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  • Writer's pictureTerri Lucas

Discover what an interim CMO can do to boost your business results quickly?

Someone asked me the other day what I do for businesses on an interim basis? It made me pause and reflect. Companies tend to have a need – to grow to the next stage, or build their brand, or win more business, transform a team, delight customers, consolidate products or deliver more value for shareholders. They need the right expertise to help them do these things with energy and results. An interim hire quickly brings a fresh perspective, an external view and a fast contribution, although that doesn’t address the “what I do” question in a practical way.

Let’s make this real and share some true stories which show the variety of work, and the breadth and depth the work creates in an interim marketer and business leader, which can be drawn upon and shared to benefit others:

Example 1 – structure a commercial start-up. Make us marketable to secure funding

One ask was “can you be our interim CEO for our start-up mobile content business and give some input and structure to our business? We have a great idea and loads of technical knowhow but no clue where to start commercially. How do we get started and turn our idea into reality?” I was intrigued and said yes immediately, and a few months later (after a lot of hard work) was proud of how the team came together, put meat around their idea, tested it on real potential buyers, and produced a well thought-through and professional business plan with a defined product at the heart of it. This enabled us to secure much needed seed-funding, crucial for getting it to the next stage, market launch.

Example 2 – build a powerful brand to stand out. Help us win more business

The next project was different. A mid-sized pensions consulting business had big ambitions for its next growth stage and wanted to upgrade and redirect its marketing team and output, so asked me to come in as ‘interim marketing director”. I was delighted to accept the offer, got close to the team, the capabilities and created what I can only describe as a challenger brand position, which helped that business compete on its own terms, build confidence, and take on larger competitors and take FTSE100 market share from them. It is incredibly satisfying to be part of solving a particular problem and doing it with creativity and determination that the organisation truly embraced, once they were presented with a ground-breaking position unlike any other.

Example 3 – transform a talented marketing team. Engage them, provide a direction

More recently, I was tasked with transforming a marketing team in the insurance sector, which had been through organisational change and lacked a sense of direction for their efforts. Once inside, I found a very talented bunch of people and set about drawing out a marketing strategy with them, which would enable their business to grow and improve its market visibility, which they really deserve yet needed a blueprint for. They also needed tender loving care (tlc) as a team, daily support and mentoring, and a common direction that they could buy into. I wrapped up that project knowing that the team today is in great shape and powering forward with energy and renewed belief. And that came about because we worked as one, a team that respected and valued each other’s opinions and skills, who wanted to make something better than before.

A final story highlights that work requests are often either strategic or operational in nature.

Example 4 – imagine a new, simpler way to look after clients. Make it implementable

For example, in another benefits consulting business, the ask was to devise a global client relationship management vision, something that was high level, yet workable across multiple countries, which gave the business a single, consistent method for how clients were looked after wherever they are based. After researching views with clients and stakeholders, I crafted a straw-man vision for discussion and approval, incorporated feedback, then handed it over for the incumbent team to roll-out. A great example of a strategic project with limited operational scope and a business problem quickly solved; because it was invested in for a time-bound period. Oh and the result was an increase in the average amount of revenue earned per client, an outcome of making it easier to do business with the company.

Yet on other occasions my work is operational – for example creating a marketing budget for the next financial year or figuring out a way to reduce the cost of providing a product, improving the margin and financial performance. The beauty of an experienced interim is that they get cracking quickly and focus on delivering results in short periods of time, without having to hire them permanently.

Whilst businesses come in various shapes, sizes, and stages of maturity, what always unites them is the need to grow or solve a particular problem. Organisations and human beings cannot stand still. We live in the technological age where the pace of change is faster than our ability to keep up and where the hurdles are constantly being raised. That means putting our collective heads together, leveraging each other’s skills and connections to deliver the best results. Every assignment is an opportunity to grow – knowledge, capabilities, experiences, successes, and failures – to keep interims fresh and in tune with this fascinating and fast-changing world.

If you relate to any of the topics in this post, please join the conversation. I would love to hear your take on hiring an interim or being an interim, and what it takes to do it well, and boost business results.


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