented. Right. And I think that's the extreme, but if what you're talking about, but.

Kyle Lacy:

but. I, but it's, it's stress. It's, I was waking up most nights in the middle of the night, couldn't go back to sleep like it, just that, that type of stuff. When it's compou, like a compounding part of that is very dangerous. And so I, you know, I just had to, I had to make that decision for myself, and it was, it was diff, it was a difficult decision for sure.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, I think it's, um, I think you're right. It's a, it is a privilege. At the same time, I wanted to hit on this a little bit because we actually had somebody on, uh, an episode of about two months ago who opened up about her own, like having to go into, you know, into, uh, Yeah. To a place for help with, basically she had a breakdown, right? And, um, I think it was really important to let people know that it's, you know, you're not alone if you're feeling that kind of level of stress. So yeah, hopefully people will take that for what it is and not, Hey, look at, look at how great Kyle is. And he, he gets the opportunity. But like, I think it's good that the people are recognizing that it's important to do that.

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, and you usually, you, you will know when it's time and usually your gut, I mean, we all make decisions based off of gut instinct, but usually your gut's, right? And the difference between me and somebody that powers through is just, I made the decision to. To think about my family and myself and, and it it, and it benefited me in the long run for sure.

Michael Hartmann:

That's great. Well, let's, let's get into, you know, what we wanted, I think part of why I really wanted to get you on here is, is you probably know Kyle, our, our primary audience and the listeners is made up of ops folks. So primarily marketing ops, maybe revenue ops, sales ops, and kind of the, the, the things that are tangential to that. So, I think what I wanted to get was your perspective as a marketing leader on marketing ops and things like that, but let maybe start with maybe experiences you've had working with different marketing ops teams and leaders. You know, what, what were they, were there similarities to those? And then kinda what was your perspective on the importance of marketing ops and when did you feel like you needed to, to bring them in to different conversations and things like that?

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, I, So vastly different experiences between Leslie and Seismic. Those are the most recent. Um, we, we had marketing, we had a version of marketing ops, living in the marketing team through the a and b rounds. And it was, it was somebody that knew Marketo and then you also had somebody that was kind of like a glorified Salesforce admin, like taught themselves from the ground up, like they thought Mar mar ops would be, marketing ops would be interesting. So they, they did that as, as we got larger and we got more sophisticated on forecasting and pipeline and, and you know, we. Our CFO was brilliant at it, but we, we would be within a couple grand of forecasting the quarter, like we were that good at it cuz we had so much

Michael Hartmann:

amazing.

Kyle Lacy:

Um, because it's half the deal's closing quarter, it was a high velocity sale. It didn't like the, the average contract value didn't, uh, didn't really change that dramatically unless we moved up market. Right. But, I don't remember when it happened, but Brian Mo Mini, who's the cfo, had the ops team. He had a sales ops person, and then we hired a woman named Carmen, see who became our VP of Rev Ops that lived on our finance team, finance and operations team. And that's when I started seeing the value of a true revenue operations org because she was running. The forecasting and pipeline meetings with all the quota bearing managers in the meeting. It was, you know, our data was up to date all the time. She was on, like, the team was always on the reps to keep the data clean within Salesforce and all that stuff, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Um, and then that happened and then we were required like four, three or four months later. So we,

Michael Hartmann:

So I

Mike Rizzo:

the take, Wait, sorry. The takeaway there. No, I want you to keep going and Hartmann clearly has a question, but I feel like the punchline there was once you have solid operations in place, you can get acquired. There you go.

Michael Hartmann:

There you go.

Kyle Lacy:

Thanks, Gar,

Michael Hartmann:

no us.

Kyle Lacy:

And she, she's brilliant. She's a brilliant rev obs.

Michael Hartmann:

So that, yeah. It's interesting that you bring up revenue ops because there's, there's sort of been an ongoing discussion in you online or whatever about rev ops versus marketing ops. Is rev ops really just glor like another name for sales ops? Forget. Forget all that. What I thought was really interesting is that it reported into, you said the CFO, right?

