With my conservative-realist hat squarely placed upon my shaved head I ask you to consider that the economic environment we are seeing today (August 2009), specifically the unemployment rate, is what we’re going to see for many, many months to come.
I’m not going to be misled by politicians telling me just prior to 2010 elections that the days of milk and honey have returned. I know that the shaking we feel beneath our feet isn’t an earthquake; it is the vibration from countless business plans going through the shredder. There is fear and uncertainty in the land, but we must move forward even if on a different path with a different view of our business model.
Our economic world has changed–big time. I’m not an economist so I can’t and won’t talk about what the change means. I just know the business environment in which I need to succeed and help my clients succeed is very different from the one I was operating in prior to 2009.
What does this mean if you are a CEO or a marketing executive?
I believe that companies are going to be more and more reluctant to hire permanent marketers. Instead, companies will look to fill their needs on demand. They’ll augment skeleton marketing departments with interim and contract talent as they need it.
There is too much uncertainty in the land to confidently invest in a strong and capable marketing department. There is too much volatility in the marketing programs budget to justify a fully staffed marketing department. Better to keep fixed labor costs to a minimum and bring in the rock star interims for a few months as needed. No long-term commitments, no health insurance concerns, just the perfect skills and knowledge applied to the opportunity or problem for a season.
In past years, in a different economic climate, a high percentage of executives in the U.S. would scoff at the idea of relying on interim talent in marketing. Those same executives have no choice now but to seriously consider the interim option. They can’t stop marketing or else their companies will fall prey to the competition. However, they should think twice before burdening the operating budge with a fully-staffed, permanent marketing department.
Here are two sobering stats from The Financial Forecast Center.
They forecast the U-3 unemployment rate in the U.S. to be 11% in February 2010. (A group of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal estimated the unemployment rate for December 2010 will be 9.5%.) We’re looking at 10% unemployment for at least the next 16 months, if you wish to belief these sources.
The other sobering forecast is the GDP. The Financial Forecast Center shows the GDP improving from -3.8% in June 2009 to zero GDP growth in February 2010. I like seeing the numbers heading north, but we can’t expect much, if any, growth for the foreseeable future.
Low growth GDP and 10% unemployment is the new business environment for the U.S.
Those who adapt to the new reality will succeed. Those who manage with an eye in the rearview mirror will stumble.
Let me know directly if you’d like to discuss what an interim marketing solution might look like for your organization. To learn more about interim management within the marketing and sales function check out my book, “Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue.” It’s also available through Amazon and other online book resellers in paperback and eBook formats.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
One of the first duties of an interim marketing executive starting a new engagement is to assess the marketing budget. How much is being spent on what activities and what is the expected result?
Within the marketing programs budget there should be three categories of investment: Environmental, Lead Generation and Channel Readiness. Research has shown clearly that B2B companies that invest at least 42% of their budget on Lead Generation grow revenue faster than companies in their industry that spend less than that level.
The definitions are straight-forward.
Environmental programs are for branding and letting the market know your company is in a particular category.
Lead Generation are programs that place buyers into the funnel.
Channel Readiness programs are those that make the direct and in-direct sales channel effective.
The research (1400 companies around the world) didn’t reveal any patterns in the sample for spending in the Environmental and Channel Readiness categories, but it was clear that spending too much in Environmental or Channel Readiness at the expense of Lead Generation was harmful to revenue growth.
Before making changes to a marketing budget the smart interim marketing executive will first assess for each product the stage of the market (per Geoffrey Moore), what the appropriate go-to-market strategy is for each market, and then what percentage of budget should be allocated to environmental, channel readiness, or lead generation activities to support that go-to-market strategy.
Take a look. Are you spending less than 42% of your marketing programs budget on lead generation? If so, this is probably restricting your revenue growth.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Do you suspect that the marketing function at your company is not doing enough to help grow revenue and move the company forward? If these thoughts are in your mind don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. There exists in many B2B companies a “marketing malaise” that is a drag on company performance.
Much can be done in 3-4 months to transform the marketing function into a finely tuned and inspired machine.
I give an overview of my approach in a Flash presentation called, “Transforming the Marketing Function in B2B Companies: The Road to World-Class Performance”. View the presentation. No registration required.
Please share your comments and thoughts on the topics after you’ve seen the presentation.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Four new blogs were launched in December that you should check out and add to your RSS feeds. The initial posts indicate that these blogs will be valuable sources of tips for executives–permanent or interim. Plus, as with any blog they also provide a means to comment and link back.
http://interimvp.biz The Executive Politics Blog
http://www.interimmarketing.info/ The Executive Marketing Blog
http://interimsales.net/ The Executive Sales Blog
http://interimvptoday.com/ The Executive Productivity Blog
When I was in school there was no such thing as “the short bus”. Kids with special needs got on the same bus as the rest of us. I recall this situation worked fine for everyone, but I probably wasn’t paying attention.
At some point after I left the K-12 school system, districts started providing separate transportation for kids with special needs–those with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. Then the term “short bus” was born because the buses were smaller. If you rode that bus you were branded by your classmates as not being as smart or as capable as they were. Yep, kids are cruel. “And the point is?” you ask.
My point is I believe most C-level execs think the people in their marketing department get off the short bus every morning. They don’t hold their marketing people in high regard. Marketers are seen as a necessary business expense and not a strategic contributor to the organization. They aren’t viewed as people who “understand the business”. Unfortunately, in too many companies they are right.
This can be explained in three parts. First, a lack of marketing leadership has not adequately defined the role of the marketing function within the organization. Second, there isn’t the right business acumen in the department to deliver on any mission higher than worrying about the font size on the company website. Third, the top execs in the company don’t have a clue about what marketing’s true value should be.
I see the caliber of people who are in most marketing positions today and I shudder. I’m not saying that marketing people are stupid. That’s not the case. I see way too many who are mis-informed, mis-guided, and ill-prepared to do much more for the business than make the logo look good.
SMB companies, in particular, are struggling to get high value from their investment in the marketing function, but are stuck in a no-man’s land. They generally can’t afford to hire a seasoned marketing executive who can both train and lead the marketing department to new heights.
Company after company makes the mistake of thinking they can solve their sales and marketing leadership problems by paying big bucks for a VP of Sales & Marketing. Wrong! Any person with sales in their title will devote 95% of their time and energy to making their revenue target. Five percent of time and energy for marketing leadership doesn”t cut it.
Enter the interim marketing executive. A SMB company may not be able to afford a permanent CMO, but they can certainly justify an interim CMO engagement, properly scoped to lead, install best practices, and train the marketing staff. The right interim executive can transform an entire marketing department in less than six months.
Put your marketing team back on the long bus where they belong. Talk with an interim marketing executive today ( I know a few) about what they can do to boost marketing’s performance to a new level.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )