Cost Effective Marketing for Small and Micro Businesses – Part 3

Cost Effective Marketing for Small and Micro Businesses – Part 3

Introducing the Portfolio CMO, Part 3 of 3

Review: The last two blogs introduced the concept of the Portfolio CMO — a job title which “doesn’t exist” [at least before these blogs]. It means, quite simply, Portfolio Career + CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) … a salaried employee who brings a life-career portfolio to bear on behalf of an employer on a pro-rated, part-time basis. It brings long-term, consistent management to a companies’ marketing efforts. I also suggested that Small or Micro businesses often lack the skill-sets to create either strategy or tactics; and presented case studies of a Marketing Consultant for a family Oriental Rug store and a Marketing Generalist for an Auto Service Center to contrast the meanings of Marketing Consultant, Marketing Generalist and Portfolio CMO.


In reviewing my drafts, a friend asked, “Did your experience with Fortune 500’s (Target, 3M, Ecolab, etc.) play a significant role in your work with these companies?” The answer is largely no. While I am forever grateful for the opportunities and education I received contracting with these companies, I must paraphrase the Harvard Business Review (HBR):

  • Does the CMO of Target hand-address Christmas cards to every client?
  • Does the CBO of 3M bring bagels and coffee in every Monday morning?


HBR has published multiple articles pointing out that the CEO (or by extension, the CMO) of a Fortune 500 company has support and services that a micro business or entrepreneur can only dream of. Fortune 1000 marketers would not likely last six months in an existing micro business. That’s because small and micro businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs share a common problem: no help, no staff, no budget, nada.

Part 3 of 3: Being a Portfolio CMO for a small distribution company

In a word, the difference between a Portfolio CMO and all other positions is fiduciary – the fiduciary responsibilities of employment. I work for a family owned distribution company. They aren’t large, but they are second generation, closing in on a 100-year history. My relationship with them started as a Marketing Consultant executing a tactic – a new website. But while they did indeed need a new site, what they needed most was a fundamental brand analysis, and strategies to create brand differentiation.

Analysis is heavy lifting. It is time-consuming, migraine-inviting, client-bewildering work. But the client hired me as their Portfolio CMO not only for my skill-set, but because it saves them money. Consider the math: a business could hire a Marketing Consultant for $x/hour or a Portfolio CMO for $y /year. The Consultant working 100 hours costs 100x. The Portfolio CMO working 100 hours would be about one day/month costing 5% of a reasonable salary. For a small or micro company, such a commitment might be within reach, and could yield untold benefits in both directions.

In my case, as a Portfolio CMO, I created the company’s first annual marketing budget. I researched the competition, customers and market to find ways to bolster the brand – to determine what we wanted to say, to whom, for what purpose. Once the brand was refined, I wrote much of the new copy, hired an editor to check my work, hired an excellent designer, a Google Analytics expert, photographer, videographer, etc., – with no markup – and so far, the RESULT of my current tenure is significantly increased web traffic, phone inquiries and new business – all within budget, all paying for itself.

Being a Portfolio CMO for a small or micro company is different from being a CMO for a large company (let alone a Fortune 500 company). Further, unlike a Marketing Generalist or Marketing Consultant I am an employee, a paid member of the management team.* I need to do my best to circumvent the Wannamaker quandary, and produce results within budget.

I am a Marketing Consultant, Marketing Generalist, Marketing Manager, Creative Director, etc. I am the Portfolio CMO. The position is real. Small Businesses looking to bring long-term, consistent management to their marketing efforts need to add this option to their toolkits!

Stay tuned!

*In this particular case, being a W-2 employee was not practical. However, in all other regards, the relationship is as described above.

© Craig Sinard 2016 All Rights Reserved. Reprinting welcome with linked attribution.


Craig Sinard is a Portfolio CMO, Marketing Generalist and Marketing Consultant, depending on your needs. He creates strategies to put your brand and position in harmony. He also has deep content creation experience, especially in video production, web and virtual reality.

Contact craigs at sinard dot com or call six one two-338-7771.

Tags Posted under Articles, Thoughts, Tips by
copyright 2014 sinard