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, but I mean the, At seismic, we had an op, our operations leader was on the exec team. And rev ops and bi and enablement sales enablement all reported under his structure. And I to Toby and I, I, I thought that was the best model. Honestly, I'm not a huge, and maybe we could argue about this, I'm not a huge fan of operations teams living within the business unit that it supports having marketing ops and marketing, sales ops, and sales. Customer success ops, that even exists in customer success, right? I believe it should be a centralized org that is not dependent on, and it should be on the exec team. Um,

Michael Hartmann:

This is really interesting cuz we actually had, I think, I can't remember who we had on, we talked about there, there needs to be o you know, whether you call it revenue ops or whatever, but that it really, there should be more VPs of revenue ops or you know, that are at that, at that same table. So I think it's interesting to have your perspective on that as

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah. And, and, and seismic. We, we had Lauren and Greco is, is the marketing ops and strategy leader at Seismic. She had a team and she was, she was dotted line to me, but she reported to Toby Carrington the, um, EVP of operations, I think is his title, but she was on my leadership team. So it was, and we, and we kind of share, I think we shared the budget. I was given the budget, it was within my budget, but he was kind of, so that's how the dotted line kind of worked. But, uh, I thought that was brilliant, honestly, because she was, uh, Lauren was invested in the success of marketing, but she was also a, um, uh, she could play devil's advocate cuz she reported into a different business.

Mike Rizzo:

Mm-hmm.

Kyle Lacy:

and I just, I'm, I'm I, the operations, living in different business units just doesn't make sense to me. Honestly, I haven't experienced that, but that's just my initial take.

Mike Rizzo:

You're very fortunate to not have experienced that

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

think, I think that's outside the norm, like most of the time. Uh, in my experience it's always been centralized to

Kyle Lacy:

Centralized. Okay, good.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Like, or, or sorry. It's been decentralized in the sense that each one of the roles live in the department. Um, We, the, the last organization that had certainly moved into their later series of investments, um, that I was working for. Was working on creating a centralized BIS ops function that sort of brought in a lot of that. Um, but it still was so heavily focused on Rev, like sales ops and deal desk and that kind of stuff. Um, that it wasn't truly a rev ops, you know, uh, bringing in CS and marketing ops. Those two particular roles rolled up directly, uh, into, to those departments. Um, but

Kyle Lacy:

In Si seismic had,

Mike Rizzo:

over.

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, Toby actually built it to where there's marketing ops. Sales ops, bi, he had it and enablement. I, I, I think there's another, there's a couple other teams that are there, but again, I, I also, I wanna be very clear to the, the listeners that there still needs to be somebody that lives on the marketing team that understands marketing operations, because I don't think most CMOs actually understand what it means.

Mike Rizzo:

Mm-hmm.

Kyle Lacy:

is marketing ops just somebody that's really good at Marketo? No,

Michael Hartmann:

I, I was just, I was just having this

Kyle Lacy:

but I, But I bet I would bet money. That you do a survey, a bunch of marketing leaders, that's what's gonna be their first thing is like, I need somebody that's a Marketo genius and I'm gonna put'em in the marketing op org. But where Lauren and Greco, she had a bunch of marketing of Marketo people, but her, why she's brilliant at her role is that she's steeped in the data,

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah.

Kyle Lacy:

The back end and not, and not necessarily the fact that you can build Marketo sequences.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, it, I think it's interesting. Um, I think the reality is when there becomes a rev function in many companies where they bring, they still, it includes those different disciplines or, or functional areas. It still usually reports up to somebody who's in a more of a revenue role, right? Whether it's a head of

Kyle Lacy:

But you don't, but you don't wanna rely on a different business for your production. That's, that's my thing, is that I don't. If I need to build a bunch of landing pages and, and really break apart, um, uh, any type of life cycle stuff, I do not want to go to a marketing ops team that lives in biz ops to try to get them to do it. Does that make

Michael Hartmann:

yeah, so you, it's, it's more of a center, I'll call it, center of excellence or it's like

Kyle Lacy:

so around bi business intelligence.

Michael Hartmann:

right. Like a hub and spoke. Right. They are the ones who kinda help set the framework and evolve it and maybe support you on stuff, but on most sort of, I don't know what the right word is. Ordinary, like day to day kind of operational pieces, like that's really you, you seek that needs to live on the

Kyle Lacy:

It's more of a life cycle marketer. Right. Honestly, I mean, and even lifestyle marketing. Sounds like I was early two thousands, but it's, it's kinda, it's more life cycle oriented and campaign oriented than it is the bi side of it, but, So there's, there's, there's two options there. There's production side of it, but there's also like, what the hell are you dealing with all the numbers and how do you make sense of'em in a way that's meaningful?

Michael Hartmann:

So it's, it's interesting the, you bring up the numbers. Uh, our listeners know that like I'm a kind of a huge advocate that we need to increase data literacy. Right. And, and kind of all across marketing, but in ops for sure. Cause it's, we are the ones probably have the most access to the data.

Kyle Lacy:

Mm.

