Why Your Business Should Consider CMO as a Service

You know the numbers—roughly 50% of businesses don’t make it past five years and only 20% make it to 20 years. In today’s competitive business landscape, a strong brand and a clear message are crucial for success. In a business landscape where strategic marketing is a crucial driver of growth, could hiring a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) as a service be the game-changer your company needs? (PS, you can take our 2-minute quiz and find out.)

These professionals are responsible for crafting a comprehensive marketing plan that attracts customers, builds brand awareness, and drives sales. From understanding the target audience, navigating the evolving marketing landscape, creating effective campaigns, and overseeing the marketing budget, a CMO plays a vital role in ensuring a company reaches its full potential. Sometimes, however, companies don’t have the budget or need for a full-time CMO. Fortunately, CMO as a service is an option.

How do CMOs add to company structure?

CMOs typically oversee a team of marketing professionals responsible for market research, advertising campaigns, public relations, and product marketing. They collaborate closely with other company executives, such as the CEO, to ensure marketing efforts align with the overall business strategy.

CMOs wear many hats and bring diverse skill sets necessary for their and their company’s success:

  • Strategic leadership and business acumen. These CMOs are strategic thinkers who understand the competitive landscape, analyze market trends, and leverage strategies to craft marketing plans aligned with the company’s broader goals. Implementing their effective marketing initiatives drives growth.
  • Market analysis and customer focus. CMOs excel at market research, pinpointing customer needs and preferences. CMOs also leverage data to identify trends and use that knowledge to develop targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with their ideal customers.
  • Digital marketing expertise. The marketing landscape is heavily digital, and a savvy CMO needs a firm grasp of digital marketing channels like social media, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and e-commerce strategies.
  • Brand management and storytelling. CMOs are the guardians and evangelists of a company’s brand. They develop and manage the brand image, crafting a clear, consistent message that resonates with the target audience. They’re also skilled storytellers able to weave compelling narratives that connect emotionally.
  • Communication and leadership skills. A CMO leads the marketing team and needs strong communication and interpersonal skills to inspire, motivate, and gain buy-in from other company executives and departments.

Enter: CMO as a service (CMOaaS)

CMO as a service offers a solution for companies needing guidance with their marketing efforts but without the commitment of a full-time hire. These marketing veterans provide part-time leadership, stepping in to lead existing teams and refine marketing strategies. Ideal for businesses not quite ready or unable to afford a full-time CMO, a CMOaaS approach provides the strategic guidance and industry insights you’d expect from a top executive at a cost-effective rate.

Fractional CMOs

Fractional CMOs act like integrated members of a company’s marketing team. They typically work part-time directly with existing marketing personnel, providing leadership and guidance. They’ll conduct a deep dive into a specific strategy and help refine it based on their experience. Company leaders have a direct reporting relationship with their fractional CMO, who becomes an extension of that leadership team, providing strategic direction and collaborating with other departments.

An outsourced/fractional CMO might come from a marketing agency or work as an independent consultant. Generally, fractional CMOs charge a set rate for their dedicated time, but their fees might be project-based or depend on their specific services.

Some companies might think they don’t need a CMO because they already have a CEO—especially if they’re a small startup or in its early stages and strapped for cash. The current leadership team might have misconceptions about a CMO’s role, viewing it as solely advertising- and branding-focused. But CMOs bring strategy and analytics to the table, too.

CEO versus CMO. What’s the difference?

A chief executive officer (CEO) and a CMO occupy different leadership positions within a company, with distinct focus areas. The CEO is the ship’s captain, responsible for the company’s overall vision, strategy, and success. CEOs set long-term goals, oversee all departments, and make high-level decisions about everything from product development to finances. They answer to a board of directors and are accountable for a company’s performance.

CMOs serve as the navigators, charting the course for the marketing department and crafting strategies to achieve the company’s goals. These professionals promote the company’s brand, generate leads, and drive sales through marketing initiatives. They work closely with the CEO to align marketing efforts with the overall business strategy.

