Tom Christie-Miller, Fractional CMO – Growth Secrets Series for Growth Partners
Increasingly, Private Equity investors are identifying brand and marketing strategy, and execution, as key growth and equity value catalysts for their investments. Previously, marketing may have been seen as a downstream component of a growth journey. Now investors are actively seeking brand and marketing expertise at the outset of their investment cycle, as part of their pre-deal commercial due diligence, to assess the value creation potential of the portfolio business.
This change has a substantial impact on the demand for senior marketing skills and experience. It has also increased the time pressure on marketing to deliver alignment to the investors’ and managers’ growth agenda, creating demonstrable value at pace.
To start an accelerated growth journey, you need to be in a position of strength. Key is having the resources in place to be ready to act. For many years this has meant a core team of perhaps the CEO, CFO, COO and a CRO. Today, we’re seeing increased demand for fractional CMOs very shortly after a private capital investment event. Experts, deployed rapidly, bringing the ability to diagnose and define brand and marketing strategies with the speed, precision and alacrity that PE-backed businesses expect.
We’ve probably all experienced or even written a ‘100 day’ plan. A CEO may have the scant luxury of three months, but for a fractional CMO in a PE-backed business, it’s more like 30 days. The CEO and core team have established their priorities. Then they bring in the marketing and brand leader to enable their plan. Usually around 60-70 days in – leaving you with a mere 30 days. In this time, you need to assess and build an effective marketing strategy for people, agencies, platforms and processes and undertake a reset presentation of the business brand and its newly focused product portfolio. You may also need to support the C-suite to present their strategies internally and with partners.
An accelerated marketing strategy process is best when grounded by an intense diagnostic exercise. It’s best to do this through a proven team with a proven set of well-structured processes. This is where a fractional CMO’s experience in fast turnaround programmes pays dividends. It allows rapid insights and recommendations, combined with confident presentation to gain buy-in from the leadership and investors; all in lockstep with the new growth agenda.
The intrinsic flexibility and speed of a fractional CMO is what makes this type of resource effective in these situations. When measured against the time taken to recruit and onboard a full time new CMO, with a fractional CMO, the business can move at commercial pace. Within five working days, we can engage a CMO or a rapid response team. Private Equity firms often prefer having a senior team of Fractional CMOs, on hand, with a mix of the required expertise, to call upon at short notice. Furthermore, a team approach allows our clients a super-charged diagnostic and strategy process, delivered by a CMO team with complementary sector, campaign and strategic experiences.
A fractional CMO moves at the speed you need as an investor or as a new C-suite leadership team. We deploy nearly immediately, and when at our best we diagnose without fear and favour, then build short-term and long-term brand and marketing plans, aligned to your growth agenda.
As with all resourcing decisions, employing a fractional CMO requires trade-offs. You benefit from unbridled expertise, insights and the pace of execution needed to catalyse change and growth. You have to balance these clear positives, against potential alternatives and risks.
At Growth Partners we always enjoy a robust discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of fractional CMOs. I invite you to get in contact and open the debate on your marketing and brand ambitions and what marketing resource may be the best fit for your growth ambitions.
Contact Tom Christie-Miller