Trailblaze & Grow Author: admin_tbga

It’s Time to Rethink What Diversity Means for Your Business

When does a company achieve the “diverse” badge of honor? Is it simply when the staff photos on its website no longer favor one gender over another? When the photos show a wide variety of races?

Too many business leaders hang their hats on this physical definition of diversity, seeing it as a checkbox that will earn them good PR; paint them as a progressive, open-minded company; and wow potential investors.

Instead of a checkbox, I encourage people to think about diversity outside the box. Besides gender and race, diversity also refers to different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. When your employees bring a variety of unique ideas and opinions to the table, you can learn so much more about your customers — and it is that intel that will help you stay ahead of the competition.

 

Diversity Is Not Just Skin Deep

When your perception of diversity is solely based on external characteristics, you miss out on its true power. In reality, diversity goes much deeper. Below the surface, people bring different backgrounds, values, and upbringings to the table that provide companies with unique, innovative problem-solving approaches and opinions that — when leveraged productively — make your company stronger, more creative, and more relevant.

The physical definition of diversity should be constantly in the back of your mind as you vet candidates, and your vetting process should be the same whether you are interviewing a man, a woman, a person of color, a younger person, an older person — the list goes on. But it should not necessarily be your top criterion when making hiring decisions.

Throughout the hiring process, your primary focus should be on skills, abilities, and how well the person will fit into the company culture. Hiring solely for physical diversity — checking that box — will not always give you the best person for the job. You also want to make sure that not everyone at your company is marching to the same drummer, so to speak. There should be conflicting opinions among your staff, and you want your team to collaboratively work through these conflicting opinions. It is when you have achieved this deeper level of diversity that creative solutions emerge that set companies apart.

It is like cooking a stew. If you keep adding salt and pepper as it cooks, the stew will not taste any better. But once you toss in the rosemary, thyme, basil, and paprika, the kitchen fills with glorious smells, and the stew ends up being delicious.

 

Three Attributes That Contribute to True Diversity

As you set out on your journey to foster true diversity in your company, challenge yourself when looking for the best candidates. Focus on these three characteristics to dig deep and find the perfect people for your team:

1.  Education

So many companies we have worked with are jam-packed with people with impressive alma maters. In some cases, the entire leadership team went to the same university. While that might look great on paper, once you walk into a room with these company leaders, they are all on the same page and agree on what needs to be done. But if you take a step back and really examine the situation, they lack external perspectives and conflicting viewpoints, so they find themselves stuck in neutral with no clue how to jumpstart their growth.

Of course you want people with impressive educational accolades from Ivy League schools, but you also need balance. You need to also hire people who went to public schools and received a completely different (yet still valid and useful) education and overall academic experience. They will have fresh ways of looking at things, which is exactly what your company needs.

2.  Socioeconomic Background

Before we dive into this characteristic, it is important to note that you should not ask job candidates about their household income when they were growing up, their current net worth, or other personal financial matters. However, you can read between the lines.

Did they work while they were in college? Did they rely on scholarships? Do they travel a lot? Or have they never been on an airplane? The ideal makeup is a mix of people who grew up bootstrapping their way to where they are today, as well as people who did not have to. Having a healthy balance of varying socioeconomic backgrounds will yield a mixed bag of opinions, work styles, and problem-solving approaches.

3.  Values and Beliefs

Again, before we dive into this one, remember that you cannot ask job candidates about their religious beliefs. However, you can analyze where they grew up and how they spend their free time. Do they volunteer? What are they passionate about? Did they grow up in a rural or urban area?

There is no question that rural and urban communities in America hold tight to vastly different beliefs and values. In order for your company to become a household name across all communities, make sure you have all communities represented on your team.

Also, while it might seem appealing to solely hire workaholics who pursue little to no passions and hobbies outside of work, you also need people who have lives and passion projects outside of work. They will bring in a broad spectrum of interests, leading to innovative approaches and ways of thinking.

