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Would you consider hiring a fractional CMO?

As an innovative business, how can you get a boost of key talent without committing to the cost of permanent C-suite resources? In finance, IT and even HR we have seen a move over the past few years to introduce “fractional leadership”. Organisations commit to a fraction of a key persons’ time to look at a problem, provide some specialist insight or provide seamless coverage.

However, in the marketing area, this is a more recent discovery albeit somewhat of a contradiction – as marketing as a function was probably an early adopter of the concept of outsourcing specific skills yet has lagged in the fractional C-suite arena. More recently, innovative firms have started to embrace the concept of hiring the most experienced CMO professional available, only for the hours of consultation needed each month and for a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time.
A Fractional CMO can quickly become the right-hand to an existing CMO, as an outside, unbiased peer, to add valuable insights. Where there is no CMO in place, the CEO is usually forced to fill in the role of Chief Marketer in the interim, where a fractional CMO contracted for a fraction of a full-time CMO’s salary with clear objectives and deliverables in place, can get the job done allowing the CEO to focus on their priorities.

A fractional CMO can add value in many ways by bringing their industry expertise, leadership skills and experience to a new environment, but can be particularly effective when:

  1. A business wants to recruit a permanent CMO but knows that it will take time to find the right candidate and the business still needs to move forward while they do this.
  2. Companies with an existing marketing team but no CMO, who would like an independent review of the performance of the team and direction of the strategy.
  3. A small to medium start-up looking to take their idea to the next level and needing CMO-level leadership to generate a distinctive value proposition and strategy.
  4. Companies who need a fresh perspective to re-energise their thinking and new business strategies

It certainly seems to be a quicker and more cost-effective way of getting strategic marketing capability into your business. Beyond that, fractional CMO’s possess a fresh, unbiased outsider’s perspective. They will not be bogged down by company politics and bureaucracy. Instead, they will feel free to point out flaws, voice concerns and give honest feedback and suggestions that revolutionize your marketing function.

So next time you are looking at bringing some senior marketing support into your business, think about hiring a fractional CMO – you might be surprised by the benefits.

Is the gig economy making you think differently about the way you work?

Nikki Benfield

Everyone talks about how the pace of change in the global workforce is accelerating. In 2018, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics reported that 55 million people in the U.S. were “gig workers,” which is more than 35% of the U.S. workforce. That number is projected to jump to 43% by 2020.

To succeed, we must adapt just as quickly but what really is a gig worker? The gig economy is defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. So, Uber is a great example, as is freelance copywriting.

This is an extract from an article I read recently which talks about the pros and cons of being a gig worker. I think it describes why a gig economy can work for everyone. “Millennials, the generation credited with disrupting everything from housing to marriage, are gravitating towards gig work for the promise of greater work-life balance. Boomers and other generations on the brink of retirement are drawn to gig work because it brings in a little extra income without a major time commitment. And recent technologies like Skype, and Slack have made the gig life a reality, giving you maximum freedom, an ideal work-life balance, and the chance to pursue your passions.”

I believe that those may be some of the reasons that the life of a gig worker is so appealing. You get to craft a great work-life balance that works for you and pair this with the opportunity to pursue your passions. You really are in charge of the type of work you want to take on and how you want to deliver that work. You don’t have to spend any time commuting or updating your work wardrobe to dress up for a company culture that you may not fit you. You are essentially your own boss, managing your own portfolio of work, your own deadlines and your own deliverables. And for the most part, you can do most of your jobs from anywhere, so you don’t have to be in a fixed location.

This makes this life sound perfect – which of course is not true. On the downside, because you don’t have anyone managing your deadlines, you really need to be sure that you have the discipline to get the job done. You also must ensure that you keep the pipeline of work coming in full or you could end up with an empty desk. To do this, you need to ensure you stay relevant with constant learning and upskilling.

This is not all about the worker however, as we need to consider what this means for employers? The concept of an “on-demand” workforce is appealing. Obtain skills when you need them, where you need them, for the duration of time you need them at the price you need them. But businesses too need to evolve when learning how to work with this new workforce. How to find them, how to manage them, how to invest in them too – because when companies learn to thrive with an on-demand workforce then everyone wins.

What can we take away from this? The marketplace won’t wait for you. The gig economy is growing. The appeal of an on-demand workforce is increasing. The way we employ and are employed is changing and we should look to embrace it. The “job for life” idea is something of the past. It is no coincidence that the working world of the future is being shaped by those who are mainly affected by it. We have two choices: sit and watch it pass us by or look to understand how we become part of it. Which team are you on?

