Just before we all went Jubilee-crazy, both Marketing and Marketing Week ran big features on the increasing use of interims. It’s good to see some healthy interest in the profession.
It was a shame that Marketing chose to include a completely unsubstantiated “Top 5 Pitfalls” in their piece, which included things like; a lack involvement and dedication, a lack of accountability and the risk of compromising company confidentiality. When your income depends on your reputation, no professional interim would even countenance any of those things.
So for any employers who may have been spooked by those crazy notions, please allow me to present four good reasons why you should employ an interim.
1. Interims make a difference… quickly
It’s reckoned that the average tenure of a marketing director is now around 14 months. The first 3 months or so are normally devoted to ‘settling in’, playing politics and schmoozing with (or firing) agencies. An interim will start the hard work on day one, with a clear timescale, a well-defined brief and an agreed set of deliverables. And without the ‘pretence’ of being in it for the long haul, they’ll do what needs to be done, not worry about the politics of getting promoted.
It’s amazing what can be achieved in less than 6 months with focus and a clear remit.
2. Interims are the consummate professionals
The ‘Top 5 Pitfalls’ were almost too spurious to take seriously, although I’m sure there are a few sharks out there. But the fact of the matter is, if you work like that, you won’t get hired again.
It’s odd that Marketing would attempt to levy this sort of criticisms at interim marketers, as if we’re just not terribly professional. Businesses, and marketing departments in particular, are very used to working with professional suppliers on short-term contracts. Have any of these accusations ever been levied at ad agencies, brand strategists or management consultants? No, thought not.
3. Interims bring specific expertise and broader skills
Both features covered the old Specialist vs. Generalist argument. For me, the joy of working as an interim (or consultant) is the constant exposure to different businesses and different sectors, so unlike a permanent employee, you’re always building up your knowledge bank.
In my experience, many brands actively look for a fresh perspective and broad experience to avoid doing things the same way (and making the same mistakes) time and again.
Apart from the FMCG sector, of course. (Who operate on the principal that if you haven’t previously sold a tin of beans, you’ll never be able to).
4. Interims will re-energize your business (not just your marketing)
Unlike hiring (expensive) management consultants and branding agencies, interim Marketing Directors can provide a ‘one stop shop’, advising the business on strategy, agencies and internal teams.
Marketing skills aside, good interim directors will provide an objective overview of how the whole business is working. For example, one of the most common issues that’s often very obvious to an ‘outsider’ is poor communication between key teams.
The root causes are manifold, but most can be easily resolved with some objective, impartial direction. And the rewards are pretty instant – happier, more effective and more productive teams.
Effective interims will get stuck in, quickly identify the issues and opportunities and improve and re-energize the brand and the business.
Then leave you in peace.
I’ve done all this, and more, for some very big brands. To discuss how I can re-energize your business, please get in touch.