 

While physical diversity is very important, it is not the end-all and be-all of company diversity. It goes far deeper below the surface. Hiring people from different backgrounds can help businesses thrive. It is time to rethink what diversity means for your business and how you can truly embrace it to your company’s advantage.

 

Photo by Untitled blue on Foter.com / CC BY

Expanding Into the US? Here Is Your Guide to Thrive

You have reached a momentous decision: to expand your business into the U.S. market. Now is an exciting time to be venturing across the ocean. The U.S. economy shows promising signs, and the GDP growth rate is expected to hold strong at 2 to 3 percent this year.

Besides economic prosperity, the U.S. holds other charms for business owners. Its single prominent language and relatively relaxed data laws mean that expanding into North America can seem like a smooth sail when compared to venturing into Europe or other continents.

But to dive in headfirst without testing the water could be a costly mistake for your business’s bottom line and reputation. After all, the U.S. is a large and complex market, and a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy will soon fall short. You need a guide to help pioneer your business’s American adventure.

 

How to Transition Wisely Into the US Market

There are some adjustments that entrepreneurs must make to their marketing and growth strategies to ensure they can thrive in the U.S. market. Here are the top three I learned from my years of experience:

1.  Take time to understand the cultural landscape.
The U.S. has a single prominent language, but it also has approximately 325 million people living on its soil. Each state has its own culture and subcultures. The differences between the groups that live there can be vast. So it is vital to understand this cultural landscape in all its diversity before introducing your product to the market.

This includes pitching the tone of marketing materials to an American audience’s sense of humor. There are certain things that might sound OK in Europe but can rub people the wrong way in the U.S. For example, a British customer might love an irreverent jab at his own expense, while an American customer could be offended.

Even basic words and phrases can cause confusion. This woman trying to bring the British dessert sticky toffee pudding to the American market had to explain to many people that her brand of pudding was not the cold custard one would expect.

For a more successful approach, invest ample time in reading and researching, and then compile a set of words and phrases that sing the praises of your business without confusion.

2. Build up a picture through target testing.
In a market as huge as the U.S., you have to get specific about your buyer persona. This means getting close and personal with some actual Americans.

First, figure out where you want to test your product. Maybe your focus is on East Coast cosmopolitan hubs like Boston and New York, families in the Midwest, or health-conscious individuals in California. Whatever the case, test in smaller geographies before going big to make sure your product’s features and benefits are not getting lost in translation.

And if you do not know where you should be testing, that might mean you are not acquainted enough with your buyer persona. This can be resolved by acquiring some guidance to see how your product translates to a U.S. buyer.

3. Get to know your competition.

It is always wise to examine your competition when expanding or diversifying into new markets. It is especially important in a crowded and ever-changing market like the U.S.

Do your homework, and build a profile of competing companies in your industry. Who are the big players? Who are the emerging challengers? And when compared to those companies, what differentiates your product?

When companies fail to assess their competition, the results can be disastrous. For example, a Japanese telecommunications company decided to enter the wireless market in the U.S. It tried to expand to the U.S. by taking the retail and distribution strategy that had worked in Japan and then simply copy and paste it onto the U.S. market. If it had looked at where its target customers were purchasing their phone plans, the company would have realized that a pure distribution strategy is not ideal for its growth.

 

You have your bags packed for a new frontier, but before you set off on your exciting adventure, take some time to translate your business into the best American version you can, and that might mean changing what was successful in your home country. In addition, having a guide for your move is crucial. Someone to show you the best path for your product and how to tell its story on this new stage can support this market transition in many ways. For help with your international expansion, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a one-hour consultation.

 

Photo on Foter.com

How to Prepare Your Business Model for International Expansion

As an entrepreneur, you are in an exciting position. There are opportunities to be had in many different markets, but for some business owners, the U.S. is the holy grail of potential. It is also a different environment — and one that should be approached with caution to maximize the chance of success.

Opportunity is intoxicating, and many entrepreneurs find themselves rushing headlong into a situation that they should have approached more thoughtfully. It is true that the size of the U.S. market can produce great results and quickly scale the revenue side of a business, but the operational side must be ready to keep up with the increased demand placed on it by the larger market.

