Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Building Your Marketing Department – 3 Options CEOs Should Evaluate

November 1, 2016

It’s time. You know it. Your trusted advisors know it.

You need to fill that important gaping marketing hole in your organization. You have reached that point.

But now what?  Create a job description and start a search?  What is the job description? What skill sets do you need?

When you hit this important juncture, you need to take a step back and think through what is best for your business. Just like any decision, you need to know your options and evaluate each one.

CEO and 3 Options to evaluate

3 options you should evaluate:

OPTION 1 – HIRING: If you decide to make your first marketing hire for your growing small to mid-sized business, who do you hire? What skills do you really need? The likely answer is that you need a broad range of skills.  It’s also unlikely that you’ll find all of those capabilities in just one person. I have seen marketing job descriptions that are so unrealistic it is comical.

There are two likely outcomes from pursuing the hiring option:

  1. You Over Hire – You hire a senior person, add a 6 figure salary to your payroll, add the benefits burden including skyrocketing health care and office space and the reality is, you still have not solved your core challenge. You still have a gap in marketing skills as you will need additional expertise so this senior hire can get the marketing job done. This person will need the arms and legs to get the marketing program off the ground, and will no doubt request hiring multiple agencies (e.g., PR, advertising, digital marketing). This will bump up your marketing investment dramatically. You will be seeing dollar signs.
  2. You Under Hire – You avoid the big hit to your payroll and overhead, but boy do you pay for the management and supervisory burden of hiring a junior person. You now have a young, inexperienced employee demanding your time and direction. While eager, they don’t know anything about your industry, your business model, and they have little to no real marketing expertise. You have a tactical marketing person who lacks the experience and skills to strategically plan for and implement a marketing plan. You have hired an extra set of hands. The reality is this person can become more of a burden than a solution. At the end of the day, this hire may be too inexperienced to even serve as the marketing point person that could guide and manage agencies. You likely don’t have the marketing background to provide ongoing direction so you start to question if you were better off to have not hired at all.

Assuming you are convinced now to NOT HIRE, what other options do you consider?

OPTION 2 – Agencies.  You investigate the agency route. Hire an agency and let that firm be your marketing department. This option comes down to a similar basic question: what expertise do you need? Keep in mind most marketing agencies are specialists, they are niche players offering expertise in an area (or areas) of the marketing spectrum (e.g., PR, advertising, digital advertising, branding).  The problem with this approach is that most firms don’t operate as a fully functioning, integrated marketing department, as most represent parts of the marketing pie vs. the whole. To be effective, these agencies will require that someone in the company (by default – you) be their primary point of client contact, to provide ongoing strategic and tactical direction, and offer input and approve all materials. In other words, a degree of the burden, integration and coordination across various aspects of the marketing plan have to be owned by someone. (Assuming there is one marketing plan at all, as each agency will have their own view of what is most important) In addition to the coordination and integration challenges, another important consideration of this option is cost. Hiring an agency (for a spot/niche solution) or multiple agencies is costly and if you’re budget is too small (from their perspective), you may end up with junior people working on your account.

OPTION 3 – Outsource your marketing department. You decide not to hire to avoid rising health care costs and the administrative burdens outlined in Option 1. You avoid managing junior people and trying to manage multiple agencies that don’t work together and are not cost-effective. You evaluate the 3rd option: securing a proven marketing firm that functions as your marketing department – an outsourced version – that offers all of the disciplines on the marketing spectrum. Unlike the other two options, you secure one senior point of accountability who is part of your management team and manages the rest of the team. Unlike the other options, the burden of managing multiple agencies, integration and orchestration concerns are eliminated.  You don’t have to wonder if the sales tool kit messaging is aligned with the company positioning language in the press release or the messages just developed for your social media outreach.  It’s one integrated team. This option is not about cobbling together independent marketers and calling it a marketing department. What it is about is having a full-service marketing team all wearing the same team colors who are dedicated to your company’s success – and on the same page every step of the way. With one hire, you get a full service marketing department with specialists brought in when and as needed. Your level of investment? That should be based on goals, timeframe (how quickly you want to move) and what you can afford to invest to fuel your growth. The model should scale with you as your business scales. You get flexibility,  proven expertise and one point of accountability for a fraction of what it would take in terms of time and energy for you to build this talent pool, that you don’t need full-time. ROI is higher than both Options 1 and Option 2. There are not many firms that offer this model and do it well which is why Option 1 and Option 2 are more common.

