With customer acquisition and references the highest priority, the first non-technical hires focus on business development/sales.
In the early days, the technical CEO attempts to cover marketing and often delays hiring a marketing professional due to cost and equity considerations.
In doing so, they often struggle with:
- Identifying the target buyer and articulating their unique value proposition
- Addressing packaging, licensing and pricing strategies
- Selecting product category definitions and articulating competitive differentiation
- Enabling sales personnel with a compelling business proposition
- Determining a proper marketing mix and executing programs to deliver qualified leads
The longer the company struggles with these core go-to-market issues, the more likely customer acquisition goals won't be met, competitors will gain market share and the risk of company failure increases.
Is there a way to get a CMO on board earlier?
Why is a fractional CMO a good option?
- They can be hired quickly and provide immediate value
- Bring decades of marketing domain expertise and lessons learned
- Eager to work part-time, and will put-in full-time energy as needed
- Offer broad industry knowledge: technology, products and markets
- Bring industry respect and connections to the company
- Low cost and open to flexible compensation options (cash+equity)
Concerns CEO's have with interim/Fractional roles
They fear an interim CMO:
- Won't be dedicated to their company and vision
- Will be too expensive when compared to full-time hire
- Only capable of directing people and won't get their hands dirty
- Can't accomplish what is needed in a part-time capacity
- If older, doesn't have the energy to be effective
The truth is:
- A Part-time CMO will be committed to your vision and will improve your strategy
- Financial independence opens the door to flexible compensation options
- CMO's with early stage experience do everything (with or without staff)
- Energy is absolutely not an issue (60 is the new 50, maybe 40)
- Work ethic of this generation is unlike any other
Top 5 Reasons to consider an Interim, Fractional CMO?
- Strategic leadership to align go-to-market operations (product, marketing, sales)
- Quick hire that delivers immediate value
- Senior/broad experience for less money/equity
- Lower risk of hiring the wrong person
- Better productivity and fewer mistakes due to lessons learned
A fractional CMO is a win-Win scenario
As the interim CMO you need to contribute to the company's strategy and participate in operational meetings. You want the CEO to treat you as a peer on the executive team, and you are always "on call" to the executive staff to solve a problem or provide advice.
Sounds like a full-time role, right? Well from experience I can tell you that all of that and more can be accomplished in a part-time capacity.
This works very well for early-stage firms with one product or narrow product lines who can't afford an experienced CMO and don't require a full-time employee.
This is no different than a company hiring a law, accounting or public relations firm serving multiple clients in a fractional capacity. So, why treat a contract-marketing executive any different?