Virtual marketing partners, or a virtual CMO, are becoming increasingly popular with businesses of all sizes.
In this post, we’re going to dive into this development. We’ll discuss why more companies are turning to virtual marketing partners, what the benefits of this approach are, and how your brand can ensure you’re getting the most of a virtual marketing partner engagement.
What is a virtual marketing partner?
A virtual marketing partner is a professional who provides marketing services remotely, rather than working on-site at a company’s physical location. This type of arrangement is common in the digital age, as it allows businesses to access a wide range of marketing expertise without the need for a full-time, in-house marketing team.
Virtual marketing partners can provide a variety of services, including developing and implementing marketing campaigns, managing social media accounts, creating and distributing marketing materials, and analyzing and reporting on marketing performance. They may work with a single client or with multiple clients, and may be self-employed or work for a marketing agency.
Virtual marketing partnerships can be a cost-effective way for businesses to access specialized marketing expertise on an as-needed basis. It also allows businesses to be more flexible and responsive to changes in their marketing needs, as they can adjust the scope and focus of their marketing efforts as needed.
Why are companies turning to virtual marketing partners?
For one thing, the Great Resignation has left many companies scrambling to fill full-time positions, from the executive level on down.
Related post: B2B Marketing Trends to Know in the First Half of 2022
For another, the CMO position is a notoriously thorny one. Not only do they have the highest turnover rate in the executive suite, but CMOs also report the lowest levels of job satisfaction compared to other C-level positions.
And this goes the opposite direction, too. According to the Harvard Business Review, a full 80% of CEOs “don’t trust or are unimpressed” by their CMOs.
That gives you an idea of the scale of this problem, for both CMOs and the companies they work for (or, perhaps more likely, have recently left).
By becoming a virtual CMO, CMOs gain more autonomy over their work. They can provide specific services to specific brands, based on what those brands need. While the scope can change and evolve over time, a CMO who enters into this kind of arrangement will know exactly what duties they’re expected to fulfill because it’s written out in a contract.
On the organization’s side, CEOs who have struggled to find a full-time CMO they trust can contract a virtual CMO to carry out specific duties and oversee specific marketing needs—without the stress of finding and paying a full-time executive.
What’s the difference between a virtual marketing partner and a virtual CMO?
A virtual marketing partner is essentially a marketing agency: a company with lots of different marketing capabilities that can handle as much or as little of your brand’s marketing as you need.
However, attention should be paid to the term “partner.” Agencies that consider themselves marketing partners, like Zen, approach the client relationship differently. It’s a much more collaborative, engaged partnership than one might find at a traditional marketing agency, which is more “set it and forget it.”
A virtual CMO on the other hand is one individual who manages your marketing department and marketing needs. If you have marketers in-house, but no department head, a virtual CMO can manage your team, lead strategy sessions, oversee and develop your marketing budget, and do everything else that a department head would be responsible for.
If you do not have an in-house marketing department, a virtual CMO would work with your executive team to vet and engage an outside agency or virtual marketing partner to provide the services you need. That could include:
- B2B PR
- Paid advertising campaigns
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Event marketing
- Thought leadership
Some virtual CMOs are already connected to a virtual marketing partner (as in Zen’s case), which means that by hiring the CMO, you get access to additional services and marketing professionals.
What are the benefits of hiring a virtual marketing partner?
Virtual marketing partners offer a host of benefits for organizations, from small businesses to enterprises.
- The ability to pay for what you need—a la carte services and pricing
- The expertise of a CMO without the expense of salary and benefits for a full-time executive
- Access to additional services as needed
- Ability to terminate a contract if the marketing partner isn’t meeting your standards or providing what you need
- Ability to evolve the contract to involve more or fewer services
- Option to have your virtual CMO train a full-time employee to take over marketing duties
What types of services are available through a virtual marketing partner?
This will vary depending on the marketing partner, but in Zen’s case, we offer:
- Traditional and digital PR
- Strategy and media planning
- Features and mentions in tier-one and trade publications
- Strategic audio and podcast interviews
- Media training
- Media relations and list building
- Crisis communication
- Content generation for articles, press releases, and bylines
- Briefing documents, messaging, FAQs, etc.
- Social media
- Campaign strategy and management
- Daily posting (including content and imagery)
- Community building
- Paid ad campaigns and retargeting
- Content marketing including:
- Blog posts
- Email marketing
- White papers
- Case studies
- Graphic design
- SEO and SEM
How can you get the most out of an engagement with a virtual marketing partner?
The first step in creating a productive relationship with your virtual marketing partner is to understand what you need.
- Do you need broad oversight and management of your in-house team?
- Do you have a major product launch or another milestone approaching, and need help managing a specific campaign?
- Do you need to make better use of your marketing budget?
Once you have at least a general idea of what you’re looking for, you can start vetting potential partners. Ask these candidates about the services they offer, how they work, how they bill, and how open they are to changing the contract or deliverables over time. You may also want to ask about client churn rate and request testimonials from other clients.
And as with anything, do your research online. What’s the company’s social presence like? How effective is their website? You want to make sure the agency you work with is marketing themselves the way you’d want to be marketed.
When you’ve found one that offers the services you need and that you like the look of, schedule a brief call to see whether you want to take things to the next step.
If so, you’ll want to outline what you need, while also asking your virtual marketing partner or virtual CMO for their recommendations. Remember, you’re engaging them for their strategic guidance as much as you are for execution.
From there, it’s a matter of keeping in connection with your virtual CMO or virtual marketing partner, especially if you’re engaging them for PR services. By making yourself or your team available as needed, while also staying open about your expectations, your company’s needs, and what you’d like to improve, you can develop a long-term relationship with your virtual marketing partner that is as effective, if not more so, than having a full in-house marketing department.
Virtual marketing partners offer all kinds of benefits for B2B companies, and those benefits only continue to grow as the workforce—and the way we work—changes.
Talk to us today about what a virtual marketing partner can do for your brand!