As a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) who has been around the block working in startups, working with Fortune 500 companies, Big 4 organizations, and working in and out of U.S. Government entities like the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Energy there are a few things you will not hear from me.
The first thing you will not hear is that I will save your business. I cannot do that. No CMO can, and if they tell you they can they are either a liar or seriously naïve. It sounds harsh, but it is true. If your business is on the decline marketing is not going to save it. It can prop it up for a while, but it will not save it. Marketing, and as such the CMO, is the first step in a long equation that results in a growing business, or one that dies. I have been on the receiving end of a CMO savior, and I can tell you, even though they brought their A game nothing they could do would have saved the company. Leads went to sales in huge piles. Sales dropped 50% or more of those leads on the floor, and another 50% of those they lost with uneven practices. Then fulfillment lost 50% of what was left by not delivering an amazing product. After that support dropped another 50% of what remained by not upholding a great experience for the customer.
Do you know what I learned? CMOs aren’t superheroes. They can sure try, and they can deliver superhuman results, but they simply cannot fix a problem that they do not own. Does that scare you? It should. A healthy amount of fear is needed before trying to solve any problem, as a little bit of fear and apprehension make you face the lion prepared, instead of walking in half-cocked and getting eaten. So now let’s have a real conversation.
Front Loaded Value
I am not going to waste your time or mine by explaining how I am different than other CMOs or CMO candidates you may look at. I will simply explain my most important tenant. Value for a CMO has to be front loaded. Let me repeat that, value for a CMO absolutely must be front loaded. This means that you need to get leads that can be converted into sales that have a clear understanding of what they will get and how they will be supported as quickly as possible. So, just to be clear we are going to run, not walk, not crawl, but seriously outright sprint to this goal.
Let me explain. As a CMO I focus on four activities that are designed to accomplish this goal, accomplish it quickly, and accomplish it effectively. I will not come in and pretend I know more about your business than you do. I will tell you that marketing is marketing is marketing. The four activities I perform up front, and that which we train every CMO candidate to perform seek to achieve just that – front loaded value. If you pay for the CMO quickly, then CMO can stay around to do the hard work. If you do not, then guess what? You will cut that CMO before you even take a look at what will push the boundaries in your business.
So here they are without any pomp and circumstance:
- We will look at all the marketing you are currently doing. We will measure all of it. If you can’t measure it, we will stop doing it. Here is the secret: if it can’t be measured, it isn’t working. I can say that with confidence because if you can’t measure it, then it is not producing enough results to “finish” and equation, and you won’t miss it. If you stop it, and suddenly your book of business drops, then guess what? You just measured it, and it is time to formalize that and get that channel going again with solid measurements.
- We will prioritize the marketing channels that produce the best leads. What are the best leads? Those are the ones that make it through the sales funnel in the shortest path with the highest return on investment and achieve the highest customer lifetime value. Do you have a channel that produces great repeat business? You probably do, and if you do not know what it is we will find it, build a huge fence around it and fill that funnel until it reaches the sky.
- We will dashboard everything marketing. Do you already have a dashboard for your marketing data? Great, that will save us some time, if there happens to be anything missing we will add it. My entry to marketing was through data science, so I learned the secret that marketing data, marketing dashboards, and marketing results can be combined with third party data to produce insane business insights that will guide your decision making process and give you access to actionable tasks that can change your outcomes in sales and fulfillment drastically.
- We will examine the entire marketing-sales-delivery-support funnel. Marketing does not just exist in the front end. A huge part of marketing is customer experience, and that effects sales, fulfilment, and support. The ultimate aim is to reduce the cost per acquisition for each customer and the best way to do that is to have your existing customers buy more from you without needing to remarket to them over and over again, better yet without even having to sell them over and over again. To accomplish that, you need a smooth transition from the first time they are marketed, a winning process during sales that keeps them informed on what to expect (marketing inside of sales), a better than expected delivery (marketing in fulfillment), and support that makes them feel loved (marketing in support).
Why the rush?
Unguided marketing activity is wasteful. You know that already, or you wouldn’t be reading this. I could go on and on about all the great things a great CMO can and should do, but that is not important yet. My aim right now is to earn your business by demonstrating that I have the experience bring leads in the door in a timely fashion and more than just an obscure strategy to do it.