Tweaking Your Business Model

When operations fail to keep pace with demand, businesses that once had great potential will struggle to maintain the market share gained after their reputation is tarnished and their credibility is lost. The good news is that entrepreneurs who are knowledgeable about the weaknesses of their business model will be able to not only increase revenue, but also improve their overall business operations by entering the U.S. market.

 

To ensure the transition goes smoothly, keep these business model approaches top of mind:

1.  Remain Connected
One of the hardest parts of running a global business is keeping everyone on the same page. Weekly meetings, especially using video conferencing, will ensure specific departments are not siloed from the overall business.

For example, a program in which employees or leadership members rotate into the U.S. office will help connect the team to the new market. In addition, this arrangement can provide valuable networking opportunities that help encourage continued growth.

It is also important for stakeholders based in the U.S. to travel to corporate headquarters to observe the business in its home country. When teams are failing to work together properly, friction leads to finger pointing. Generally, there is some validity to claims made on both sides, but a lack of context keeps people from developing a clearer understanding of the issues. Keeping different locations of a business tightly connected can strengthen communication and improve business models.

2. Be Aware of Changing Differentiators
Different geographical areas have varied competitive differentiators. A multinational corporation in Europe, for instance, may not be allowed to move a customer’s personally identifiable information across borders. As a result, a company with a solution that allows them to analyze data while keeping it in the country where it originated from is equipped to be successful because it has a leg up on the competition.

Most companies in the U.S. are much less concerned about transporting customer data because their analytics will likely also be based in the U.S. What was a dominant differentiator in Europe has little to no advantage in the U.S. market, illustrating that the challenges of operating in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. have limited similarities.

To secure your company’s valuable differentiator, research the U.S. market before taking the leap. If the competitive advantages and differentiators you have enjoyed in your home country no longer set you apart from other companies in the U.S., you will need to find new differentiators to pursue that can. It is undoubtedly best to begin this process beforeyou make the move to your new location.

3. Understand Marketplace Success
In Asia, distribution is everything. Consumers purchase goods from retailers, so breaking into the retail market means a company has made it. On the other hand, in the U.S. market, awareness is the basis for business success. Getting a product onto retail store shelves does not mean that consumers will buy it — they need to know what it is.

To move to the U.S. market successfully, it is vital to understand the differences in how businesses approach the market. It is understandably tempting to rely on the tactics that brought your business success in the first place, but there is no guarantee that this approach will translate to the new location and new customer base.

One way to better position yourself for success in the U.S. market is to have someone on the ground who can help guide your decision-making based on his or her knowledge of the lay of the land.

 

Getting help with your international expansion before you enter the market is critical because it can ensure a smooth transition and keep the costs associated with international moving operations to a minimum. To learn how Trailblaze Growth Advisors can contribute to your international expansion, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. Not only do we provide the strategies you need to ensure your business’s success, but we also help you implement them one step at a time.

 

Photo by Strocchi on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Pivot Hard: Why Decisiveness Leads to Better Partnerships

As a CEO or founder, you have spent years working long hours to make your company a reality. Subsequently, you know the ins and outs better than anyone else, which is why it can be hard to fully rely on your newly hired consultant.

After hiring an outside specialist, it is natural to feel like it will take at least several months to get him or her up to speed before you can trust any input and advice. However, a lengthy waiting period can prove to be a detrimental mistake.

 

Act Now

Do not doubt yourself. If you are confident in your hiring decision, then the consultant will have valuable input and advice on day one. The ideal hire should come with an impressive pedigree and demonstrate the ability to spearhead marketing strategies that drive results. Your job is not to question the value of these strategies; it is to determine whether they are feasible to undertake with your company’s resources.

There are high risks when it comes to waffling and keeping all available strategies on the table. Either a competitor can beat you to the punch, or you can end up losing valuable time. In some cases, you might completely miss the boat on a marketing opportunity.

