The field of marketing has changed in recent years, with leaders across the industry finding their roles and responsibilities greatly increased. Consider, for example, industry research showing that there are more than 68,000 chief marketing officers (CMOs) employed nationwide today.
As C-suite executives, these department heads have ascended out of their more specialized product branding roles and are now intricately involved in broader business initiatives, from setting strategy and architecting product roadmaps to driving revenues and managing P&L. In fact, marketing as an internal function has moved beyond the realm of cost center and sales support as companies increasingly see the value marketing personnel, strategies, and data bring to leadership teams and their decision-making processes.
As a fractional CMO myself who works both in-house and as an advisor to clients, I understand well the challenges, rewards, and expectations that come with the position today. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:
1. Behind Every Successful CMO Is a Strong Team
A CMO is typically hired in-house or contracted externally to help a firm develop marketing strategies based on data. However, to effectively execute on a company’s strategies also requires a team of professionals who are skilled in a breadth of marketing disciplines. Today, that team extends beyond creative and administrative staff members to include technology professionals as well.
If a company is large enough to support a full staff along with its CMO, then that organization may be well served by running a full-service in-house marketing department. When that is not the case, it is to an organization’s advantage to outsource the CMO position – and the marketing function overall – contracting with an external fractional CMO who can help drive pivotal decision-making processes while bringing in the exact outside talent needed to create effective marketing content for each individual initiative and campaign.
As a discipline, fractional marketing allows firms the flexibility to pull teams together in a modular manner. Not only does this model allow firms to tap top creative and technical professionals incrementally and cost efficiently, but it also allows them to quickly scale up their marketing efforts in response to competitive dynamics and fluctuating market demands.
2. Instincts Are No Match for Data
In the past, marketing messages and campaigns were concepted based on gut feelings and department brainstorming sessions. By contrast, the most effective CMOs serving brands today base their decisions on data.
In fact, CMOs and their teams have access to more customer and market data today than ever before. Increasingly, tech-savvy brands are leveraging data to analyze, track, and anticipate the purchasing needs and behaviors of customers at a granular level, effectively segment marketing audiences, and customize – or even personalize – their messaging accordingly.
3. An Outside Perspective Is Powerful
Bringing in a fractional CMO through an outsourcing model offers many advantages for organizations. For example, consider that a CMO you hire in-house brings with them the experiences they have accumulated to date – and only those experiences. Once part of your company, an internal CMO tends to become highly entrenched in the business and culture – and may lose some of the close outside connections and sense of objectivity he or she originally brought to the position.
With an external fractional CMO leading your marketing initiatives, your company can develop and execute on strategies while also maintaining ongoing access to the marketing strategies, technologies, and creative resources leveraged by other organizations outside your company and industry.
External contractors, such as fractional CMOs, don’t get caught up in internal politics, either – and are not there to climb your corporate ladder. As a result, they are free to focus solely on your business needs and growth objectives, and on how to deliver value with every campaign they run.
4. Success Should be Measured – and Often
At the end of the day, an investment in marketing should result in incremental business gains that are profitable for your company. Accordingly, CMOs should stay focused on developing new revenue streams that exceed the costs driving them.
There are a variety of leading indicators your CMO can track to ensure your marketing success, from qualified leads or product sales generated by campaigns to new visitors to your website, social media sentiment and activity, and participation in events, such as roadshows and webinars. Closely tracking and analyzing these and other KPIs can help you assess the value of the marketing investments you are making and improve your success over time.
5. Win the Marathon – Not the Sprint
It is important to remember that it can take time to build a growth machine to drive your company’s net income. So, give your CMO the chance to learn your business well and gather and analyze the marketplace data needed to develop sound, long-term strategies that align with your vision and goals.
Ultimately, marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. Positioning your company and products for the future takes an investment in time and resources. With the right CMO, backed by a team of experienced, highly skilled professionals, you can grow your customer base and solidify your market position by fulfilling unmet needs in the industry and demonstrating, time and again, the unique value you bring to the customers and communities you serve.
Jennifer Marino serves as CMO for Marketri. As part of our leadership team, she remains focused on leveraging strategy, execution, and analytics to deliver results for our valued B2B clients.
See how Marketri’s profit-center marketing approach can help your organization seize opportunities, unlock innovation, and drive aggressive growth. Schedule a free consultation today.