Nikki Benfield is an independent marketing consultant (and part of the gig economy) currently working with VentureWeb. Like what you read? Email Nikki here.


We wrote a Candidate Care Charter. Here’s why.

Caryn Schalit

If you’ve recently been a candidate on the hunt for a new job opportunity, how would you rate your experience? Unless you’ve been headhunted, I can bet that you would more than likely rate your candidate experience as well below expectation.

Don’t get me wrong, companies that offer a great candidate experience are out there, but these are the unicorns, and for the most part, candidates are left at the mercy of a haphazard selection process. While corporate brand management gets a good slice of the marketing budget, management of the talent brand seems to be the poor cousin, with little effort and investment going into mapping a strong candidate journey.

But this doesn’t just start and end with splashing a cool ad across LinkedIn about “why you should work for us”; nor is it a catchy video on the company website boasting shiny happy employees talking about how great the company is…even though it might be. No. It is the culmination of talent strategy and planning, engagement with candidates and recruiters, process flow, feedback, technology, pre-boarding, investment of time and simple co-ordination that underpins the true talent brand which in the end, determines the kind of experience a candidate will talk about for years to come. In today’s war for talent (and yes, we’re still in that war), a well-designed candidate journey coupled with a positive candidate experience, is what companies should be aiming for. Anything short of this, and we’ll find ourselves on the losing side.

In my role as Talent Acquisition Lead for a team of recruiters spread across RPO environments, augmented staffing and contingency recruitment, the poor candidate experience seems to overshadow the unicorn-led experience. I’m learning that this is frustrating for the recruiter but disheartening and diminishing for the candidate. Candidates in active job search mode need to muster up extra self-confidence and self-esteem, maintain positive energy, get to new levels of introspection, find extra hours to commit to the process and find unending creativity about how to get to the next interview or assessment without deceiving their current employer.

So, when candidates who are serious about their career and their job search invest time readying for an interview, when they invest time taking assessments and preparing presentations, and then receive tardy feedback, this is discouraging and demotivating. When candidates meet for an interview with an expectation of process which is changed at the last minute, this is disengaging. When they put themselves out there sharing their life history with a company (sometimes with risk) and they hear nothing back, it is demotivating. And worse, when candidates apply to a company job portal, and they receive no acknowledgement, it is terrifying. Does it just get sucked into a black hole?

We choose not to work like that. Our code speaks to care, contribution and connection, which is just how we like to work with candidates. When a company uses an agency to help them find talent, the recruiter becomes an extension of that company, representing the brand. It becomes a partnership. Discovering good talent, motivating for change and securing talent is some of the most important work companies are obsessing with right now, so getting the right partnership to enable this is crucial. It demands two-way education – clients need to educate the recruiter on the role, the process, the value proposition, challenges, expectations and everything else in between. As recruiters, our work lies in sourcing that talent, and educating our clients on what makes for an exceptional candidate experience. We want to share our learnings, insights and experiences with you to help make your business better – that’s why we’re finding you the best people, isn’t it?

So, when a client wants to partner with us in future, we’ll be asking them to uphold our candidate care charter. Are you ready to provide a great candidate experience? Because for us, we wouldn’t do it any other way.

If you’re intrigued to find out more about candidate experience or our candidate care charter, please connect with me.

Caryn Schalit is the Global Lead: People Operations at VentureWeb Like what you read? Email Caryn


Link Literacy Project – Mandela Day 2018

Mandela Day in South Africa is a day dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela, marking his birthday and celebrating his legacy. The essence of his legacy was to change the world for the better, no matter how small the action. Mandela said that “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”

The day challenges South Africans to devote 67 minutes (one minute for very year of his public service) towards doing good. At VentureWeb, we committed our 67 minutes to donating and reading books to children in the Link Literacy Project. Many of the kids in the project do not have access to books at home, their schools have under resourced libraries and they are learning to read in English as a second language. The project is a structured reading program run entirely by volunteers who give of their time.

We were touched by their enthusiasm and appreciation for their new books, and we loved our interactions. We will definitely be back with more books and more volunteers!

Why your company should create the best candidate experience

Nikki Benfield

I have friends whose children are graduating and heading into the working world for the first time. Compared to my own entry into the working world, their stories literally make me shiver when I hear about their experiences as a prospective candidate. Simply put, it isn’t good.

