When I look at businesses quite often the skill set I find missing in the executive management team is marketing. Most organizations are well staffed with seasoned employees who understand Finance and Accounting, Engineering, and Operations, but when it comes to the discipline of marketing they are lacking. In the past, when I have asked about this knowledge gap at the management level, the usual response I get is “Oh, we have so-and-so who handles creating brochures.” That is not marketing. And that missing skill set could be the difference between success and failure in your business.
So what is marketing and why does a company need a high-level marketing asset at the executive level? In a nutshell, marketing is strategy. It is looking at the internal strengths and weaknesses of the organization and the marketplace as a whole and plotting a course for the company that will lead to financial reward. A good Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has his/her attention focused on making sure every aspect of the organization is in alignment and focused on meeting the needs of the company’s target audience – that includes everything from the product itself to the customer service experience to the promotional campaigns. The CMO is also responsible for researching and discovering new markets for existing products as well as working with engineering and product management on product line extensions and new product development to keep the organization thriving. A good CMO understands market research, product and campaign development, and is an expert in strategic development and execution.
When clients ask me what to look for in a CMO, I recommend the following:
While a chief marketing officer can be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful business, they are not inexpensive and finding a good one may take time. In lieu of bringing on a full-time CMO, I have recommended to clients that they add a marketing executive to their board of directors. While it may not offer the same level of interaction as a full-time employee, it does give the company the benefit of having a disciplined marketing perspective on their business and can keep the organization from making a costly mistake. If your company does not have a board of directors you can accomplish much the same thing by forming an advisory committee that can fill in these missing skill sets and provide the organization with C-Level expertise at a lower cost than trying to hire full-time employees.
As the saying goes “You don’t know what you don’t know” but as you look around your company if you find you are missing a skill set from your executive team, such as marketing, take steps to fill in that missing knowledge. Rest assured, what you are lacking is mission-critical to your business success.