Michael Hartmann:

I mean, how, like, is that something that you think is, have you, is that been a normal thing where you've seen, you've happened to be lucky enough to have people in an ops role that know the data really well and can not only just pull the data. Tell you what it means or how to interpret it, not h how not to interpret it, stuff like that. Or

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah. Yeah, I've been, No, I've been very lucky. Our CFO was brilliant at it. Um, he actually, He saved my ass a couple times with where I wasn't reading the right data, honestly. And then at seismic we, I mean our marketing ops team, if Lauren listens to this, she's gonna laugh because I'm gonna get the number one, but I think we had six or seven people and then a bunch of contractors. Like there was we, I've always had pretty good support on the data side, the for marketing ops, which I'm lucky. We, early on at Lessonly, we didn't really. But then when we started getting to the point where, um, we had to have a pipeline meeting because, you know, we needed to go look at the big deals and we needed to, everybody needed to do their called shop for the week. It was important that that was not owned by a quota bearing leader. It was owned by Carmen, who cared about the overall revenue number, but didn't care about calling out my head of inbound because he didn't hit his number last the week.

Michael Hartmann:

Right.

Kyle Lacy:

I think that's what's important about, uh, the operations team in general. And I, I like biz ops better than I do rev ops. I think biz ops is more encompassing.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. Have it have it in with other operations functions across, across the entire business. Yeah. No, I think, I think if I was, if, if, if I was to pick one, I would probably pick a COO or head of bi op, something like that as the place for the same reasons. Um, so you, you mentioned the team at Lessley and the size, like is, you know, in terms of your experience with different stuff, like have you seen at d and maybe we can go all the way back to like different stages, right? You know, were there certain. Well, I'm gonna, uh, uh, ask if, I guess another question did were, how involved were you in defining what that those initial early hires would be in the scope, size of the team? Or was it something that, Just that because of where it rolled up, it was other people.

Kyle Lacy:

There's other people. I never, I, I just cared that the reports I needed to do my job, whether that was a Tableau dashboard or Salesforce dashboard, were right and done in a timely manner. So I didn't, it wasn't. For me, Brian built out the operations team in a as needed basis, right? Like as, as the teams grew. As, you know, I had 70 ish people on the marketing team by the time we were acquired, cuz I had all the BDRs, like we had a marketing ops person that lived on Carmen's team. Um, because the, the amount of information that I needed and the amount of work that we had to do on some of the back end stuff needed a full-time. So I think Bri and I didn't really help scope it. I interviewed the person, but, um, and seismic, you know, that's a very different org, right? It's just a, it's a gross stage. It's a big company.

Mike Rizzo:

Were you, someone coming to you asking, Do you need this? Were you just incessantly asking for reports that

Kyle Lacy:

I was IESs, I was more incessantly asking. Yeah. Like there was, if I remember correctly, Lessonly. It was more, it was a combination of Brian, Brian knowing, being a very good people manager, and knowing how much he could get out of people in a way that's meaningful and me just being aggressive and an asshole sometimes, but I,

Mike Rizzo:

I think the inner workings of that are important for listeners to understand whether you're moving into leadership or you're on a, um,

Kyle Lacy:

Hm.

Mike Rizzo:

a role that's servicing some of these, some of these functions, um, just understanding the nuance of that, right? Like you being incessant about your requests, um, perpetuating the need for someone to, on a, on a completely different. Part of the org chart make a decision that I now have to staff up to fulfill on Kyle's requests. Um, and you not backing down from that, I think is helpful to understand so that whoever's listening to this is, is, is gotta say like, Hey, if these, you know, if these two things are not happening, then you gotta overcompensate

Kyle Lacy:

Well, and we, and it made, and it, it made both teams better, right? Like we encourage, we push pretty hard on making sure that there was backlogs of requests and what we needed done, and Brian did a great job and that that operations team. Did a great job managing that appropriately, but it was, it was us, us collectively pushing each other to be better. And, and I think that if you, I, I know cause I've experienced it. If you build, if you hire the right people and build the right team like you, you'll, you'll understand when things are needed, especially at, at the stage that we were at, it's, you know, under, under 30 million in arr. Right.

Mike Rizzo:

Hmm.

Kyle Lacy:

There isn't really a revenue stage either where you need this. I think it's mostly just when does backlog get too big and are you prioritizing appropriately to hire the right people to manage it? Um, every book company's different.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I think every company is different. You also touched on, uh, an important thing for every leader or department lead or, or organization in general to consider is that like, look, when you're doing pipeline reports and you're trying to understand the momentum of the business, that can't be done by a quote caring individual. Right?

