The Mistake of Starting Small: Why You Need to Hire a B2B Marketing Leader First

NIM b2b marketing leader hire first

When B2B CEOs realize it’s time to invest in building a marketing team, the tendency is often to start small—perhaps too small. Fueled by budget constraints or a desire for a ‘lean’ start, many make the critical mistake of hiring a junior marketer or a single generalist who they think can wear all hats.

While it may seem like a cost-effective strategy, it often backfires. Without an experienced strategic marketing leader at the helm—someone who understands the broader business landscape and can craft an actionable marketing strategy—the efforts can quickly become disjointed, leading to wasted resources and missed opportunities.

The Role of a Strategic B2B Marketing Leader:

A strategic marketing leader, such as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or a VP/Director of Marketing, plays a pivotal role in shaping and executing an organization’s marketing strategy. They bring a wealth of experience, expertise, and strategic thinking to the table, driving the marketing efforts with a long-term vision in mind. Here’s why hiring such a leader is crucial for your business:

  • Clear Vision and Direction: A strategic marketing leader establishes a clear vision for your marketing initiatives, aligning them with your overall business objectives. They analyze market trends, assess competition, and identify opportunities for growth. With their expertise, they develop a strategic roadmap that guides your marketing efforts and ensures they are cohesive, purposeful, and effective.
  • Oversight and Accountability: Without a strategic marketing leader, it’s easy for marketing activities to become disjointed and lack proper accountability. They provide oversight and ensure that all marketing efforts are aligned with the defined strategy. By monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and analyzing data, they can make data-driven decisions, optimize campaigns, and maximize ROI.
  • Strategic Partnerships: A strategic marketing leader builds strong partnerships with other departments, particularly sales. They collaborate closely to align marketing and sales strategies, ensuring a seamless transition from lead generation to conversion. By fostering collaboration, they create a unified revenue-focused approach that maximizes opportunities for growth and success.
  • Market Insights and Innovation: These leaders stay on top of industry trends, consumer behavior, and emerging technologies. They bring valuable market insights to the table, allowing your business to adapt and innovate in a rapidly evolving landscape. By leveraging their expertise, they identify new avenues for reaching and engaging your target audience, driving innovation within your marketing efforts.
  • Building a High-Performing Marketing Team: A strategic marketing leader is instrumental in hiring and developing a high-performing marketing team. They attract top talent, nurture their skills, and create a culture of collaboration, creativity, and continuous improvement. With their guidance, your marketing team becomes a force to be reckoned with, driving business growth through effective strategies and execution.

Considering a Fractional CMO for Your B2B Marketing:

Hiring a full-time CMO may not be feasible for every organization in the early stages. In such cases, Fractional CMOs offer a viable alternative. Fractional CMOs are experienced marketing professionals who provide strategic support and leadership on a part-time basis. 

They bring the same expertise and guidance as a full-time CMO, but with the flexibility that suits your organization’s needs. Fractional CMOs can help you establish a strong marketing foundation, align your efforts with business goals, and provide valuable insights until you’re ready for a dedicated in-house marketing leader.

Delaying the hiring of a strategic marketing leader is a mistake that can hinder your organization’s growth potential. Unfortunately, some B2B CEOs may attempt alternative approaches that ultimately fall short of providing the necessary expertise and leadership. 

Here are some of the common mistakes B2B CEOs make when they try to circumvent hiring a more senior or experienced marketing leader:

  • Relying on a Lone Marketer to Do it All:  Some B2B CEOs may believe that hiring a single marketer to handle all marketing responsibilities will suffice. However, this approach often leads to a heavy workload and burnout for the lone marketer, limiting their ability to develop a comprehensive strategy and execute it effectively. Additionally, it’s difficult to find a single marketing with both the senior-level strategic expertise you need along with the skill set and desire to execute the strategy.If you hire only a senior strategic leader and don’t leave some budget to bring on other team members, whether they are in-house hires or outsourced support, you can get stuck in a position where you have a great marketing strategy that sits on a shelf and never gets fully executed.
  • Hiring Someone Too Junior: Another common mistake is hiring a junior marketer instead of a seasoned marketing leader. While junior marketers can bring fresh perspectives and energy, they may lack the experience and strategic acumen required to drive impactful marketing initiatives. Someone who is more junior may not have the deep experience to develop the strategy you really need, and you end up executing on a strategy that doesn’t really work for your business. In addition, the absence of a senior marketing leader means there is a lack of guidance, mentorship, and strategic oversight, which can hinder the overall success of the marketing efforts.
  • Overburdening the VP of Sales: In an attempt to fill the void of a marketing leader, some B2B CEOs may assign marketing responsibilities to the VP of Sales. While the VP of Sales may have some marketing knowledge, combining these roles can result in divided focus and inadequate attention given to strategic marketing initiatives. The VP of Sales may prioritize sales activities, potentially neglecting crucial marketing functions such as brand positioning, market research, and campaign development.
  • Outsourcing Without Strategic Direction: Outsourcing marketing functions without a strategic marketing leader can lead to disjointed efforts and a lack of cohesive direction. B2B CEOs may engage multiple agencies or freelancers to handle specific marketing tasks such as social media management, content creation, or website design. However, without a marketing leader to provide strategic guidance and ensure alignment with business goals, these disparate efforts may lack a cohesive brand identity, messaging consistency, and overall marketing effectiveness.

Avoid Common Hiring Mistakes by Engaging a Senior B2B Marketing Leader or Fractional CMO First:

By recognizing these common mistakes, B2B CEOs can understand the importance of hiring a strategic marketing leader and avoid these pitfalls. A strategic marketing leader brings expertise, vision, and leadership to your organization, enabling the development and execution of a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. Whether you choose to hire a full-time CMO or leverage the expertise of a Fractional CMO, investing in a marketing leader early on sets the stage for long-term marketing success and business growth.

Remember, the right marketing leader will not only drive your marketing efforts but also foster collaboration, nurture talent, and create a culture of innovation within your marketing team. Embrace the power of a strategic marketing leader and unlock the full potential of your B2B marketing initiatives.

Next Steps: The CEO’s Ultimate Guide to Building an Expert B2B Marketing Team in Today’s Complex Marketing World

To help you make important decisions around your B2B marketing investment, we’ve created a comprehensive 33-page eBook: The CEO’s Ultimate Guide to Building an Expert B2B Marketing Team in Today’s Complex Marketing World

In this eBook, we walk you through the six most important questions B2B CEOs need to answer in order to build their first marketing team and choose the right B2B marketing model for their stage of business:

  1. How Do You Know It’s Time to Invest in Marketing? 
  2. What are B2B Marketing Best Practices?
  3. How Has B2B Marketing Become More Complex?
  4. What Are the Top Challenges in Getting Started in Marketing?
  5. What Does a B2B Marketing Team Look Like?
  6. Should You Hire In-House or Outsource?

You can download the eBook RIGHT HERE

If you have any questions about this blog post or the eBook or would like to schedule a consultation with myself and Jen Kelly, NIM’s Founder and one of the Fractional CMOs to get more guidance around your next steps in marketing, you can send her an email or book a consultation time.

Nicole Croizier is the lead FractionalCMO at New Initiatives Marketing Inc.  Take charge of your marketing success today with us as your Fractional CMO + Marketing Team.  Since 2009, we’ve been supporting mid-size b2b businesses worldwide through effective implementation and execution of marketing strategy. Not ready? Sign up and learn from our monthly newsletter. 


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