What is a Virtual CMO or Outsourced CMO or CMO Outsourced?

In simplest terms, a Virtual CMO or Outsourced CMO or CMO outsourced is a full-time CMO working part time and may work for multiple businesses at the same time.

Note: though the service nomenclature is generic, some businesses have patented the term Outsourced CMO (OS-CMO) and or CMO outsourced (CMO-OS).

Who usually hires a Virtual CMO?

Startups and small businesses may not be able to afford a full-time CMO and or may not have enough marketing and branding activities to justify a full-time CMO

How does the Virtual CMO arrangement work?

It works very much like any full-time employee working part time. V-CMO reports to the CEO who is also one of the co-founders in case of startups/ small businesses. V-CMO has a team of 1 to 3 marketing members that work full-time at the startup/ small business. This team reports to V-CMO.

A Virtual CMO for all practical purposes, for both internal and external world, a company employee. The V-CMO even has a company official email ID for all communication purposes.

What is a Virtual CMO or OS-CMO or part time CMO responsible for?

A virtual CMO (V-CMO) or outsourced CMO is responsible for all the functions and responsibility of a full-time CMO. These include:

  1. Identify challenges and aspirations of the organization
  2. Strategize the marketing and branding (M&B) plans in tune to the above
  3. Draw & implement M&B blueprint to resolve the above challenges and achieve aspirations
  4. Prepare budget in accordance with marketing activities envisaged
  5. Implement the marketing and branding activities as per the blueprint
  6. Evaluate and measure the activities on an on-going basis
  7. Report and update the management about the outcomes and plan for the future

Is V-CMO also responsible for execution and results?

Indeed, a V-CMO is responsible for drawing the strategy into the blueprint and converting the blueprint into actionables. These actionables show desired results over a period of time milestones set. The plans are monitored, evaluated and measured on an on-going basis. V-CMO works closely with the full-time marketing team to ensure flawless execution.

What tools/ media does a V-CMO use for strategic & blueprint dispensation?

A V-CMO is supposed to be well versed with all marketing and branding tools and media such as advertising, PR, media planning, internal communication, digital marketing, events & sponsorships, merchandising, brand positioning, market research, etc. S/he may not use all the tools but must know which one to use and how as and when required to deliver results.

How much time does a V-CMO dedicate and what is her/ his fees?

A Virtual CMO comes at a fraction of a cost as compared to that of a full-time CMO. The duration and fees of the V-CMO is dependent on the quantum and complexity of the work to be done. It is also impacted by the V-CMO’s work experience both in terms of number of years and profile of work. V-CMO visits client’s office for a fixed number of days in a month eg once in a week or once in 10 days or once a fortnight as per the quantum of work and pre-decided frequency of visit. Apart from these pre-decided dates of visit, a V-CMO is also in touch over phone/ emails with the team/ management as and when needed.

Does a V-CMO charge a fixed or variable remuneration?

The fees drawn by a V-CMO could be either fixed or a combination of fixed and variable. This is dependent on what has been agreed upon between the V-CMO and the management. Many-a-times, the V-CMO could be setting up basics in an organization hence may draw a fixed fee and when s/he is showing results (lead generation/ sales etc), the fee could be a combination of fixed and variable dependent on the performance

Are there any other additional charges to be borne by the organization?

As per the marketing strategy chalked and the action plan drawn, 3rd party agencies may be hired to do specific assignments. These agencies may constitute of digital marketing agencies, website design agency or creative agency. A Virtual CMO, just like a full-time CMO, presides over what kind of agency/ expert needs to be hire, evaluate the agencies, negotiate deliverables and fees and appoint the right agency/ expert. This agency/ expert is paid by the business directly. Similarly, there may be collaterals or merchandise printed/ produced, these costs are part of the marketing plan and borne by the organization directly.

What are the advantages or benefits of hiring a Virtual CMO?

  1. Fraction of a cost – You are able to hire a person of high caliber just at a 18-20% of the cost if you would have hired him/ her full time
  2. Your value of time – In most of the startups and small businesses, founders tend to don the multiple hats therefore diluting the value of his/ her time. You as a founder must focus on your core business and leave marketing and branding to an expert who tells you what to do and does it for you
  3. Unbiased and yet entrenched – Since V-CMO is an outsider and a consultant, you get an unbiased view of your organization and its activities. At the same time, V-CMO
  4. Consistency & speed – In absence of a person taking complete ownership of a task/ activity, the activity tends to fizzle out after a point of time. With a V-CMO, there is a consistency in the marketing and branding efforts. Moreover, a V-CMO’s network enables them to get the right partners on-board quickly to turn-around things faster
  5. Business edge – Your business gets an edge over your competitors by creating a distinct value proposition or retaining more customers
  6. Strategic resource – Your marketing team maybe junior hence equipped for transactional activities such as printing collaterals etc., a senior resource such as V-CMO looks at the larger picture, brings in strategic inputs, sets goals and then channelizes resources to achieve these goals for the organization