And that’s remarkable, given the paradoxical higher-than-ever demand for good skills.

So, while there is a potentially steady supply of smart, savvy, switched-on graduates entering the labour force, they just aren’t impressed by what they find.

Back when I got my start (almost 30 years ago) I developed a personal relationship with the HR Manager who interviewed me through the short-list. She prepared me well for the Marketing Manager interview from a style and content perspective. She also readied me for the CEO interview – and the CEO was interested in what I had to say and asked great questions.

I knew where I stood at each step in the process, was kept updated and made to feel valued.

By comparison, many of today’s graduates are sending hundreds of applications online to a faceless mailbox, receiving neither feedback nor even a response. If they are granted an interview and spend the time to attend, they often don’t hear back for weeks – if ever.

With no personal opportunity to showcase capabilities, they are left feeling despondent about their prospects in the job market. Good people are being turned away and, worse, turned off.

If you need skills, and let’s face it, who doesn’t, the candidate experience is more important now than it has ever been. That goes not only for the people you do end up hiring, but also for those who you don’t.

Gone are the days when a candidate would only entertain one prospective employer at a time, where it was a simple case of “if they like me I’ll take the job” no matter the complexity of the process. Instead, candidates today want the best from the complete working experience. They want to understand the business they’ll be working for and the type of work they will be doing.

That starts with the hiring process. Prospective employers need to put their best foot forward from Day 1. You need to impress the candidate as much as you hope they will impress you. The people (and remember, these are people you are dealing with) who aren’t hired should be left saying good things about your company—you never know who they will talk to, or when you might find yourself headhunting them.

So, what can you do to make a difference?

  • Be respectful.  Show you respect the candidate by replying timeously, and not cancelling or changing the times of interviews at the last minute. Their time is just as precious as yours. Many candidates are frustrated when they take time off, only to have an appointment cancelled at the last minute. Give feedback often and appropriately, whether good or bad.
  • Be present.  Last-minute crises aren’t the candidate’s fault or problem. Focus on him or her, understand their motivation and assess their suitability for the job
  • Be personal.  Show every candidate his or her effort is appreciated. Send a follow up mail, have someone in the team reach out to them if you offer them a role to congratulate them, refer to things they might have told you in a personal welcome card
  • Be innovative.  Don’t just go through the motions: Do your homework, be prepared and look for unique ways to present your business. Ask good questions and give good answers.

While much is focused on what candidates need to do to impress employers, turning it around shows that employers should perform similar ‘due diligences’ and show reciprocal respect and consideration. After all, you need the skills. When you impress those who have them and deliver a good experience, they will choose your company.

And candidates need to do their homework too; they need to understand what they are looking for, demonstrate commitment and loyalty, understand the ethos and culture of the company and share why they think they could be a good fit for your business.

Even if you don’t hire that person, he or she might one day be a client. If that happens, wouldn’t it be best if they remember being treated with respect and decorum, even though they didn’t get the job?

Nikki Benfield is the Global Lead: Business Development at VentureWeb (and part of the agile workforce). Like what you read? Email Nikki here.


A day in the life of…. a Marketing Comms Associate.

As a marketing professional for a top global management firm, Olivia shares with us the many reasons why she loves what she does. There is never a dull moment for this VentureWeb associate, read on to find out more…
  1. What is it that you do, in a nutshell?
    I split my time between internal and external services marketing, and global internal communications for a leading global professional services company.
  2. How do you get your day started? What do mornings look like for you?
    I usually check emails on my phone first thing to see if anything needs urgent attention, then I go to the gym and work from home for the rest of the day.
  3. What does your workspace look like/consist of?
    I have a small home office that I painted a wild hot pink (a colour I love). I usually work from there—unless its exceptionally cold—then you will find me warm on my bed with a blanket over me.
  4. How do you manage to stay motivated in your work day, given that you work remotely with no face time with your teammates & stakeholders?
    I have been part of the same wider team since I started with VentureWeb in 2013, so luckily, I have made some close friends around the world that I can always count on for a pick me up when I need it. I have always been self-motivated and particularly good at getting in the zone and blocking out noise—my husband knows there is no use in speaking to me when I am in the zone as he will be completely blocked out.
  5. What would you say consistently takes up the most time in your work day?
    Happy to say that this varies depending on the day—my role requires a lot of writing and editing, but it also involves a lot of campaign management and project management.
  6. Does this work suit your life? If so, why – what do you enjoy the most?
    This work suits my life to a tee. I am happy that most days I get to be the one who fetches my kids, rather than spending lunch trapped in an office boardroom or a lunchroom. I love not having to commute—especially on rainy days—and I love being able to wear comfy clothes rather than corporate attire. Plus, I get to be part of an exciting global marketing team.