The CEO sets the growth targets, and the CMO executes marketing strategies to achieve them. The CMO also develops strategies for customer engagement, feeding directly into the CEO’s goal of recurring revenue. While the CEO has a broad business view, the CMO is the marketing guru with a granular understanding of customer behavior, market trends, and the most effective ways to reach their target audience.

How to Know if You Need CMO as a Service

Deciding whether your business could benefit from a CMO as a service can be pivotal to its growth and efficiency. Here are key indicators that suggest this service might be right for you:

  • Marketing Efforts Aren’t Meeting Goals: If your current marketing efforts are falling short of targets—whether in terms of lead generation, sales, or brand awareness—it might be time to bring in a CMO to provide the strategic oversight and creative input needed to revitalize your campaigns.
    Leadership Gaps in Marketing: Small to medium businesses often operate with limited executive leadership in marketing. If your team lacks senior marketing leadership, a fractional CMO can fill this crucial gap, bringing in the necessary expertise to guide your marketing strategy.
    Budget Constraints: Hiring a full-time CMO can be a significant financial commitment. If budget limitations are a concern, opting for a CMO as a service allows you to access top-tier marketing expertise without the full-time salary and benefits package.
    Need for Scalable Solutions: If your company is in a growth phase, you may need scalable marketing strategies that can adapt quickly.
    Rapid Market or Product Changes: In industries experiencing rapid changes or when launching new products, having an experienced marketer who can navigate these changes and position your company effectively is crucial.

Sometimes, an external perspective can be invaluable, especially if your current marketing strategies have become stagnant. A CMO as a service brings fresh eyes and new ideas, which can be crucial for innovative problem-solving and strategy refinement.

[Button]: Take our CMO readiness quiz

Do SaaS companies need a CMO? Short answer: yes.

SaaS companies need both. Because of their subscription-based nature, they benefit from robust collaboration between the CEO and CMO. The CEO may have a strong marketing background and believe they can handle marketing tasks themselves. But while this approach could work in a company’s initial stages, those responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming as the company scales.

Leading the marketing charge for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company is the CMO, whose mission is to leverage strategic marketing to fuel the company’s growth by attracting new customers. But unlike traditional marketing, SaaS success also hinges on keeping those customers happy.

Because SaaS is often subscription-based, retaining existing users becomes as critical (if not more so) than acquiring new ones. That’s why SaaS CMOs go beyond building brand awareness. They craft initiatives specifically designed to keep customers engaged and satisfied.

SaaS CMOs have similar responsibilities to other CMOs, whether full-time or fractional. They:

  • Identify target markets and audiences
  • Build brand identity
  • Develop and execute SaaS marketing strategies
  • Assemble and lead a marketing team
  • Create SaaS marketing collateral
  • Establish robust working relationships with other company departments
  • Measure SaaS marketing performance and report results to the CEO
  • Manage and control the marketing budget

The average churn rate for SaaS CMOs is high. In fact, the average tenure between 2020 and 2022 dropped from 43 to 35 months, and according to one executive recruitment firm, companies will replace 30-40% of their CMOs this year. Finding and hiring the right CMO takes time (and money).

An outsourced or fractional CMO can help bridge the gap for the short- or long-term for SaaS companies in the T2De phase (tripling revenue for two years and doubling it for three more years). These companies have everyday marketing needs and might not require a full-time CMO.

Opting to use a CMO as a service empowers companies to hire someone well-equipped to address high growth expectations, lend marketing expertise to the executive team, and introduce a proven SaaS marketing playbook and a fresh perspective. An outsourced or fractional CMO is faster to hire than a full-time CMO, requires no long-term commitment, and can be held accountable for results while guiding and advising the CEO.

In today’s competitive SaaS landscape, a robust marketing strategy isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity. While CEOs are vital in setting the vision and growth trajectory, CMOs translate that vision into actionable strategies to fuel customer acquisition and retention. SaaS companies gain a valuable asset by leveraging a CMO, whether full-time, fractional, or outsourced.

Whether SaaS, healthcare, CPG, or otherwise, if you want a closer look at fractional CMOs and how they might help fill gaps in your marketing, download our fCMO overview. Want to discuss your business’s unique challenges? Fill out the form below and talk to our team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’s growth goals?

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About &Marketing:

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.