For one client of For Marketing Matters, 166 hours were dedicated to managing and executing the marketing plan this past September. While that may sound like a lot, it is actually equal to ONE FTE for the month. That particular client benefitted from 9 FMM team members working on various elements of the marketing plan ranging from senior marketing talent with 30+ years of industry and marketing expertise to junior marketing coordinators. The skill set spanned 9 team members who brought their respective talents to the mix, ranging from strategy and messaging to PR to social media, SEO, web content development, email marketing, and graphic design.

Before you think about hiring to secure marketing expertise for your company, evaluate all your options. Other savvy CEOs of small to mid-sized businesses who are ready to invest in smart growth are going with Option 3 and finding an efficient and highly effective solution that delivers the ROI they seek from their marketing investment. For more on how FMM operates as a highly effective outsourced marketing department,  contact Mary at



This is not a good sign

March 23, 2014
The importance of alignment

The importance of alignment

Is this an accurate image of how your marketing and sales groups operate? Each headed in their own direction? If so, you as the CEO have a fundamental problem and it is not just an internal issue.

Alignment is required. I use this term “alignment” consistently when working with my clients. For all of my clients a marketing plan is in place. As we make measurable progress building awareness and generating leads, the client conversation naturally leads to the importance of alignment with sales. What specifically do I mean by alignment? Visually it would mean moving the sales sign in the above image so it is right under marketing and headed in the same direction. The direction is defined by the company strategy and priorities.

1. Why under marketing? Simply, marketing builds the top of the funnel through its efforts focused on building the brand awareness, generating leads for sales to then nurture and close. Sales leverages the marketing message to retain clients, expand business and handle leads from marketing to convert to clients.
2. Why in the same direction? Honestly, this seems like it should be obvious. Do you want marketing focused on acquiring new clients through lead generation efforts yet sales is only focused on expanding existing clients so there is no appetite or bandwidth to work the leads that marketing is bringing in? The two groups need to be aligned to the priorities of your company. I have clients that struggle with the ‘alignment’ word. Some clients prefer ‘partnership’, but to have a partnership you first need to be aligned.

Alignment is key. Alignment between marketing and sales MUST include the following:
Strategy. Make sure you have alignment at the strategic level. In other words, if your growth strategy for 2014 is based on acquiring new clients while retaining existing and expanding within existing, there is a direct implication to the role that marketing will play to reach BOTH existing clients and new and that naturally affects the sales organization and how it develops its sales plan for the year.
Goals. The goals for both marketing and sales need to support the strategy. These should be measurable and tracked consistently for both groups.
Incentives. Many companies only have a sales incentive plan. Why don’t you have an upside for marketing that is ‘aligned’ with the behavior you need that is also then aligned with sales? Make sure you are not equating aligned with the incentives being the same! Marketing should have incentives tied to the top of the funnel while sales should have incentives tied to the middle and bottom of the funnel.
Priorities. As CEO are you confident that the quarterly and monthly priorities within marketing and sales are in alignment? Are they pulling in the same direction or working against themselves?

The reality is that all your functions need to be aligned, working like a well-oiled machine. I am focused on marketing and sales because there is SO MUCH opportunity for companies to grow by getting these signs aligned and headed in the same direction. The upside is HUGE.

How will you as a CEO or President get the signs headed in the same direction starting in Q2?</strong>

At the risk of thinking about this as an organizational exercise, keep in mind the real negative impact of having these two groups not in sync is felt by your clients and prospects. They are the ones getting mixed messages. That should be enough reason to work on this intersection and make it a priority.

