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How to Implement Marketing Operations Software Downton Abbey Style

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Downton Abbey, the binge-worthy series (and movie) paints an elegant and highly amusing picture of the life and times of an aristocratic family in pre-war Britain. While the complex characters swan around ‘upstairs’ in a calm and beautiful setting, downstairs the butlers, maids, cooks and chefs are scrambling to make everything perfect. For every step that happens upstairs in the residence, there are 100 steps that happen down below to make it all look effortless.  

Aside from the costumes, intrigue and witty one liners, like…

“Don’t be defeatist, dear. It is very middle class.”

What Downton Abbey also does really well reminds us of how to best implement Marketing Operations Software.

I know it sounds like a stretch, but bear with us here.  

The issue whenever anyone implements any type of software – is that they try to shove too many things into a single system.  Be it a CRM (yes – guilty), a Digital Asset Management system, and yes, Marketing Operations Software.  Instead, what marketing ops teams should be doing is taking just the core processes – and doing that really well, without trying to do everything at once.  

The comparison came to mind when IntelligenceBank sat down with Euan Ferguson from Suncorp Bank, and Forrester Analyst Rusty Warner when recording a webinar on Best Practices for Marketing Operations for Financial Services Marketers (Watch the Webinar Here).  When talking about what made Suncorp’s marketing operations platform work so well – he talked about what they decided to put into the IntelligenceBank platform, and what was ‘ok’ to leave out.  

Suncorp’s two tiered approach acknowledged that the IntelligenceBank Marketing Operations platform had a specific job to do, which included managing the following marketing compliance processes.  They include approvals on the following:

  1.  Campaign Brief
  2.  Budget Estimates
  3. Content Feedback
  4. Disclaimer Engine via Seal Tool
  5. Marketing Risk Assessment
  6. PIR campaign assessment


These are ‘essential’ activities for auditing marketing compliance and measuring efficiencies, but as Euan points out, lives “upstairs” from the zillion other things that goes on as part of a campaign as per the upstairs/downstairs chart below.


According to Tessa Court, CEO of IntelligenceBank, “the mistake so many marketing teams make when implementing a marketing operations platform is they are trying to capture every conversation and nuance of a chaotic and non-linear creative process in a single system.  People don’t work like that and if you try to shove too much in at once, people will naturally work outside of the system instead of adhere to a process.  Just think of a banner campaign – sometimes there are 12 iterations in an hour – you don’t need to capture every comment in a system – just the original brief and the final approved creative.”

With Suncorp’s model, they have achieved high levels of marketing compliance by breaking down their process and capturing the essentials ‘upstairs’ in the IntelligenceBank system – as those are the items that matter for marketing compliance and need to be systematized.

At the end of the day, we are all guilty of sometimes trying to shoehorn in too much detail on a single platform. 

Here’s what the IntelligenceBank implementation team recommends:

  1. Start with the end in mind.  Put in IntelligenceBank what you want to either share with the broader team or report on later.  One to one ‘downstairs’ conversations don’t always need to be captured in the system (but can be).
  2. Keep it simple.  Don’t try to boil the ocean but rather launch with a couple of processes and when your team have adopted it, roll out more.
  3. Online tutorials and training should do it.  If extensive training is needed – your process is likely too hard and may need simplifying.  This could take time but should be the end goal.

Contact us to learn more about Implementing a Marketing Operations Platform.

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