 

Here are three situations that can be avoided by being more decisive:

1.  Driving in the Slow Lane
It is quite common for clients to spend some time debating the positioning strategies that we recommend. In one instance, however, a client went overboard. In the time it took the client to think over our suggestions, the competition got a ton of media coverage and made waves while our client was left in the dust. Three years later, the competitor enjoyed a phenomenal exit. In the meantime, our client was in the process of pivoting to a new market.

Consultants use their expertise to pick the strategy that best aligns with the goals of your company. There is nothing wrong with thinking things over, and it is critical to fully understand how to implement the strategy. At some point, though, you will have to trust your consultant’s recommendation.

2.  Time Well Wasted
In a particularly memorable instance, a client was not hitting its numbers, so the company decided — against our recommendations — to replace its SEO agency. When the client transitioned, traffic began to plummet, and the downward trend only continued as the remaining individuals spent more time on fire drills and finding ways to look busy and valuable.

Afterward, we were able to use data to illustrate that the failure came from the affiliate program. The client needed to reallocate resources, and it took three months for us to regain the SEO losses. Initially, the company balked at our advice because we had not yet gained an understanding of the intricacies of its organization. What the client failed to realize, though, was that metrics-based business decisions remain consistent regardless of the organization.

3.  Missing the Boat
When opportunities come knocking, be ready. We had a client prepped for an opportunity to appear in The Wall Street Journal. When the business leaders got involved, they decided to change the direction of the story to what they thought would be “something more interesting.” After the change, they stalled and demanded a “better” reporter, and they refused to answer questions they thought were uninteresting. Following a few interviews, we lost the feature article, and the reporter moved on to a different story.

Throwing away an opportunity because it is not perfect is like sabotaging your big break before it even starts. Keep in mind that opportunities are rarely perfect, so take the ones that come along and use them to their full extent.

 

Trust your consultant. After all, you made the decision to hire him or her. However, blind trust can be just as harmful as a lack of trust. To avoid this, ask for data and qualitative backup for recommendations, and stay in the loop. While it is tempting to think you can gain amazing insights on your own by reading 800-word articles online, your consultant has a thorough knowledge of his or her expertise area. And you know your company best. With those powers combined, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve together.

For more insights on this subject and others, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

 

Photo by Nicholas_T on Foter.com / CC BY

Marketing is Quantitative

Merging Hard Facts With Creativity: Balance the Art and Science of Marketing

As data collection and tracking methods grow, the marketing world has shifted from a qualitative to a quantitative focus. Marketers are increasingly using data analysis, systematic observation, testing, and measurement to better understand their customers, prospects, and influencers. They are studying broad behavioral patterns and using these actionable insights to create campaigns that improve business outcomes.

 

In other words, the rise of big data has turned marketing into a science. Similar to the likes of Newton and Einstein, brands are hypothesizing, testing, and refining experiments based on data. They are also beginning to embrace ideas from other scientific disciplines such as psychology, sociology, neuroscience, economics, and computer science.

 

Balancing Hard Facts With Creativity

 

Statistical analysis can be intimidating, especially for the many marketing leaders who come from creative backgrounds. Instead of crunching numbers and relying on data, many prefer to focus on their own gut feelings, opinions, and intuition. This is the traditional “art” of marketing, and though it is still important and relevant, it is not the only side of marketing that matters.

If you only embrace the art of marketing, you can still end up with beautiful marketing assets and collateral — but these materials will not necessarily speak to your target audience. For example, TBGA once worked with a client that had been sharing a story that its audience was not interested in hearing. But after we interviewed industry analysts and conducted market research, the resulting data helped the client realize it needed to restructure its narrative. Once it did, the brand doubled its pipeline.


A key to embracing the science of marketing involves overcoming a psychological quirk called confirmation bias. Many leaders will opt to focus on specific metrics that tell them they are on the right track, ignoring any data that tells them otherwise. The beauty of data, however, is that it is inherently objective and unbiased. Gravitating toward flattering metrics completely defeats the purpose.

