By Stacey Piper
Recently I discovered an old game of Perfection tucked away in a closet with other childhood memorabilia, saved to share someday with my own daughter. Still in the original box like a treasured possession, it was waiting for me to find it on a rainy day, or a day without Internet…or maybe the 300th day of March during a random pandemic.
Amazingly the wind-up timer still worked, and I gave it a whirl, trying to match 26 pieces to the slots in the game within a minute before the board exploded. The seconds flew by and I laughed maniacally as I discovered that I could still remember the placement of the geometric shapes more than 40 years later. Score One for muscle memory!
The Chief Marketing Officer: Essential or Dispensable?
I find that many small- and medium-sized companies are playing their own game of Perfection. While in growth mode, they hire vendors to fill a variety of needs, then scramble to make all the pieces fit within rapid sales cycles or in order to meet go-to-market deadlines. The role of Chief Marketing Officer is often deprioritized as one to fill after a company has reached specific revenue targets or market penetration. But without someone to align activities to your CEO’s strategy and define your direction, you may as well be wearing a blindfold while expecting to pin the tail on the donkey, or the customer in this case.
As a kid trying to master the game of Perfection—and beat the school-age competition in my neighborhood—I would mix up the pieces, turn the board upside down, and replay it over and over, until it was second nature. In the same way, a senior marketing executive brings a career’s-worth of practice, a breadth of experience in building marketing teams, processes, and technologies, to orchestrate company vision and establish a scalable, resilient foundation.
The Evolution of Marketing Leadership
Just as it sounds, a Fractional CMO handles key activities for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee or a long-term contractor. You already have in-house marketing talent? A Fractional CMO can provide valuable guidance and mentorship to an in-house marketer while raising the bar on strategic marketing decisions and simultaneously building capacity of the in-house talent.
Working with a Fractional CMO, you also get the benefits of a dedicated marketing leader with a flexible, right-sized engagement to meet your needs on-demand and within your budget. Engagement models typically range from from fixed to custom and full service, depending on your needs and the level of service, including advisory, strategic planning, and full development and implementation.
While a creative agency helps support specific projects or tactics, the Fractional CMO focuses on developing a mature marketing model: setting goals, establishing KPIs, developing community and engagement, and coaching your team to be successful for the long term, bringing your vision to fruition. In addition, this seasoned professional cuts through the smoke and mirrors of vendor management and ensures that you’re getting the most from your consultants, eliminating excess.
Moreover, leveraging a seasoned CMO on an as-needed basis provides you with expert insight to manage risk during major events, such as graduating 8a, merger or acquisition, an IPO, or a rebrand. If you’re making a pivot, such as shifting sales from commercial to public sector or from federal to state and local government, a Fractional CMO works with your marketing and sales teams to customize unique selling proposition and messaging and can develop effective lead management processes, allowing you to be strategic and economical at the same time.
The Missing Piece in Your Marketing Puzzle
I wasn’t sure how my daughter would react to a 1970s-era game, but she was hooked on Perfection from the first 60-second round on our kitchen table. The game stood the test of time with no need for the modern accoutrements of batteries, electricity, or Wi-Fi. Shocker!
Although we never want to be paralyzed by “perfection,” you’ll get a lot closer to great with an experienced marketer on your leadership team.