Small and mid-cap companies often find themselves in the position of needing certain expertise to manage their CEO brand and move their business goals across the line but lacking the talent, or time, in house to get the job done.
Fractional consulting and business outsourcing have become a popular way to bridge this gap and get the job done. One of the fastest-growing trends in this arena is the rise of the fractional CMO (aka fractional chief marketing officer). Here’re nine situations in which your company might benefit from getting on the interim CMO bandwagon.
1. You need someone to function as a “general contractor” to get your most pressing branding and marketing initiatives over the line, but you don’t have someone in house with the goods to take on that role.
2. You need someone who can bring an expert view and fresh pair of eyes to your branding and marketing, and then translate that insight into a working strategy.
3. You need someone who has a deep bench of resources and the capacity to implement a variety of branding and marketing activities and have neither the talent nor the time to do it yourself.
4. Your long-term branding and marketing goals require an expertise that you don’t currently possess in house but that don’t justify bringing in a full-time employee to handle.
5. You need someone to lead a CEO brand transformation to help your company become more market focused and there is no one in house who can do the job, or the atmosphere is too politically charged to use a current employee.
6. You have a multitude of branding and marketing projects you have started but just can’t seem to move over the line, and you need a dedicated resource to manage their accomplishment.
7. You need someone on an interim basis to quarterback all your various and sundry marketing and branding initiatives while you look for a full-time CMO.
8. Your current CMO is taking a leave of absence for a given period of time, and you need to fill his/her shoes to make sure things keep humming along while they are gone.
9. You need to get started in building a personal brand, but your current CMO is either too busy to take it on or doesn’t have the required expertise to do the job.
If any of the above situations resonate with you, the fractional consulting model, and specifically a fractional CMO, just might be the solution you have been looking for. For more information on how SMG can help you with your fractional CMO needs, please contact Karen Tiber Leland.
According to studies, up to 77% of the people who do business with you will check you out on LinkedIn first. In addition, 44% of those surveyed reported an increase in networking effectiveness from using LinkedIn, and 65% of journalists have used information on LinkedIn as research material. When it comes to building a personal brand, there is no doubt your LinkedIn is a non-negotiable part of your brand marketing strategy.
Sounds simple, right? Yet 90% of the CEOs who call me up inquiring about building a personal brand and creating a brand marketing strategy have a LinkedIn profile whose basics are below par — never mind being well branded or optimized.
If you are looking to build a CEO-worthy LinkedIn as part of your brand marketing strategy, be sure to check the following off your LinkedIn list.
- A customized LinkedIn background. When putting together a killer LinkedIn profile, don’t forget to create a branded background. Instead of using the generic (read “boring and unbranded”) options LinkedIn provides, create your own. For about $150, a good graphic designer can take the standard LinkedIn background template and customize it for you.
- A branded summary. Think of this summary as the one-page business plan for your brand. It may be the only thing someone who lands on your profile reads. Poorly written, incomplete, or just plain lame summaries can hurt your credibility.
- A good summary contains short paragraphs and bulleted lists that provide an at-a-glance view of your achievements and accomplishments. Your summary is not the place for generic broad information and philosophical discourse — rather it screams out for specifics. Numbers and details are what make up a great summary when building a personal brand The more you can paint the picture of who you are through what you have done, the better.
- A keyword-optimized, professional headline. The space under your name is some of the most valuable real estate on LinkedIn. This is where you get a chance to make an immediate first impression, yet most people only list their title in this section. In my book, that’s a big mistake and a wasted opportunity. Instead use keywords and phrases that turn the headline into an opportunity for building a personal brand with a mini narrative about who you are, your expertise, and your experience.
If you are wondering if having a bright and shiny LinkedIn profile really matters, I offer this. One client I worked with closed two Fortune 500 customers for five to six figures each using these LinkedIn strategies. Another client — a senior VP of Innovation for a Fortune 500 company — was able to use her revised profile as a medium to generate her dream job within her existing firm, after changes in her profile caught the attention of a higher-up in her company. Not bad for just a few tweaks that took less than a couple of hours.
I get weekly calls from CEOs, small business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs looking to develop a brand marketing strategy designed to upgrade their business and personal brands. Everything from developing executive presence to media placement, book writing, and blogging is put on the table as possible tactics for brand building.
The issue they almost all face is how to determine which of these tactics will be the most effective given their resources, timeline, and desired outcomes — and what is the best way to go about the implementation of these tactics? Enter the part-time Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
Instead of relying on inexperienced marketers to research and create your personal or business brand marketing strategy, a fractional CMO has the expertise needed to drop into your business and figure out exactly what you need — then make it happen.
In my own company, this is a model I have increasingly used to bring my clients’ marketing and branding projects across the line, and produce timely, quality results. Here are three of the many ways your brand marketing strategy can benefit from bringing on a part-time, interim, or fractional CMO.
- Coordinating branding and marketing collateral.
Let’s face it, most small businesses and mid-size companies have branding and marketing collateral that has been cobbled together over a number of years, by a series of different people.
Getting all collateral including websites, social media, pitch decks, etc., consistent and well branded can be a big job. A fractional CMO can effectively take over the project, coordinate the various players within your company, art direct external designers, and produce branding and marketing collateral that is on point, within a reasonable period of time.
- Doing the branding and marketing jobs no one on staff has the time or expertise to do.
Another reality in small and medium-size companies is that most staff are stretched to the maximum doing their jobs — and then some. Marketing and branding activities often become the stepchild of whoever’s desk they land on — and then languish waiting for that person to have the time to take them on.
A fractional CMO becomes the natural repository for these items and can ensure they are done not only well, but in a timely fashion.
- Assistance in developing executive presence.
No matter how many media opportunities you score, they are wasted if you can’t deliver the goods. An experienced CMO — especially one with a background in leadership development — can be an invaluable source in developing executive presence when preparing the CEO or other executives for media interviews and public presentations.
Interim CFOs and even CEOs have long been a staple of mid-size business growth strategy. In an age where branding and marketing has become not only more complex but more integral to the everyday way a business functions, a fractional CMO might just be the solution you have been looking for to bring your personal or business brand to the next level.
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