Interested in finding a flexible marketing role? Check out all our available  positions here.

Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash

Think agility when building your teams

Matt Jankelow

“Surge capacity”, “agile workforces”, “contingency staffing”. Heard these terms being bandied about lately? Ignore the jargon and concentrate on the underlying concept: new ways to create teams suited to today’s business models.

From a marketing perspective, there has been some innovative (and some not so innovative) thinking when it comes to building teams. The key principle is flexibility, and that’s because business has never been so fluid. And achieving this agility best usually means relying on a reputable staffing agency.

Not only do businesses need more agile teams which can adapt and take on new tasks and roles, but individuals need to be inspired and motivated with new challenges. They also need to transition into new roles on a more frequent basis.

With the pace of change in business (and particularly in marketing), teams are constantly learning, unlearning and relearning to demonstrate value and support key business goals. Marketing executives are constantly challenged to do more. There is pressure on headcount and budgets, with shifting business goals and priorities.

As a result, teams need to be adaptable to maintain relevance.

Historically, when a team member resigned, an automatic replacement brief with the job spec followed to HR. This is what we had, and so this is what we must replace.

Good enough? Not any longer.

Innovative marketing executives are challenging these norms and asking questions of themselves and their business leaders. Some of these questions are:

  • “Do we need to replace this post?”
  • “Could we think differently about how we get this work done?”
  • “Is there a different skill we need more, and which might result in channeling deliverables differently?”
  • “Does this role need to be full-time on-site or could two part-timers with different skill-sets meet the need?”

Innovative delivery depends on innovative thinking when building and structuring a team. It must go beyond the old way of doing things, where large teams were comprised of people each filling a dedicated role (usually aligned to a business unit or a skillset) and possessing some organisational knowledge.

Today’s marketing leaders look at their needs differently. Instead of saying “I need a social media manager to deliver X campaigns”, they might consider hiring a high-level social media campaign manager from an agency for four months to develop the strategy and the campaign ideas. The rollout could then be entrusted to a more cost-effective person.

The result: a flexible execution mechanism that applies best-of-breed skill at different stages of the campaign journey. In this case, you can bring in resources at multiple price points, in multiple locations to get the best value in every sense.

A good staffing agency delivers work-ready professionals, reducing the time required to get competent help. It handles administration and performance management, leaving your internal teams focussed on delivery.

And of course, they should provide people across multiple locations and price points, helping you build an agile team capable of delivering to your objectives and budget.

Matthew is the CEO and founder of VentureWeb. VentureWeb: Building your business with a flexible marketing workforce. Interested to join our agile and global workforce?  See more here.

A day in the life of…. a Global Social Business Lead.