The rush is simple. As a CMO, more so than nearly any other position there exists the need to prove oneself. This is not for vanity it is because this position, above all others is responsible for locating the clients that will make your business thrive. Producing fast, effective, and efficient results means finding problems quickly, and fixing them. The simple rule of business is the fastest runner wins the race – assuming that runner doesn’t trip, fall, and choke to death on a face full of dirt. So do it right, get ahead, make tweaks where necessary. Most importantly, being ahead gives you the luxury of making tweaks, examining problems, and having the time to fix them, without falling behind.
In my opinion the CMO in startups should be on the founding team. If they are not, it should be the first hire. That is not vanity speaking, it is simply that marketing is the foundation for quite a few things including product and service development, support needs, and most importantly that all important customer experience we talked about.
In small business, if you are trying to grow, then this is the first add you should have to your executive team. I do not care if it is me or someone you find that is better qualified to support your organization – do not start your race in the middle. You will quickly find that you are running with an anchor. Snazzy sales people are easy to find and can quickly conjure up a thousand reasons why you should hire them first:
- I will find my own leads
- I bring a book of business
- I know exactly what you need
- Selling rules the growth of your company
While all of these things are possible and potentially true, they are flat out WRONG. You hear me, they can be totally true and wrong all at the same time. A salesperson can bring leads, but I can guarantee they will not be ready for your sales process, and in the end will result in two dissatisfied people, you and your sales person. If they bring a book of business that is GREAT! The warning here though – a book has a beginning and most importantly AN END. They may look like a sales wizard while they pour through their existing contact book, but when it comes to the end can you handle the dry spell? I will bet you that they can’t, and will move onto greener pastures.
How about that knowing exactly what you need? Sure, everyone does right? Doubtful. Your business is learned. I am sure you didn’t pick it up and figure everything out on day one either. You may still not even know exactly what you need. You may know EXACTLY what you need. I will bet you dollars to donuts that they do not know what you need. Their first job when they meet you is to sell themselves, do not forget it. A marketers first job is to PROVE themselves, or you say goodbye, really fast – that is your job!
Finally, the last statement is 100% fact. That fact is surrounded by a more important truth. Any sales channel will become frustrated and flat without a consistent source of leads. Just like the first statement on the list exposes, sales people know they need leads, and only a desperate salesperson WANTS to generate their own.
The Bottom Line
I am not cheap. I am valuable. I prove that value quickly. If what I offer is not your cup of tea, or not what you are looking for, then great – by reading this short article we just saved each other some time. No harm, no foul. Not everyone is ready for this type of service, this kind of blunt honesty, and this kind of energy in growing their business. I cannot convince you that you are ready for this, or that this is what you need. All I can do is let results speak for themselves, and as I said – front load those results so you get your value right away, and do not have to wait for month after month while we “try some things” that may or may not work.
Working with me as a fractional CMO, or part-time, virtual, however you want to put it is simple. We discuss your business, where you believe your holes are, and then you choose a level of engagement. I have four levels – all based on a monthly retainer.
- BASIC ($1,500 USD) – This level is 15 hours per month and includes everything described above, accomplished as quickly as we can, at the highest quality with the aim of providing that ROI in the first month of service.
- STANDARD ($2,500 USD) – This package includes 26 hours per month, and like the BASIC package is designed to provide the ROI in the first month. More time means more effective and more robust solutions.
- EXECUTIVE ($5,000 USD) – This level includes 56 hours per month. It also includes a license to the Willow.ai data dashboard (which you get to keep), and the construction of permanent AI ready dashboards to give even better data insights. This package lets us deep dive on all four action steps, and provide an important fifth – what areas of opportunity exist that are not currently being exploited in reaching customers (who is the customer, where are they, how do we get more), delivered in the form of a report and a new lead source that can be tracked and measured as per the requirements of our first step.
- FULL TIME (Negotiable) – Are you ready for someone fulltime? Let’s negotiate on a workable price that accomplishes what you need, requires proof, and opens the doors to all the important things a CMO does after day one, month one, and year one – like reducing customer acquisition cost, identifying better channels, reducing communication costs, improving image, and much more.
:Let’s do this. Fill out the contact form and we can get started today.