Marketing | May 16, 2017

Cost-Effective Digital Marketing May Require Outsourcing Your Next CMO

By: Dan Steiner


Digital marketing can be one of the most effective strategies for your brand to punch through the noise and reach future customers. There’s a reason that retailers are spending more on digital advertising than ever before—outpacing expenses on virtually every other kind of traditional marketing strategy.

The ability to target viewers based on where and how they access information online provides CMOs an opportunity to strategically reach consumers at every phase of the buying cycle. And the journey to harnessing the power of online and mobile advertising starts with one question: How will your company employ and then deploy your Chief Marketing Officer?

The New CMO Identity

With a median salary of $160,000 per year, the Chief Marketing Officer on your team may be one of the most expensive hiring decisions your company makes. Add in the value of stock options and benefits, and the number only becomes a bigger liability on your balance sheet.

For smaller businesses and startups, a trend has emerged. As freelancing platforms evolved and took shape in the aftermath of the Great Recession, a not-so-secret formula is being proven in the market. Instead of hiring a single CMO, more aggressive firms are looking to spend the same amount of capital on a team of remote, freelancing digital marketing gurus.

The traditional role of a CMO is being changed and adapted into the areas of responsibility for other members of the c-suite. It’s not uncommon to find a Director of Digital Marketingan individual in middle management that is responsible for handling relationships with outside talent.

Outsourcing CMO Responsibilities Is a Game-Changer for Startups

Freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are excellent places to start looking for outside digital marketing experts. The more experienced individuals on these platforms have worked with tens, and possibly hundreds of firms in need of campaign design and execution.

If your startup is smaller, and you don’t already have an experienced marketer on your staff, it’s my recommendation that you look into a reputable marketing agency to serve as the intermediary between your company and the freelancing community—think of them like an on-demand project manager.

You’ll gain the experience of a tried and proven hand, while protecting your limited capital from expensive in-house marketing executive salaries that produce the same, or worse results. Crafting a winning marketing campaign requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. When you have a team of individuals, from a variety of backgrounds rowing in the same direction, the end-result is a diverse team that gives even a fledgling startup the same digital marketing firepower as a larger, more established firm.

Common Outsourcing Formulas

The team that you build will be based on the type of product or service you offer, and the segment of the market you’re attempting to capture. On my last project, working with a publicly traded personal hygiene brand, we had the following roles:

  • Marketing Executive: Main decision-maker; responsible for setting the course and scope of the team’s efforts.
  • Project Coordinator: Managed the workflow of each team member, minimizing duplication of efforts and holding each member of the team accountable to a living, breathing timeline.
  • Market Analyst: Responsible for delivering real-time insights on how our campaigns were performing, and kept us ahead of the competition’s campaigns.
  • Social Media Campaigner: Created collateral for the brand’s social media channels and ensured prompt response to customer inquiries and interaction.
  • SEO Analyst: Identified opportunities and implemented strategies to help the brand’s campaign content perform online in search engines and across different online channels. This included a ton of landing pages and cross-channel promotion.
  • Content Writer: The amount of written content required for a comprehensive campaign is both time-consuming and specific. This individual helped ensure the tone and information provided was consistent, while playing to the demands of search engines.

Noticeably absent was a CMO. While the client did have one in the C-suite, the CMO was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the team. She did meet with us once, but her responsibilities focused her attention on the broader needs of the company.

Smaller brands or startups would not need for a CMO to oversee the type of team I laid out above. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that larger brands continue to shift the role of their in-house CMO

Has your team questioned whether the CMO should oversee the whole customer experience? Download this guide to learn how to set up a CMO for success.

Dan Steiner is an author and legal marketing expert from Austin, Texas. He is the owner and marketing director at Vintage Legal Marketing, an award-winning law firm marketing agency. His work has been featured in a number of publications, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

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