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Strategy & Planning Updated on: Apr 18, 2024

Choosing between in-house and outsourced CMO services

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Marketing dollars in hand, growth goals in mind, and a need to hand over your marketing function to a true expert—it’s time for a chief marketing officer cmo chief marketing officer (CMO). For many, this means blasting out posts on Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn, sifting through candidates, and finding the next member of their C-suite. Experienced CMOs are not easy to find, however, and often when a good candidate is found, it may be even harder to afford them.

This difficulty, combined with a pressing need for results, has led many companies to turn to outsourced chief marketing officers (CMOs), where guidance, support, and execution are provided on a service basis. These marketing leaders can latch on to your company as functioning employees without the commitment of an in-house CMO.

For companies at the right place in their growth, these services can be a great way to get expert support for their company quickly, but for others, more permanent, dedicated support will be required. Here, we’ll walk through the core pieces of what makes each option a viable one for the right company and how to pick the right choice for you. Achieving business growth is a primary goal, and expert support from an outsourced chief marketing officer can significantly contribute to this objective.

Outsourced CMO services

Using a CMO-as-a-service makes sense for many software companies that are early in their marketing journey and looking to grow quickly. Because of the relative speed, flexibility, and low cost, these software companies can instantly get started with an experienced CMO without the concerns that come with a full-time hire.

Speed in implementing marketing strategy

A big benefit of outsourcing your CMO function lies in the speed at which you can both locate and onboard a marketing leader and start implementing their marketing strategies. An outsourced CMO can quickly begin to implement a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with the company's goals and values. While finding an in-house leader through traditional channels can take months of dedicated searching, application reviews, and interviews, outsourced CMO services can quickly provide you with a selection of candidates to select from.

What’s more, outsourced CMOs will often have developed systems for onboarding and becoming acquainted with the business practices, industry, and day-to-day tasks of your company. This means that instead of spending weeks onboarding your new internal CMO, an experienced outsourced CMO can take on important tasks almost immediately.

Cost-effectiveness within your marketing budget

Another important benefit of outsourcing your marketing leadership is cost, especially when considering the outsourced CMO's role in efficiently managing and optimizing the marketing budget to maximize return on investment. Good CMOs aren’t just hard to come by; they’re darned expensive, too, with Glassdoor placing the average US CMO’s salary between $252,000 and $478,000 annually (as of April 2024). Comparatively, the cost of an outsourced CMO is often much lower than maintaining a full in-house marketing team, offering significant savings on benefits, bonuses, and expenses that add up on top of yearly pay.

The full-time support of a CMO will also not be worth this pricetag to many businesses, but luckily, outsourced CMOs can provide these businesses with scalable support. Only need part-time coaching? Need more support when launching a set of campaigns and less once they’re up and running? Going with a CMO-as-a-service option is a great way to get this kind of flexibility out of your marketing function and cut back on wasted marketing dollars. Additionally, when compared to hiring through a marketing agency, an outsourced CMO provides industry-specific marketing experience and expertise at a lower cost, making it a more cost-effective solution for businesses looking to maximize their marketing budget.

Flexibility in your marketing efforts

CMOs, on average, have the highest turnover in the C-suite. Other C-suite positions tend to last upwards of 5 years, but the Harvard Business Review found that 57% of CMOs have been in their position three years or less, with an average tenure of 4.1 years, compared to CEOs' eight-year average. This means that the investment of time, training, and resources you put into a CMO will likely return much less than that spent on other internal positions.

Outsourced CMOs, on the other hand, require less investment and training because they are designed to eventually leave without you having invested too greatly in an internal CMO that may soon churn.

These fractional CMOs also have the benefit of being able to be cut from your company whenever is needed. Whether you're looking to start building an internal marketing function or are simply not totally satisfied with the support you receive, you can simply end your plan with your CMO-as-a-service like any other subscription. In fact, some outsourced CMO services will apply their experience to help you in hiring and training your ideal marketing team.

Building an in-house marketing team

Going with the traditional hiring route is, of course, not without its benefits too. For many, the full commitment an internal CMO can give their company will make this the ideal option. Let's look at some more reasons why you may consider this route.

Industry expertise

Outsourced CMOs are often well-experienced in quickly picking up whatever knowledge and context they need to work within your specific industry, but an internal CMO will almost always have more time to train in the ins and outs of it. Whether it's knowing what kind of language your audience likes to hear or what channels they are most receptive to, having a marketing leader who is focused on your industry can be of great benefit.

Depending on what industry you are in, having an expert in this field will be more or less crucial. If you are concerned about the ability of an outsourced CMO to perform successfully in your industry, it will likely be helpful to look to their testimonials and speak directly with the CMO on what fields they have worked in that would provide experience relevant to your own.

Investment in your performance

A major benefit of an internal CMO for many businesses will be that of commitment to your company. If their salary, performance reviews, and job security are all tied to the success of their marketing efforts and thus the company as a whole, they will naturally be more driven in their work. Here they focus on and are rewarded for results, not deliverables.

Though an outsourced CMO may never fully be a part of your team, a handy solution is finding a fractional CMO who will sign on for performance-tied compensation. If a significant portion of their payout is tied to the results they produce, they are much more likely to focus on how they can improve their efforts and do whatever it takes to produce great results rather than simply trying to tick off the boxes on the campaigns, items, and projects they signed up for.

So, what's right for your business? An in-house or outsourced CMO?

Hopefully, the pros and cons of both marketing leader solutions given in this resource are helpful for you and your team as you continue your search for a CMO that fits your needs and begin building your marketing department.

If you’re ready to invest the time and resources needed to find and train your own in-house CMO to gain a committed member of your team, it’s time to put up those job postings. If, however, you need a more flexible, scalable, speedy solution to get a jump on marketing-led growth, outsourced marketing leadership could be a great option to explore.

At Kalungi, we provide B2B SaaS businesses with outsourced, full-service marketing support to give you an instant-on marketing function. Because we value experience and quality, all of our CMOs are backed by a team of marketing leaders and specialists and operate on a pay-for-performance system. If you’re curious about any of the services we provide or would like to learn more about how Kalungi could help you realize your growth goals, get in touch.

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