Outsourced CMO and Why It Might Be the Best Choice for Your Business
In July 2015, Forbes published an article, The Outsourced Executive: A Growing Leadership Staffing Solution that discusses the benefits of outsourcing senior-level leadership roles in business. Although many C-level positions are covered, the bulk of the article focuses on employing a part-time chief marketing officer (CMO). This person is often called a fractional CMO, and by outsourcing this crucial component of your business, you are on your way to building long-term success.
So What IS an Outsourced, or Fractional, CMO?
An outsourced CMO can be a person or a firm, and more than a mere service provider who covers a component of marketing (e.g., social media, article writing, website and graphic design), an outsourced CMO has a seat at the strategy table.
Just as the C-level team of a large corporation sits around the proverbial round table to develop strategy and discuss options, the outsourced CMO maintains that same chair. Partnering with the president, vice president, and chiefs of technology, finance, and information, a CMO is part and parcel of the “big plan.”
While roles will vary based on a company’s specific needs, typical components of an outsourced CMO’s tasks will include:
- Developing short- and long-term strategic marketing goals.
- Proactively partnering with business leaders and key decision-makers within the organization.
- Coordinating the risk-management aspects of marketing.
- Maximizing profitability in marketing initiatives.
- Increasing customer lifetime value.
- Initiating and managing product and program development.
- Leveraging data and analytics to develop sound business decisions.
So while an outsourced CMO is not a full-time member of a company’s team, his or her role in the organization is essentially the same. One advantage of having an outsourced CMO over an in-house CMO, however, is that the part-time professional has other clients and is in the trenches in the real world, as it were.
That means your company will benefit from his or her experience in a variety of industries and companies. In addition, an outsourced CMO will have a diverse team of qualified professionals to bring to you for those service needs you’ll invariably have.
And since CMOs are leaders, they typically collaborate directly with your full-time team of marketers to implement tactics they’ve developed.
You get insight, expertise, training, and leadership for a more reasonable investment than hiring a full-time CMO.
Could Your Company Benefit from an Outsourced CMO?
Sure, we’d love to shout a resounded “YES” to this question, but the truth is that not all businesses are ready to outsource CMO operations.
For a very large, multinational organization, a full-time marketing team, led by one or two strategists, is a requirement. On the flip-side, a small 1- to 2-person company may not yet need the dedicated support of an outsourced CMO nor be ready to drive a comprehensive, strategic plan.
But if you’re a startup with strong future goals and understand the importance of building from a solid strategy right out of the gate—yet can’t afford to take on a full-time CMO—an outsourced CMO could be the best option for your organization.
You may also benefit from an outsourced CMO if you are currently searching for a full-time CMO and need an interim decision-maker.
These professionals can also make a lot of sense for companies that want to conserve funds but not talent since the cost of an outsourced CMO is much lower than bringing on the full-time version—with all of the recruiting, interviewing, and benefits costs.
The key indicator that it’s time to consider an outsourced CMO is when your company reaches an impasse.
For one of our clients, they didn’t see the opportunity that was right under their noses simply because they hadn’t done it that way before. We were able to steer them into an avenue they had been using—minimally—for a huge five-times return.
If top-level KPIs are missing and you don’t have a clear organizational structure around marketing, you may need an outsourced CMO. Likewise, if you are large enough to support the need and have aggressive goals for the next five to seven years, it might be time.
Bottom line: If you’re ready to play in the big leagues and need someone to help get you there, hire an outsourced CMO.
The Trick to Choosing Your Outsourced CMO
Due to the trend of moving away from a complete in-house staff to using part-time specialists (Seriously, how many SMBs do payroll and HR internally these days?), an outsourced CMO may be just the choice for your firm.
But how do you know which CMO to hire?
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to outsourced CMO, so you need to do your homework and ask the right questions.
First, you should know why you are looking to hire a CMO to begin with. Do you need someone to right the direction of the ship? To develop and manage initiatives for a short period while you look for a long-term solution? Or are you looking to bring on a more integral member of your team for the long run while keeping costs low?
Once you know why you need an outsourced CMO, consider how you need that person to best serve your firm. Do you want a person physically in your office full time for a couple of weeks? Or would someone need to be onsite a couple of days a week or month? Do you want to have access to your CMO at the touch of a button? Not all outsourced CMOs work in the same way, so you want to be sure their services are in alignment with your needs.
Get the Most Out of Your Outsourced CMO
As with anything in life, we may be in love with the idea of something, but when it comes to implementation, we sometimes fall short.
There are two keys to maximizing your return when it comes to your outsourced CMO:
- Hire an amazing outsourced CMO who is aligned with your goals and timelines.
- Listen to and do what your consultant says.
It might seem simple, but we can tell you that it often isn’t.
Without intended to, firms often trip themselves up as soon as changes are proposed. Phrases like, “We’ve never done that before; will that work?” and “That’s not how we approach marketing here” go flying. Well-intentioned concerns on the part of the entrenched management team become roadblocks that reinforce the old way of doing business.
If you’re going to hire a specialist who holds him/herself out as an expert, then do yourself a favor and do what that expert says.
You are paying for that leadership and guidance, and you can only get a return on your investment when you follow through.
How Inspire Business Concepts Is Different
Often, when a company is looking to outsource marketing, they build it up piecemeal: a graphic designer, an SEO implementer, and a copywriter.
While Inspire certainly has and uses all of those components, that’s at a lower, more micro level. What we really do is on a macro scale. We look at your company’s marketing operations and how the components are delivered.
We review your communications strategy and how it relates to your brand story. We peel back the layers to expose and build systems that ensure your customers’ experience is consistent each and every time.
We know you have goals, and when you work with us, we make sure those goals are realistic. With our fresh set of eyes, we offer a new perspective and take the daily aspects of managing marketing off your plate.
As your outsourced CMO, we are your brand champion and marketing project manager. We bring in vendors, manage internal team players, and challenge you as the owner to do more, to be more. Then we test, repeat, tweak, and improve.
If you’re ready to really move forward with strategic, thoughtful marketing, give us a call.
We may not be your best friends at first, but we promise to be your biggest advocate.