FIR B2B podcast #79: How to find the right CMO for your startup

This week Paul Gillin and I talk to Crowded Ocean’s partners Carol Broadbent and Tom Hogan. The two have written The Ultimate Startup Guide, the foundation of which is their work with 47 different startups over the past 10 years. Ten of those companies have had successful exits, and only two went out of business, so our guests have credibility.

We invited them to join us after we read their piece in VentureBeat about “marketing-as-a-service.” Most organizations hire their CMOs first, but the duo recommend that this should actually be the last position to be filled by a startup. “Most CMOs have a bulls-eye painted on their backs, they have the shortest tenure, and often startups hire the wrong species,” they said.

Instead, Carol and Tom suggest that you examine more closely the different component skills that make up marketing, and staff accordingly. These include product management, corporate marketing, product marketing and IT fluency. The evolved CMO has the backbone of the marketing department, the breadth and understanding of the customer experience and the depth of a new key organizational growth pillar that shapes their point of view. Our guests suggest that the initial full-time marketing insider should be someone that they call “Seth” who is a 28-year-old numbers jockey who can give their sales organization demand generation data.

Other recommendations: Hire a stable of reliable contractors rather than fulfilling every need with full-timers. Simplify your website’s message. “Too many startups want to display all their great ideas and technology on their website, turning it into a library of brochure-ware that a prospect has to wade through,” they wrote in VentureBeat. And design online content and structure that can be useful on mobile devices.

Carol and Tom’s recommendations challenge a lot of the conventional wisdom, but they have the track record to justify them. Listen to our 21 min. podcast here:

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