How to Tell If Your Marketing Department Needs a Fractional CMO


We are in the business of listening. There’s nothing more exciting than having a conversation with someone passionate about their business, learning their story, where they came from, where they want to go, and sometimes, what challenges they’re facing in the interim as well. Through listening to CEOs, we build relationships, and, over time, we occasionally find that there’s an appropriate way for our Fractional CMOs to provide strategic support through our on-demand or roundtable services.

Maybe you have a marketing department, and maybe you don’t. Maybe you have a CMO, maybe you don’t; the people who come to us tend to be business owners at mid-size businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. While we do work with large enterprises, most of these have the bench strength that means they don’t need our support- the exception being the need for an outside perspective on particular challenges. 

The changing marketing needs of growing businesses 

Many of the businesses we work with have done a degree of marketing before, but they come to us because they know there’s a need to align their marketing strategy with their business goals. Business leaders have usually worked their way up to a point where they can look at marketing as a key part of their organisation’s short and long-term success.

A CEO is often aware of marketing, but it is not their specific area of expertise. They understand the principle but are aware that today's marketing is much more complicated than it was 20 years ago and that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the array of options available for executing your marketing strategy.

Another common challenge for businesses is a change in dynamic as it grows. As the business has developed, the founder is much further from the market and has a less intimate understanding of the marketing and sales funnel. The CEO might have maintained some strategic customer relationships, but they are usually further away from the value proposition and less aware of the disruptors nibbling away at their business. There are too many other stakeholders they now have to manage.

More often than not, when we ask CEOs to analyse their company expenditure, the highest cost is staff wages, and the second is marketing and sales. Most don’t even realise it because they don’t necessarily look at the sales and marketing processes as an integrated whole. On that note, you may find it interesting to read our article on how a collaborative approach between sales and marketing departments is essential to business growth.


What do marketing departments do?

Looking at sales and marketing as having a direct link to core business objectives is at the heart of the role of a CMO. For companies that are growing or perhaps don’t have a need for a full-time CMO, this is one of how a Fractional CMO can provide invaluable strategic support. 

In today’s world, many things are included under the marketing umbrella. Where once upon a time it was about big campaigns and television adverts, today it is multifaceted, ongoing and analytical. 

How marketing has changed

No one used to talk about inbound and outbound marketing- if you advertised and the customers came to you. Then Google changed the world. Now everything is self-service, even sales. Typically someone will have a need or a problem, and they will take to the internet to ask how they solve it. You need to be the answer to their needs.

Even in a world of mass content consumption, rarely does anyone sit around watching the same show on television at an allotted time. When they do, it’s likely to be an on-demand platform like Netflix- they don’t want to see adverts, and don’t have to. The exception is live events such as sports or Royal weddings.

There’s a cultural shift for employees as well. We have spoken about the need for meaning in our work in previous articles. Today, fewer people join big companies- they join start-ups because they want to change the world and be part of something purposeful. 

That attitude has fundamentally changed the business landscape for businesses because there's a constant drive to disrupt the market. Business leaders need to be more aware of innovation- we have seen huge established industries sidelined because they couldn’t see the market changing around them. For example, supermarkets are increasingly taking a back seat to Amazon. They never considered it to be a threat- it was a marketplace for selling books. Now it’s the second biggest food and grocery retailer in the world.

The role of your marketing department

The role of a marketing department is to understand how to talk to your target market (or markets) and to constantly stay on top of the data to make sure that what you’re doing is driving results.

IT's easier than ever to execute marketing strategies because of all the available tools, channels, and options. However, where a lot of organisations come unstuck is that they do a lot of tasks using a lot of channels, but none of them is working. They’re just keeping everyone busy.

The challenge for marketing leadership and marketing departments is in the thinking. What a marketing department does need to be well thought through. You need to be clear on what you’re trying to achieve and how to get all parts working. That process isn’t static either- just because it works for a while doesn’t mean it will keep working.

The marketing department structure

Some of the business leaders we work with have a proven business and want to keep it prospering. Others have a great idea and work on product-market fit and minimum viable proposition. They need marketing leadership that understands how to talk to customers, and sometimes that also means requiring marketing that can position them for investors or even for a potential sale.

So what are the options?  You can hire someone as a team member- that makes you highly invested in one individual who may or may not turn out to be the right fit. It’s also an extremely costly approach and will likely only address one requirement- leadership or an actionable skillset. In the past, some might have looked at getting a part-timer or even an intern in place to put plans into action, but that has clear limitations as well. 

CMO marketing solutions

Most business leaders like our Fractional CMO model because you can turn it on and turn it off at will. It fits in with your team- whether that’s full-time staff, a junior team of staff, a network of freelancers or a combination. We can bring everyone together and ensure they work toward a cohesive strategy.

Our on-demand support from Fractional CMOs is immediately implementable as required, both for periods or for frequent interventions. It allows you to tap into it as needed and then sit back, looks at the sales pipeline and action daily tasks. 

We help business leaders articulate their business challenges or need, and we help provide solutions. All that begins with listening. Perhaps we will have a good conversation and go away knowing a little more about the world and its businesses. Or maybe one day, those conversations might enable us to provide meaningful, trusted support when you need it.  

If you would like to have a conversation with gigCMO, contact us any time.

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