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  • Frank Gussoni

Regional Companies Can’t Afford an Incompetent CMO

Mid-market companies are more vulnerable than national companies and need to scrutinize their new CMO.

According to several sources the average tenure of a CMO is now just over three years at a company! Is that a good business model? Obviously, most CEO’s must think so, but I’m one CEO who thinks it’s a completely counter- productive model and one that needs to be scrutinized more.

Regional companies, whether public or privately held are typically small to mid-size companies that flourish from someone’s humble beginnings. Typically, the founder /owner knew everything about their business and typically the knowledge stemmed from having to wear many hats. Over time the model proves successful and the company grows to its modern- day size. Eventually success means delegating duties and, in many instances, regional companies eventually hire a CMO.

There are many good and even great CMOs in America and I respect your work very much. It’s far from an easy job and often thankless. However, I’m going to speak about those who aren’t good in this roll.

The bad CMOs crash through the company doors like a super hero or a knight in shining armor and intend to save the day. This behavior is primarily the fault of upper management and intimidation by the new CMO. Too often I have dealt with CMOs that from their first day never properly educate themselves on their new company or its true underlying culture. They don’t ask many questions and assume they know “everything” better than everyone else already at the company. Right then is when I would fire my new CMO if I had one because it’s time to find a good one.

CMOs come in and attempt to rid themselves of everyone associated with the company that were already in place, as if those people have nothing valuable to add. But how would they know? They rarely ask for anyone’s opinion. They just want their own people. But are their people the right people for the job? For the company? For the culture?

This is where regional companies need to be extremely careful because their success has been generally generated by a culture unique to them, not off the corporate rack. And a poor CMO can destroy their business or send them reeling for years.

Every company wants to grow and increase profitability, I understand that. However, many seem to lose sight of the cost of education, training, turn over and morale, not to mention constantly retooling their POS, marketing materials and creative every time they usher in a new CMO. This confuses me.

Regional companies need to take extra time and mandate that the CMO become completely submersed in existing company culture before simply giving them the keys to the car and letting them drive off in any direction they feel is best. Because often they drive themselves and the company right over the cliff!

In today’s business environment it’s never been more important than now to tell a remarkable story, and truly connect with your consumers in every channel. To do that you truly need to feel it to relay it. Business runs at the speed of light, but certain things need time. Time to breath like fine wine!

Regional companies normally sell more than a brand. They sell a life style, convenience, commitment, service, morals and standards. There is much more at stake for them. So, slow your new CMO’s roll, make him/her learn and understand the culture and feel the heartbeat of the company. Then carefully allow them to begin planning the next big strategy.

While good CMOs are lured away, many flee the scene of their crimes. Maybe that explains their turnover rate!



President & Founder of A3 media.

We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

Frank’s Take provides uncommon sense media buying advice for regional and mid-market businesses.

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President & Founder of A3 media. We’re Type A. We transform media from an expense into a smart investment.

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