CEO Spotlight on Summer Craig in CEOWORLD: Fueling Middle-Market Growth

Summer Craig

Summer Craig spoke to CEOWORLD Magazine about an Integrated Sales and Marketing Approach for Sustainable Growth

When Summer Craig became a mom for the third time, she had an epiphany during a family vacation in Colorado. As she cradled her newborn, Summer reflected on her 20-year career journey at brands like AT&T, AOL, HomeAway, and Gulf States Toyota, the largest independent distributor for Toyota, where she oversaw a $100 million marketing budget. She had witnessed firsthand the impact that world-class sales and marketing teams could create when firing on all cylinders.

With the right strategy, talent, and execution power, these revenue engines had the capability to propel companies into explosive growth. But she recognized something was missing.

Too many promising middle-market firms were stuck in limbo, despite offering great products and services. They struggled to build true revenue engines from the ground up. These companies lacked dedicated leadership across critical sales and marketing functions or simply didn’t have the resources of larger enterprises.

“I realized there was this wide-open gap we could fill by providing complete end-to-end sales and marketing firepower for the middle market,” Summer recalls. “These companies need more than just broad strategic advice or too tactical execution. They need execution power to actually drive measurable growth.”

While larger private equity firms often bring in operating partners – typically former CEOs or operational experts – to provide guidance for their portfolio companies, this in-house model has its limitations, especially in the lower middle market.

Smaller PE firms simply don’t have the resources to sustain that overhead at the firm level. Even when they do have an operating partner focused on areas like HR or operations, it’s incredibly rare to find one dedicated specifically to sales and marketing execution.

A “growth advisor” with a marketing/sales background may be able to advise on high-level strategy, but they rarely have the bandwidth to get into the nitty-gritty of implementing the actual strategy itself.

Maximizing Value for PE Portfolio Companies 

Fueled by that conviction, Summer launched her advisory firm Craig Group in 2019. The firm’s mission: Become an indispensable asset for value creation for private equity firms and their portfolio companies through impactful sales and marketing initiatives.

From building out entire marketing tech stacks and sales processes & enablement to executing comprehensive digital marketing campaigns, Craig Group provides true end-to-end solutions. By embedding themselves seamlessly within management teams, they’re able to establish high-impact revenue engines while simultaneously training internal staff quickly.

Combining Strategic Savvy With Elite Execution 

Craig Group takes a comprehensive approach that covers every stage of the commercial process. It all starts with an in-depth analysis of customers and competitors to clearly define product positioning, understand the target buyers, and craft an effective go-to-market strategy.

Through their seasoned team of marketers, sales leaders, data scientists, and strategists, they design the right messaging, branding, marketing technology solutions, and enablement materials to support that strategy.

But what makes them truly stand out? Their unique ability to transition from planning to execution. “We don’t just plan the strategy, we have the in-house talent to drive the execution and create momentum right away,” Summer says. “It allows us to drive faster growth compared to other firms who focus strictly on the consulting component.”

Data-Driven Discipline to Maximize ROI 

Through their data-driven approach powered by cutting-edge analytics tools and dashboards, they’re able to granularly measure and optimize each part of the funnel, injecting transparency and ROI accountability often lacking in other marketing initiatives.

“So many companies still fixate on vanity metrics,” Summer states. “We take a quantifiable perspective focused on revenue and EBITDA impact. It’s a mindset shift to view marketing as an investment that needs to deliver tangible returns, not just a cost center.”

It’s precisely that profit-oriented mindset that has made Craig Group a trusted partner for over a dozen leading private equity firms such as AEA Investors, Cyprium Partners, Energize Capital, Golden Gate Capital, and more. Their data-driven services have helped drive value-creation for portfolio companies across industries like Industrial, Manufacturing, Energy, healthcare, automotive, and beyond.

The Future: AI-Powered Revenue Acceleration 

While the road ahead promises advancements in AI and data science, Summer’s true north remains focused on one mission – delivering undeniable value through measurable results. It’s their seamless fusion of strategy and execution that has solidified their reputation as a leader for accelerated growth for Private Equity-backed lower middle-market portfolio companies.

Summer Craig is the President and Founder of Craig Group, a revenue growth advisor for middle-market, private-equity-backed portfolio companies. 

The article in CEOWORLD Magazine by Christina Miller can be found here.

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