Other leaders, meanwhile, fail to question whether they are using the right data, whether there are other factors to consider that are not represented within the data, and how much weight they should be giving the insights they glean from the data — and this can cause problems, too. If you do not ask the right questions (or if you fail to ask any questions at all), your marketing programs may not provide your desired results, and you will not be able to pinpoint exactly what went wrong.

 

Balancing Art and Science Is a Challenge — But We Can Help

 

Today, data analysis should play a vital role in every brand’s creative strategy, and it should also help brands craft their quarterly goals. It should fuel every campaign you create and every milestone you set.

If the thought of embracing the science of marketing seems daunting, TBGA is here to help smooth out the process.

We are a team of data-driven marketers who come from a variety of backgrounds. We have a proven track record of helping brands establish key metrics, test hypotheses, analyze data, ask essential questions, and, at the end of the day, tell a story that moves the needle.

We help our partners achieve their objectives and uncover insights through an integrated data analysis of their clients, their offerings, and the circumstances of the money they make.

We can help you do the same. Ready to get started? Contact us today for a one-hour consultation!

 

Photo credit: stratman² (2 many pix!) / Furniture Fair / CC BY-NC-ND

Trust your data

Learn, Trust, and Use the Data You Collect

Marketers are finally seeing the light when it comes to spending on analytics. A 2017 survey of nearly 400 CMOs found that the amount spent on marketing analytics will increase 376 percent over the next three years.

This has us incredibly excited at Trailblaze Growth Advisors because, as a team of marketing professionals, we are extremely analytical. We know that companies have long been collecting data, and we are so happy to see them ramp up their efforts and continue embracing the valuable science of marketing.

 

But There May Be a Catch…

While the survey of CMOs found a large increase in spending on analytics, it also revealed that the use rate of data is stagnant. Essentially, companies keep collecting more and more data sets, but few are effectively leveraging these insights to their fullest.

Marketing leaders tend to have creative backgrounds, and many of them are not entirely comfortable diving into statistical analysis and uncovering the metrics that drive results. They tend to focus more on the art of marketing while neglecting the scientific side.

However, any modern-day company that wants to remain competitive, increase revenue and customer loyalty, and acquire new customers must let data lead the way.

Data helps marketers understand what is working, what is not working, and how they can improve the customer experience. In fact, according to a recent Econsultancy survey, many data-driven methods boost customer conversions — analyzing customer journeys and A/B testing work especially well.

Quantitative results must be a major part of a marketing department’s progress reports. Teams should constantly use data to review the performance of their campaigns, better understand their customers, and predict their needs, as well as guide changes to their marketing mix, campaigns, customer journeys, and distribution channels.

Most importantly, you must be able to trust that you are measuring the right behaviors and results. Marketing departments need to learn how to rely on the data that they are collecting and analyzing. Bad data makes this work more difficult and increases costs — up to 20 percent of revenue, to be specific.

 

How TBGA Can Help

The ability to have a fact-based, behavior-based, 360-degree view of the customer is the key to developing marketing strategies that deliver the results you need. But in order to maximize your data, you must first have clear objectives. Is your goal to increase revenue, grow customer loyalty, or acquire new customers? Once you identify your overarching goals, let data uncover key customer behaviors and use analytical tools to develop personalized strategies to directly achieve them.

TBGA focuses on data-driven decision making. Our CMOs come with a proven track record of helping companies embrace, trust, and leverage their data into tangible results that boost their bottom line. We can help you integrate detailed data about your customers, your offerings, and the circumstances in which purchases are made. We can also uncover hidden insights that help you create or improve your products, services, and processes.

We have helped companies learn how to trust their data. We know the strategic objectives that move the needle, and we have established metrics and benchmarks to use as guideposts along the way.

We are eager to do the same for your brand. Contact us today for a one-hour consultation!

 

Photo credit: Eric Fischer via Foter.com / CC BY

Would Your Business Benefit From a Fractional CMO?

Launching and growing a business is exhilarating — but it is no easy task.

