Your small business needs marketing. Is a virtual CMO the right option for you? Following are the virtual CMO FAQ  I hear from business owners, founders, and startups. Did I miss yours? Reach out directly to me.

I know my company better than anyone else and am the best person to market it. Why do I need a virtual CMO?

In an ideal world, time would be an infinite resource that would bend to our will. Unfortunately, time is a business professional’s most valuable commodity. A virtual CMO can help you accomplish more, faster. They help you scale.

Virtual CMOs fill holes in your expertise. You may tell your company’s story better than anyone, but have no clue on how to get in front of the right people. On this or any of a thousand other things you hate to do or don’t have in your skillset, a virtual CMO can help.

Virtual CMOs also see things that you don’t. You may be completely missing out on angles, insights, or strengths your company has. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see them.

Why hire a part time virtual CMO rather than invest in a full time member of my team?

Two reasons: experience and money. You want the best possible people in every role – hiring a virtual CMO means you can get a lot more expertise for your budget than hiring a full-time team member. Here are the facts:

CMO median salary is $170k per year. Add in bonus/profit sharing plus benefits, taxes, and overhead, and the fully loaded employee cost is more like $238,000.

If that’s in your budget, by all means go for the full-time professional. But if you need to scale up, you can get a virtual CMO for a fraction of that price. You can get things moving, improve operations, and be in a much better position to understand exactly what you do and don’t want in a full-time team member once you are ready to hire.

What is the best way to get value from a virtual CMO?

  • Ask for advice. Most people in your company look to you for direction; that’s part of what being a leader is all about. But who do you talk to? Where do you go when you want to bounce ideas around? Who pushes back on your preconceived notions? Who tells you that your cool idea is a huge distraction? This is an ideal fit for your virtual CMO.
  • Ask for help in developing strategy. You know your goals – ask your CMO how to get there. She can present multiple scenarios that align with your reality, and work with you on breaking them down into an achievable and actionable plan.
  • Ask for help in fleshing out ideas. You may have a glimmer of something in your head – you want to explore a humanitarian angle to your business, or you think you have a play for a new market. A virtual CMO can help you take it to the next level – she can brainstorm with you, do some research on options, and find a way to turn your idea into a revenue- or influence-growing element of your business.
  • Ask for help with execution. You may know, for example, that speaking at high-profile events is the best way for you to attract new clients. But you hate, hate, hate developing the pitches and decks. Your virtual CMO can do the legwork herself, or work with your internal team to get things done.
  • Ask for help in building your internal team. Once your virtual CMO helps you develop a strategy, identify activities to achieve your goals, and determine the best way to execute, you have a defined scope for a regular position. A virtual CMO can help you hire with confidence.

How can I find the right virtual CMO for my company?

It boils down to three things: Budget, professional expertise, and personal fit.

  • Budget is the easiest of the three: If you have a specific project, a virtual CMO can give you a solid quote for time and dollars required. If you want focused time for feedback, brainstorming, and strategy development, then a virtual CMO can give you a quote based on time – you can work together to make sure you use your hours most effectively.
  • Professional expertise is relevant, but avoid narrow interpretations. In general, the B2C vs. B2B split is probably the most important – someone who specializes in convenience store marketing, for example, is probably not the best fit for a software developer. Look for someone who has worked with multiple companies in a variety of industries to capture the benefits of her expertise.
  • Personal fit is huge. You need to be able to tell your virtual CMO some uncomfortable truths – and you need to be able to hear them from her, too. As the adage goes, the first step toward solving a problem is recognizing you have one. The more open you are, the better your chances are of finding solutions. Definitely ask for your virtual CMO to sign a non-disclose agreement to help you start building trust. Recognize that she has probably seen or heard worse stories than yours (even though she won’t tell you where she learned them.) You also want to enjoy working with your virtual CMO – she may have armloads of experience but if you dread your time together, things won’t happen.

Do I need to have an extended contract with a virtual CMO?

No, and you should never have to sign one. If you have a specific project, your virtual CMO should give you a timeframe needed for completion. If your needs are broader, understand there will be a ramp up period to establish a relationship and delve into issues. But if things are not working out, you should know within three months – and you should not have to continue on.

Be forewarned, this works both ways – your virtual CMO may decide that you aren’t a great fit. I have rarely severed relationships, but if a client lies to me (or asks me to lie on their behalf) I resign. I also have politely moved on from relationships where a client refuses to listen to even the most basic of advice. There’s no need to waste everyone’s time.

I’m interested. What’s next?

If you have read this far, something has struck a chord. Is it worth 15 more minutes of your time for a phone call? If so, send email or pick a time to talk. I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. You don’t have to go it alone.

Let’s Talk