Kyle Lacy:

should never like that. That's a great, that's a great point, Mike. And as a cmo, I shouldn't be spending a couple hours trying to figure out how to do a report.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah, yeah. Frankly, as

Kyle Lacy:

why I'm paid to do what I do. Right? Like

Mike Rizzo:

And even as a ceo, right? Or COO like, like yes, you are supposed to understand the numbers and all those things in the COO role, in the CMO role, but it's not your responsibility to sit there to try to figure out, is this accurate? How do I build it?

Kyle Lacy:

yeah, but that doesn't mean that you don't, Like

Mike Rizzo:

It doesn't mean you

Kyle Lacy:

want, I don't want people to listen and not think that I wasn't in Salesforce

Mike Rizzo:

Well, I was about to, I was about to ask you that question. I was like, Really? At the end of the day, Kyle, like, I expect you probably know how to do some of these

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, a little. Yeah, I do. I do. But

Mike Rizzo:

You know, but like,

Kyle Lacy:

pain and suffering of the marketing ops team, right? It's like,

Mike Rizzo:

right.

Michael Hartmann:

even if you didn't right. What you like. This is one of the things I try to teach people who work for me is like, you know, if you asked for a report, don't just do the report. Like if you look at the report, like you should spot, this is where I'm gonna get questions about and be proactive about having a reason why doing the extra research. I suspect that's what you were doing, right? You saw some anomaly and.

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah. And most of the time the reports are wrong, but I I, I think that the, I, I think that the important point is if you are, if you are an aligned exec team or you're an aligned leadership team, you will understand when certain hires need to be made in operations because it's, It just as you hire more people and quotas get larger and revenue, you're growing revenue and you're raising more money, you just need more support. Um, and and see. And leadership roles change, right? Like Brian's role as CFO at the acquisition was very different than when he joined at a million or a million and half revenue or whatever, right? And my role changed pretty dramatically. And so you've gotta build operations teams to support that in my.

Mike Rizzo:

Was there, you know, when you say you'll know. Sorry, Hartmann, I know you wanted to ask your question there. Um,

Michael Hartmann:

right.

Mike Rizzo:

when you say that, you'll know when it's time for, for those kinds of things. I just wanted to ask, and maybe it's, maybe it's, uh, you know, you don't know or you don't have any experience in this regard, but, um, did you ever find. I, I don't know how early you were at some of these companies. Did you ever find that, Like you, people on the team were like, Well, I can do that, I can do that, I can do that. I can, I could do that. You know, I know how to build that report, so I don't really need to go budget for this thing. And then it never gets focused on and eventually, like, you finally make the decision. Like

Kyle Lacy:

Um,

Mike Rizzo:

of what happened or. it's just clear like, hey, because no one's sole responsibility to is to make sure that this stuff is not wrong.

Kyle Lacy:

yeah, that's a great question, man. I don't. I think initially early on at Lessonly, we were for some re, Well, I don't know why we were okay with this in hindsight, but we had, We had somebody that taught himself Salesforce. Salesforce admin really wanted to get into operations and he was the run running reports and at some point, because Brian is a very efficient CFO like most CFOs are. So he's not gonna just willynilly build out an entire operations team because the CMOs like, We need this, or our sales leader saying we need it. He was very, um, responsible about building it out. Um, it wasn't, it wasn't that they could do it, it was that we had somebody that was filling the need where we didn't need to hire the head count. But once the need grew past their, Ability is when Brian made the move and that, and, and that's just, that's just good people management. But I, there wasn't a situation where it was like, we can just do this. I don't think, I don't ever remember having those conversations, um, because I don't, I never liked building reports. Like I, I, it's, it's just not, it's not something that I love doing. It doesn't mean I didn't do it, but it, we needed the support as we were. As the company grows, you spend times on time on different things.

Mike Rizzo:

Totally cool.

Michael Hartmann:

what what's really. Fascinating to me right now in this conversation is that, cuz I think we've touched on what I would call campaign operations, and I suspect that most, if we had other marketing leaders on, and we were talking about marketing ops, it would all be about how they supported our go to market activities, right? Getting stuff out in the marketplace. And not, I mean, yes, they do data too. It's really interesting to me that you were focusing so much on the need for data insights and, Well, and maybe that's partially because you had BDR team, but I don't know if it would you have been the

Kyle Lacy:

Well, I,

Michael Hartmann:

that.

