There’s a dilemma that plagues most growing companies that hardly anyone talks about. It’s easy to steer clear of it with some foresight. However, if you make this mistake, it’s difficult to recover without stunting company growth, hurting some feelings, and turning over good employees.
When a company grows, the marketing function can become an afterthought and delegated to whoever has extra time on their hands. Randomly posting on social media accounts or deciding the artwork for company koozies isn’t that hard. However, it’s not long before the company realizes they need to make a real (and affordable) investment in dedicated talent. Marketing is just as important as operations, accounting, and supply chains.
Not willing to spend six-figures on a marketing veteran, the company defaults to scooping up an eager-to-please young college graduate. There’s nothing wrong with bringing in a green talent, but understand what that person is equipped to do. Once graduated, they will have completed about 40 classes in 4-5 years. That serves as a great foundation, but it’s usually light on real-world experience. Still, for the organization, it’s a big step forward in helping the company move ahead and being consistent. But be patient. In today’s fast-moving marketing landscape, this person will be learning on the job. Good, dedicated employees are hard to find. It’s a best practice to grow with them.
The national average salary for a marketing coordinator is $43,239
Here’s what you should expect from your marketing coordinator:
- Track performance metrics
- Post to social media, earn engagement
- Be a brand ambassador
- Coordinate with supporting vendors
- Attend trade shows
- Summarize sales data
- Monitor budgets
- Seek out continuing education opportunities
- Coordinate travel and presentations
- Order promotional materials
- Measuring customer sentiment
- Make non-technical website updates
Even the most capable marketing coordinators will lack the most important thing, experience. A seasoned CMO level marketing professional on average will cost a hefty $173,990, and while they are worth every penny, it may be more than the CEO makes for a company in growth mode. The perspective of experience comes at a significant cost. However, it’s common for a company to grow fast enough where this level of investment is the right strategic move.
Here lies the problem. Your marketing coordinator can feel betrayed when her or her replacement is hired at nearly 3 times their salary. Worse, the original coordinator has performed well and helped the company grow. Understandably, they feel hurt and disappointed to be passed over for a promotion they think they deserve.
It’s at this point in the company’s history that the marketing coordinator will leave and pursue other opportunities. All that training and talent leaves with them, a mountain of institutional knowledge. The next few months are spent with the new CMO interviewing, hiring, and training the next generation support team. Unfortunately, that’s time they could have spent doing the job they were hired to do.
So how do you avoid this mistake that is made over and over again?
Braxten O’Neil, President of the marketing leadership company Atlas Rose thinks he has a solution. “Unfortunately we see this situation happen all the time. Another is when management expects more performance out of a marketing coordinator than they can deliver. Having the tools and experience to map out winning strategies is something only accomplished executives can do. They’ve seen what’s worked and what hasn’t over decades of accumulated wisdom. Expecting too much is setting these people up for failure. Nobody wins.”
Instead, O’Neil suggests hiring a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO.) The concept isn’t new and is widely accepted with Chief Financial Officers (CFO) and Chief Information Officers (CIO). A CMO can spend a predetermined amount of time organizing the marketing function while the marketing coordinator takes direction, learns, and executes a defined strategy. The CMO is fully committed to your team but doesn’t financially burden the organization as a full-time w-4 employee.
O’Neil continues, “As a company that supplies fractional CMO’s, our team loves it when a client already has one or two dedicated marketing people on staff. We can move much faster and with better results. The employees love it too because they finally get the senior marketing leadership they have been craving. You frequently see a new level of enthusiasm and energy when there is a senior marketing executive available to validate their good ideas or challenge them to think differently.”
“At the end of the day, there is only one market metric that matters… qualified leads” – Braxten O’Neil
So what exactly can a fractional CMO bring you?
A C-Suite perspective
A CMO will have the experience to understand how decisions made will impact the entire organization. They take direction from the CEO, but also can alert leadership to unintended consequences before they happen. They add value and mitigate risk. Even though fractional, a CMO should be integrated with your leadership team to get maximum benefit.
Additional revenue opportunities
A CMO will be looking at data as it comes in and out of your organization. Understanding customer behavior and online tendencies frequently result in decisions that have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Even the most powerful marketing departments in the world rely on vendors to execute a vision. Whether it’s an SEO optimization company or signmaker, the CMO has a relationship with the best. Just like a professional sports coach surrounds themselves with assistant coaches they have confidence in, so does a CMO who works with vendors.
A CMO will bring with them solid marketing principles and tools that are designed to do things like:
- Developing a strategy to get a deeper understanding of the target audiences
- Exercises to help companies understand what makes them special, and design a message around it
- Highlighting competitive advantages
- Finding a voice customers relate to
- Ensuring consistent and clear message
- Defining a customer journey to create raving fans
- Crating systems to handle inbound leads, scoring, and a smooth sales handoff
Even beyond the marketing function, a CMO should inspire and push teams to reach new levels of success. Creating an organization that helps people accomplish personal goals makes for loyal and dedicated employees.
Defining and leveraging people, processes, and technology is any CEO’s primary responsibility. Getting and keeping the best people you can find and afford is the fastest way to get there.