By Eric Dickmann

June 28, 2022

Fractional CMO

The Virtual CMO Podcast

Season 8, Episode 5

In episode 118, host Eric Dickmann talks with Brett Schklar – Managing Partner of Grow Powerful, a company focused on matching fractional CMOs with venture capital-backed  B2B tech companies. Brett is a proven growth strategist who uses a powerful combination of brand building, storytelling, lead generation, and marketing execution to help emerging companies find their paths to growth and uncover demand for innovative technologies and approaches. 

Grow Powerful brings growth strategies to its clients by leveraging a collective of top marketing professionals with industry expertise to deliver marketing, and revenue/growth leadership, and by creating measurable campaigns to meet rising revenue targets.

Brett Schklar also hosts the Grow Up with GROW podcast. You can connect with Brett on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Brett Schklar

Listen on Apple Podcasts or Other Podcast Players

Why Do Companies Need to Hire an iCMO?

The idea of an iCMO (interim CMO) is someone who can be an interim CMO and serve as the marketing leader for organizations that don't have a permanent executive to guide their growth initiatives. They usually serve to fill the gap within the organization's structure or as a temporary leader until growth reaches a level where a full-time leader makes financial sense. iCMOs bring confidence to the company because of their years of experience and familiarity with various marketing strategies.

Hire an iCMO for Your Business

There are some companies that hire CMO on an interim contract basis to test their cultural fit before bringing them in on an extended or full-time contract. When you hire an iCMO for your company, it is vital to ensure that they have the appropriate industry experience to provide the appropriate advice and solutions to accelerate growth throughout each department of your company. These are some ways an interim CMO can help your team:

  1. They create short and long-term objectives for your business.
  2. Interim CMOs consider your employees the most critical piece of success in the company.
  3. They design a customer-driven vision for long-term market leadership.
  4. iCMOs secure quick wins to promote better performance and define long-term plans
  5. They provide so much input and veteran supervision while filling up the missing gaps in your organization.
Fractional CMO vs Interim CMO vs Strategic Consultant

Highlights from Our Conversation with Brett:

“I think the biggest challenge that people have to overcome if they are a full-time CMO and looking at this is a mindset shift.

  • [00:04:30] How would you describe the Fractional CMO concept?- The concept of Fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is essentially a form of consulting, but it might be a little bit more of a specific niche of consulting. Fractional CMO typically works with companies anywhere from $2 million to $250 million, either VC-backed or private equity-backed.
  • [00:11:00] Hesitation among C-suite executives to work remotely- Brett Schklar has seen a split. He thinks that most companies are embracing the idea of flexible, fractional, but virtual, as far as not being in-person meetings.
  • [00:14:41] For companies that don't have that support, that sort of mentoring, it's very unclear when they need to hire an iCMO for help. Have you found that as well?- Yes, especially technology-focused companies- if they don't have it. And by the way, there are a lot of forms of mentorship, VCs, private equity, and non-VC-oriented board members for companies that don't have that level of financial or board-level support. There tends to be resistance if there is not good mentorship in place with a CEO.
  • [00:19:59] When you engage with new clients, what do you see as the number one problem that they are coming to you to solve?- There are two reasons why businesses engage with us. Number one, they're finding their product-market fit really well, and they're ready to double down on the growth, which means taking what's working and amplifying it. The second reason is they've been failing and missing sales targets and salespeople are frustrated.
  • [00:26:16] Does everybody on the team follow a similar process, or do you let those individuals and those personalities engage with the companies that seem fit- Grow Powerful has a model they call the five phases of market-led growth. It allows them to look at things from brand, execution, content, product-market fit, go to market strategy. It looks at these different things. Brett continues to establish a process that gets his team to find the pain points quickly and build a process that works well so they can measure, test, and communicate well with their clients. Aside from the fixed model, the magic, the secret sauce, the plan, and the process are up to every one of the fractional CMOs of Grow.
  • [00:33:10] If someone wants to leave the corporate world, what would you say would be the ideal candidate for something like Grow?- Brett and his team help a lot of healthcare tech and health tech companies work. They understand a lot about the benefits, how healthcare companies work, and the perception of dependence and fear of stepping away from a good benefits program. If you want to become a fractional CMO, do soul searching and prepare a good story to tell. Make sure you've got an excellent track record, experience, and case studies that you can bring with you to sell yourself. If you don't have that, you will struggle to find business.

Hire an iCMO and Other Resources Mentioned

Live Stream on YouTube

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Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

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