Sheer enthusiasm and effort will only take you so far. It might help you get the ball rolling and raise a few rounds of funding, but there will inevitably come a time when your growth will stagnate. When that day comes, it will be in your best interest to stop bootstrapping and start surrounding yourself with proven experts who can help carry your brand to the next level.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing. To hit your next growth goals, you will need to bring in a seasoned marketing professional who knows how to develop an integrated strategy that effectively promotes your brand and converts people into customers. This requires experience in generating leads across multiple channels, managing people, and managing a P&L.

In other words, you need a brilliant chief marketing officer who understands what success looks like and knows how to deliver it. Unfortunately, finding this capable person is often easier said than done, especially for small to midsize businesses.

 

Finding a Fit

At Trailblaze Growth Advisors, we have seen companies waste tons of time and money trying to recruit and hire full-time CMOs. It usually looks something like this:

First, you may turn to your personal network to see whether a friend (or a friend of a friend) is looking for a job. Most of the time, this approach will not yield top-tier talent — and it could easily present an awkward situation in which you jeopardize a friendship by telling someone, “Sorry, you are not the right fit for my company.”

Then, you may elect to post an online job description, which will lead to a deluge of résumés and cover letters. Sifting through them in search of someone with the right experience and attitude for your company is no short order — and that is assuming you or your hiring manager understand what the right CMO candidate even looks like. From there, you still face several rounds of interviews and salary negotiations before you can potentially fill the position with a great candidate.

Or perhaps you will choose to hire a headhunter to do the dirty work for you. This can be a huge investment not only in commissions and headhunting fees, but also in the time required to on-ramp the hire.

All of the above options could easily cost your company more time and money than it has to spare. We estimate that it could take you up to a year to find the right fit, negotiate mutually beneficial terms, and incorporate the new hire into the fabric of your company.

If your growing business is looking to improve its marketing results today, we strongly recommend you take a different route.

 

Hire a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs are basically on-demand executive-level marketers. Like traditional CMOs, their ultimate goal is to supercharge your current marketing efforts, identify new opportunities for experimentation and growth, and provide mentorship to your in-house team.

However, there are two big differences between fractional CMOs and traditional CMOs: Fractional CMOs will cost you much less money, and they are equipped to have an immediate impact on your marketing ROI from day one.

Trailblaze Growth Advisors’ fractional CMOs are industry veterans who have embedded themselves in a wide variety of businesses across multiple industries. We know exactly what it takes to help companies like yours achieve their next growth goals.

Sure, you will be working with an “outsider” — but this outsider will lend an impartial eye to your company’s inner workings. We will make honest suggestions regarding your current tactics and strategies, provide input on future initiatives, and put a plan in place for follow-through. Just as importantly, a TBGA fractional CMO will put all the necessary metrics in place that illustrate your marketing ROI.

Last but not least, we can serve as a stopgap while you search for your future full-time CMO. Our fractional CMOs will ensure your company does not lose momentum as it takes the time it needs to find the perfect permanent hire.

 

If your company is stuck in a rut and is struggling to accelerate its growth regardless of how much time, money, and effort you invest toward the cause, it is time to consider partnering with TBGA and hiring a fractional CMO.

Contact us today for a one-hour consultation to learn more about how our marketing veterans can accelerate your brand’s business growth.

 

Photo credit: Latente 囧 www.latente.it via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Why Your Marketing Consultant’s Pedigree Matters

Hiring a marketing consultant based on the power of her sales pitch is akin to hiring an airplane pilot based on how sharp her uniform looks. This limited amount of information provides you with little to no idea of whether this person can actually help your business soar.

Unfortunately, too many small to midsize companies make this very mistake, hiring marketing consultants without first taking a close look at their credentials and pedigree. In fact, quite a few of our current clients hired us to help them rebound from consultants who did not live up to their slick sales pitches.

 

For example, before working with TBGA, one of our clients hired a senior marketing consultant who used his fun, personable attitude to win them over. However, once it came time to get to work, it turned out he was not the right fit for them.

