We recently explored questions about when to bring on a fractional CMO to private equity and venture backed portfolio companies. But once your full-time CMO is hired and in place, the next question is what to do with your fractional CMO? Can they be a strong CMO Executive Advisor? Are they needed in such a role? This is one of two potential entry points for a CMO Executive Advisor, who can help ensure a smooth transition for the new CMO, without losing any momentum.
An experienced CMO Executive Advisor can serve more of a coaching and mentoring role, helping your new full-time CMO address gaps in their skill set, or preparing a senior marketing professional for the role of CMO within their organization (more on this in a future blog post).
CMO Executive Advisors Take Many Forms
When hiring a CMO Coach or CMO Executive Advisor, it is important to outline needs and objectives for success. At the 30,000-foot level, a CMO Executive Advisor must provide partnership and guidance that will help your company and marketing team continue with its momentum, maximize results, and establish your new full-time CMO for future success.
The CMO Executive Advisor and Coach must be equipped to provide counsel across key areas such as: organization design and structure, brand development, transformation and change management, customer experience, alignment of marketing strategy to corporate goals, key metrics to track progress, and cross-functional business alignment.
What to Look for in a CMO Coach
Here are the qualifications and skill sets you want in a CMO Executive Advisor:
- Have they been an accomplished CMO in the past?
Do they have the “stripes?” Have they worked in a variety of companies, close to your industry, before? Have they taken the journey that your company is about to embark on in the past? How successful were they? What lessons did they learn?
- Do they have experience as a CMO Coach and Advisor, not just a CMO?
How many CMOs have they coached and mentored? What value and results can they point to? Can they provide you a range of references to speak to so that you have a level of confidence, and understand overall competence? Do they have a number of testimonials from a diverse set of CMOs describing real experiences and relationships? And have those companies and their CMOs succeeded, grown, and evolved to new levels?
- What about their business alignment and soft skills?
What is their approach in challenging situations and with challenging personalities? Can they demonstrate proficiency in soft skills and working across organizations to build consensus and alignment? How well have they managed fast-paced change? Can they be a resource for senior leaders undergoing growth and transformation? Can they translate marketing speak to the C-suite in the language of business, a vital contribution to the long-term success of any marketing organization?
- What cross-functional experience do they have?
How well have they worked across organizations to build relationships and alignment with key C-suite leaders and their staffs? Have they “carried a bag” in sales to help you with sales and marketing alignment? Do they have experience working with and business modeling with CFOs? Can they help you build the perception of marketing as a valuable strategic and growth function within the organization? Can they help you make the case for additional resources and budget, as appropriate—in order to build and evolve the function?
- How deep is their skill set and their toolbox?
Can they offer best practices and be a viable source of strategic thinking to help you with key areas such as business strategy and planning, brand development, integrated campaigns, marketing organizational design, go-to-market strategies, demand generation, customer retention and experience, change management, segment growth, and key metrics to track progress? Where have they been exposed to world class models and frameworks to assist a wide variety of CMOs and their organizations? Ask for specific use cases.
- Do they bring new thinking to problems?
Many CMOs can fall into the trap of thinking they have knowledge in any and all areas, which can be a liability. The right coach can remind us there are many ways to solve problems. As your organization grows through various inflection points, you will want different and distinct thinking to bring your marketing to evolve to the next level. Do they have specific problem analysis frameworks that have been field tested with multiple CMOs so you know they really work? Ask for examples.
- Can they show you how they see around corners?
A CMO Advisor and Coach must be someone who can operate with great speed and agility to stay out in front of market trends. Can they apply focus and industry best practices required to key initiatives in an efficient and seamless manner?
- How wide is their network?
Understand the breadth of people and consultants they can bring on board, as needed, to help with specific issues and problems (e.g., demand process, customer video testimonials, creative, writing, social media, PR), as well as a wide network of CMOs to share ideas and learn from each other.
The right CMO Executive Advisor can be instrumental in helping you shape and systematize your marketing strategy. The right one can help guide you to success in a wide range of strategic and tactical areas.
Demand Revenue accelerates private equity and venture portfolio company ROI by providing Fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), Interim CMO, CMO Executive Advisor & Coaching, and a host of strategic marketing services during critical phases of company transitions at B2B SaaS and Systems, health IT, medical device, digital health, and technology and software firms.