Growing businesses commonly reach out to Authentic because they aren’t sure if they have the right marketing resources on staff. Typically they’re facing one of two scenarios:
- The business has capable and skilled “doers” who are loyal to the company and willing to work hard but aren’t strategic.
- The business has strong marketers and marketing leaders, but they don’t feel like marketing is progressive enough; their marketers aren’t pushing the bar or bringing enough fresh ideas to the table.
Business leaders at these companies often come to us faced with a stressful decision; should they fire their doers in favor of hiring a more experienced marketing leader? Should they let go of their current marketing leader and hire a new leader with a fresh perspective?
This decision is not one to take lightly, and it’s one we recommend approaching with thoughtfulness, honest reflection, and care.
Pause: What to consider before making a hasty decision
The first recommendation we make to businesses considering a marketing personnel change is to pause. We encourage them to take a step back before making a hasty decision and potentially expensive mistake. Sometimes the correct next step is to reshape the team with personnel changes. But more often than not, it’s something else.
Marketers have some of the shortest tenures of any other role. SpencerStuart’s CMO Tenure Report recently found that the median CMO tenure in 2020 dropped to 25.5 months, the lowest on record. Marketing roles, in general, have the highest turnover rates of any profession.
Marketers aren’t lazier or less loyal than other professionals; more often, leaders don’t give them the opportunity and budget to succeed. Businesses frequently don’t understand what marketing is and should be, and they often don’t fund marketing roles and programs adequately. At growth-focused companies, marketing usually reports to a sales leader or sales-driven executive, creating tension and misalignment between sales and marketing objectives if leaders don’t set proper boundaries. Sometimes marketing simply becomes an order-taker to sales because leaders haven’t empowered or enabled them to contribute strategically.
Before your business fires its marketer in favor of a new approach, consider the following:
- Who will implement and run the day-to-day operations of your marketing programs if you fire your doers to hire an experienced marketing leader? Businesses will find themselves quickly frustrated if they rely on leaders for tactical execution.
- Have you invested in professional development or coaching for your current marketing leader? Regardless of their experience, no single leader can alone stay up to date on all of the emerging trends and technology within marketing and your industry while simultaneously fulfilling their role as a people leader.
- Have you allocated enough budget to your marketing programs? Can your marketers be successful with what you’ve given them? Your budget will depend on your company’s growth goals, but a general rule of thumb is to allocate 10-20% of the business’s annual revenue toward your sales and marketing budget. Of course, there are many variables, which is why setting a marketing budget is never a “one size fits all” exercise.
- Is it a people problem, or is it a program problem? Are you pushing marketing to use the wrong channels and tactics, perhaps because the founder, CEO, or sales leader is distracted by the shiny marketing object that captured their attention that week?
These can be difficult questions to answer without experienced marketing leadership to help you assess each one.
How Authentic evaluates talent and fills gaps
At Authentic, we understand the temptation businesses have to start from scratch when their marketing teams aren’t performing to their expectations. When we begin an engagement with a new client, our primary objective is never to rip-and-replace resources. Instead, we strive to make existing resources as successful as they can be. Our Fractional CMOs help marketing teams perform at the top of their game and drive key strategic transformation.
We lean on our Authentic Growth Methodology™ to assess, align, and hold accountable the resources in the organization, including people, budgets, and priorities. The simple tools and structured process of Marketing Traction ultimately reveal what is holding marketing back, including when it’s a people problem that requires a difficult personnel decision.
But long before we ever recommend a business fire a marketer, our Fractional CMOs identify the strengths, passions, and gifts of everyone on the team. We evaluate whether every team member understands what it takes to be successful, can perform their role effectively, and has the capacity to do it well. Authentic most commonly supports growing businesses in the following ways:
1. Part-time fractional CMO
Scenario: A business has talented and capable doers on its marketing team. These marketers are good at execution and project management, but they lack strategic leadership. The team would likely be more impactful if they had the right strategic leadership, but marketing is likely reporting to the CEO or head of sales, who doesn’t have the capacity or deep marketing expertise and experience to elevate the team’s full potential.
Solution: An Authentic Fractional CMO™ provide experienced marketing leadership to these businesses on a part-time, flexible basis. Our fractional CMOs are lower risk and drive quicker impact than a full-time hire. They build strong, strategic, and sales-aligned marketing teams and programs using our proven process. Our marketing leaders know how to assess existing talent and fill gaps. Instead of replacing skilled doers with a high-level leader, these businesses get the best of both worlds.
2. Marketing Coach
Scenario 1: A business has what we call a “rising star” on its marketing team. This employee is talented, loyal, and shows leadership potential but hasn’t gained enough experience to fill the marketing leadership role.
Scenario 2: A business has a leader who oversees both sales and marketing. They may not have the capacity to invest as much time into marketing as they need to, or they might not have a strong marketing background.
Solution: Both of these scenarios are a good fit for Authentic’s Coaching service. We pair one of our experienced marketing leaders with a rising star or executive leader to teach them a disciplined and strategic marketing approach. Our coaching program uses a proven framework to build stronger focus, alignment, and accountability on marketing teams. This coaching helps develop rising stars to be tomorrow’s leaders and fills gaps in strategic marketing expertise.
Scenario 1: A business has a strong marketing leader who is a valuable asset to the company. The leader is talented and effective but could benefit from the advice and support of other experienced marketers to bring fresh ideas or new technologies and solutions to the table.
Scenario 2: The organization is embarking on a significant transformation in go-to-market approach, business model, product or service launch, or brand update. They need to augment with experienced executive leadership around these initiatives, so they can achieve their goals without overburdening their existing team.
Solution: Authentic’s Flex Advisory service can provide this business with access to CMO expertise when needed and for as long as necessary. The objective of our advisory service is not to take this leader’s job but to give them access to Authentic’s connected community of Fractional CMOs and our curated and vetted Authentic Ally Network™. We call this connected community our Mindshare. When this leader has a problem they don’t know how to solve, they can bring it to the Mindshare, which can help them solve it and move forward faster and more effectively.
Move forward with clarity and confidence
Sometimes it becomes clear in our work with clients that a business does have the wrong people in marketing roles. In these scenarios, we help companies make thoughtful changes and hire employees who are a better fit.
However, we’re firm believers that people will do good work when empowered with the proper support, resources, and tools. More often than not, lack of strategic guidance, systems of accountability, and adequate resourcing set marketers up for failure. Not lack of loyalty, commitment, or skill. No marketer, regardless of their experience, can know and do everything. Every marketer needs access to mentorship, continued education, and fresh perspectives. It’s okay not to have all of the answers in-house, and it’s exactly why we started Authentic.
Authentic helps growing businesses move their marketing teams forward with clarity and confidence. Did you see your business in one of the scenarios we detailed above? Let’s chat about how Authentic can best support you.
- Closing Time podcast featuring Jennifer Zick - November 16, 2023
- How Authentic Fractional CMOs™ build maturity in growing organizations - November 13, 2023
- Authentic Recognized on the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal’s Fast 50 List - October 30, 2023