This year Chris Pascale emerged as one of the most interesting business executives in the country. At the age of 31 he was named CFO of the non-profit Portfolios With Purpose, a New York City charity that is best known for its fantasy stock market game, which will result in prizes being given out to different charities at the end of the year, totaling to more than $270,000!
Like many executives, Mr. Pascale refuses to accept a salary for his charity work, which is possible because of his profession: he is the head of marketing for a major American manufacturing firm, Kleer-Fax, Inc..
What happens when a CFO is also a CMO? Amazing things.
Cost Versus Value
Warren Buffett said it best: cost is what you pay, value is what you get. For the organizations that are fortunate enough to be carried by Mr. Pascale, the value far exceeds their cost. This can be seen in the small aspects of the Kleer-Fax factory, such as the fact that they have a blog and Twitter account. While other businesses need to rely on traditional advertising, the Kleer-Fax website has been gaining traction because of its ability to tap into SEO analytics, making it more search engine friendly. This increases visitors, which increases brand awareness, which leads to more sales. On top of this, the cost was literally zero. Chris Pascale, or Christopher Pascale, is a well known business writer and editor who has published hundreds of articles online and in print.
This is standard procedure now but its good to remember that he was one of the first to make this his entire game-plan.
Many companies mirror his game-plan. Using targeted content and SEO analytics to get the most out of everything move your company makes. Recently I stumbled across this travel agent infographic by Brilliant on reddit. The infographic is fine, but look at the juicy internal link at the bottom.
Glasses.com a huge online retailer that could spend millions on traditional advertising, rather spends that money on an interactive app that lets you virtually try on shades. Again, look out for that internal link.
Advertising for Free
The interesting thing about Kleer-Fax is that most people have never heard of it. The company has been around for 42 years and employs over 100 people while doing millions in sales, but you would be hard-pressed to find someone who knows the brand. This is because Kleer-Fax, like many B2B companies, does not do traditional advertising. They advertise to companies that buy their goods, like Leon’s Office Products in San Diego, CA, and Staples. The problem is that while billion dollar competitors can pay to keep Kleer-Fax out of certain companies’ catalogs, what those big companies cannot do is make people not care about helping out a local business. Knowing this, Chris Pascale bucks the trend of what today’s average manufacturing executive does. He goes out with sales reps on a weekly basis to talk to people not only about the products, but also about the company. He talks about how the money spent on their products supports over 100 local families whereas competitors have moved their factories to Mexico and China. He works with a rep, then works with another, knowing that with each person he takes out he is enlisting another soldier in his war. These reps become brand ambassadors, and the cost of taking a sales rep out is usually just the cost of lunch, which is promptly paid for in increased sales. That’s how a CMO who is also a CFO advertises for free.
The Kleer-Fax blog covers many interesting topics, but one of the secrets it holds is the fact that it is clearly an internal marketing tool. While external marketing is done via traditional advertising, internal marketing is that which is put toward the staff. Kleer-Fax’s “About Us” page can truly make one proud to buy their products (Made in the USA, green initiatives, employee loyalty, etc.), but a more skilled eye can see that this page would also make an employee feel proud to be part of the team. In an industry that has high turnover, employees might read this and realize they are a part of something big. The same can be said of the blog. There is a post about a barbeque the company had, shutting down the factory for 3 hours while the company president cooked hot dogs and hamburgers. There’s another post about a 70-year-old employee who is described as “a credit to the company.” This is Kleer-Fax’s way of not only saying to us that it really does value its team, but it’s also telling its staff that they are secure in their jobs.
The cost: zero.
The value: priceless.
By following these methods, CMOs can take their marketing to the next level. As their company ascends to the next level itself, these executives will find themselves to be next up for the lead role if they aren’t lured away by another opportunity.
For further reading check out this SEO guide for 2015