Recruiting The Right CMO

Every so often, you read something that sticks with you, long after you’ve read it.

I came across an article in the first few months of setting up Tidal Marketing, and I think about its content regularly.

The article “A CEO's Perspective On Why The CMO Job Is The Hardest To Get Right” is an interview with Kevin Akeroyd, who says “...the scope of marketing is so great and that what CMOs are chartered to do is so broad, you need a well-rounded athlete who can lead, recruit, train, and develop.” He describes CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) as “...intellectually ambidextrous, flipping between the science and art of marketing” and as opposed to most job roles, which are either left or right brained, the CMO needs to be whole-brained. Akeroyd acknowledges that “few people are and this makes the role more challenging than just a pure quant or artistic role.”

We have worked with many different organisations, at different stages of growth - some with marketing executives in place, and some without - and we have witnessed, first hand, the challenges of finding a marketing lead that ticks the broad range of requirements.

Finding a ‘well rounded athlete’ is near-on impossible, but that’s exactly what’s needed from a CMO. Briefly, a marketing director or chief marketing officer, should be scientific, yet artistic. They need to understand the business, the market, the customer and the competitive landscape in-depth. They also need to have a creative spirit and understand the most effective forms of communication. They need to be capable of ‘selling’ both the idea of marketing investment into the business, as well as the proposition to the outside world. And they need to know how to support the collation, as well as the interpretation of data, so that it will be meaningful and useful to the business.  

If you’re lucky enough to find such a person, with these skill-sets, the cost could be astronomical - and often far in excess of what organisations are willing to pay.

The creation of a strategy and the delivery of tactical marketing campaigns both require totally different mindsets and ways of thinking.

I am a CMO by trade and have delivered powerful, award-winning campaigns that significantly supported the growth of the brand and business. In my previous role, I had been fortunate enough to progress within the company to a senior position; I knew the business inside and out, and I knew the markets intimately. But did I have an articulated strategy that all stakeholders understood? Honestly? No...

I have always been a left brain thinker, and this is why I co-founded Tidal Marketing with my partner, a right brain thinker. Since setting up the consultancy, I have learnt so much about strategy - but still, my natural instinct is to jump straight to the answers. I tend to start thinking about the creative solution, before going through the strategic process and my partner will often rein me back in, with a reminder of the importance of getting a holistic view of the business, customer, competition and market before any engagement or creative decisions are made. Something I’m getting much better at!

The luxury, I have now discovered, is that the communications plan, creative messaging and campaigns will naturally fall out when the strategy has been well considered.

When we started Tidal Marketing, it was our vision to empower businesses to scale and grow with a well thought-out marketing strategy and plan. We wanted to give our clients ‘marketing wings’, so they could fly. But in our first year of operating as a consultancy, we realised that some businesses needed further support with the implementation of the marketing strategy. So we quickly adjusted our proposition to additionally offer on-going, retained marketing support, to ensure the expected ROI is achieved, the objectives are met and the business benefits from the expertise of a ‘well rounded athlete’. We call it our ‘Retained CMO’ offer, in which, having usually been an integral part of creating the marketing strategy upfront, we will then take full responsibility and accountability to implement the strategy and measure the results. It can be more cost-effective and efficient, with no full-time salaries and there’s complete flexibility, with minimal risk.

For some businesses, the strategy is enough - their marketing teams are well versed in delivering against the KPIs set within the strategy, but for others, especially those who do not have the internal expertise, the retained support has been very effective.

A good marketing strategy will not only help with delivering campaigns, it will also help with identifying the right talent to join your business, so you can build the best marketing team. It will provide clarity around the exact skills needed to achieve growth and realise the businesses potential. Indeed, having created strategies for some of our clients, we have then provided support to define their next marketing hire and help with the recruitment process.

If you’re facing challenges with recruiting a CMO or senior marketing support, I will happily talk you through the process of filling such an important, yet challenging position.

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