I would never want to be the Chief Marketing Officer of a business because I think most businesses don’t need a separate, senior marketer. In all but a handful of cases the role is either a glorified admin role, or it ends up clashing with that of the CEO / Owner and you end up getting fired. Simple as that.
Marketing in its true form is actually a strategic function. Should it be done by anyone but the “big boss”?. Think about it: choosing target markets, deciding how to position against competitors and choosing appropriate messaging is not something that anyone other than the most important person in the business should do. Strategic marketing is actually the role description of the CEO. Think about it, what does the big boss do? Mostly, they should be doing marketing of the business, development of its brands and their ongoing refinement. Marketing is the CEO’s function.
I’ll say it again: very few businesses need a separate senior marketer as a permanent employee. Yet, despite this, very few business owners have studied marketing. They don’t know the theory behind customer segmentation, target marketing, brand positioning and marketing messaging. They think that “being the boss” means “being the boss” instead of “doing the marketing”.
It is for this reason that I believe there is such a role to play for marketing consultants. When I started as a consultant I was ashamed to call myself such because it sounds like I am the guy helping someone to send their next tweet or to organise their next event. I do this, but it is not where I start. I start by having a growth discussion with the boss of the company. “What are your plans for growing this business and how can I help make that happen?” This is where marketing consulting is nothing other than strategy consulting, or business consulting, or management consulting. It is essentially all the same thing, apart from the fact that, once we have decided on a plan, I will indeed be the guy helping you get your social media sorted out.
So how does all of this relate to the business owner? Simple: be very, very careful before you employ a full time, senior marketer in your business. You would be quite right to treat it as largely an admin function in your business, performed by a trained administrator with the help of one or two outsiders. The role of strategic marketing is most likely your role – that of the owner, the CEO or the MD. The real trick is to know that marketing, like any other field of business has decades of history behind it and sometimes, if you come from a non-marketing background you may need to ask for outside help.
You may sometimes need to phone the marketing consultant, but otherwise you need to do your own marketing.