Continuous new innovations in marketing operations allow brands to tailor their messaging precisely to the needs of their target audience.
But our guest today points out that it’s crucial to keep an open mind and stay flexible. It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting mired in some “all-in-one” martech platform that isn’t as agile and effective across multiple channels as you think.
Erik Eaton is the Director of Marketing Operations at Carrot Fertility, a worldwide healthcare organization focused on providing affordable, equitable solutions for both employers and employees.
Let’s explore his insights into failing successfully, the importance of inclusivity, crafting a compelling global content strategy, and much more.
“Are you making the right decisions by your company, by your team, and then by you?” — Erik Eaton
“Ship > mate > self”
Erik served for six years as a hospital corpsman in the US Navy and then earned a Bachelor’s degree in marketing. He built quite an impressive resume while working on his MBA from Washington State, which he received in the midst of the pandemic.
A saying that stuck with him from his time at sea is “ship, mate, self.” It’s a clever mnemonic reminder to put the needs of others before yours and to own your choices.
He also adopted a kind of relay-racing mindset — “whatever your job is, try to learn what comes after you and what comes before you.” This practice influences his current powerful strategies.
Starting off as an intern, he quickly identified and absorbed the key traits of people who reached a degree of success, propelling him on a trajectory from entry-level to a directorship at one of the world’s leading fertility care organizations.
Erik found the perfect seat at Carrot, an energetic startup on a mission to make a wide spectrum of reproductive care available to anyone who needs it, regardless of age, race, sex, orientation, or gender identity.
They have a highly unique business model, with the need to communicate the value of their services to both employers and employees, two completely different audiences that each demand a personalized approach.
Brand value positioning
His nimble marketing ops team is able to effortlessly pivot from a vigorous B2B game plan to creating content for people considering especially personal family-forming journeys.
“Whatever it is, we have to support them,” he says, “and how we really look at the messaging we’re using is through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens.”
Carrot’s dedication to DEI also serves as a recruitment and retention tool for forward-thinking brands. Their services are a non-traditional yet important benefit that many companies don’t offer.
Erik is focused on educating businesses and individuals with inclusive content that really delivers the value proposition to every audience, all around the world.
“Some of the best marketing teams have platforms you've never even heard of. They just have a really great strategy and really great content. They're trying to solve problems.” — Erik Eaton
Go in with an open mind
That’s Erik’s number one piece of advice for senior marketing leaders.
He’s got plenty of experience “joining growth companies where they don’t have marketing ops and it’s a brand new role for them,” so he’s familiar with the phenomenon of executives feeling married to some much-touted martech platform that doesn’t really address any of their customers' pain points.
Open discussion and debating ideas lead to a healthier point of view and a willingness to embrace change.
Erik believes that “marketing ops should be the enablement: We should be testing and trying to fail to see what works and what doesn't work.” He jokes that “half the fun of the job is beating up and massaging your ideas.”
Specialize in your audience
As the main builder of Carrot’s marketing ops team, Erik needed a double-pronged approach to focus on both B2B and B2C strategies.
Instead of siloing two groups that would constantly step on each other’s toes, he created “one marketing organism with two specialized layers.”
They were also dealing with a massive amount of institutional knowledge that could not only benefit his staff but the entire ecosystem of demand gen and sales as well.
He appreciates the value of surrounding yourself with subject matter experts. He’s got campaign visionaries, analysts, a reporting team, and “somebody heading up our platform integrations, APIs, all that fun stuff and managing our tech stacks.”
“The people who are going to succeed in marketing ops are people that are willing to jump in and get their hands dirty across any problem.” — Erik Eaton
Not only is Carrot dealing with a wide and immensely varied audience, but they also handle extremely sensitive member data sets that need to be handled with the utmost care in a way that complies with global regulations.
“Growth-focused marketing operation platforms are a whole ‘nother beast — what I would consider standard in the B2B realm doesn't exist in the member growth marketing realm.” That fact inspired Erik to pioneer fascinating new ways of measuring his KPIs.
He’s also working with a product that requires remarkably personalized content to move leads through the funnel.
Erik’s main takeaway for marketing operations executives is to develop a love of constant learning, stay up to date with what’s happening in the industry, and find the flexibility to really run with your ideas.
Every channel is unique. Pinpointing what truly drives revenue will always help you find True North.