Ever wish you could work successfully for an award-winning global company from the comfort of your home? Read on to be inspired by VentureWeb associate Lee, a working mom and Global Social Business lead based in South Africa, who proves with the right focus and determination, you can.
  1. What is it that you do, in a nutshell?
    I’m a Social Business contractor with a focus on building brands through people on social (employee advocacy, thought leadership and social marketing upskilling). In my current role, within a global marketing team, my focus is on building our business and marketing employees into a powerful marketing channel. From zooming out on strategy, to zooming in on training, coaching and program management—I love working in an innovative space with a smart and exciting high-performance team.
  2. How do you get your day started? What do mornings look like for you?
    My mornings start with a school run, then I share a coffee and chat with my husband before doing some walking and meditation. Starting slightly later in the morning allows me to have a more relaxed beginning to the day. My work day begins with opening Skype to show I am online, then I make sure to block an hour off to stay on top of any urgent and current business—working through new emails, checking social media, reading Quartz, and supporting my immediate and wider team on any new priority asks. Morning calls scheduled are often training sessions in Singapore or Australia. It’s as easy as popping on my headphones, clicking to join the Skype call and then we’re chatting, sharing screens and getting good work done!
  3. What does your workspace look like/consist of?
    I have a beautiful office on the second floor of our home—a home away from home! It has dark wooden floors and beamed ceilings; a three-meter-long wooden desk filled with books, papers, ornaments and scissors I like to collect; an aircon and water cooler (my favorite part of the office in our hot African summers); a lounging area for client meetings; bathroom; and patio which overlooks the garden. It’s a private haven!
  4. How do you manage to stay motivated in your work day, given that you work remotely with no face time with your teammates & stakeholders?
    I think it’s a question one would be mostly concerned about if they didn’t have experience within a remote working team. All the remote workers I know are proactive, motivated and highly driven members of a productive team, and have no time for the luxury of not being motivated. The biggest challenge is not keeping them motivated, but getting them to log off at the end of the day (it’s hard to leave the office when it’s so easy to take work to the sofa after hours!). With a full list of priorities, lots of meetings to attend across multiple time zones, and ongoing projects and programs—you’re always busy and must stay super-focused!
  5. What would you say consistently takes up the most time in your work day?
    At least fifty percent of my day is spent in meetings, working sessions with my team, or in training sessions (I have trained both business executives one on one and marketers to support business; over 150 individuals across more than 15 countries) all conducted on Skype for Business. Even though we instant message one another constantly, email still plays a big part in our communications, making up a large part of my day. As holders of the social vision, mission, strategy and execution rollout, I need to be responsive and set time aside to support our wider team, who in turn supports our global teams. The rest of my hours are spent on a variety of tasks—from creative creation (upskilling content and presentations to sell ideas forward) to project and program creation or management (we are always evolving, nothing ever stands still)—to creating monthly reports and communications. No day is ever the same, and we’re never bored—we’re always on the go driving marketing innovation!
  6. Does this work suit your life? If so, why – what do you enjoy the most?
    With VentureWeb I have the working life I always dreamed of. I work from home during the times that suit me best. I’ve even created more time in my day by saying goodbye to hours wasted in traffic and getting ready in the mornings; and I’ve reduced stress by being able to balance work and family life. I love having small moments with my family, like those important daily ‘quick connects’ when the girls come home from school. Never have I been more productive in my career—no wasted time walking from meeting to meeting, they can take place back to back; no wasted time lingering at the water cooler—we connect and get to know one another by building in a chat at the start of our calls. Project plans, systems, tools—we’ve worked out how to do our most efficient and impactful work. I couldn’t work any other way and love being a remote worker.

Interested in finding a flexible marketing role? Check out all our available  positions here.

Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

A day in the life of…. a Content Lead.

Charles, a VentureWeb Associate based in South Africa, tells us all about being a Content Lead for a global services firm. Always fancied a role working with marketing content? Check out our global jobs here.
  1. What is it that you do, in a nutshell?
    I’m a Europe and APAC Health Content Lead for a global professional services firm—this means I manage the creation of all marketing content for my client’s healthcare business in those regions.
  2. How do you get your day started? What do mornings look like for you?
    I usually go to gym, and then bring my daughter with me to my office between 8:00 and 9:00am (she’s studying through the University of South Africa). To start my work day, I make a great cup of coffee with the Nespresso machine VentureWeb kindly gifted me at the end of 2017.
  3. What does your workspace look like/consist of?
    The closest client site is 80km away from me, and their closest office is 500km away. As a contractor in a remote location, I wanted a workspace that keeps my home and work life separate. I’ve rented a small granny flat with a pretty garden (much cheaper than shared office space would be) where I can work in peace, and also on the philosophy I’m studying part-time.
  4. How do you manage to stay motivated in your work day, given that you work remotely with no face time with your teammates & stakeholders?
    This has a lot to do with developing good habits—I use personal to-do lists and a progress spreadsheet for all my tasks. I also make sure I spend part of my day doing a bit of reading, philosophy or playing music, which I take quite seriously.
  5. What would you say consistently takes up the most time in your work day?
    Writing—it’s my core skill (I am originally a journalist) and much of the content I manage I generate myself.
  6. Does this work suit your life? If so, why – what do you enjoy the most?
    It suits me very well. I am independent-minded and self-motivated, and don’t enjoy being micromanaged. I prefer to be given a plan, broken down into tasks with deliverable outcomes or outputs, the necessary resources, and a deadline. It sounds comfortable but it’s not for everyone—if you lack self-discipline or self-motivation, then this kind of work may not be for you. Personally, I enjoy the freedom to manage myself and the flexibility to maintain work/life balance.

Interested in finding a flexible marketing role? Check out all our available  positions here.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. from Pexels