This is probably my 5th article this week on this very topic. Every month I see several fractional/part-time/interim CMO roles pop up across the internet, and I think it's becoming an epidemic... I've been told that some individuals are commoditizing the role, making organizations think in "hours bought from CMO" as opposed to "results driven by CMO's initiatives."
There's just so much going on in the scene, and almost no one is putting all the pieces together to eloquently guide companies how to scout good interim CMO services and hire someone they'll love. And so I'm here to change that! :)
I explain this in a lot of detail on my other article if you're looking for in-depth perspective on this topic. But I'll explain this in high-level here so you get a good grip on the roles your future Chief Marketing Officer can be expected to play:
Of course there's caveats to the points I mentioned above, but if you want to take a closer look at how CMOs are thinking about their roles today, check out the interviews that we conducted with real-life Chief Marketing Officers: Nancy, Brad & Karen. Excellent people, and each is a 10-15 minute read.
There can be, yes. But it depends heavily on how mature your internal marketing team is, and where you are in your business growth journey. We wrote about this decision point here under the sub-header "The fractional Chief Marketing Officer: 2-3 days a week" on this article. That section is a 5-min read.
And while you're here, I'll give you the main pros of bringing on an interim CMO:
Towards the end of this article, my team and I talk a bit more about the "when should I hire an interim CMO?" dilemma.
Well, hold your horses. Let's not call anyone perfect, because (and I've seen many folks expecting this) it's unlikely that interim CMOs will be your silver bullet to every problem. They can probably solve 60-70%, but you'll need your own marketing resources and marketing budget (yes) to execute on the work that your CMO develops. I'll say it again, interim marketing services isn't the answer to all your problems, but it can certainly help you get closer to your solutions.
On my other article, towards the end of it, I write about the questions you'll have to internally ask your CXOs and founding team, before even engaging a fractional or interim CMO. Please have a look as it sets the stage for the rest of this chapter:
Depending on your role, you may not be hiring manager and as such, may not be 100% sure what exactly the marketing/growth outcomes are for the next year. That's totally fine. What you'll need to do then, is to make sure everyone (i.e., key stakeholders in this matter) is aligned on these growth milestones so that halfway through the interview, there's no fingers pointing at you as the person who didn't do their homework. Okay? Okay.
This means tapping your hiring manager, CXOs, founding team members, etc. to make a bullet point list of things your business is trying to accomplish this year. And make sure they explain to you any verbiage that you're not privy to. If your background isn't marketing, it's always okay to double-ask questions you don't understand about marketing. And if you're struggling with this, just say hi to email@example.com and I'll make sure we help you personally! :)
P.S. - make sure you have your executive team's buy-in early on.
Back track those outcomes/goals/milestones your team wants for growth and marketing, to skill sets that they believe the interim Chief Marketing Officer should have. Remember to focus also on key skills that your existing marketing team is missing as this'll help you decide what's a priority vs. not.
Here's a sample resume template for CMO job positions. Feel free to copy it over, and make adjustments as you see fit i.e., map your marketing objectives, marketing plans and marketing campaigns to the contents of that Google Doc. We also go into detail around the important parts of a job description here. Let's keep moving.
Bonus - Ask your internal team how to lessen the friction between the new interim CMO and other (marketing) leaders in the business after they join. Politics and power vacuums are often the biggest driver of friction in marketing leader transitions like this. Do your best to make sure people are satisfied, and not unhappy with the changes that are about to follow i.e., new potential marketing strategy redesign, allocation of marketing funds to other projects, resources being moved to unplanned marketing operations, etc.
My colleague got passionate and wrote a long (but very helpful) article on this. If you're aiming to rely on platforms like ours to help you with your search for interim CMO services, then just send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org! But honestly, regardless of who you go with, if you're aiming to involve marketing executive recruiters, please read this. It's a 15-18 minute read, but it'll give you a breakdown of all the things you should be worried about. 18 minutes to save you 18 hours of headaches? Great deal if you ask me.
But, if you're aiming to go on this hunt alone, I respect that. And here's what I would do to start your search:
We at HireCMO call it the "VIT" formula: Vet, interview and test before you hire someone. You can vet them by checking the reviews others have left for them on LinkedIn, checking in with their prior hiring managers (I recommend having 20 min phone calls) and asking them to show the work/previous testimonials. There's only so much you can do to vet, to be honest, so don't get too hung up on this.
Interviewing and testing is where it's at. I always recommend having a probation period. Pay them for their time, but tell them that your decision to hire them for a 6-month retainer balances on their performance in the first 4 weeks. Nothing wrong with this, and it also lets you gut check if your candidate is good with being held accountable ;)
Bonus - One tip I always give people is to invite a senior marketer (a friend or hired muscle lol) to the interviews with you, so you have someone to stress test and filter your candidate. The reason is that you alone/your CXOs may not know all the right questions to ask the interviewee, which takes away the effectiveness of your interviews. Better to just pay someone $200 to sit in and vet your hires for you. This is included in our CMO retainer services, but if you need a one-off favour, I'll ask our founder to make it work for you.
HireCMO.io is a great place to start, as we have a roster of CMOs who've had 10+ years of experience in marketing leadership roles having worked at corporations and startups. Plus, if we're not a good fit, we're happy to send you to others who will be. Key is to save you time and help you make a successful hire! And if you're looking for some pointers on what things to keep in mind as you meet your next CMO, check out the list we have going here - their track record, culture and vision fit with your team/business and context of the work they've done in the past.
The answer is KPIs, just like any other industry. Some KPIs you can think about include:
KPIs should be tracked regularly. Anything alarming must be reported immediately to the CXO team and actioned as needed to allow you to improve your company's growth/marketing strategy. And btw, these KPIs help to simplify the fancy marketing shenanigan terminology your CMO wants to use, and make it understandable for the greater CXO/leadership team!
But these bullet points alone don't say the full story, as you should also gauge their role within wider company growth targets. Some of this may be qualitative, and will involve you speaking directly with the teams that report up to the CMO/have worked closely with her.
Great question. There's no right or wrong answer to this one, but you should follow an educated thought process, which I spent hours writing on my other article here. It'll only take you 5-10 minutes to skim through, but at the end of that article, I walk you through the kind of questions you should ask yourself to determine if you need to convert your interim Chief Marketing Officer into a full-time Chief Marketing Officer.
But the TLDR is as follows:
And remember, most of these decisions can be reversed. But if you're promising equity, fancy compensation packages, do consult us or other CEOs/CMOs in your network that you trust before making an offer! :)
Hey! Sincerely hoping you enjoyed this read. I wish you well in your journey to finding the best marketing leader. Hiring for interim CMOs who don't break the bank, and yet drive massive marketing efforts during their tenure with you takes time, patience and practice. Whenever possible, try to rely on reputable platforms to shorten that timeframe and make your life less headache-y haha.
And just so you know, at HireCMO.io, we help companies find full-time, fractional and interim CMOs for startups and companies. Our team of senior marketers have held marketing leadership positions for 10+ years at successful startups and mature organizations, and love to be scrappy i.e., bring in more revenue, with less budget. Where possible of course :)
If we can be helpful, feel free to book a call with us directly in the link below. ~ Ciao!