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Erik Huberman might be the CEO and founder of Hawke Media, but his daily role is that of outsourced CMO. When companies need an expert to come in and guide or realign their marketing, Huberman is the person they call. An outsourced CMO can be a part-time addition to a company’s executive staff who provides an outsider’s perspective for a lower cost than than an in-house executive might demand — an especially important consideration for those in the growth stage.
Huberman gained his reputation for a good reason: His company is the fastest-growing marketing consultancy in the country by revenue, and he believes that his single-minded focus on growth is the reason he’s able to help other
companies achieve their own growth goals. For Huberman, working with anyone but the best is like picking the loser in the Super Bowl on purpose: a conscious choice of lower returns.
The way companies engage this type of an engagement can vary from à la carte services to higher-touch engagements over the long term. According to Huberman, flexibility and an open mind are the keys to reaching growth goals when working with an outsourced CMO. While the desired result may be clear, companies often need to incorporate innovative approaches or outside perspectives to make their dreams a reality. Speaking as an outsourced CMO with a wealth of experience, Huberman recently sat down to offer his best marketing advice in hopes of helping even more organizations grow.
1. An outsourced CMO can help prioritize trust.
The tactics and strategies that inform a company’s marketing are irrelevant if its audience doesn’t trust the brand.
“When we start a marketing strategy, we look at awareness, nurturing, and trust,” said Huberman. “You can’t expect people to go for it right away. Seventy-five percent of consumers won’t buy from a brand if they don’t trust it.”
This is a major point of contention for small businesses. When people not only don’t trust the brand, but worse, have never even heard of it, the company’s first priority is establishing that trust — before asking consumers to convert.
“If someone says they just want to run Facebook ads, that’s fine, but people will come to your site, see it, and if there’s no nurturing, it won’t turn into sales,” said Huberman. “People don’t just show up and buy on their own.” Huberman points out that the experience of trust-building for multiple brands can position an CMO to do it more effectively, and he encourages brands not to overlook this critical element, no matter who leads their marketing efforts.
2. Communicate honestly.
Many young companies, especially those still seeking funding, attempt to keep marketing in-house — rather than consider an outsourced CMO — because of the perceived benefits. They can internally fumble through the process of finding their brand voice or testing different marketing methods. Huberman says that can be incredibly detrimental, however, if the company doesn’t have the necessary experience to make the right decisions.
“It sounds biased coming from me, but it’s true,” he said. “When our clients have a slow year and then crush it with an outsourced CMO, they sometimes want to do it on their own. I always encourage them to return to the table before they dive in unprepared. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Huberman argues that companies with outsourced CMOs frequently push back quickly when they don’t like something, while companies with in-house marketing are less likely to call out the negatives — and therefore are more likely to tolerate bad results for too long. There’s a big difference in how much experimentation leaders will tolerate from their own investments versus others’, but therein lies the rub, Huberman explains: Internal teams and outsourced CMOs are their own investments; it’s simply different people carrying out the actions.
“While it may sound contentious, working with an outsourced CMO often results in a highly collaborative process. Even when there’s some friction, opposing points of view can produce better ideas and outcomes since an outsourced CMO and a business leader share a common goal,” Huberman explains. “While the two may have differing views on how to achieve that goal, an outsourced CMO can advise and act in the brand’s best interest instead of concede in groupthink.”
Even the big guys get it wrong sometimes. Pepsi’s CMO went on stage to declare that the company didn’t need agencies shortly before Pepsi ran its ill-received ad with Kendall Jenner. A good outsourced CMO or agency, Huberman advises, pushes back on bad ideas before they lead to bad press for the brand.
“True specialists don’t want to work for unsexy companies,” Huberman said. “Good talent works on contracts. They want to go upmarket. We started Hawke because we wanted to democratize good talent for anyone ready to hire.”
3. Don’t fear the automated future.
Marketing automation has been the talk of the industry in 2018, and that conversation is only going to get louder as the tools get better.
“A lot of automation on communication is already happening,” said Huberman. “CRM and email marketing are built based on behavior. We send emails to people based on what they do on the site and how they interact with the brand.”
These functions, part of most companies’ in-house analytics, will soon spread to social media and beyond. Huberman sees a future in which social media will offer predictive marketing that goes beyond simple association. Someone who lives in a cold climate and plans a tropical vacation, for instance, might get ads for swimsuits ready to be delivered to the hotel — and an outsourced CMO may be better positioned to recognize and capitalize on those trends than a startup executive wearing multiple hats.
“The tech is already there,” said Huberman. “Now, it’s a matter of executing.”
A CMO remains a novel concept for now, but Huberman is confident that companies will need to think in new ways to survive in increasingly competitive markets. Whether they work with an outsourced CMO or not, tomorrow’s marketers must be ready to face never-before-seen challenges — and they may need to be willing to accept help in order to overcome these obstacles and continue scaling.
January 10, 2019 at 05:09AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs