Marketing Trend – Temporary CMO

Late last year, an Aberdeen Research report noted that the average CMO stays on the job for a little less than 2 years. These short tenures leave the CMO with  limited time to make a big impact with his or her marketing ideas and to become a key member of the C‑suite team. Now a report on Brandweek points to an even more unsettling trend – the temporary CMO.

The use of temporary CMOs is increasing and seems especially noticeable in firms with annual revenues ranging from $250 to $500 million, considered small to mid-​sized. The Brandweek report highlights a couple of statistics that may be leading to this trend. First, employment at traditional advertising agencies  fell significantly during the recession. This shift in employment has left talented marketing and advertising professional available to take whatever position comes along. To cut costs, firms are not yet looking for permanent employees. Instead, they are seeking lower-​cost employment arrangements and one of these has been temporary work, which grew quickly in 2009.

Companies are hiring temps because these workers don’t qualify for benefits. In addition, they may cost less than traditional consultants according to Bob Van Rossum, president of MarketPro, an Atlanta  executive staffing firm. Rather than using a consultant to take care of all marketing needs, companies are bringing in temporary marketing executives to oversee a product launch.

The upside for companies that engage temporaries is that these workers may focus on the task at hand without worrying about corporate politics. Sharon Slade, who has worked in a number of temporary positions says, “ you can take more risks, be more aggressive and provide more solutions. You can also focus on accelerating what needs to be done.” The downside to this hiring strategy may be that the best candidates will not be available once the economy fully recovers.

For now though, it looks as though the temporary CMO is part of the playbook for many marketers.

[Source: Wong, Elaine. Temporary CMOs Are Here to Stay, Brandweek, 2.7.10]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.