Have a Rising Star On Your Marketing Team?

A hand holding a piece of paper with a large star in the middle.

Defining the “right person for the right seat” in the marketing department can be challenging for any business, but staffing for the marketing leadership role requires additional nuance when you have a rising star already on the team. Should you elevate your marketing coordinator / manager to the leadership role? Or should you hire someone with “been there, done that” leadership experience?

This is a common scenario for growing businesses. Many of our small and mid-sized clients have successfully grown as a sales-focused organization, supported by one or two marketing team members. Often, these team members have exceptional tactical ability, drive, and loyalty to the business, but still require strategic direction. While they effectively manage details and deadlines, they often struggle to see the bigger picture of how marketing strategically connects to revenue health and growth for the business. At this stage in the business lifecycle, the CEO / Owner / Partner or Head of Sales sets the course, and marketing follows.

While this dynamic can work well in early stages of growth, the business will eventually reach a point where growth tapers, and it becomes increasingly difficult to reach the next level without a strong marketing-driven pipeline. This is often the point at which leadership realizes the need for senior marketing leadership, to help move the organization from “random acts of marketing” to strategic, sales-aligned, sustained growth.

Perhaps this story speaks to your current situation. You know you need a different approach to marketing leadership. Recognizing the gap is one thing. Filling it is another. Especially if you have someone on the team who really wants the leadership role, but isn’t quite ready for it yet.

Deciding on the best approach for filling your marketing leadership seat requires special consideration when you have a high-performing, high-potential, highly-motivated member already on the marketing team. You think this person might be able to grow into the role, and you’d love to give them the chance to prove themselves and to continue to grow with your business. But you also realize that if you promote them prematurely, you’ll be setting them up for a struggle, or potentially failure. You’ll also be risking your business’ growth potential. 

Meanwhile, if you hire a leader from outside the organization, you’re likely to de-motivate your rising star. After all, in a small or mid-sized business, there are only so many seats available on the org chart. If your top employees can’t move up, they might as well move out. And that can have significant impact on your team’s performance and overall employment culture.

It can feel like a rock-and-hard-place situation. In the past, you may have been forced to choose one risky path or the other. Today, you have a better option. A Fractional CMO can support your business growth with the senior leadership you need today, while helping strengthen your team’s “marketing muscle” and strategic acumen so they are better equipped to grow with your business well into the future. 

If you have a rising star in your marketing team, you (and they!) will benefit from the unique nature of the Fractional CMO engagement. Here’s how:

Valuable learning, development, and mentorship

Nothing says “We value and believe in you” quite like investing in your employees’ career development and professional growth. A Fractional CMO is a meaningful investment in building and elevating your marketing team members, while also enriching your executive team.

Solving today’s leadership gap, without threatening your up-and-coming leaders

A Fractional CMO works with your marketing team and executive leaders on a part-time, flexible basis – for a period of time. The relationship structure is intended to be for a season – until you’re ready to make the marketing leadership role a full-time, permanent position. Your current staff members can feel confident collaborating with their Fractional CMO, knowing that their own career path is not limited, but elevated, through their support.

Inside the culture, but outside the politics. 

Because a Fractional CMO is not looking for a full-time, long-term position, they are free to collaborate fully within the culture of your business, without being swayed by the politics that employees often feel to protect or promote their reputation and their roles within the business. This allows your fractional leader to do what is right for your business and employees, rather than what is right for him/herself – ultimately driving more leadership value in a shorter amount of time.

Diverse experience and perspectives.

Your current marketing team members may have limited career experience, or perhaps have “grown up in the business”. By contrast, your Fractional CMO will have 15 or more years of diverse business experiences – across industries, business models, and markets. Your organization, and your team members, will benefit from this depth and breadth of perspective, and the wisdom that comes with years of innovating and problem-solving in a variety of situations.

Driven to mentor and coach.

Your Fractional CMO is not motivated by an annual bonus, promotion, or bigger title. Their motivation is to help your business build strong marketing muscle and achieve your growth goals. Ultimately, their success is measured by the increasing confidence and competence of your marketing team members. As such, they are deeply invested in your employees’ success, and find great satisfaction in helping your marketers achieve their highest potential. 

Proven methodology for continued Marketing Traction.

At Authentic Brand, we know that sustainable success doesn’t happen by accident or even because of a brilliant leader. The most successful businesses – and teams – have talent, but they also have something more. They have a clear focus, documented plan, clear accountability, meaningful metrics, and repeatable processes that drive discipline. 

We are on a mission to help growing businesses overcome random acts of marketing forever, building strong marketing muscle that helps them grow with confidence. All of our Fractional CMOs are trained on Marketing Traction™: Authentic Brand’s proprietary methodology for developing marketing programs and teams. Long after our Fractional CMO engagement has ended, Marketing Traction will continue to provide the structure and tools your team needs to grow with health and focus.

Confidence in filling your full-time marketing role. 

You want to give your rising star marketer an opportunity to grow with your business, and you are ready to invest in his/her development through the mentorship and coaching of a Fractional CMO. But how will you – and they – know if the leadership role is ultimately the right path? Your Fractional CMO can be a great resource to help you understand your employee’s full and greatest potential, and will also help define the requirements of your future full-time leadership role based on what your marketing strategy requires. 

With this objective insight, you’ll have the confidence to either promote your rising star, or prepare to hire externally. In either case, your rising star will have benefitted from the mentorship and learning opportunity offered through the Fractional CMO and Marketing Traction, and will be better-equipped for wherever their career path takes them: either within your business, or into a new role somewhere else.

There’s no way around it: Hiring a marketing leader for your growing business is hard. But it doesn’t have to be a rock-or-a-hard-place decision. Fractional CMO support can be a soft place for your team to land as you navigate your eventual full-time role. 

Ready to meet a Fractional CMO candidate for your business? Contact us to find the right leader to help you achieve next-level growth.

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Jennifer Zick

Founder and CEO at Authentic Brand
Jennifer Zick is the Founder and CEO of Authentic Brand, a Minneapolis-based marketing consultancy that helps great businesses attain next-level growth through Marketing Traction™.
Jennifer Zick
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