Wednesday AM September 15th, 2010

A Houston firm offers part-time chief marketing officers for small and medium-sized companies. That can be useful to firms afraid to add an executive when they’re unsure about the direction of the economy. Ed Mayberry reports.

part timeA former Chief Marketing Officer with experience at Imperial Sugar, Coco-Cola and Compaq finds companies hit by the recession often can’t afford a full-time on-staff CMO.  Those executives not absolutely needed to keep the company afloat have been cut over the last two years.  Art Saxby formed Chief Outsiders last year, offering experienced marketing professionals to develop and drive strategic programs.

“Hiring a marketing executive is very expensive and if things turn around and you end up having to get rid of someone, that’s even more expensive.  So our focus is to go in not on a full-time basis — a lot of these companies can’t afford or don’t want to take the risk of a full-time chief marketing officer — but as a part-time addition to the CEO staff.  Make it much more affordable for them to bring in, and because we’re consultants we’re much more flexible on the amount of time that we can put in with a company.”

Hiring a part-time CMO helps keep firms from incurring large increases in overhead associated with hiring a full-time C-level executive.  Saxby says his business is not a marketing or advertising agency.

“They’re an employee or actually a partner of my company, at Chief Outsiders, our company.  For the clients, they become part of the management team.  The idea is for us to be a part-time addition to the CEO staff.  There’s been some use of this type of a model — this fractional or part-time — in the chief financial officer world.  We don’t sell campaigns, we help work with the company and understand how should they grow this market — what direction it should they go — then how to make it happen.”

Saxby says the CEO of a company should be the top marketing strategist, and the part-time CMO comes in as the marketing right hand.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required