What Does a Virtual Chief Marketing Officer Do?

What Does a Virtual Chief Marketing Officer Do?

A virtual CMO can be a modern alternative to a traditional in-person CMO. Alongside the advantage of being able to work with a virtual CMO who can be located anywhere, they are often more affordable. Hiring a full-time Chief Marketing Officer for your business with close to or higher than six-figure salary requirements can seem like an impossible task if you are not bringing in large amounts of revenue. A virtual Chief Marketing Officer, however, can provide similar marketing leadership and experience at a much more affordable price thanks to an ever-increasing virtual work world.

Virtual CMOs certainly wear many hats (as a small business owner, I am sure you can relate!) There are several marketing activities that they can help with your business with such as:

  • Marketing team leadership

  • Marketing research and strategy development

  • Website and digital platform management

  • Creation and management of sales funnels

  • Email and Content Marketing 

  • Execution of strategic campaigns

  • Analytic and data reporting

  • Marketing budget management

  • Overseeing consistency across all marketing efforts

Lindsey Wagnon Marketing is an example of a boutique marketing agency, with myself serving as the virtual CMO to ensure that clients are getting focused attention. At LWM, I provide partnerships where I am able to fully own a business’ marketing with an expert perspective.

The practical application of this looks like monthly meetings with the business owner or leadership to get all the information and vision necessary for customizing the marketing planning. Then, taking that high-level planning and turning it into projects for myself, my agency team, an employee of the business or a vendor the company has chosen to outsource to. In some cases I may even recommend a vendor but no matter who is doing the actual work, I replace the business owner’s need to coordinate all this manpower by taking on that communication, oversight and coaching myself. This is one of my favorite parts of the job.

I’ll also make sure marketing is consistent across all channels, staff are trained as needed, data is scrutinized and adjustments to any of the marketing are made accordingly. Part of the virtual Chief Marketing Officer’s job is to work within a reasonable marketing budget and advise on new hires or future marketing direction.

Now, all of this sounds great but how do you determine if a virtual CMO is right for your business? There are several different routes you can take when it comes to hiring help, and there is certainly not a one-size-fits-all. If you are unsure, here are a couple of signs to determine if a virtual CMO is more applicable to your business than a freelance marketer, a marketing employee or coordinating multiple freelancers.

A virtual Chief Marketing Officer can bring direction and organization

Oftentimes, when a business has marketing that is all over the place and not producing results, it is due to a lack of intentional direction. When there are too many moving pieces in a marketing strategy, it can lead to an absolute disaster.

An effective virtual CMO is a leader.

They have experience that has equipped them to not only execute marketing tasks, but also lead from a high level and sync up coordinated efforts. Having a strong leader, a visionary and a great people person at the helm of your marketing can go much, much further than less experienced freelancers or marketing hires.

A virtual CMO can build long-term sales and marketing results

Maybe you have had strategy calls with marketing professionals or perhaps you have been in the do-it-yourself phase. While these can be normal steps to building a business, you may be at a stage where you are in need of longer term outcomes. A virtual CMO is able to look at the big picture and look at all facets of your marketing; not just one area. They can take into account your overall business goals and objectives, and determine the best marketing strategy that fits your business specifically. No copy-and-paste around here.

A virtual CMO is a great alternative when you aren’t quite ready for a full-time CMO

If you aren’t ready to commit to the higher costs or overall responsibility of hiring a full-time CMO, then a virtual CMO may be a better fit for your business. Both of these options are able to promote growth and direction within your business, but one of the two is definitely more affordable. My virtual CMO services fill the gap without the full-time commitment which means I’ll bring the marketing skills and leadership to a business but pay for my own marketing resources, charge by contract rather than get added to the payroll and provide flexibility in pricing and services. All of this boils down to a considerable difference in costs to the company.

The downside to a virtual Chief Marketing Officer

I like to promote transparency in my business so here’s the downside to hiring a virtual CMO that operates like I do. I’m not going to be available for traditional work hours or in-office reporting. Now, of course I’ll schedule and be reliable for normal work hours meetings and very responsive to emails between those meetings, but I’m not going to be totally accessible like an in-house hire would be. You could consider that my version of “benefits.” 

Additionally, I work on a 6 or 12-month contract which may feel somewhat temporary but that’s also a benefit to the business that is filling a gap rather than ready to commit to a hire. I have worked with businesses for up to 4 years while they grow enough to be able to afford more employees. Is this a downside? Not really, but it could feel a little different than if I were a full-time employee so the expectation needs to be appropriate.

One more note: I also coach businesses on who and when and how to hire a full-time marketer when the time is right. I’m aware some businesses get too large for a boutique marketing agency and I love to help with the transition into an in-house marketing team when they’re ready. Until then, the business is going to benefit tremendously from enlisting my leadership and skills over marketing freelancers with less experience and who need leadership.

If you know that you don’t need to let another day pass (or year, for that matter!) without having the strongest level of marketing help for your business, then you are in the right place. Download our interest guide here to learn more about what LWM offers as a full-service agency with a virtual CMO leading the way!

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