Summer Blog Series (aka “12 reasons why you may need an fractional CMO.”)

For the last few months, Monday night has meant one thing in my house. Soccer practice. The ongoing ritual of taking my son and his friend to practice, dropping them off, watching for a while – and then trying to find things to occupy my time for the next hour waiting for them to wrap up. This usually involves spending a lot of time wandering the Mall, the local Whole Foods, or an outside walk in the neighborhood surrounding the practice facility. But in general, it’s been a great way to let my mind wander and relax a bit – away from my computer and the daily pressures of helping my clients and growing my business.

Well, guess what – soccer is over. Which means I now have 12 weeks (at least) of a free Monday evening to spend doing . . . something different. And rather than spend these evenings sitting by the pool or reading a good book (which I can do Tuesday through Friday), I’m going to spend them with you. Providing some musings on what I’m working on these days, and (most importantly) how it might help you. In short, “12 reasons why you may want to consider a fractional CMO as part of your future.” (And yes, Mr. or Mrs. Business Owner or C-level exec – I’m talking to you.)

So let’s start at the beginning. What is an fractional CMO? A fractional Chief Marketing Officer is someone who has all the skills you’d want from a C-Level executive, but doesn’t come with the hefty price tag or long-term commitment. We are great for solving problems with small-to-mid-sized businesses (call it $10M to $100M in revenue), who spend money advertising their products to a range of consumers (let’s say you’re spending at least $750K in outbound marketing expenses – all the way up to several million dollars), but don’t necessarily have the operating budget (or want to allocate the expense) to afford a $250K full-time employee in a corner office.

A fractional CMO is beneficial for a number of reasons – beyond just the cost-savings. Let’s say you’re a marketing-focused chief executive (which applies to many of my clients). You like plotting marketing strategies, coming up with big ideas, slicing up the marketing budget and working on campaigns. But, you’re pulled in so many directions that you don’t have the time or the bandwidth to focus on getting all of these things to the finish line. A fractional CMO is the perfect compliment – someone you can partner with to get things done, but don’t have to babysit on the details of how to execute. And, who can manage the entire marketing team when you’re not around to ensure it’s all done flawlessly.

Here’s another reason. You live and die with your business, You’re focused on every single detail – so closely in fact that sometimes you miss the bigger picture. How are outside trends impacting your operation? What are other businesses doing that you may have missed? How do you bring fresh ideas to the table on a regular basis, without changing your staff every few months? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to apply what’s successful for one of my clients to help drive success for another one (and no – I don’t work with direct competitors for obvious reasons). It’s things like a digital marketing insight that may drive a business forward. Or, referring a marketing partner that’s done great work for one client to assist with another. All just as “part of the job”.

And one more reason – because so much of your culture and operation comes from marketing, that finding that perfect organizational fit can be a challenge. In fact, the wrong full-time CMO can do more damage than the right one can solve. Outsourcing the role gives you a chance to find the right fit – and get someone on board who’s earning the role every single day. Most of my clients aren’t project-based, but built around longer-term retainers. What’s nice for us both is that I have the long-term incentive to find ways to contribute as the CMO and be part of the ongoing culture with individuals who I work with every day. But, as an outsider, I have a chance to provide an honest assessment of what’s happening and provide real-time coaching and counseling – not just to my direct clients but also to their staffs, vendors and partners. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job, and one that can be hard to do when you’re a full-time employee. (Plus, when the fit isn’t right on either side, it’s easier to move on – it doesn’t happen often, but this model works great when it does.)

Those are just a few reasons why a fractional CMO may make sense for your business. But, what I really what to do is find a way to help you. What do you want to learn more about? What questions might you have about marketing or outsourcing? Any specific marketing challenges you’re trying to solve? You can reach me right here on LinkedIn. Would love to start a conversation and see where it leads. (And feel free to spread the word!)