What Happens During A CMO Transition?

So, I got some great news on Friday. One of my clients just hired a full-time Chief Marketing Officer! Wait, I’m sure you’re thinking. Doesn’t this mean you’re out of a job? Yes, that’s exactly what it means! And it’s not bad news – it’s really a positive thing. Let me explain why, and what happens next. It’s all part of the fractional marketing “Circle of Life“.

When clients hire me, it’s typically to fill a gap in their internal infrastructure. Most times, it’s either because they are re-evaluating their sales & marketing organization or they’ve had a full-time staff person leave suddenly. My job is to come in and help run the marketing machine in the short-term, while also establishing a full-time infrastructure that someone can then take over in the long term. It then usually falls into one of three different scenarios:

  1. We identify that my role as a fractional CMO could be the best way to move forward forever. Or at least until the current challenges are resolved – after which I come back to handle the next set. These companies just don’t need a full-time, senior-level marketing resource full-time.
  2. We identify a few key areas where internal expertise is lacking and it makes sense to assign to me on a project basis. These companies have full-time marketing leadership, but may be lacking (for instance) someone who understands digital media or someone who can manage content creation or a direct mail expert. These “project” clients may come back a few times during the year on a spot basis, and I’m able to pitch in and help immediately.
  3. We conduct a full sales & marketing evaluation, after which I put together a full strategic recommendation on process and staffing requirements. Then, I manage these efforts – putting a new marketing structure in place, helping identify candidates for each role, filling the jobs at hand and ultimately stepping aside once a new team has been established and a full-time CMO has been hired. It’s great to see it all come together, and incredibly gratifying for me – I’ve helped a company overcome an obstacle and can watch them move forward to achieve new heights, knowing that I was an integral part of the solution.

But once any of these jobs is complete, what happens next? Well, I do my best to provide continuity for the new CMO, the marketing team, and the company in general. I’ll spend a week or two helping with the transition – making sure all roles are assigned, vendor & partner relationships delegated, files shared, etc. And then I’ll make myself available for at least the next month or two – answering questions, taking on some side projects, or finishing out one or two assignments. Sometimes, I’ll get a call to come back in to fill a role on a short-term basis if someone leaves or if a new initiative is launched. Regardless, I keep in touch with my past clients, because that’s how I find the next one – referrals, relationships and ongoing assignments.

I’m really excited for my clients, and seeing where their new CMO will take the company next. We’ve accomplished a lot together, and now I’m looking forward to finding my next challenge – this is why I do what I do. So the door is open and I’m taking calls – if you’ve got a marketing challenge that you haven’t been able to overcome, had someone leave unexpectedly, or looking for sales & marketing leadership in general (or know someone who does), well, you know how to reach me.