Kyle Lacy:

no, I think I'm more like that now because Lauren and Esco at Seismic was the first. Marketing operations leader that I've worked with that was data driven, like straight up data, and that, that was my first experience with somebody that really understood how to do marketing operations the right way, in my opinion. Um, you know, she, she was just good at it. So I think most of that is just my experience over the past year, but it's also. I think it's marketers in general. We tend to just focus so much on production and campaigns and not enough on how do you build intelligent reporting and operations to actually make decisions the right way. And I think a lot of times it's that because we're we're brought up to be so reactive, like we're marketing just tends to be a reactive org when they should be leading with data in a right, in the right ways, not just willy-nilly. And being proactive with the approaches of campaigns and, and the, uh, the creative work they wanna do. But I think it's just combination of a lot of things. But for me, it's been working with Lauren Seic for sure.

Michael Hartmann:

It's really interesting. So, uh, so I'm, I'm, I'm with you that marketing in general is reactive, which means. Marketing ops has tended to be even more reactive and try to like, we

Kyle Lacy:

Yes,

Michael Hartmann:

go, go, go the extra yard to support something cuz it had to get out in market. Right. Committed to something going out live at a certain point. What Um, so I know this is not where we were planning on going this conversation, but I'm so fascinated by this. I wanna keep going so little bit. So the, um, You mentioned like being data driven, but like, not willy-nilly I think is what you, you said, but one of the things I see is, um, some marketing people say they're data driven. This what they, I think what they mean is I get lots and lots of data, but I don't know that they necessarily. A lot of changes or get a lot of insights be with that. So it's like, I fear like, yes, data's important, but it's like how do you know what the right data is? And the other thing I've found is you get a piece of data, it begs another question. It begs another question, right? And so like, how do you know when to stop?

Kyle Lacy:

Well, So I would, I would say I am not a very, I, I think marketing teams should be data driven. I think that's why marketing ops is so important, and that's why hiring somebody that really understands how to do it in the right way, like a Lord and Dress Co is so important to the success of a marketing leader. Like, Brian was so good at it, uh, Lessonly that I, I'd said he, he saved my ass a couple times and that's because I was reading, I was reading the data differently, like on an inbound funnel and he found it anomaly that I had missed. And because he found it, we completely rebuilt the website and we com and we and our inbound took off again. So I just, I think that it's, I think that that's why. Operations in general is important because a lot of marketers, like you said, tend to just be more production driven. I don't know if I answered your question. I just agreed with you.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah, it's, it's, it's just really interesting to me that, So I guess given all this, right, do you think you are, like, you're an outlier in having this perspective about ops from a marketing leadership

Kyle Lacy:

No, it depends. It depends on where you lean. Like I, I lean brand and messaging and positioning, so I tend to be, I tend to, and I learn this through seismic cuz I really had to trust but verify, right? I tend to be more gut instinct and make decisions on an emotional side. Context, which is why I have to balance myself with a growth and demand leader that is more, uh, more numbers oriented. Right. And I, and I, I just think it's, it's, it's where do you lean as a leader and how do you make sure that you're building a team that can support where you're inefficiencies are, right? And, um, I think that I'm pretty good at the gut instinct, but sometimes it hasn't, it hasn't worked out. So I've learned through the process, but that's why. That's why operations is so freaking important because you cannot keep track of everything as a marketing leader. There's no way. There's no way because it's just, it's, there's too much data and you should be leading the team and the creativity and the emo and, and you know, making sure the team's stoked to get up every day and do marketing for these companies. And I don't know, I can talk about this all day long, but it's.

Mike Rizzo:

I wanna go back to something you said, uh, a little while ago, or, or one of us said, one of you, I don't know, um, we were talking about. Uh, the idea of, of sort of being reactive, right? And, um, how we, we, we don't really take the time to, to plan out things, but I would argue that like, what's, what's super interesting is I think a marketing operations person, uh, and people that are oriented in that, in that way. Wants to plan. In fact, they like, I would argue that many of them want to build for scale I actually just saw a post on LinkedIn the other day from a, from a fellow community member who, um, was talking about building things and it was like, Literally the two things were things that scale versus things that fail. Right? And a marketing operations person who's really good builds things that scale, not things that fail. And, and so all I'm saying, all of this, that's like, so why do we still have this problem if marketing ops and people who do sort of campaign operations and we know that we need to, to lay a foundation in order to scale? Want to be planners. And we've got, you know, many leaders who want to build a narrative, I hope. Whether you're a product leader who's built a story arc around why your product exists, a CEO for the vision of the company, or a CMO who wants to, uh, distribute that vision and that story and a brand message. There's a lot of planning that wants to happen. Let's just call it top and tail. Executives down to operational members, and somewhere in the middle, not, not in a hierarchy or latter fashion, but somewhere in the middle there's this like mishmash of we're not going fast enough. So someone launch a campaign

