Article Snapshot

Senior marketing expertise can be critical to the success of a growing business. A strong marketing leader can establish a brand, acquire customers, drive sales and build the team required for success. Due to financial constraints, many startups and small to medium businesses owners prefer to try their hand at marketing without the necessary experience or expertise.

This can hinder and even damage the success of the company. An increasingly popular option for startups and small to medium businesses is to engage an on-demand, or part-time, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to bring high-end strategic expertise in-house. The right set of skills and experience will depend on your specific marketing requirements. 

Marketing Requirements For Startups

Marketing plays a central role in the development of any startup. If you are looking for investors, your venture capital pitch needs to be developed from a marketing perspective to best illustrate key business issues and ideas. By making this succinct and accurate, you will help investors understand your vision for the business.

A Few Key Components To Consider:

  • Branding
  • Proposition
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Target Audience
  • Who has the problem?
  • Describe the problem to solve.
  • Describe the solution.
  • Features and Benefits
  • Go-To-Market Strategy
  • Competition
  • Pricing
  • Market Research

Many startup advisers recommend that you establish an advisory board so that you can call upon external expertise across a wide range of disciplines. A senior marketer on that board is always essential.

Marketing Requirements For Small To Medium Businesses

A detailed and considered marketing plan is an important element in any business plan. Often, small to medium businesses get carried away with engaging in tactics before outlining business objectives and considering the best marketing strategies to achieve these objectives. By creating a marketing plan, you are able to strategically plot the tactics you will employ and avoid wasting time and money on ineffective tactics. A marketing strategist is responsible for the creation of this plan. Hiring someone with expertise in marketing strategy allows you to create and implement your plans quickly and successfully.

The Case For An On-Demand CMO

Having established the need for core marketing knowledge in your business, the issue then becomes how to acquire that expertise. However, these skills should not be required every day and, much like a solicitor, you should not need a CMO employed full-time. You should be spending your time on the business rather than in the business if you are looking to grow.

An Interim CMO

For bigger businesses, who employ a CMO full-time, an on-demand CMO can provide an excellent interim option when you're in between employees. With the skill level of most on-demand CMOS, you need not worry about employing someone straight away and potentially employing the wrong full-time CMO. An on-demand CMO will give you time to be considerate and an opportunity to find the right candidate for the job. You never know, your on-demand CMO might even become the right person for the full-time role.  

Available Hiring Options

Advertising and marketing agencies are commonplace for small to medium businesses to find talent however, there are some problems with these agencies. Generally, agencies will be more expensive than an on-demand CMO as you will be paying for costs like overheads and support staff costs. Many agencies have a particular specialty or area of expertise within their sector  (some focus on digital, others on advertising and some on sales promotion). Don't be surprised if their solutions narrowly focus on these specialty areas. Rather than having someone with an agenda direct your project, you need someone with an integrated marketing view that can recommend the right mix of strategies and media for you. The appointment of a temporary CMO who can provide integrated strategic expertise as well as the ability to implement campaigns can often be the perfect solution.

The Benefits Of Using An On-Demand CMO

Having an on-demand CMO will give you some very tangible benefits;

  • Provide you with an integrated marketing plan to grow your business
  • Have a professional on board, to give you both advice and recommendations
  • A mentor who will transfer knowledge by working as a business partner
  • A resource for understanding all the latest marketing and social media best practices, tools and software
  • Someone with the expertise to be able to help you implement the campaign cost effectively
  • An understanding of all media and how they can be used as part of an integrated approach
  • Lower cost when compared with a full-time senior marketing manager or appointing an agency. You only pay for the time they spend on your business and there are no overheads to consider.

Hiring An On-Demand CMO

To determine the right amount of marketing support for your business you need to have someone with a flexible approach. To establish which approach is best and, to start the relationship on a strong foothold, the following process of engagement is extremely effective.

Step 1: Organise a sit-down chat One of the best ways you can start your relationship is by getting to know each other. The on-demand CMO can start to understand the key challenges and opportunities you see for your business.

Step 2: Getting your needs down on paper It’s important to make sure there is a common understanding of your objectives and ideas plus a formal method of recording any existing market knowledge in order to develop your marketing plan.

Step 3: What you are planning to achieve From this a detailed marketing plan can be developed. By outlining exactly what you are trying to achieve with your marketing, whether it be global domination or simply to boost traffic to your website. No one, other than you, can decide what you want to get out of your business.

Step 4: Making it happen The implementation of these plans - on time, within budget and on brief - is essential for your business growth. You’ll need someone with expert knowledge of marketing project management to make these plans happen.

Step 5: Results and Analysis No activity should be undertaken without the ability to measure the results in some way. So for every campaign not only must objectives be set but also a means to monitor and report on them.

Selecting The Right On Demand CMO

When selecting a contracted CMO you’ll need to apply the same criteria you would use for any role in your business, including Qualifications and Expertise

  • Look for an on-demand CMO with relevant qualifications and expertise. For example, if you are an online business, then perhaps a CMO with expertise in digital marketing would be most suitable.
  • Contact previous colleagues and business partners and have them provide a testimonial.

Industry experience

  • An on-demand CMO with specific experience in your industry may provide you with inside knowledge on what has worked and hasn't in the past.

Culture fit and trust

  • There is one perhaps more important aspect and that's how you feel after your initial meeting with each other. Do you both understand what you are looking to achieve and does the on-demand CMO have a genuine interest in your business?

The on-demand CMO should become your most valued business partner, so choosing one that suits you is vital.


To succeed as a startup or a small to medium business you will need a fully integrated marketing plan in place and a strategy to implement it. The most cost-effective way to get this process underway is through the appointment of an on-demand CMO, as this will enable you to get all the expertise and experience that you need, at a fraction of the cost compared to the alternatives. An on-demand CMO will help you generate a long-range marketing strategy that delivers revenue results. If you would like to speak with Terry or find out more about our on-demand CMOs and the service they provide, contact us as

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