September 27, 2016 Raz Chorev

How to avoid a Kodak Moment?

Kodak moment is a slogan Kodak used to describe a moment to capture (with a camera!). Especially an adorable moment. Since the bankruptcy of Kodak in 2012, the term Kodak moment has changed its’ meaning to describe a disruption moment. The term had been used sarcastically in the technology space, to describe a company being so caught up with their old ways of doing business (camera films), that even when they have the solution to be ahead of their competition, they’ve chosen to abandon it, in order not to damage their existing business model. It was later known that Kodak’s engineers actually developed the first digital camera back in the early 1970’s, but chose to scrape the project. That’s an example of a Kodak moment companies should fear.

Since every conversation I’m having trying to explain what it is that I do as a part time / outsourced Chief Marketing Officer, is going nowhere,  it became clear to me that the message isn’t getting through. In large corporates, there’s a full time Chief Marketing officer. In smaller businesses there’s usually a marketing manager or someone in charge of their marketing activities.  Instead of explaining what it is that we do, I think it would be beneficial to compile a list of scenarios or events, which could indicate a need for a part time CMO.

1.   The senior executives in the business lack marketing experience.

Most companies are founded on the basis of the founders’ expertise. Be it a trade or a skill, the founder has designed the products and services the company delivers. During the next growth phase, the founder expands the business focusing on delivery, as sales flow in… The business then grows to a point where there’s a need to handle a large number of clients and products, reevaluate distribution channels, or compete in a changing market. The executive team realise they don’t have the knowledge, experience or capacity to efficiently run the marketing function.

That’s the time to hire a part-time CMO. 

2.   There’s no marketing plan. 

That’s quite common with many businesses. The business appoints someone from within the organisation, to look after the marketing function. That person is likely to discover there’s no written plan to follow, and lacks the experience to put together a comprehensive plan. In some cases, it may not be an internal appointment, but a marketing service provider (creative, media, web or PR agency) which requires written guidance, but there isn’t one.

That’s the time to hire a part-time CMO, to design the marketing plan, and make sure it is followed and implemented.

3.   There is a Strategic Marketing Plan, but no execution. 

Some businesses will hire a consultant to fill in the gap described in Point #2, and write a comprehensive marketing plan. The consultant will then present the beautifully-written and crafted document, and leaves to work with his next client. I’ve seen it too many times personally, when I was that consultant. Once the consultant leaves, the business realises that there’s no internal capability to execute the strategy. This occurs very often!

That’s the time to hire a part-time CMO. That senior executive knows how to read and execute strategic plans, manage the team, the service providers and the budget.

4.   The marketing function is run by a junior marketer.

Quite often, the business will delegate marketing and promotional activities to a junior person within the organisation, as needs arise. Be it writing copy for the website, organising a function, buying promotional stationary, or even buying advertising space (YellowPages, AdWords, or magazine adverts). At some point, someone will ask the “ROI” question, which will remain unanswered, as no one has been tracking results or returns, or the data has been collected in a form of reports, which no one ever bothers to read.

That’s the time to hire a part-time CMO. As a senior marketer, S/he will make sure activities are run, tracked and measured. S/he will read and analyse the reports, and use those to tweak campaigns to maximise their return.

5.   A marketing executive is leaving. 

Sometime, there’s an awesome marketing person running the marketing department, but they have decided to leave. Generally, there’s little time to find a capable, full time replacement, in that short time. This scenario can lead to scenario #4, where a junior marketer steps into the senior position. In some cases, it’s a viable interim solution. However, having an Interim CMO walk in, and make sure the marketing function runs until a full time replacement is found, can work well. This will allow for either grooming the junior marketer to step up, or until a more senior marketer is found to head the department.

That’s the time to hire a part-time CMO. As a senior executive, the outsourced CMO is accustomed to managing teams, relationships with various stakeholders, and join c-level discussions. S/he will add value immediately at the right level.

6.   The business is too small to justify a full time CMO. 

This scenario can also lead to scenario #4, and that’s a real pity. Many smaller organisations will hire a junior staff member on a full time basis, as they believe it’s the best solution. This option often happens because the organisation simply isn’t aware of hiring the Part Time CMO as an option. That’s a real shame, because the part time CMO can provide a higher-level strategic direction, as well as projects and budget management, without the need to work full time in that business.

That’s the time to hire a part time CMO. 

7.   Marketing isn’t working. 

Sometimes, things just aren’t working. Money is being spent, but there’s no return on that investment. There’s a decline (slow or fast) in sales, and what used to work in the past is just not working anymore. There’s no wonder – the marketing discipline has changed dramatically over the past decade, and too many marketers rely on activities within their comfort levels, and haven’t adapted to those changes. Bringing an outsider for a period of time, to get the marketing function up-to-speed, and set up the foundation for using new tools and tactics, can prove very beneficial in the long run.

That’s the time to hire a part time CMO.

[bctt tweet=”Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department” username=”OrangeskyCMO”]

8.   Rapid changes in the market. 

Disruption is one of the most frequently used buzzword today. But it’s not a buzz word anymore. Many business models are being disrupted by new concepts, and the organisation is facing competition from unexpected directions. When the largest transport company in the world owns no vehicles (Uber), the largest media distribution company creates no content (Facebook) and the largest hospitality business doesn’t own their properties (AirBnB), the market is, for even the giants of industries, changing so rapidly, they fail to innovate and respond. Not to mention the little players like Tesla, whose success as an all-electric car manufacturer (who’s also provides free charging stations around the world!) becomes a major threat to multiple industries (Automotive, Petroleum, and Electricity). Being able to read market trends and respond is where large and small companies often fail, which creates a Kodak Moment* for them. Having an experienced and versatile CMO, with knowledge and experience across many industries and markets, can help the company not only react to market trends, but predict and outplay the market.

That’s the time to hire a part time CMO.

Avoid a Kodak moment. If any of the above scenarios happened to you, or you think they may happen – let’s chat! 

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