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Spicing Up Your Marketing Staff: Working with Newbies

By: SmallBizClub


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The use of professionals in a fractional role is nothing new. Companies do this when they turn to lawyers on retainer, CPAs needed when tax time rolls around or employment services as a HR department. Using a fractional Chief Marketing Officer when needed is no different.

Some companies see marketing as a necessary evil. In smaller companies, the founder or owner may try to market their business, thinking since it’s their baby, they are best to promote it to the public. That is usually not the case. Some companies think sales and marketing are interchangeable. They are not. Without direction, these random acts of marketing seldom achieve the desired outcome.

Marketing departments often find their budgets cut first especially in small businesses and start-up companies. They are viewed as an unnecessary cost since the return on investment may not be apparent for months or even a year. The pandemic has led to the Great Resignation; many of those quitting their jobs are mid-level management leaving behind a marketing team with no leadership in place. As a result, individuals with three- or four-years’ experience are being thrust into management roles with longevity their only qualification.

Marketing unicorns, one person who can do everything marketing related, from social media to strategy to events, all at one low, low price are as rare as, well, unicorns. While they may have the creative tools to develop a marketing idea or the technical skills needed for social media or know the fundamentals of marketing, they are not necessarily born leaders.

A successful marketer does not a marketing manager make

Leading a marketing department – or any department – without the proper skill set leads to failure and frustration. Trying to make decisions or develop a strategy may exceed a team’s performance limits, leaving the manager and department unable to determine the next step and the business owner disappointed and questioning the efforts of the department and choice of hires.

That’s where a fractional chief marketing officer comes in.

In his book “Fractional Leadership: Landing Executive Talent You THOUGHT Was Out of Reach” Ben Wolf quotes Kent Huffman: “Fractional CMOS are most often the best fit for mid-market organizations that don’t need or can’t afford a permanent, full time marketing leader but would benefit from the knowledge and strategic leadership that a short-term, experienced, and accomplished CMO could bring to the company. Beyond serving as a part-time addition to the C-suite, fractional CMOs usually offer other services to their clients, such as…advising the CEO on marketing related issues and opportunities, managing strategic marketing initiatives, conducting strategy workshops, coaching/mentoring lower-level marketing staffers and conducting market audits.”

A fractional chief marketing officer is someone who has built a business and know what it takes, be it processes or people. They enjoy working with new companies and even learning a new industry. The fit within a company is more important than familiarity. The fractional CMO’s experience and knowledge can apply to all.

A fractional chief marketing officer reviews past efforts to determine the level at which the department is operating. As an outsider, they can look at the team with a fresh set of eyes and evaluate the strengths, skills, and talents of each member. A fractional chief marketing officer relies on years of experience working with like-sized companies to provide the leadership needed by a floundering team.

Unlike a consultant who observes a company’s operations, submits a report for consideration and is off to the next job, a fractional chief marketing officer is hands on, working within the department and with the team to improve skills.  Programs and processes can be implemented to provide needed structure. With a proven track record of success, this confidence inspires a struggling team.

They’ve been there. They know.

In addition, the fractional chief marketing officer is a mentor, providing guidance to those who have been pushed into a management role and are unsure of what comes next. Marketing unicorns would flourish in this environment.

The fractional chief marketing officer provides the glue by holding the marketing team accountable. A fractional chief marketing officer is, by definition, someone who gives a company a fraction of their time, often just one day each week. Since the fractional CMO often works remotely and is not on site every day (if at all), the department is forced to think for themselves while functioning as a team. By operating without constant supervision, the transition to an independent department with a skilled manager in place is easier.

Knowing they are under contract with time limits, a fractional chief marketing officer begins their job with the end in mind. The objective is to provide strategic guidance; the team is to do the actual work. It is imperative they remain focused and keep the department focused as well. Oftentimes, the fractional CMO will assist in the hiring of a permanent CMO or promotion of someone to management level.

With the Great Resignation, many businesses are needing a stop gap.  Utilizing a fractional Chief Marketing Officer will allow businesses time to hire correctly, train existing staff and gain the experience of a more seasoned c-suite leader at the fraction of the price.

Author: Liz Papagni is the best-selling author of “Your Marketing Roadmap,” and founder of MyCMO and CEO of Marketing Initiative Worx, Inc.  Liz is a leading brand and marketing thought leader who has worked with a vast array of clients, from established small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. As a marketing and leadership expert with a passion for helping companies develop strategies that convince and convert customers, she has launched and propelled numerous brands nationwide.  You can contact Liz at marketingiw.com

Published: May 2, 2022

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