Tips For Better C-Level Placement Success by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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I recently interviewed Pete Hayes, a Principal with a CMO placement firm that has unusually high NPS scores. What that means is that they’ve found a way to defy the gravitational pull that is short CMO tenure. In that interview, Hayes outlined how they achieve such high satisfaction rates among the CEOs who hire the firm. The firm is called Chief Outsiders, and they are an Executives-as-a-Service firm, having placed over 500 CMOs into client companies. Their mission is to help mid-market companies with their growth challenges by providing a CMO – typically a fractional executive – to crystalize the growth strategy and get the growth plan implemented.

As a follow-up, I asked Hayes to provide tips for CEOs and CMOs that could enable greater placement success. Below are his thoughts.

Whitler: Do you have any tips for CEOs? What advice would you provide them to better ensure that they successfully hire and onboard a CMO?


1. Focus less on the role, or even the general experience of your candidate, and focus more on the challenges the business faces and how your candidate, and subsequently your CMO, will approach those challenges. You need to focus on the problem that needs to be solved. You have to be clear about the problem that you are trying to solve.

2. You need to find somebody who fits the CEO/company/culture. You want your CMO to be in lock step with you and the rest of the executive team on culture. Ultimately, your CMO controls most the levers for bringing your culture to life (some might argue this is an HR role, but your customers’ experience with your company trumps any internal programs led by HR).

3. The CEO should have regular check-ins with the CMO to ensure that they are aligned. In many respects, the CEO to CMO relationship looks like the coach and the quarterback. Can you think of a Superbowl team where the Coach/QB relationship wasn’t highly collaborative?

A Chief Outsider CMO placementChief Outsider

Whitler: Do you have any tips for CMOs? What can they do to ensure that they are stepping into the right role and help ensure success?


1. CMOs need to constantly be adding value; value that’s visible to the CEO, yes, but also the whole executive team. If a CMO is accepting a role where their ability to add long term value is not clear, they are playing a dangerous game with their resume. While they may add an impressive brand to their list of experiences, they may risk furthering their reputation, and even put their personal health at risk given the ensuring pressure of not delivering to company expectations.

2. Stay out of the weeds. CMOs are pretty good at re-establishing their company’s alignment to the markets they serve, even adjusting strategic elements including product roadmaps and positioning. But then, many CMOs get consumed with execution and forget to circle back to revisit marketplace shifts and subsequently lose their grip on the strategic elements that may need attention.

3. Make “Marketing” everyone’s job, and a part of the operations of the company. Rally everyone from the executive team throughout the employee base with transparency and discipline. Next to your relationship with the CEO, the CFO needs to be your biggest fan. Collaborate on investments and their accountability. Don’t be like “the last guy” who never fit into the C-suite.

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

March 17, 2019 at 12:16AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs