By Charles Besondy
Companies shoot themselves in the foot by thinking that just because the #1 or #2 person in marketing has left the ship important work can’t commence until a replacement is on board (4-8 months). The thought process goes something like this, “We don’t want to do this or that because the new manager will have specific ideas on what he/she wants to do or how he/she wants it done.”
This is a true statement to a point, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the loss of momentum that transitions always cause. There is very important strategic work that can and should be done during a period of transition to enable the incoming manager to make well-informed decisions from day one.
Any key marketing manager (CMO, VP, Director) who is stepping into a position is first going to do an audit—formal or otherwise—that basically flags what’s working and what isn’t. They will be under extreme pressure to make positive things happen quickly, especially if this is more of a turnaround situation. Every day is critical.
Smart companies will bring in an interim manager (IM) the day after the former marketing manager has left the building. While providing senior leadership to the staff during the transition the IM can provide an invaluable service by conducting an objective and thorough marketing audit.
With an unbiased eye a highly experienced IM can do an analysis that addresses the following fundamental questions about the marketing function.
- Do we know the customers?
- Do we know the best prospects and can we communicate with them?
- Do we know our markets?
- Do we know our competition?
- Do we know the industry trends?
- Do we know our costs for acquiring leads and customers?
- Do we know the lifetime value of a customer?
- Do we have the right marketing processes, metrics, and technology in place?
- Do we collaborate and support Sales optimally
- Are the skills and experience of the team up to the challenges ahead?
- Is the company aligned with the right vendors and agencies for the challenge ahead?
Odds are good that the audit will reveal some “no-brainer” changes that the IM can implement during the engagement. But, the real benefit is that the IM can present to the incoming manager a professional, unbiased marketing audit that can be acted on immediately to either right the ship or trim the sails. The 60-90 days this saves can easily be the difference between missing or hitting quarterly targets.