Marketing is fuel for a business. As a business grows, it is common for companies to consider adding senior marketing leadership to their C-level team. However, for budget reasons, that is not feasible for many companies, especially small and mid-market companies. This is where fractional CMOs come into play.
Working on a part-time or short-term consultative basis, a fractional CMO becomes a great solution for businesses to gain the marketing leadership they need with a lower level of cost, commitment, and risk.
Fractional CMOs are becoming more popular now as companies have become accustomed to leaders working remotely. KEO Marketing Inc. has perfected the model for more than 20 years.
KEO Marketing Inc founder, Sheila Kloefkorn, has helped hundreds of enterprises increase revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars throughout her career. With 30 years of proven marketing experience, Sheila is a sought-after marketing and business growth expert. At KEO Marketing, she leads a talented team of marketers in creating and executing award-winning marketing campaigns across the US and more than 100 countries around the world.
Inspired by her passion for helping businesses grow, we at Insights Success caught up with Sheila to learn more about her journey and what makes KEO Marketing a trusted advisor for companies who sell to other companies.
The Journey So Far
Sheila founded KEO Marketing Inc in 2000 as her prior agency was nearing a business sale. At that time, she served as a fractional chief marketing officer or VP of Marketing to organizations looking to accelerate their marketing results.
Fractional CMOs gives mid-market companies the opportunity to scale faster and more economically than their peers by leveraging the part-time model both for the head of marketing and the marketing department. Sheila shared, “This is critical because to be successful in marketing and sales these days, it requires marketing specialists in everything from advertising to copywriting to marketing and sales analytics. Typically, a mid-market company can’t afford to hire a senior-level marketing leader and a senior-level marketing specialists, so they get by with marketing generalists, which holds the company back.”
The KEO Marketing model with a Fractional CMO plus outsourced team of senior marketing specialists is unique in America and has better results for less investment.
Sheila notes, “We take on a limited number of clients (not more than 20) at any one time and we serve as their outsourced marketing department. We only take on clients that we believe we can make a significant impact in terms of leads, revenue, and growth. For that reason, nearly all of our clients experience stand-out results and stay with us for many years (some more than a decade).”
When it comes to values that drive the company, KEO Marketing is highly focused on marketing and sales results, a culture of constant learning and applying new insights, collaborative and proactive communication, supporting each other, and having fun.
Hurdles along the Way
Over the past 22 years, Sheila has had many challenges, from changes in the industry, to hiring and improving her leadership. She expresses, “I think these are all to be expected. I set a high bar for our company’s performance. At the same time, I’ve had to become attached to the journey rather than the outcome. Said another way, no marketing campaign or plan, no employee or client relationship has gone exactly the way I initially envisioned. I’ve learned to be agile, celebrate the wins and learn from the losses, and be grateful for our many opportunities along the way. Life is magical and I choose to focus on those moments most.”
As a strategic partner for B2B companies, KEO Marketing delivers proven marketing strategy, messaging, and execution that results in the most qualified, best cost leads to fill sales pipelines. The company always focuses on delivering more strategic value than clients, partners, and others expect.
Sheila proudly mentions that KEO Marketing has helped companies go public, increase revenue to meet acquisition targets, scale faster to help the owners meet their legacy goals, rebrand because of changes in the world, and simply grow to meet their short and long term business goals.
KEO Marketing always aligns its work with the goals of the client company owners/leadership. Sheila notes, “We don’t simply deliver marketing campaigns. We make sure those campaigns support the work of the company and are aligned with the leaders’ visions for the company that quarter, year, or decade.”
Leveraging Technology to Achieve Better Results
Sheila states that technology is a huge part of KEO Marketing’s business. Not only is the company certified on and uses many technology platforms, but it also often advises its clients on selecting marketing and sales platforms that will help their marketing and sales programs perform better, enabling their employees to be more productive and their organizations to achieve better results.
KEO Marketing consults on CRM, marketing automation platforms, collaboration tools, security software, content marketing platforms, advertising outlets, and more. Sheila is a sought after consultant in this area, and is the leader of the Marketing Technology Series for the Arizona Technology Council.
Instilling Strategic Approach
We asked Sheila what change she would like to bring to the marketing industry, if given a chance, to which she said, “I’m constantly working on teaching our team members how to be both strategic and hands-on. A great marketer today can conceptualize campaigns and messaging, copywrite campaigns, design social graphics, launch campaigns and gain insights from reporting. Those are all very different skills. Because marketing moves so fast, the team members who can handle more of those skills will be more in demand than those who are skilled in one in just one aspect.”
On another topic, she added, “I would do more to guard people’s privacy and make it clearer whether marketing messages are fact-checked and paid.”
What Lies Ahead?
Talking about the future goals of KEO Marketing, Sheila says. “I continue to be very energized by the impact we are making for mid-market businesses who want to scale quickly. I plan to keep running it and teaching marketers how to grow their careers for at least the next decade.”
Enlightening Emerging Marketers
In her advice to emerging marketing leaders, she states “I always encourage entrepreneurs to do customer research before launching any product. So many Engineers/Founders develop a concept or product and believe that “if they build it, people will come” and are disappointed when their audience does not come. The best products and services solve a demonstrated need. These are the products and services that have the most success.”
In conclusion, she shared, “I recommend Entrepreneurs focus as much on marketing as they do on product development. These two aspects of business reinforce each other, and one shouldn’t come before the other.”