For several years, many companies eliminated the role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), choosing to bring in talented marketing specialists instead.
How’d that work out? You can see where I’m going with this…
At the time, company leaders who didn’t value the CMO role made one key (and common) mistake: They didn’t understand the value of a strategic view that connects marketing to business. Instead, they believed the collective expertise of these specialists would create, and then fulfill, their marketing mission.
A shift is now occurring. CEOs who recognize they don’t have the capacity to effectively map marketing strategy to business goals are reconsidering the CMO role. But, there are important factors to keep top of mind so business leaders don’t make the same mistake as years’ past.
What Makes a Good CMO?
Today, successful CMOs have to be more than just the title. They need to possess certain qualities that make them uniquely qualified to look at marketing from a growth-strategy point of view. For instance, a CMO with cross-industry experience is able to think outside a brand’s industry box. Experience negotiating across multiple internal constituencies--across functions--particularly with their partners in a sales organization or finance, is another core characteristic that makes a CMO a winner.
A CMO quality that leverages this strategic view is how they are able to view marketing from a “channel agnostic” angle. That is, the opposite of someone who holds a particular affinity or specialty (or “love”) for any one approach. When a CMO is channel agnostic in their recommendations, they have no predisposed inclinations about which channel is right for all businesses. They’re looking for channel solutions that map to growth KPIs that will drive specific business goals.
An example: Content marketing is one of the best ways to engage prospects, but what if there isn’t a proven messaging platform? A cross-channel thinker might use paid search to test that content direction, to see how it works in a low-cost scenario before launching into high-cost content development. Without experience in the mechanisms around paid search, too much is at risk. It’s all about thinking holistically.
In-House vs. Outsourced: Finding a CMO Who Meets Your Needs
When it comes time to hire a CMO, CEOs have an important decision to make: Bring in a full-time, internal CMO who is immersed in daily operations? Or, consider a part-time or “fractional” CMO who serves in an external capacity?
The benefits of the former are pretty obvious; namely, they’re working by your side every day. But, there are also risks to going that route.
For one, it’s expensive! A high-cost CMO worth her weight is going to eat up a lot of the budget. And, you still have to fund teams to “do the work” or any outside resources you enlist to put plans in action. Fractional CMOs are more affordable--especially for small and midsize businesses--but they still bring a high level of expertise.
An internal CMO might also have a harder time identifying what’s not working, because it’s natural to become entrenched in the company’s environment. And, if the budget only allows for a mid-level marketing lead, you may not have the expertise you really need.
“It’s all about thinking holistically.”
A fractional CMO looking from the outside-in not only has a clear, unbiased perspective--they are often more willing to bring transparency and honesty (no matter how brutal) to the conversation.
Enlisting a fractional CMO also gives you access to expertise beyond your internal talent pool. This exposes your company and teams to a broader range of resources and skills.
Get the Results You Expect
Hiring a CMO can be the next best action for taking your business to the next level. The recipe is: deep experience beyond your sector, an appreciation of the financial risk marketing brings, and someone who can inspire internal sales, finance, and marketing teams.
If your current marketing team needs more leadership and training, send them along to the marketing strategy training video to jump start a strategy that’s integrally tied to the mission you’ve set as the CEO.