After the era of COVID-19, many startups (and traditional businesses) around the world came to realize that their day-to-day business activities can still be conducted remotely! Since then, it has led to many companies being more open to hiring for remote roles on a part-time or full-time basis.
Fast forward to 2024, we now have managers, directors, vice presidents and c-suite members taking remote calls from their vacation homes and still operating like business as usual. It's "the new normal" and it doesn't exclude ever-so-important roles like the Virtual Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
And no, it's not risky. I'll explain why.
Working remotely may have been shunned in the early 2000s. But since then, technology has pushed the boundaries of how teams work together. Based on my conversations at HireCMO, it seems that high-performing executives are more concerned about "getting the job done" as opposed to being hung over about the color of your t-shirt on that Zoom call. There are exceptions, though.
For some high-priority engagements, having the team on-site working physically together can drastically improve the results you'd get, compared to everyone operating virtually. It can make a big difference, yes. But such scenarios should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Some startups (like Twitter, I'm sure you've heard) are bringing all hands on deck and making it mandatory for employees to come into the office. Whereas other companies are welcoming a hybrid model, where 80% of the team members are expected to come into the office 1-2 times a week. I think that's fair.
But what about the chief marketing officer? Should they be subject to the same rules or given special treatment?
A virtual CMO is a c-suite executive who mainly operates remotely but is fully available to your Board, Investors and operating teams to lead your company's marketing efforts at all levels.
I'll be honest. The advantage of having a virtual c-suite executive role within your company might not sound the most pleasant at first. After all, the decisions made by these individuals can have drastic negative (or positive!) impacts on the health of your startup.
But I'll tell you why it's a slightly different case for virtual cmo services. The answer lies in the nature of their work. Let's dig in.
Amongst the 50 different things they do (yes 50), a virtual chief marketing officer can design, optimize and execute the following:
I browsed through 30+ CMO job postings from reputable companies and created another blog about it, if you'd like to read about what a chief marketing officer is expected to bring to a marketing team. You'll notice the more early-stage the startup is, the more vague and loosely tied the job description is. The more mature, the more in-depth and broader their requirements. It's interesting.
And so a lot of the marketing efforts expected from a chief marketing officer actually align very closely to the objectives of the founding team - i.e., scale the business sustainably. Here's where it gets more fun.
With the exception of highly critical marketing efforts such as brand positioning, refining product messaging, conducting internal marketing interviews - most of the work on a virtual chief marketing officer roster revolves around the internet! I would say, 80% of it. Why?
Yes, I am picking some strange, niche examples - but the point is that most of internet marketing can be executed online through video calls and screen sharing as long as there is an agreeable cadence which suits the needs of the marketing team (type of mentorship, level of guidance, handholding, etc. required).
This is also why we're noticing a large influx of marketing gigs being available online for freelancers from all over the globe. It's not a hoax. It works. And having a virtual chief marketing officer available at the click of a button is no different - their actions just have more impact on your business. Which is why you should rely on trusted, reliable sources for hiring a virtual cmo. My recommended? HireCMO. Abandon your marketing chaos already, come talk to us.
Wow, glad you asked. There's a lot that goes into this response. But, regardless of the working arrangement (i.e., virtually or physically at the office), here are the most important items you should look for when interviewing candidates:
I'll be writing a blog on what questions to ask a virtual chief marketing officer. Although I know 40-50% of the questions, I'll need to speak with high-performing CMOs based in US, CA and EU to come up with a solid list I can share with you! :)
In the meantime, if you want to resolve your marketing conflicts and get charmed by our CMOs, come have a virtual coffee with us at HireCMO! Virtual CMO, virtual coffee haha.
Did you know that the average CMO tenure in 2020 and 2021 was around 40 months—the lowest in more than a decade. There can be multiple reasons why this is happening, I'm not sure to be frank - but, the key takeaway for you here is that regardless of how long a CMO decides to stay with you, your job as the founder/leader, is to ensure you leverage their time to the best of your ability.
Now how exactly would one do that? Hear me out. It's called a "fractional cmo". On sales calls, I've seen founders get chills down their spines when I mention "fractional cmo services" because it apparently implies that the hiring team would not receive the "complete benefits of a full time cmo". But this couldn't be further from the truth.
Think of fractional as "as needed" for your company. You're not getting less than you should. You're only paying for results and time that you need, as they come. That means,
Conducting market research is a required skillset for founding teams at all companies, and is not just isolated to chief marketing officers. The marketing tactics you use today will be vastly different from the traditional marketing that many are used to. And it's up to the virtual cmo (and yourself) to build out your marketing function, create an MVP marketing strategy and keep testing your hypotheses to determine what works vs. what doesn't.
I might sound like a broken record by now, but marketing strategy isn't a "2-dimensional" world anymore. Customers now have a lot of information available at their fingertips to instantly compare your value proposition and product features with 10 other competitors in minutes. It's tough. And the one who'll define a marketing strategy that carefully considers all the angles, will win. But the fact is that if you want to speed up your progress and cut the learning curve in half for new territory (e.g., deciding whether to hire a TikTok influencer for your brand, determining if paid ad spend is the right customer acquisition channel, thinking how to present a defensible growth roadmap for your next fundraising) it's always recommended to work with someone more experienced than yourself!
I may sound like I'm trying to sell you a virtual cmo, but really think about it. Who did you go to in University? Who taught you how to ride a bike? How did you learn about "growth hacking"? There was always someone who taught you the ways. And why should it be any different growing a business that means so much to you?
We've covered a lot here today. Here's a summary:
And oh, you're welcome to have a coffee with us anytime. Just come say hi at HireCMO :)