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

and somehow like we lose planning. Like what happens? Like what's, what's, what's the deal with

Kyle Lacy:

I think I've always experienced that the, that random launch of a campaign like that, that didn't change, uh, that's never really changed for me. That just, that's more of the reactive side of me. But, um, I think that that's, again, I think that that's why bi op should live on the exec level and not in an org. was, she was, she was on, she helped me build all the board decks. She was involved in all of our OKR and goal planning every quarter. She was the one making sure that the budgets and the tech stack and all that stuff was in place in the right way. Like she was literally my right hand when it came to all of the data side of, of what we do as marketing team. And I think I, I, I think the reason why that doesn't exist is because not a lot of people have seen it done the right way. And it, it's because it's, this isn't like a, like how long is marketing, like rev ops and marketing ops been around, Like, this is like what Gainsight did with customer success and Marketo did with marketing automation like that. It, it's a cat, Like the category is just so early. Like I, I just don't think there's enough people doing.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah, it still is really early. I mean, we're talking like formally a role probably for a decade, maybe,

Kyle Lacy:

Maybe,

Michael Hartmann:

That's a, That's about what I would put it at.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah,

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, I can, I can name, I can name three people that I know that I think if, if you were to ask me who are the best marketing operations people, you know, I could probably name three, maybe two for sure. But I, because it's just so, it's such a, um, it's kind of like, like product marketing, but it's kind of the same type of approach where you really have to spend a lot of time in the role to be good at it.

Mike Rizzo:

Mm-hmm.

Kyle Lacy:

and, and because of that, it makes it hard to hire for like product marketing's the same way, but we're not, this is not a product marketing podcast, but it's, uh,

Mike Rizzo:

but it like, like there's a very large community for product marketers out there, pma, Um, that exists very much in the same manner that, that this community exists, and it's for that exact reason. It's super hard to hire. It's super hard to learn, super hard to get the respect that you deserve. Uh, it's convoluted, like what is product marketing? Does it live under product? Does

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, exactly. Yep. It's very similar.

Mike Rizzo:

it's, it's very, very, very similar And, and, yeah. Marketing ops hasn't been around quite as long, uh, and so we're tackling that challenge, uh, in addition to those same similar challenges. But no, I appreciate you answering the question. It's weird. It's weird that we all want to plan, but somehow, um, we always try to put the cart before the horse or something and

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, and

Mike Rizzo:

and then someone goes, Why isn't this working?

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, I, I, it is just hard. It's the reactive thing.

Michael Hartmann:

well, and I, I, I, I, I, I would argue that part of that is the, We don't know how to plan very well either, though. Like I think a lot of people either don't wanna do enough strategic thinking and planning, or they wanna do too much detail. And both of them sort of lead to. Poor outcomes in most cases, unless you're just lucky. think, you know, there's a, there's a happy medium in there somewhere that works well where you, you have enough to, to go, okay, you know, I'm going for, this is where we're trying to get to. We kind of know what we wanna go so we can start taking steps in the direction. And this is kind how I think about evolving Tech Act even is just like, or someone comes to me with, Hey, we wanna launch this campaign, we wanna try this new creative idea. We should go buy X, Y, or Z, We need to go spend a bunch of money. I was like, Well, can we get close to that without doing that? Like let's experi, let's use it as an experiment first, and then if it works and we think we wanna scale it and use it more, and then we can evolve it, like that's the way to approach it as opposed to taking a bunch of money in and a bunch of time and then not actually getting the fruit of it for way longer.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah,

Kyle Lacy:

Well it, Mike, you said it. You said it, and I will, I'm going to say this to this entire community, I did not fully understand the benefit of, of ops, marketing, ops, especially. Until, and I, I think I've said this already, but I'm gonna say it again, until I was involved in somebody that really knew how to do it the right way, I started seeing it with Carmen, see at Lessley right before the acquisition. And then when moved over, Carmen stayed on and Lauren at Seismic. They were, they're just so good at the job. Now, every job I go to, marketing ops is going to. One of the main roles that I'm gonna be looking at in an org saying, Okay, where does this live? Who's doing it? Because it's so important to the productivity and the focus, like you said, like I can't imagine setting goals right now without an ops person.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah,

Kyle Lacy:

Like it seems crazy to me now, now that I've experienced it done well, basically.

