You know that it is my purpose and passion to dive into and work through all of the chaos and nonsense that floats around out there under the heading of “B2B content marketing”. As part of the filtering process, I get to call upon 3 decades of making clients and their companies wealthier and more profitable than before they engaged me and our teams of talented specialists.
So, let’s jump in to a massive takeaway that will help you differentiate and to remain faithful to the core principle of becoming part of your audience’s culture.
And after you review these nuggets, you can choose to go deeper by reading the part on the value of the fractional chief marketing officer in B2B content strategy and deployment effectiveness.
- You have to go deep.
- You have to read wider (not just within marketing but human behavior).
- You have to look at the world and be relentlessly curious.
The areas that we are looking to build a reputation within, we have to discover and interpret a different story to the rest of the marketplace. Whether it’s SEO, writing or social, people have to show a depth of understanding in order to differentiate.
If you can provide fact, experience and outlooks within your particular field, and do it with depth, you can redefine a category.
According to a BuzzSumo/Moz report from over 1 million articles, 85% of content is published in less than 1,000 words. Long form and longer thinking wins. We don’t necessarily live in a world today where 750 words is the magic number.
If you can find a responsibility for what you do and deliver it to an audience who believes, this is far stronger than thinking you have to have an opinion about everything.
Focus on this idea of control and building a voice of authority. Why do businesses still rely on borrowing audiences from someone else to have access, and shout as loud as they can to interrupt and be heard over everyone else? And some of them fail.
A by-product of failure is to accept responsibility and the impetus to innovate and be smart at serving your market intelligently. If businesses don’t adapt and commit to initiatives to develop, they fail, it is that simple. Understand your prospects and customers through the buyer persona you create so you don’t have to fail on a large scale.
The challenges of recruiting top marketing talent and the “fear factor” of choices
. . . or . . . the case for the fractional chief marketing officer (FCMO).
There are important business scenarios in play today where the company C- level team encounters both opportunities and challenges as they continue to lead and grow the business.
Recently, HR talent acquisition professionals have documented a trend has where companies across an array of industries are posting vacancies for top-level marketing professionals and, in some cases, the build-out of their support team.
And then re-posting that leadership position 180 days later. Is a fractional chief marketing officer a better and enabling short-term choice?
The president, owner or CEO has expressed concern about making the right hiring decision. By itself that’s not unusual. But the “fear factor” has also taken roots. It happens all the time and will continue to be present as part of the job. However, as we think and act approaching the speed of light in our business decisions and in allocating our assets to prospect and customer relations then the outcomes can really get scary.
If he/she makes the wrong hiring decision and six months down the road this new person doesn’t work out then the executive is faced with real dollar costs, a huge opportunity cost and starting the process all over again with scar tissue that’s starting to look pretty bad.
Let’s look at two scenarios and the rationale for how to create and deploy a action plan while critical changes are underway. In talking with and listening to top HR executives, talent acquisition leaders and CEOs themselves several things become clear;
- First, the challenging process of bringing on a key top-level person to the team is time and energy consuming and complex in every aspect. For both HR executive and the president or CEO time and energies are devoted to not only an effective and attractive descriptions and requirements but also to the really hard work that follows.
- Second, company leadership still must deal with and lead from a position of strength and focus in all the other aspects of the company’s operation. Obviously that includes human capital management, operations and supply chain, prospect and customer relations and the management of the financial assets of the company. Now top that with the pressure packed layer of dealing with each candidate who falls out of the 100 to 1 ratio of resumes to interviews.
- Third, now we have candidates to interview and the ultimate management squeeze of making a choice among the top 2, 3 or four candidates. Then there’s on-boarding, acclimating and training before that marketing professional even gets the saddle warm and shaped.
- Fourth, even when it’s most effective, this process can be drawn out, covering a fiscal quarter or two. So what’s happening to the refinement and deployment of an effective branding and marketing strategy while all of this is going on? Does the CEO move his or her focus away from key operational responsibilities to take over a specialized function? Or does top-level management simply try to put the marketing process and its interface with sales on automatic pilot and hope the best? These choices typically don’t fall under the category of “savvy management”.
If the branding and marketing process has been left in neutral, then it has to be overhauled and accelerated to catch up. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. And how do you measure the consequences? Costs of lagging the competition? Lost sales? Is there another choice that makes good business sense?
Could the decision to engage a fractional chief marketing officer (FCMO) create two kinds of quantitative benefits for the company? Let’s take a look.
