Even though the number Chief Marketing Officers and Marketing Directors is on the increase, marketing remains a seriously underrepresented function at the boardroom table. It’s still not that uncommon for the marketing team to only be invited into Board meetings to present or be challenged on an ad-hoc basis.
When there’s no dedicated marketing person at the table, the responsibility tends to fall to another member of the Board alongside their primary focus (typically finance or sales). Although pretty characteristic in a growing company, it’s worth bearing in mind how marketing can be expected to deliver if it’s not part of these important strategic discussions. If your company has no marketing representation at Board level perhaps it’s time for a virtual marketing director?
What is a virtual marketing director?
A virtual marketing director bridges the gap, providing strategic level knowledge and experience to the Board and translating their strategy into activity for the marketing team. They will work with both teams but will not be employed by the business, instead providing their time on a consultancy or freelance basis. This gives the business access to a high calibre, strategic marketer, but without the overhead, until such time as the business can afford someone at this level. A virtual marketing director is not a full time or long-term appointment and should be seen as a cost effective but important bridge in the business’ development cycle.
“Too few company boards have a marketing mind in attendance at the meetings. No wonder so many companies have been helplessly disrupted”Phil Kotler, professor of marketing, Kellogg School of Management
What does a virtual marketing director do?
A virtual marketing director takes on two key roles:
- Two-way liaison with the Board – their role will be to understand and inform company strategy at the boardroom table, disseminating this into a specific marketing strategy and then reporting on the execution and impact of that strategy, informed by the marketing team.
- Working directly with the marketing team – typically working with the marketing manager or senior exec(s) to execute the strategy and gather the essential ROI or analysis to take back to the Board to demonstrate effectiveness.
Outside of this core remit, they may also help with ad-hoc activities such as professional development and marketing recruitment or provide essential guidance on key activities within the strategy including campaign themes/development, buyer profiling and defining web strategy.
It’s highly likely that if the business is demanding board level representation from marketing, there will be a defined budget too and the virtual marketing director may be responsible for managing this, either wholly or in conjunction with the most senior in-house marketeer.
Why use a virtual marketing director?
A full service marketing team covering all aspects of activity from digital and creative to events and content could cost a business more than £250k and demand 6-10 people. Add in the services of a good marketing director and you’re upping that departmental salary budget by another 20-40%. This is simply not achievable for many growing businesses.
In the same way that these financial pinch points can be overcome by outsourcing specific roles to agencies or freelancers, a virtual marketing director also gives you access to high level of expertise on an ‘as needed’ basis. They can be flexible and increase their time as the business demands it, up until the point that they effectively make themselves redundant and hand over the reins to a suitably qualified in-house appointment. This should always be one of the aims of the role and may require the development of an individual internally or help with the external sourcing of quality candidates.
Does your Board need marketing advice?
We act as virtual marketing director for a number of our clients, working with the Board and any internal marketing resource or external agencies to ensure company and marketing objectives align and all activity is strategically planned, evaluated and reported.
If your business would benefit from a virtual marketing director please give Ben or Emma a call.