Mike Rizzo:

and I think, like, I think when you go to build, I've, I've been in startups my career. Uh, when you go to build a product, you have a hunch as a product owner, like you have a hunch, you do market research. You do some validation and then you try to build a feature, you build an MVP and so on and so forth. And it's fascinating to me that somehow in, even in the series A through C's, we're not still taking that same approach. Just like Hartmann was just saying like, Hey, how do we not go by the tool? And we try to, you know, do something that's MVP to prove out whether or not that's a good investment. It's fascinating that like somehow that doesn't come down the line. And, And Kyle, you just said, you know, I would be hard pressed to go create goals if I didn't have a marketing ops person. I'd say, Well, I think you could, you could come up with some bets, right? You could, you could and, and like, you know, you probably do, but where you're quickly gonna run into a problem is how do I measure it? And then how do I, Okay, I know how to measure it, I know what I need to track, but did I implement it the right way so that I can keep tracking it after we do this? In other words, did I just create a duplicate field or three other fields that already existed in my CRM and just created Chaos?

Michael Hartmann:

just re reuse it another, a existing field in a different way.

Mike Rizzo:

Yeah. Oh wait, Lead source. I'll just add a few more in here. Right? Like

Kyle Lacy:

Or you

Mike Rizzo:

Those details

Kyle Lacy:

building, building the campaign reports and there's no consistency. I think that's what you're saying, but

Mike Rizzo:

Yes, exactly.

Kyle Lacy:

I experienced that a Lessonly for

Mike Rizzo:

Those, those details matter And, and for leaders that haven't had to go through that experience, it's like, well, we'll figure it out.

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah.

Mike Rizzo:

No, cuz the second that you say that, it's, it's just, you're just throwing caution to the

Kyle Lacy:

Well, Well, and I, and I've said this on plenty of podcasts I have written about this. You have to, if you're growing a company, hire operations sooner than you think you need it,

Mike Rizzo:

Mm-hmm.

Kyle Lacy:

once the data just starts growing because you hire more account executives, because you have bigger teams, because you're driving more customers, it is much hard. To get anything done if you don't have the foundation set up initially. I think Brian, great job with that. But you can't, You can't get to 10 million revenue and then hire an ops person. I mean, the data's just gonna be a freaking mess, and you're probably not making good decisions either anyway.

Mike Rizzo:

Yep.

Michael Hartmann:

So talking about, Okay, so I like that you're saying higher earlier. I, I think if I was to pull our audience or our listeners, they would, you know, generally think that the per their, the perception of marketing Ops is not as a strategic one for most people, despite what you're saying here. So do you, you know, for our listeners, like is there anything maybe from the people you, you mentioned that you worked with that you could say, these are the things, like this is either knowledge that they had or a way that they. We're proactive about something or whatever it might be. That was a way that led them to sort of, Cuz it sounds like that's not how you perceived him going in. Right. Your perception was not marketing ops as a, as a sort of a strategic function. So how would we, how would those, how would you suggest those people start to change that perception?

Kyle Lacy:

Be, uh, the, the number one thing is be proactive with your counterpart. So Lauren would bring up things in our one-on-ones that I wasn't thinking about based off of the data she was looking at. She was proactively surfacing challenges or things that we should look at based off of the data that she was managing and monitoring. Right. When you're helpful like that and you're proactive like that, you become more strategic because the leadership team relies on you to be that person that's bringing the insights. Right. And when you're that person, you automatically become more strategic because you're being helpful. Right. In the past, I think we've talked, I think we've talked about. Quite a bit now, but in the past, marketing ops has been a production for me and an order taker and having a backlog and those are all important things, but it was never a proactive approach to, You might not have seen this in the data you were looking at Kyle, or do you need help? Here's a slide for the board deck based off of the pipeline numbers. Let's talk about, let's talk about the narrative of the board meeting, Right? Lauren was doing all that with me and. I think that that's just what makes it more strategic is when you're involved and when you care. It feels like you care more about the numbers than the person you're supporting. I mean, that's, that's really what it comes down to in my opinion.

Michael Hartmann:

So, yeah, I would argue that there's a gap in understanding data across even ops where we have access to data. Uh, and, and the storytelling piece of it. Like do you think, do you think it was, how important do you think that was compared to just kind of knowing the numbers but

Kyle Lacy:

it was, that's, that's, that is like 80% of what why is she's so good is the narrative is how do you, how do you tell a story with the numbers, not just manage a dashboard and say, Hey, something dropped or something went up, or a conversion rate drop. Right. She was, She was, I keep saying she was so, she's still doing it. She is really good at it. Um, but, and, and I, I found that extremely helpful as an SVP in a large org, that we would spend a lot of time looking at the numbers, and then we would spend a lot of time building the narrative around the numbers, because it's a, it's, it's important that as the company grows, you're all saying the same thing, honestly, especially in.

