Advisors & Mentors
When do I need a
For a small company, a Marketing Manager is usually sufficient (and much more affordable) than a VP of Marketing or a CMO. But when your company is undergoing big changes, a CMO can be necessary.
CMOs have a broad range of experience and can often help out with areas like public relations, fundraising, data analytics, online marketing, and sales.
They can help you make sure your key marketing hires have the right experience and skills for your new company, saving you a lot of headaches later on.
A good CMO can help you build out the right strategy and plan to help with putting a new product on the marketing, making a pivot to your brand/company, or launching a period of rapid growth. They can also work with marketing agencies and marketing influencers to help you bring all your marketing efforts under a single umbrella.
When you NEED a CMO:
- Launching a new product
- Product development/market research (unless you have a strong product marketing team in place)
- New branding
- Company pivot
- Public relations crisis
- Huge growth goals with severe penalties for missing them, as in a period following an investment round, leading up to IPO, or when “demonstrating growth” is demanded by investors
A Fractional CMO is a CMO who works for your company, usually on a contract basis. They may work part-time while working for other (non-competing) companies, but they focus on a specific project or task. It can be an affordable way to get CMO experience for short-term needs, and most Fractional CMOs work for 90 days to 2 years, depending on the need.
Your CMO can develop plans and marketing strategies to guide your communication efforts through this phase of change. They can help you communicate with customers, employees, investors, and the public. This gives you a road map to revenue growth and success.
Data & Analytics
The right data helps to inform investment and product development decisions, and your CMO can help you gather and understand data about your market and niche. This allows you to direct your marketing efforts where they will have the greatest impact.
Your CMO can help you build a brand that will strengthen your company. Brand development may also include reputation management, community building, and developing brand guidelines. This helps your company gain awareness and users within the marketplace.
The field of marketing is constantly evolving, and it can be difficult to find and mentor a marketing department without up-to-date skills in the industry. Your CMO can help you hire the right people and develop training and mentorship programs to set them on the path to success.
Working with a Startup Marketing Expert
A startup marketing expert is someone with specialized skills and experience in the startup world. This person generally understands how startup companies operate and can better help startups demonstrate traction and satisfy their investors.
Startup life isn’t quite the same as corporate life, and a startup marketing expert is someone who understands this.
Startup funding can be a complicated topic, and sources of funding can greatly impact how the business is run and what the company’s goals are. Debt-funded companies may be seeking a quicker revenue stream than venture-backed companies. Venture-backed companies may be more beholden to the will of the Board.
Even within these larger categories, there’s a lot of nuance and pressure in the startup world. As startups tend to run lean, it’s essential to aim for big results that happen fast and don’t cost too much.
Traditional marketing consultants – the ones with big-name brands – are used to working with large teams and huge budgets. Startup marketing consultants are steeped in the world of guerrilla marketing and growth hacking.
Convincing the Board
There’s no need to ask permission to chat with a startup marketing expert. Most of the time, initial consultations are free of charge.
Once you know whether the startup marketing expert has the capability to help you, you can ask for a detailed list of goalposts, KPIs, and expectations. This list should include timeframes, deadlines, and estimated costs.
You don’t know whether it’s worthwhile until you find out what a startup marketing expert can actually do for your company. Depending on the problem you’re looking to solve and the expert’s skillset, they may or may not be worth the investment.
Once you find the right expert consultant to help, you may need to gather approval from your Board. Even if you don’t need approval, it’s often a good idea to check with your advisors or mentors; they might have suggestions or referrals to help you find the right consultant, too.
Your expert may be willing to address the Board directly if they have questions or concerns, or if your Board is intimately involved in the operations of your startup. You can discuss this with your marketing consultant to determine what resources or abilities they might have to help you start working together.
What can a Startup Marketing Expert Do?
At a high level, a startup marketing expert can serve as a fractional CMO/VP of Marketing.
They can help you develop a plan for your marketing department, including job descriptions and hiring requirements, so you make sure to make the right critical hiring decisions.
They can build out strategies to help you meet your business goals. These strategies may include campaigns for digital, tradeshow, and traditional marketing, as well as growth hacking and guerilla marketing tactics.
With the strategies, your startup marketing expert can help you build out meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) and understand what they mean and how to improve them. They can build processes and procedures for your marketing department to follow now and in the future.
They may work on helping you build out your brand, developing brand or writing guidelines for your creative team to follow. This helps ensure that your brand has a clear brand voice and message.
A marketing expert should be able to interface with other specialists you’ve hired internally and externally, including marketing agencies, freelancers, and employees. They can bring all of your resources together to create a cohesive plan, ensuring that everyone is following the same brand guidelines.
For startups, a marketing expert is also likely to handle a large portion of the work, too. They may do a lot of the hands-on work in data analytics, copywriting, video marketing, or graphic design.