Our client’s entrepreneurial environment required a consultant who could establish metrics, set priorities based on ROI, push his priorities throughout the organization, and most importantly execute on the plan — and this gentleman was in over his head. He always seemed to be working hard, but in the end, it turned out that he was just spinning everyone’s wheels. There were no quantifiable results to speak of.

The consultant was frustrated, the client was disappointed, and neither party walked away happy. Although we were grateful to have an opportunity to fix the resulting mess, we want you to get it right on the first try.

Pedigree Matters

Ivy League MBAs, previous jobs at blue chip companies, firm handshakes — these should never be the sole reason you hire a consultant. Pedigree is not about any experience; it is about the right experience.

You need to make sure a candidate’s experience will dovetail into your unique needs. If you do not know exactly what you need, you should hire a consultant who can help you identify them.

At the very least, your consultant should have experience working at companies that resemble your own, carrying out tasks similar to the ones you have in store, and delivering the real-life results you want to see.

When looking at a candidate’s track record, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has this person ever spearheaded the launch of a new business or product line?
  • Does this person typically have access to a large budget and team, or is he or she an expert at maximizing minimal resources?
  • Has this person ever built and led a marketing team, or does he or she typically work in isolation?
  • How does he or she measure success?

Our roster of marketing experts is deep and diverse. Some of us have held senior leadership roles.

 

We are a hands-on team of collaborators; no one at Trailblaze gives advice from the sidelines. We know that your specific goals require specific solutions, so at the start of our relationship, we dive in and embed ourselves into your business.

From there, we are constantly in pursuit of perfection. We always strive to be on the cutting edge, proactively seeking new research, new technology angles, and new information. We utilize modern-day tools and tactics that will help us deliver the results you desire.

Best of all, we back up our talk. We set clear objectives. If we do not meet those objectives, it is probably because we have exceeded them.

 

We at Trailblaze Growth Advisors provide more than a savvy sales pitch; we provide proven marketing expertise that will help accelerate your growth. If you are searching for a consultant who is a passionate, determined problem solver with a proven track record of success, contact us today for a one-hour consultation.

 

Photo credit: levork via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

What is a fractional CMO?

What Is a Fractional CMO?

When we say that we offer fractional CMO services, we are frequently met with some variation of the following question: “What does that mean?”

Then, after we define the term, we almost always hear this: “What a great idea! We did not know this was even an option.”

So what exactly is a fractional CMO?

Essentially, it is a senior-level marketer who embeds him- or herself into a company and drives its marketing results to the next level — either temporarily or on a part-time basis. This person comes equipped with a wealth of experience and knowledge, but unlike a traditional CMO, he or she does not come along with a high price tag or arduous hiring process.

Our fractional CMOs have proven track records. We have led marketing teams and sculpted marketing programs at Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. We do not work from hypotheticals; we know what works and what does not, and we apply these lessons and best practices to our clients beginning on day

1.  “It is essential to have a full-time CMO.”

The CMO’s role is certainly essential, but it is not essential for this person to be a full-time member of your team. A part-time CMO can provide the strategy based on hands-on experience in order to focus the blocking and tackling support that junior marketers provide. This focus steers the team toward high-value programs and away from low-ROI ones. In the end, you increase your return on marketing spend and do not waste time on tactics that do not work.

Even if your ultimate goal is to someday hire a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO can be there to support you while you search for the best candidate. Given the amount of time and money it takes to find top-tier marketing executives in the open market, partnering with a TBGA fractional CMO is a great way to quickly reap the reward of experienced leadership without sifting through hundreds of résumés or hiring a headhunter. In fact, he or she can help you vet candidates and determine whether they are the right fit for your company — all while managing your strategic marketing initiatives and mentoring your less experienced marketing professionals.

2.  “I am better off promoting an internal candidate.”

Think about the amount of time, training, and resources it will take to transform an internal candidate into a trustworthy, knowledgeable CMO who drives tangible results for your bottom line. It could take years.

