The CMO as a service rush
“Do you offer CMO as a service solutions?”
“I need a CMO!”
“We need a marketing agency—can you do it?”
“Our company needs a marketing team. Can you build one for us?”
“I need a VP Marketing ASAP—can you help us hire?”
Finally! The FAASTR messenger is packed with messages like this, and we’re grateful that marketing is finally getting its deserved place at the table.
Even though FAASTR is known for providing outsourced marketing strategy and CMO as a service – marketing management services, we preach for in-house, full-time resources. Sometimes they’re a better fit for our leads, even if we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.
Also, sometimes you don’t really need a CMO, especially not full time. It really depends on your status and needs.
If you’re launching your business or have been working without any marketing backwind, it’s always a good idea to pick up the pace. The question is in which direction. We worked and analyzed hundreds of conversations with startups and fast-growth companies. We created benchmarks that can help you get started in the right direction, with the right marketing support to fit your goals. If you know your goals, the following post will help you clarify what to do to live up to them.
Goal 1: Raise awareness
Are you looking to increase awareness? This is usually a high priority when you’re looking to build the top of your funnel, when you need to educate the market, between funding rounds, or spur growth (internal recruitment and customers alike).
- Build a brand—verbal and visual language
- Launch a website
- Launch social media profiles and pages
- Build your content strategy – with focus on top of funnel content that makes your audience feel smarter once the content is consumed
- Create a constant thread of content, PR and insights
What you need to make it happen
If all you need to get started is basic presence, then there is no need to hire a team in-house right away. A good messaging strategist with an amazing designer and copywriter can get you where you need to go.
Later on, once you need to get your content constantly out there, when it’s time for daily marketing tasks, the marketers you hired to build your brand aren’t necessarily a good fit. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to hire them, unless your model requires tons of content design or constant updating of messaging strategies.
Once you’ve got your language set, it can also be a good idea to work with a freelance PR agent, micro-agency, or platform to get your story into the right outlets in the short term.
Note, many companies share a frustration from ongoing PR retainers. Unless you have a PR strategy and a content stream to feed the PR beast, you are better off with other alternatives.
If you need to choose between content creation to PR agencies – go for content and organic shares alongside social media engagements that lead to your content.
Goal 2: Moving leads down the funnel and initial sales
If you’re already working on general awareness, you need to start selling to prove your product market fit. Then move closer to breaking even or grow sales to justify your next growth round. The best way to do so is to automate your engagements on top of mind touch points like your website and social media pages. You can also automate engagements with your pipeline and with the leads you’re moving down your funnels.
- Strategize your customer journey taking all channels into consideration.
- Strategize and build your sales playbook
- Map connect, action items, content and CTAs (calls to action)
- Create content campaigns to serve your pipeline
- Launch an automation platform, upload existing leads, and automate your flow
- Connect to a measurement platform if the automation platform doesn’t cover all grounds.
- Use a CRM to make sure no opportunity is missed
What you need
At this stage, you’ve got a marketing machine to feed and operate, and we recommend an in-house owner. It’s best to use someone with hands-on capabilities, and not just a project manager. It should be someone who can handle sourcing, copywriting, and building and optimizing the automation process. Otherwise, you are paying for at least two or three people for a job that could be covered by one.
However, the hands-on, in-house team is usually not the most experienced on the strategic front. Junior marketers may lack the birds-eye view of the overall business goals and the messages and tasks to get you to those goals. That’s why it can be a good idea to outsource a senior marketer. One that can help plan and release bottlenecks at this stage. It could be as little as for a monthly or weekly meeting. But, it will keep you on track, analyze the data you accumulate and help you make marketing decisions that concern many moving parts.
Goal 3: Build a sales machine
Now that you’ve got the foundations in place, hopefully some initial traction and understanding of your market it’s time to build a pipeline that will serve your sales team.
- Clarify your product-market fit. Review your assumptions and make sure your definition is accurate. If needed, spend time in sessions like the Boostcamp to make sure you are on the right track and using up all the resources you have.
- Redefine your customer journey, touchpoints, CTAs based on the insights you accumulated.
- Build the back-office support and sales support team – SDRs, sales engineers, and automate onboarding as much as possible.
- Push for more remarketing activities and mentions in critical touch points outside your owned funnel to help decision making processes.
What you need
There are a few ways to approach this stage. One option is to hire an agency to map, build, and manage your flow for you.
Another option is to charge an internal resource with the management of this important process. At least on the project management side and with regards to ongoing reporting. An “as a service” agency can supplement the in-house owner with focused expertise on tactics. Like technical automation and content creation if you don’t have the bandwidth or expertise in-house.
You may also want to consider using a fractional CMO or CMO as a service to approve the strategy and oversee your progress. A CMO will make sure that your agency is giving you their full attention and delivering results. Unfortunately, we see a lot of post-agency-trauma burns, especially when budgets of less than $10K USD per month are involved, and having an expert on your side can ensure that this won’t happen.
If you are a product led growth company it’s smart to invest in the hands on team from an early stage and getting the most strategic experts you can find to help you fine tune your machine to perfection. In any case keeping track of all the insights and being part of every decision is crucial. It’s your data, your process – own it!
Goal 4: Support ongoing sales
You’ve got things set up, but it’s not time to rest on your laurels. It’s time to optimize, and optimize even more. Anything from your customer acquisition process and costs to your customer satisfaction and their lifetime value.
Your sales and success teams need backwind—collateral, staying on top-of-mind of your contacts, success stories and playbooks and lots of new leads. It’s also important to intertwine your message and offering with your potential and existing customers’ values and pain points.
There are differences between low- or high-touch sales machines, and the touchpoints along your funnels and customer journey. And yet, with the right data and analytics it’s easy to know where to put your extra optimization efforts. Creative experts with hands-on experience in sales and marketing can help you hack the growth you need and to stand out from the pack.
- Increasing social proof
- Sales kit and digital assets
- Top-of-funnel collateral or mid-funnel conversion tools
- Success stories
- New automation branches
- Customer success teams and playbooks
- Build word of mouth traction
- Strengthen your brand
What you need
Being the backwind to a sales team is an art and science. You need the attention of a left-brain/right-brain marketer to connect the dots. When your company is growing faster you may want to hire that person. However, they may not always be the best project managers. VP marketers are more on the operational front while the CMOs can help drive the strategic and creative elements. Most important you need someone who has seen this work in many different models. Therefore, until you are at a stage of about 1 million dollars MRR (monthly recurring revenue this can be a good role to outsource)
In-house, you should have a good reference point in the sales team, one that is connected to the field and has valuable insights about the customers and the sales process. It should also be someone who can map your journey and your assets to make sure that any foundation that is laid—be it content, human, or technical—will be put to good use.
From our experience, an outside point of view and inside execution and data capabilities are ideal at this stage but in addition to a strong in-house team.
Summing up. CMO as a service or a CMO in house at your service?
When a company is relatively young, its focus is usually on building foundations while supporting the sales team and generating no/low-touch leads. Later on, it’s more about enhancing the customer journey. increasing social proof, and making sure that the marketing machine is optimized.
The skills needed at each stage are very different. There are times when it makes more sense to outsource and other times when the right in-house skills can make all the difference. That’s why we prefer to work with companies to help them understand what they really need at each stage, rather than falling back on a CMO as a service from our database by default.
What are your current marketing challenges? We’d love to chat and help you find the right solution for your needs. And since we truly believe that an in house team is the best way to go you can trust we will help you get there even though CMO as a service is our business.