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Almost every start-up that succeeds will come to a crossroad.
You’ve got your product on the market, you’ve achieved growth, you’ve got your latest round of funding and no longer need to bootstrap everything.
Now you have a whole different set of problems to worry about. Your product roadmaps, your cash burn and your next set of hires – possibly even management hires.
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of founders make is related to the last point. Ignoring the importance of having proper marketing experience in your high level team.
Once you have a viable business, you really need to think about having a viable marketing strategy.
And that isn’t as simple as creating a good email database or figuring out your Cost Per Click or Customer Acquisition Cost. Most early stage businesses you speak to thinks this is something that can always be handled in-house, and by a variety of people.
While it might be true that some of the functions of marketing execution can be carried out and shared. The importance of the Chief Marketing Officer role cannot be understated.
A good quality CMO will not only help take the pressure off the founder and CEO from a business development and sales perspective, they can also help to – amongst many other things – formulate your revenue projections, position and brand the business and help to forge partnerships.
As someone who deals with early and mid-stage companies and – cards on the table – who acts as a defacto CMO for clients when needed, it’s not uncommon for me to walk in to find a talented and hard-working CEO, swamped with work and seeking investment, without having figured out their USPs, their individual go to market strategies and how much all of this will cost in the long run.
They may have done little conscious brand-building or outreach. Their positioning has been left to chance and their data remains largely un-crunched.
And it’s understandable. Technically marketing is seen as a cost-centre rather than a revenue generating function. And we all want to demonstrate revenues.
But…it is often at this point that investors ask those difficult questions about competitor analysis, customer profiling and learnings from previous campaigns. While a very switched on CEO will have some kind of a handle on these things, it’s one of 100 things he or she might be juggling.
A good CMO however, will be able to lend gravitas to the discussion. Show that each and every market is understood, that there is a clear strategy to where the business sits in the market and that the growth story is being clearly articulated.
For a B2B business, a good CMO can show where the synergies and mutual benefits are are in doing joint-marketing initiatives, or could even help seal the deal.
If you haven’t done these things. Don’t worry. It happens more often than you’d think. But please, think about bringing in a good CMO. You will more than pay yourself back in the long run.
Adam Flinter is managing partner at Golden Equator Consulting, a company which helps start-ups, SMEs and mid-stage businesses with their strategy and growth.