Virtual CMO vs Virtual Chief Marketing Officer FAQS

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Virtual CMO vs Virtual Chief Marketing Officer FAQS

Every business in modern times needs marketing in order to continue to grow and find new customers. This is true for businesses of all sizes, from startups all the way to multi-national organizations. As a VCMO, I get asked a lot of questions about what makes partnering with a Virtual CMO the right decision. Here are some of the common ones I hear and, more importantly, the answers to them:

What is a Virtual CMO?

In most large businesses, a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is responsible for developing and executing the marketing activities outlined for growth. This person is also responsible for maintaining consistent branding across all forms of communication, developing new ways to reach current and potential clients, and ensuring that the appropriate tracking is in place so that a positive or negative ROI can be determined for each marketing investment effort. Sounds like tedious work doesn’t it?

Like a CMO, a Virtual CMO takes on these responsibilities at a fraction of the cost by performing only necessary duties on a part-time basis. This is particularly advantageous for small and medium-sized businesses as these businesses typically do not have a large enough budget to keep a full-time CMO position occupied at all times. However, even large businesses can benefit from the services of a vCMO, particularly during a vacancy period when marketing plans can’t be halted.

I’ve run my company from the beginning and know it better than anyone. Why would I need a vCMO?

While running every facet of your business may seem like a great idea at first, once you start to grow, finding the time to keep all of your ducks in a row can seem like an insurmountable challenge. In the business world, time is money. If you aren’t keeping up with your marketing demands because you have other matters to attend to, you could be missing out on that money!

One other common problem that business owners have when they begin to grow is that the marketing strategies, they used to get to that point may no longer be providing the same results they once had. In truth, you may just be throwing your marketing budget at the same people over and over. If they’ve already purchased from you, should you still be using that money to get their attention, or would you rather actively be building that pool?

A great vCMO should be able to complement your marketing plans and give your insight into the best strategies to implement to achieve those goals. A vCMO works with you to streamline marketing and organize data so that you can make smarter decisions. This allows you to take out the guesswork and put your effort exactly where your business needs it at the exact moment it makes sense.

Why should I hire a part-time Virtual CMO instead of a full-time marketing employee?

While this is a common question, the answer generally will never deviate. Think about how much it costs to onboard a new employee, then train them to fit your business’ unique methods and then have them leave because they found a better opportunity. Not only is this a major bummer, but it’s also a financial drain that can easily become a revolving door of new marketing employees that might not make much of an impact.

When partnering with a vCMO, you get years of valuable marketing experience at a fraction of the cost you would pay for a full-time marketing employee annually. Even better, if the partnership doesn’t work out or you are unsatisfied with the service you receive, you can part ways with no real repercussions. Unfortunately, the same approach with a full-time employee requires a far more involved process. Simply put, the best part about working with a Virtual CMO is the ability to gain real marketing experience while cutting the costs associated with growing your workforce.

Because a Virtual CMO will work with businesses of all sizes across many different industries, the experience they are able to provide will likely be more beneficial than that of a full-time employee that has only worked with a limited number of businesses. I encourage you to try working with a vCMO first. If it doesn’t work out, you can always move to a full-time employee after the experience is over and know what you are looking for in a team member.

How much does it cost to hire a Virtual CMO?

As I previously stated, this is one of the biggest benefits for most businesses because the costs associated with hiring a part-time vCMO are far lower than hiring a full-time marketing employee. The average median salary nationwide for a CMO is nearly $200k annually. And that doesn’t even include benefits, overhead costs and taxes. Seems like a lot of money for a business to spend on an employee that is actively using a marketing budget to draw in new customers, doesn’t it?

Like any other designated employee that you hire, part-time will always be the least expensive route. Not only does this remove the need for benefits, but it also doesn’t create a permanent position for the vCMO at your company. In fact, a vCMO should only work with you on an as needed basis to ensure you aren’t using your money on unnecessary services. If they try to sell you on signing an extended contract, there’s a good chance they won’t be the right fit for your company and are just trying to guarantee their own income.

Is an extended contract necessary with a Virtual CMO?

As previously stated, any vCMO that requires you to sign a long-term contract for services likely is attempting to milk you for your money unless they provide an actionable plan up front for your unique needs. Unfortunately, the marketing world has its fair share of swindlers and business owners have become jaded about how effective it can truly be. You may be wondering “Is the cost really worth it?” With a Virtual CMO, you should be able to figure that out in a short period of time with no real commitments.

How do I get the most value from a Virtual CMO?

