Marketing Operations is Paranoia

June 27, 2023

Paranoid animated eyes looking back and forth.

I’ve been working in marketing for over a decade at this point. While the bulk of that was largely in customer-facing roles that involved design, content, and evangelism, the past year has been solely working in marketing operations. One thing I’ve come to realize is that there is a huge emotional dividing line between customer-facing marketing roles and operations.

Customer-facing marketing roles deal in optimism. It’s largely about getting customers excited about your product and work. It’s hard not to get excited in the process of executing that work. Ideas for new content pieces, cool designs, clever campaigns… it’s about the act of creation and optimism goes hand in hand with that.

Operations, on the other hand, deals in paranoia. It’s about working with a system and protecting it at all costs, living in fear that something, somewhere, someday will break… because it has, does, and will, from here to eternity. A broken email, stale links, a form not posting correctly, or leads not landing in Salesforce despite all of your best intentions. You can’t help but live in fear, a current of low-level anxiety permeating everything you do. It’s the opposite of optimism, which can really suck sometimes. But it’s that kind of paranoia-fueled thinking that makes for an effective operations contributor.

I’m not saying one type of role is better than the other. Both are necessary for operating a business. It’s just something I’ve noticed the past year.