Mike Rizzo:

I think, you know, beginning, beginning with the end in mind for any, for any activity, whether it's campaign planning, Or, um, phases of your business or both um, early stage companies in in particular. Right there, there's different levers that you can pull on to go secure your next round of funding. And if the narrative you've built is around, Hey, our traction is really, really strong in the market because we're seeing product usage, or we're seeing free account signups, or something like that. Then build the architecture and the framework to build a narrative, uh, around those things. If it's revenue is increasing or the pipeline, close rates are increasing a particular market segment, then build it to support that. But begin with the end in mind and know at the executive level what narrative you want to tell, and then allow your ops team to try to go build that pipeline to, to tell that story, right? And then it allows the folks. You know, you've worked with to come up to a meeting and say, Hey, based on what I understand from the business objectives, or this department's objectives, or the campaign objectives, here's what I'm seeing from what you asked us to keep it keep track of,

Kyle Lacy:

Yeah, and I, but I also think it's important to note that it's not a, the marketing, the ops person believe should be involved in that exact level conversation. Like it's not a. Here's, here's what narrative we think as an exec team. Go make it happen. It's, Hey, we want, this is what we think is happening in the narrative. We want you to either verify it or come back to us and let's talk about what's actually happening. I mean, we had a situation, Lessonly, where we started seeing a drop in. Um, a average contract value and churn rates were going up and we didn't quite understand what was happening until, uh, Brian and the ops team did a cohort analysis on our personas, and we realized that hr, sales and customer service was our use cases. Customer service and sale cohorts were skyrocket. Both average contract value as well as retention and net dollar retention and HR was tanking and we, nobody had, we didn't have any idea that that was happening. It was just like, we don't understand what's going on. Let's look into it. And, and because we had people that were good at looking at the data and thinking of a narrative, we made a decision to cut HR out of the funnel and it, it exponentially changed the business trajectory. Right. So, That's, if you don't have the people in place to think through that stuff and look at that stuff, it would've just been a bunch of first time executives at the startup pulling reports and trying to figure out why average contract value is dropping. Right. So that's just why it's so important, because you're not, I think a lot of companies fail faster than they should because they don't have people thinking about this. And they haven't hired'em soon enough. And if you're getting the 10 million ARR and you don't have an operations team together, you better get your ass in gear, in my opinion. Cause it's gonna come, it's gonna, it's gonna come bite you if you don't.

Mike Rizzo:

Higher yesterday.

Michael Hartmann:

Yeah. Well, I like, I have so many more questions I could probably ask, but I wanna be respectful of your time and I know that this is a lot to ask. So Kyle, thank you so much. Um, any last thoughts before we, we wrap up?

Kyle Lacy:

No, I just, I, I want to give a big shout out to this community, to the, to the marketing ops community as a whole, honestly, because I think that. I think that that, that y'all are behind the scenes a lot for some of these marketing teams and you don't get the credit you ultimately should get. And um, I had to see that firsthand in order to fully understand the importance of this and. That's my shout out to this group because it's, uh, it is needed no matter what, like this role in this or the teams, no matter how it's structured. Uh, a, a productive and growth oriented marketing team needs marketing ops no matter where it lives. So shout out to this group because, uh, you keep all of us alive.

Mike Rizzo:

love that. That's a great shout out.

Michael Hartmann:

Well, great. So, Kyle, this has been a lot of fun. I always enjoy conversations with you. We always kind of go off in different directions, but, um, if folks wanna keep up with you and what's, what's coming up next for you or your, your next book or whatever it is you're doing, what's the

Kyle Lacy:

I'm not doing a book. Well, I, I wrote, I wrote Twitter marketing for dummy, so I'm thinking like this whole Elon thing. Maybe I should like bring out the third edition cause. Nobody has any idea what's going on, but no, I, uh, LinkedIn or Twitter. LinkedIn, you can search for me. Twitter is where I've usually LinkedIn and Twitter is where I spend my time.

Michael Hartmann:

Awesome. Kyle, again, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Uh, Mike, thank you. And we miss Naomi, but this was a fun conversation. Uh, thanks to all of our listeners for, for, uh, continuing to support us, continue to give us ratings and reviews. And if you've got suggestions for other great guests like Kyle, uh, or you wanna be a guest, just reach out to Mike, Naomi, or me. Until next time, thanks everyone. Bye-bye.

Mike Rizzo:

Thanks everybody back.

Kyle Lacy:

Bye.