If you are working with the right vCMO, you will find that they are providing great analytical data to show you just how well the marketing strategy is working. However, there are some common steps you can take to ensure that you are getting the most value possible from the partnership. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Actively Seek Advice – If you’ve hit a crossroads and you aren’t sure which direction to take, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. This is one of the biggest benefits of working with a Virtual CMO because you have their experience to lean on if you are unsure of what the right path may be for continued growth. After all, this is why you hired a vCMO in the first place!
  • Plan Ahead – You know what the goals of your business are better than anyone. Although you may not know how to get there right now, your vCMO will. Once your goals and ideas have been fleshed out, you can work together to create a marketing plan that will help your business move in the right direction.
  • Get a Second Opinion – Have you ever had an idea in your head about how you want something to work but you just don’t know how to turn into something tangible? If you are struggling to develop a new product or need ideas for expansion, a vCMO can help. Two heads are always better than one. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you are unsure about your plans or ideas.
  • Bring Your Plans to Life – While most people view a vCMO as a simple marketing partner that helps get the business on the right track, they often also serve in many other valuable roles for their clients aside from executing marketing strategies. For instance, if you have a speaking engagement coming up or need to effectively pitch a new product to investors, your vCMO may be able to help ensure it goes smoothly.
  • Find New Employees – If you have a good relationship with your vCMO and want to hire new employees that can benefit you as well as they have, don’t be afraid to ask them for hiring recommendations. Finding the right team for your business is crucial for success. They may know the right fit for your vacant positions.

How do I choose the right Virtual CMO?

There are many different factors that should directly influence your decision to work with a vCMO; however, there are a few distinct things that should stick out during your process when attempting to find the right one for your business. Remember, hiring a Virtual CMO on a part-time basis is a two-way street if they don’t think they can add value they won’t accept the position. It is important to treat him or her like any other potential employee that you interview. During the process, keep these things in mind:

  • Do They Fit Our Company Culture? – In reality, you will be working with a vCMO far more often than you might imagine. Any time you have a marketing question, he or she should be the first person you call. For this reason, it is important to find a vCMO that you mesh with to create open communication lines. If they don’t easily assimilate with your employees, it could cause more problems than it’s worth.
  • What Is Your Budget? – No matter what size your business may be, there’s a good chance that you already have an idea of how much you want to spend on marketing. Your budget for a vCMO will likely need to be factored into this decision along with a designated ad spend. Does the cost of hiring a Virtual CMO work with your current numbers or should you rework the numbers and wait before hiring help?
  • How Experienced Are They? – In reality, anyone can call themselves a vCMO with a limited amount of experience. Because the idea is fairly new, many newcomers to the marketing world have latched onto the idea and begun offering their services to businesses. Make sure that the Virtual CMO you partner with has the right amount of experience to meet your needs with minimal trial and error to preserve your budget.

How is a Virtual CMO different than working with a marketing firm?

One of the biggest hurdles that business owners run into when communicating with a marketing agency is that they don’t know how to explain what they really hope to achieve. In reality, a vCMO will likely work with a marketing firm for some of the requirements of your marketing strategy but you will be able to take a hands-off approach. Because a Virtual CMO knows the lingo, he or she can accurately explain your goals and the way you hope to get there. This means that you can focus on the aspects of your business you love without worrying.

Your chosen vCMO will likely already have the right firm picked out for your unique needs and will be able to show your physical evidence that they are headed in the right direction to achieve your marketing goals. If your Virtual CMO isn’t regularly updating you on progress, it could signify a bigger issue. The right fit should always be transparent, even if the results you get aren’t what was expected. Honesty will ensure you are able to pivot at the right time and not waste your marketing budget on strategies that aren’t working.

Why should I choose you as my Virtual CMO?

I started my professional career as a software developer long before I became a professional marketer. In reality, it was the complexity of Google, Bing, Facebook, and all the other algorithms that drew my attention. This puts me in a unique position to understand how search engines work and the right steps your business should take online to capitalize on them. This is one of the key factors that makes a vCMO different than a traditional marketing firm.

After years of helping small businesses recover from a Website Design Specialist who “fell off the planet” or those in dire need of Reputation Management as a result of hiring a not so well trained Social Media Management Expert, I realized how strong the need is for marketing expertise at the small business level. I offer my nearly 20 years of experience managing marketing campaigns for businesses all over the world to you as your Virtual CMO.

I like what I hear! How do we get started?

If you’ve made it this far and you like what you are hearing, you may be ready to hire a vCMO for your marketing needs. To get started, we need to learn more about your business in order to outline opportunities that can be leveraged to increase product visibility and drive more sales. If you are ready to get started, I invite you to request a consultation. I look forward to learning more about your business and the goals you have!


Matthew Maennche

Chief Strategist

With over two decades of in-the-trenches marketing experience, Matthew Maennche’s views on developing and supporting a successful business are fundamentally different from the norm. As a developer and strategist, Maennche has helped thousands of businesses of all sizes, both domestic and international, take their organizations to the next level.

Matthew also spends time giving back to the local business community as a volunteer, mentor, and leader for the local chapter of SCORE.

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