Hiring a full-time chief marketing officer (CMO) can be out of reach for most small and medium-sized businesses.
So, what is a viable solution if that is the case for you? After all, the strategic guidance that a CMO brings to the table can be a key element for the growth of your business.
In this article, we’ll explore how an outsourced CMO can be a solid alternative to hiring a full-time CMO—while still giving you the expertise you need to take your business to the next level.
What Is an Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)?
An outsourced CMO is a marketing expert who provides their expertise on a part-time or project basis, working as a third party through a marketing agency or as an independent contractor. The cost of working with an outsourced CMO is generally much lower than hiring a full-time CMO.
The general norm is that an outsourced CMO only works with you when needed and based on your specific marketing efforts and company goals.
Once you hire an outsourced CMO, you gain access to someone who can use their industry knowledge to guide your current marketing team to speedy execution of your marketing strategy—without a full-time cost commitment.
How an Outsourced CMO Can Benefit Your Business
Besides providing much-needed marketing leadership, an outsourced CMO can bring other benefits to your business. Here are the top 3 benefits:
Higher marketing ROI
A seasoned outsourced CMO will be able to gain a comprehensive understanding of your current situation and your industry, as well as develop strategies to maximize the ROI of your marketing efforts.
They will assess your marketing budget and allocate resources efficiently. This includes optimizing spending on different marketing channels, technologies, and campaigns to maximize return on investment.
In addition, outsourced CMOs have an extensive network of marketing professionals who might provide better terms for a possible collaboration. They can often negotiate better deals for services such as advertising, content creation, and marketing technology.
This means even more opportunities to reduce costs on services provided and increase your ROI.
Hiring a full-time CMO comes with substantial costs, including salary, benefits, and other overhead expenses. Outsourcing allows you to access high-level marketing expertise without the financial commitment of a full-time executive.
With an outsourced CMO, you have the flexibility of only paying for the project work you need. This allows you to focus on other necessary expenditures or investment opportunities.
For example, let’s say you need help devising a digital marketing strategy focused on increasing lead generation, which requires 20 hours of work per week for six months. With an outsourced CMO, this is exactly what you pay for.
Such budget flexibility allows you to tailor your marketing expenditure to your needs and make the most of your capital.
You can be certain of one thing regarding an outsourced CMO: they bring years of experience in delivering marketing campaigns, managing a marketing budget, and leading a marketing team.
This executive-level experience comes hand in hand with an acute understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Their breadth of knowledge can be invaluable in avoiding common pitfalls and leveraging successful strategies that have proven effective in other contexts.
Such knowledge will allow an outsourced CMO to take your marketing game to the next level.
Plus, being external to the organization, an outsourced CMO can provide an unbiased and objective perspective on your marketing department’s efforts. This fresh viewpoint can uncover new opportunities and identify areas for improvement that may be overlooked internally.
What To Keep In Mind When Considering Outsourced CMO Services
Putting aside, for a moment, the benefits of collaborating with an outsourced CMO, there are a few aspects to consider before deciding to work with one.
Although we’ve come a long way since the days when you had to pick up a telephone to get an update for a project, the multitude of communication channels now at our disposal can make it difficult to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Things can be a bit fragmented. Considering that most outsourced CMOs work remotely, issues of clarity and miscommunication have a high chance of occurring—at least at the beginning of your collaboration.
To counter this, discuss upfront what communication channels will be used and the frequency of communication.
Possible culture fit issues
One of the advantages of an in-house CMO is the cultural baptism they receive when they start. They are immediately immersed in how your company operates.
Outsourced CMOs don’t get the benefit of this cultural immersion. Although your company culture and values can be conveyed through a guide, it’s just not the same as being face-to-face.
Even though it is more difficult, there are ways to get around this issue and still successfully build a strong culture within remote teams—it just takes a bit more thought and effort.
Possible lack of control
One major issue of handing over the control of a core business component to someone outside your organization is the high chance of friction. Losing control can be difficult, depending on your management style and level of involvement.
You will still have the final say over a project, but you won’t have the same degree of project ownership as you are used to. Giving up control is a given; you just need to trust that your outsourced CMO will deliver on their objectives.
A well-implemented marketing strategy is one key aspect of business growth. After all, this is how you reach your target audience and convince them to purchase your product or services.
One way to ensure the success of your marketing efforts is to have the right team and leader in place. Therein lies the importance of a CMO.
So, if a full-time CMO is out of reach for your business, opting for an outsourced CMO is the best of both worlds. You get the expertise you need while staying within your budget.
Another option is hiring a CMO from outside the US, with lower salary expectations. For example, from Latin America (LatAm), where salaries are 30–70% below US norms.
At Near, we have built a strong talent pool of LatAm marketing professionals who can work remotely to build your business without compromising on quality—allowing you to have full-time marketing expertise at part-time costs.
To see the cost-savings you can make from hiring in LatAm, have a look at our salary guide for marketing roles in the US vs. LatAm.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an outsourced CMO and a fractional CMO?
These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference in their relationship with the organization. An outsourced CMO is from an external agency or consulting firm or works as an independent contractor. This individual (or team) is entirely external to your organization.
A fractional CMO, on the other hand, refers to a part-time or shared chief marketing officer who works directly for your company. This can be an experienced marketing executive who dedicates a portion of their time to your business, providing strategic leadership and guidance.
Fractional CMOs are essentially part-time members of your team, often working remotely, and they may be engaged for a specific number of hours per week or month.
Both models offer flexibility and cost savings compared to hiring a full-time CMO, making them attractive options for businesses looking to access high-level marketing expertise without the commitment of a full-time hire.
What is the difference between a CMO and a VP of marketing?
This will sometimes depend on the organization. However, often the main difference between a CMO and a VP of marketing stems from the nature of their roles. For example, a CMO usually focuses more on strategy, while a VP of marketing may focus more on execution and tactics.
A CMO may have a broader scope that includes brand management, customer experience, and sometimes even aspects of product development.
On the other hand, a VP of marketing might be responsible for overseeing specific areas of marketing, such as digital marketing, content strategy, or product marketing. Their responsibilities often involve the execution of the broader marketing strategy set by the CMO.
What other marketing roles can be outsourced besides CMO?
In addition to outsourcing your chief marketing officer role, many other marketing functions can be outsourced to external agencies, consultants, or freelance marketers. Outsourcing marketing roles can provide flexibility and access to cost-effective marketing talent with specialized skills.
Here are just a few of the marketing activities that are commonly outsourced:
- Content marketing
- Digitial marketing
- Social media management
- Search engine optimization (SEO) and link building
- Paid advertising management
- Email marketing
- Market research
- Web Design and Development
To learn more about outsourcing marketing roles, read our comprehensive guide on marketing outsourcing.