Fractional CMOs come in ready to contribute — and they could even mentor your up-and-coming internal candidates. Beyond that, they possess a fresh, unbiased outsider’s perspective. They will not be bogged down by company politics and bureaucracy. Instead, they will feel free to point out flaws, voice concerns, and give honest feedback and suggestions that revolutionize your marketing function.

3.  “I would rather save money by hiring a junior person.”

Similar to the above misconception, this is also a recipe for wasted time and delayed growth. Most businesses have little to no margin for mistakes, and if you hire an inexperienced CMO to lead your team, you open the door to this very issue.

Because our fractional CMOs have a breadth of experience across different marketing systems, tactics, and corporate environments, they possess a big advantage over junior employees. As senior leaders, they already know how to manage teams, assemble P&L reports, and quantify their impact.

4.  “We hired a great marketing agency, so we have it covered.”

Agencies should be an extension of your marketing strategy — not drive it. Your team will need to provide the competitive landscape, target segmentation, buyer personas, and differentiation.

Your CMO is also responsible for ensuring your marketing operations are running efficiently. Agencies are not equipped to dive deeply into a company’s internal operations and infrastructure, discover inefficiencies, and provide relevant solutions that move the needle.

On the other hand, when you hire a TBGA fractional CMO, your company becomes his or her one and only priority. This person is ready and able to roll up his or her sleeves, investigate the inner workings of your marketing department and company as a whole, and offer tailor-made solutions that result in measurable benefits.

 

We hope that we have cleared up any uncertainty surrounding fractional CMOs and how they can help propel your marketing results. If you have any further hesitations or questions — or if you are interested in scheduling a one-hour consultation — please contact us today!

 

Photo credit: familymwr via Foter.com / CC BY

The CMO as Your Growth Partner

Ultimately, the people at the helm of your company make or break your organization’s strategic abilities.  If what makes a CEO shine is growth, then your CMO is your partner in crime. Their input will be essential to the broad challenges that you will face: competition, innovation, and core customers. Also, few have a better feel for the end-user/consumer pulse than the marketing executive – their relevant and refined perspective on customer preferences will play a vital role in your company’s growth.

In today’s economy, the CMO is at the crossroads of growth and customer experience. CMOs are increasingly seen as a director of growth and customers, rather than the director of spending and advertising, worldwide. The CMO role has changed from working exclusively on brand communication and messaging to driving impactful growth and cultural change. Marketers not only need to funnel customer intelligence into all parts of the business; they also need to keep up their technological proficiency, utilize big data to create meaningful customer interactions, and deliver value within a consistent brand experience.

While CMOs need to be part of the key decision making, they also need to partner closely with your CFO part of the key leadership.  It’s important that your CMO partners with chief financial officers to help them contribute to top-line growth and position themselves for a seat at the board table.  Together, they can steer the ship responsibly.

A strategic focus on return on investment, coupled with the rise of customer centricity and acquisition allows for CMOs to achieve measurable value within the organization. In fact, the CFO and CMO should be working hand in hand to increase accountability and reduce inefficiency — the CFO’s role is greatly enhanced by today’s savvy marketer as they are often the most resourceful person on your team.

Change the way you work with your CMO. Both CEOs and CFOs stand to gain tremendous insight at the ground level and meet the growing customer expectations. The role of the CFO is also becoming more multifaceted so work closely with your marketing person to help your organization survive and thrive in this increasingly competitive landscape.

How to tell a good CMO from a successful one? The latter hone the ability to think long term, adapt quickly, and pitch in with the team. They are able to shift from focusing on growth to a ‘big picture’ mentality. Thus, your CMO should not only influence decision-making but be able to make the tough calls, embrace uncertainty, and put relevant issues in front of the board to consider. This focus on vision makes a difference. Consider opening a conversation about bringing your CMO to the board room and see how they can deliver even more value as your strategic partner in crime.

Want to chat about this topic? I’m speaking at the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco on Thursday, June 30th on Marketing through the Funding Lifecycle.