3 Reasons You're Not Hiring a CMO and 3 Reasons Why That's a Mistake

When small business owners or executive directors hear the term, "Fractional Chief Marketing Officer," they usually bristle and (in so many words) say: "Eh. Nope. Bye." So for the past few months, I've been diligently avoiding that term. Unfortunately, it explains really well what I do. Because when you say "I'm a marketing consultant," that can mean almost anything. And let me tell you, I've been in marketing long enough to know that Marketing is usually the first department to go under the knife when something in the organization isn't going well. 

So that's where a CMO starts. What is your end goal? Brand Awareness? More clients? Donors? Leads? Give us a number. Give us a goal. And we're going to build the strategy to reach that goal. Because I promise you posting sporadically to Facebook isn't going to solve your marketing woes. But strategically planning social media with well-timed marketing mailers plus paid advertisement will point you in the right direction. Strategy is what a CMO does all day. Businesses often see Marketing as an expense, but if you're doing it the right way - it's an investment. 

Reason #1 Why You're Not Hiring a CMO: It's too expensive. 

Expensive relative to what? How much money to spend on your email marketing software? How many leads do you get from those emails? (Are you even sending emails)? What about advertising? Paid advertising ain't cheap. Just because you paid $1,000 for advertising doesn't mean it speaks to your prospective customers.  Anyone can "do" marketing all day long, and if you do it long enough - yup, you're going to notch closer to your goal. How much time is that worth to you? A few months? A few years? The reality is marketing takes time, but strategic marketing yields stronger results more quickly. 

Reason #2: Well, we have Carol, our office manager, handling our marketing. 

Or, worse, you - the business owner - is doing it. Is that the best use of your, or Carol's, time? It's not. Even if you and Carol have marketing experience, it's not something you can (or should) think about consistently. Your brand is a living, breathing thing - and it's important for someone on your team to continuously manage it. Your brand lives in every promotional mailer you send to donors/clients/prospects. It exists the moment any one in your organization comes in contact with the public: from what they're wearing to how they talk about your organization. Do you have time to worry about that? If you are the Executive Director, your focus should (read: needs to) be focused on growing that business through new clients and new donors. Should Carol handle it? Come on, that's too much pressure on Carol. Don't put her in that position unless you are willing to pay her for it. 

Reason #3: There are lots of webinars and articles out there. We can learn it on the fly. 

Yup, there are lots of marketing webinars out there and you can certainly drill down and read books and articles, watch Ted Talks, etc. and learn almost anything about any aspect of marketing. And there's a lot to pick from: email marketing, Facebook marketing, PR, brand awareness, Instagram Stories, direct mail marketing, SEO, SEM, Google AdWords, and the list goes on and on. So maybe you can do one of those things fairly well. Maybe even two. But what happens when the landscape changes tomorrow? (And it will). How long will it take before you notice that what you've been doing for the past six months isn't yielding the same results it once did? And is your social media speaking to your PR and is your PR speaking to your SEO and is your SEO speaking to your paid advertising? Not all marketing fits for all businesses (duh, right?), but do you know which is the best for yours? And if you do, do you know how to strategically overlap and enhance each of those areas so each is working double and triple what it would on its own? 

I hear it time and again: marketing is something that many small to medium size businesses take in house without a strategic plan in place. I'm all about you growing your business, but you and Carol (or Paul, or Jeff, or Lisa) can't do all of it by yourselves - not without burnout or inconsistent results. That's why a part-time CMO is not a scary decision: it's a smart one, and it makes good business sense. 

Cassandra D'Alessio