The Cautionary Tale of On Demand CMOs

Moises Beahan
Talent Manager at HireCMO

The internet is scattered with "Chief Marketing Officer tips and tricks" and "19 things about a CMO" articles. But none of them go into instructive details of how to filter for an ideal CMO for your startup and the key characteristics you should be looking for when hiring one!

On this page, I aim to make the best use of your time and showcase the exact things you need to keep in mind as you embark on your journey of bringing on an impactful executive into your business to fix/upgrade your marketing game.

The true purpose of a CMO

I'll be honest here. There's multiple paragraphs on the first and second pages of Google on what a chief marketing officer should do, but I struggled to find much resonance/depth in the content that was posted.

Most websites have some ulterior motive (guilty) in selling you their services and in the process, create mediocre content that only gets your eyeballs warmed up to click the "BUY" button. I'm going to do my best to not be that guy here. Let's do it.

Traditionally, a chief marketing officer's role was not as multi-faceted as it is today where there's several mediums/channels (online and offline) through which your company can acquire customers. Additionally, true marketing activities that are impactful require the individual to have a holistic understanding of the business and truly absorb how the different parts of the organization come together to - drive revenue!

And so simply put, the CMO is expected to provide strategic advice (fancy word for "direction" and "high-level expertise") to the C-suite executives so that the marketing team has a decent understand of what actions to take, why it's critical to driving growth and the resources necessary for them.

This is as eloquent as I could make it. I'll go into further detail in other blogs but here's the main areas a CMO may help with:

  1. Provide quarterly updates to the Board and Investors on behalf of the founders.
  2. Be the cohesive glue between Product, Marketing, Growth and Sales teams.
  3. Develop an understanding of how the business ranks up against its competitors.
  4. Help re-align on brand positioning and messaging, with the intention of differentiating amongst similar players in the space.
  5. Initialize and execute a marketing plan and roadmap for the business, ensuring it's in line with other initiatives with the company.

Can a Chief Marketing Officer be an independent contractor?

Yes, a CMO can be an incident contractor where the scope of their work with you and the hours they spend per month are capped at a certain limit. There's multiple advantages to having such an arrangement in place including saving on full-time hire salaries, not needing to provide medical insurance or vacation hours and being able to solely utilize their time for enhancing your marketing leadership.

An on demand CMO may also be called a fractional CMO. The challenge here is that a lot of founders I've spoken with mentioned that they were initially turned off by the word "fractional" since it may imply that there's certain job functions/responsibilities that the CMO would not fulfill.

Although this may be funny to hear, I can understand where the listener is coming from. The reality is that the scope of work for the CMO (i.e., what they will do vs. not do at your startup) depends entirely on the contract and discussions that you have with them. We'll walk through some examples later on of some contracts you can have in place when hiring and working with your Chief Marketing Officer.

Why would someone hire an on demand CMO?

Great question. Google is littered with all kinds of hand-wavy, hard-to-believe statements around this topic. And so I want you to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and ask yourself these:

  1. Do you have long-term marketing engagements which require consistent levels of attention?
  2. Do you really need an expensive C-suite executive? Or maybe you just need an operator (e.g., a marketing agency) to run your social media campaigns?
  3. Does your marketing budget or revenue really allow for onboarding an expensive CMO? Or are you really just looking for some push in the right direction/course correct for your growth roadmap for the next quarter?

Although these questions might make your tummy churn, the fact is that most times than not, you do not really need an expensive, heavyweight title to come into your organization, bloat up operations even further and drive up your overhead. We get into more detail here.

Sometimes you just need a supreme operator and strategist with 20+ years of experience working with organizations like Cisco, Salesforce, Hootsuite, Flexport and other successful SaaS and e-commerce businesses. And that's where your on demand cmo at HireCMO comes in. Book a free call anytime you want! And lastly, you can always use the search function on our site if you're looking for something specific.

Click here to book a call with us!

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