Two weeks left in Q1. SMB CEO, are you where you wanted to be?

March 14, 2014

Hey Mr./Mrs. CEO or President of a small to mid-sized growth business!

It’s the middle of March. Hard to believe based on the cold snowy days here in New England, but enough talking about the weather. Let’s talk business. Specifically, YOUR business.

Time for action. Stopwatch on white background. Isolated 3D imag

There are two more weeks left in the month of March. Two more weeks left in the first quarter of 2014. Just eleven business days left. Tick. Tick.

Are you on track to meet your Q1 goals? Do you have the actionable information you need to confidently answer this question?

At this point in Q1, the marketing plan for your business should be rock solid. The plan is being executed and you as CEO should have the following information readily available QTD (quarter to date) from your VP of marketing (internal or agency):
1. # leads generated by marketing efforts by source code MTD and QTD; conversion rates to quotes and sales
2. Analysis of key channels including website updates, analysis, key SEO term rankings
3. Event plans for upcoming events to define goals, metrics of success and roles to generate ROI on exhibiting at trade shows
4. Media coverage secured; updated media list and upcoming planned interviews
5. Reporting on brand awareness
6. Status of sales tool kit and new materials developed QTD to support sales process
7. Timing and schedule of any remaining marketing initiatives planned for Q1
8. Any other key metrics reports for top strategic goals – direct marketing, email marketing, webinar attendance

If you are serious about growing your business, look at your business like a CEO. Surround yourself with talent to achieve your growth goals. Discipline, rigor and accountability are not only critical to bigger business’ success. They are why small businesses get bigger and so many SMBs stall or ultimately fail. You can maintain your culture while still instilling discipline, accountability and reporting to help you do your primary job: leading the business in growth and prosperity. As a marketer, the above list is an example of the types of information you should have to assess the execution of the marketing plan. As CEO, you need this same degree of reporting and accountability from all key functions. The clock is ticking. Q1 is wrapping up quickly. What decisions and investments will you be making to make Q2 a great quarter for your company?

Tick. Tick.

Use Common Sense People!

November 11, 2013

8 a.m.  The sound of a doorbell enters into my head – huh?  Am I dreaming?  The household is sound asleep after staying up late to cheer on Bama vs. LSU.  Plus it is Sunday morning of a long weekend.  A treasured day to catch up on some sleep.  Then a flurry of activity outside the house – a sound of multiple voices and then the sound of metal ladders being extended…what the heck is going on?!

Our gutters were cleaned yesterday morning.  Yep, Sunday morning starting at 8 a.m.  REALLY?  Who in this company thought this was a good idea?  When do gutters get cleaned by a hired service on a Sunday morning?  For 20 minutes, men ran up and down our roof, right above our heads as we were trying to sleep; talking in normal everyday voices, going about their business like this was completely standard operating procedure.  Unbelievable.

How does this happen?  How do businesses rationalize that this is ok?  Did the owner/president approve this idea that they could get more homes done this Fall by sneaking in a Sunday?  Was 8am considered to be a reasonable time that their services would not be disturbing anybody?  I am full of questions and disbelief that this company actually did this.

There are two main points that particularly strike me:

1. Sunday.  We have lost Sundays to be a day of rest.  What happened to going to church, visiting grandparents, and having a big Sunday dinner?  That is how I grew up.  Now Sunday has become just another day in the weekend to catch up, do errands, get to the grocery store, do laundry.  Kids have birthday parties on Sundays.  Kids sports are played on Sundays.  We are an overscheduled society where Sunday is another day we need and use to conduct business.  It started with malls being open, then banks started marketing their being open to conduct business on Sunday and now basic home services are jumping in too? What the heck! Do I need to specify when home services are retained that they are NOT to come on Sunday? When are we going to fight to get our Sundays back?

