Learn how an interim CMO can help to bridge the gap while looking for a permanent replacement.

Executive leadership positions aren’t immune from the evolving talent market. C-level employees come and go just as the company’s hourly employees. The main difference is that these positions can be harder, more costly, and more time-consuming to fill. To bridge the gap, an interim executive (interim chief marketing officer, for example) can ensure the work gets done while building the position — and the organization — to be stronger than before.Let’s explore the role of an interim CMO and how organizations can benefit from temporary talent solutions while seeking permanent ones.

What Is an Interim CMO?

An interim CMO or fractional CMO is someone with the credentials of a CMO who can come into an organization, hit the ground running, and start making an impact right away. They’re typically entrepreneurs who have served as the CMO in other organizations and have taken the fractional career path to do the most good. Interim chief marketing officers can work on either a full-time or part-time basis for a definite or indefinite amount of time. They fulfill the duties normally tasked to a permanent CMO, such as planning, developing, launching, and measuring the company’s marketing strategy, as well as P&L management, communications, and fostering a team’s personal growth.In many cases, companies use interim leadership, such as a CMO (or even a CEO), when the company is undergoing a transition. Other use cases include:
  • When the current CMO vacates the position without a replacement being named
  • For specific projects that require certain skills or expertise
  • When companies are considering adding a CMO and want to see its value before going all in
  • During rapid periods of growth or change where additional leadership is needed
  • During periods where leadership, alignment, or growth appears to be lacking
Companies may also use interim CMOs as a cost-saving strategy, helping them to gain the expertise of a C-level executive without the ongoing costs of a permanent position.

Temporary Leadership, Lasting Impact

While fractional CMOs are in your organization for a short period of time, they’re just as invested in your success as you are. CMOs become part of the team, voice their opinions, and care for the brand as though it were their own. This is truly the only way for clients and the practice of interim leadership to thrive.The goal is always to create a lasting impact, not just “get through” the next few weeks or months. With this in mind, a few benefits of using interim leadership become obvious.

Fill Voids to Maintain Progress

An interim CMO acts as a strategic force. They help the leadership team assess the organization, identify and fill gaps, identify the company’s value proposition (or lack thereof), identify needs for a marketing team, and assess the marketing capabilities of the company. From there, they can put a strategy in place, including aligning the people, systems, and culture.Without these steps being taken while a void exists, a company can quickly lose its momentum in the market. Additionally, if someone is assuming marketing duties while searching for a permanent CMO, they’re likely not doing it to the altitude of an executive marketing leader.

Create Alignment in Leadership

Sometimes an interim CMO helps in other places such as managing the leadership dynamics. To do this can require involvement across the entire leadership team, not just the department in which the interim CMO has been contracted. It sounds like a given, but leaders simply don’t align all the time. They’re very passionate, and things can get easily derailed. Without endorsement from the leadership team, it is often difficult for projects to move forward. Adding that extra voice of reason — one that’s non-biased but fully invested in the company and the brand — can make a real difference in how a company advances.

Deliver Long-Term Value

Whether bridging the gap between permanent leaders or testing the waters to justify the addition of a full-time CMO, interim leadership provides temporary assistance and lasting value. During their tenure, interim CMOs typically create a strategy and provide guidance and expertise to execute that strategy. They align and educate the client along the way for long-term, sustainable results.

Extracting the Full Value of an Interim CMO

To become a valuable team member from Day 1, a CMO must immerse themselves in the product, competition, customer, and company culture. Beyond market research, they should engage key stakeholders (including various departments and clients) throughout the organization to gain their perspectives and insights.Engagement with different team members, especially the leadership team, is a huge part of setting up interim leaders for success. Defining and embracing the role of an interim CMO helps to make everyone feel at ease and ready to reap the benefits of what this setup can offer.

Hiring an Interim CMO is Easier Thank you Think

As an interim CMO and brand strategist for the Chameleon Collective, I can attest that working with an interim executive firm like Chameleon Collective gives you turnkey access to interim leadership ready to hit the ground running. Explore the benefits of interim leadership, then contact us today to see if our interim chief marketing officer services are a good fit for you!

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