If the company has access to one or two well-seasoned and successful outside marketing executives there is the real possibility that this professional could be brought onto the team and begin functioning after a really short learning curve.
It’s not an exaggeration to visualize that after the initial conversations and work agreements, the match-up exists that the marketing professional could come on board, be involved in two or possibly three in-depth meetings with the president, review key marketing documents and budgets, and be ready to take action.
In the initial conversations it’s important to understand that this is very likely to be an engagement that will have a beginning, middle and an end. It may last a quarter. It may last six months, or it might last until the new leadership is in place and has the confidence, trust and blessing of the president. Now let’s drill just a little bit deeper
This fractional chief marketing officer is going to want satisfactory compensation. It’s one of the incentives that keep him or her focused on the work and accountable for the outcomes. At the same time, it gives this person a professional challenge and opportunity to engage with two or three companies so that the challenges are real and varied at the same time. And naturally it also adds to that person’s portfolio of accomplishments.
Now there are additional benefits for the company as well. A fractional chief marketing officer is not on the payroll. Therefore, you don’t have the 23% overhead that includes benefits and retirement contributions including healthcare and paid leave. So the company gets the benefit of top gun talent focused on their priorities and objectives who is well-paid but does not become part of the infrastructure.
That also means no unemployment insurance premiums. Put those ingredients together and you seem to have a compelling case for creating a bridge that get you to where you need to be from where you are with minimal risk of falling into the chasm.
The other scenario is a little more traditional. It involves the company who’s growing up quickly. That company might even be on someone’s “fast 50” list. They need the 30,000-foot perspective of a senior executive and that pretty much rules out most marketing agency, advertising agency and design group talent. They typically just don’t have the depth to make a more lasting contribution.
The president or owner of the smaller and fast-growing company then can look at another option beyond what existed just a year or two ago. They can sit down and talk with two or three seasoned professionals.
They can lay out the menu of the experience and attributes they’re looking for and then can listen and learn what marketing professional is bringing to their current situation. See if there’s a fit. See if they’re talking to a top number 2 person.
The objective is a match-up. The company leadership is looking for outcomes/results and expects to hold this professional accountable to the milestones and the goals of an increase at the top line of the monthly income statement and healthy gross margins. The professional is looking for both challenges and source of desirable compensation for the experience and energy that will drive the marketing effort and the interface with the sales part of the organization.
Again, this professional is not on the payroll and they’re paid on a fee-for-service basis and therefore don’t add indirect costs to the company’s operations. This could be a longer-term engagement.
If the fractional CMO has high integrity and is smart, he or she will want to mentor the executive team to the extent that the skills and experience that he or she brings to the challenges of the company could then be transferred and learned by the team that’s under the tent on a full-time basis.
Another bonus is that they have specialists on their team – such as graphic designers, website gurus, SEO savants, and social media experts that the FCMO has already vetted. The benefits in both cases are real, tangible and measurable. But the talent pool is small.
Both parties assume some minimal risk because very simply we’re all human beings and therefore imperfect. There can be misconceptions and they can be minor. There can be misunderstandings and the consequences could be major. But the risks are controllable and the time frames are short.
So, there seems to be a logical and sound case that we’re entering into a new era of how top company leadership can deal with some of the human capital challenges they face and continue to outpace the competition with the deployment of a sound marketing strategy.
If you are recruiting and hiring for a new position, the costs include time and dollars invested for 1) recruitment, 2), training, 3) new-hire onboarding, 4) lost productivity, and 5) lost sales. If this is a replacement or upgrade, then you can add the significant cost of a person leaving (currently estimated at 200-250% of full salary and benefits for a senior marketing executive).
Several sources, including William G. Bliss, President of Bliss & Associates . . . firstname.lastname@example.org have details and calculation guidelines.
American Express, through its Open Forum, did a nice job of delineating all of the factors that go into turnover, recruitment and onboarding. If you’re interested go to
Real and high-ROI solution – find a talented, accountable and seasoned marketing professional who can be your guide, coach, teacher and implementer. Yes, it takes some persistent effort. Yes, it’s more than worth it with a measurable payback.
We can get you and keep you on the small business B2B content marketing effectiveness and sustainability best practices path. We deliver a measurable ROI. You get the benefits!
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How will you take your content and campaigns to new heights of engagement to really make them stick? Share what approaches you’ll be applying to your marketing strategy moving forward in the comments below.