2. Common sense.  Who in this gutter service company decided it was absolutely fine to clean our gutters yesterday morning at 8am?  Who gave the green light and on what basis did they think it was fine?  It is not OK on so many levels to deliver this service on a Sunday.  And who rationalized that 8 a.m. seemed like a good idea?

Common sense goes a long way. gertrudestein107878 This company does not appear to have any.  Don’t over think what your business needs to do to be successful.  Try some common sense and think like your customer.  This will serve you and your business well.

As Voltaire rightly said, “Common sense is not so common”.  Use it as a competitive differentiator!  It may just be that simple.

Finally, the most amazing part of all of this?  My 16-year-old son slept through all of the noise and commotion of the men running above his head.  Never heard a thing.  Wow.

Giving Back with Passion

June 5, 2013

As a marketer, I get attached to ideas and to marketing efforts that I am passionate about and that fit so well with a client’s strategy. At the end of May, a program that For Marketing Matters was instrumental in designing, creating, bringing to market and managing concluded. It is with pride and sadness when such a program comes to an end. The program is the Jaffarian GAME ON program. I named it and nurtured it since its launch in the beginning of the school year in 2011. I am proud to have been part of it. Kudos to Gary Jaffarian for his commitment to youth and his passionate belief in the importance of keeping students involved in high school athletics. Jaffarian Volvo Toyota donated $52,550 to local high school athletic programs and booster organizations to reduce user fees, save unfunded sports and buy new equipment and uniforms. Wow! $52,000 is a lot of money and Jaffarian’s commitment to giving back is commendable and part of a long legacy for this family.
Charitable giving should come from passion. It then becomes so much more. Game On!

Jaffarian GAME ON

Jaffarian GAME ON

Getting ‘it’

May 7, 2013

Marketing is as effective as sales.  Sales is as effective as customer service.  Customer service is as effective as operations.  Bottom line – it takes coordination, integration and a lot of work to build a brand and execute on the brand promise.  Your efforts are always dependent on someone else doing their part.  There also seems to be a ‘special sauce’ – people who get ‘it’.

I often speak to my clients about their employees who ‘get it’; sometimes training can help; other times it is that innate, natural ability to do the right thing – no need to have a written process, procedure, manual or training session.

I love meeting people who get ‘it’.  I love experiencing people who get ‘it’.  It is refreshing, it is encouraging, it is exhilarating!

Big kudos to DiMillo’s restaurant in Portland Maine.  They get “it” – beautiful views from their unique floating restaurant in lovely Casco Bay, great food (best lobster roll I have ever had – little to no mayo – what restaurant puts the number of calories on the menu for the lobster roll?  Never seen it anywhere else but DiMillo’s can because it is chock full of lobsta – as we Mainers say it!), free parking to all patrons who get their parking ticket stamped – nice touch, and friendly staff.  They have the whole package and that comes from leadership and from people who get ‘it’.  Steve DiMillo could have done what many restaurants do when they don’t get ‘it’ – they offer a free dessert to the person celebrating a birthday.  Nope – not the case.  My mom’s birthday lunch (a lobster roll – not that it matters but people who don’t get ‘it’ may have chosen not to based on the meal ordered) was on the house after he stopped by our table to chat, learned it was my mother’s birthday and graciously engaged us in conversation for several minutes.  When the waitress later brought the bill by, she wished my mom Happy Birthday and shared that the lunch was on the house.  Nice touch.  Nice gesture.  Will I forget it?  No way.  Thanks Steve.  You made a special birthday lunch for my Mom even more enjoyable for me the marketer.  I work with my clients on all aspects of the customer experience and raising the bar, doing the right thing, going above and beyond and you epitomized what can be an elusive goal for many.

When you get ‘it’, you do the right thing.  When you get ‘it’, you experience your business as the customer, not as the owner or head of customer service or sales or marketing.  When you get ‘it’, you think long-term and you perform random acts of kindness to surprise your customers, to wow them, to be nice and to treat others as you would want to be treated.

‘It’ is powerful stuff.  I love ‘it’.