Why CMO-as-a-Service is the Best Fit for Startups

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You have an unwavering vision, you’re resourceful, and you’re not afraid to take risks.

That’s right – you’re a startup.

This also means you have encountered a very common hurdle: deciding how to tackle the complex landscape of marketing strategies.

There is an age-old debate that all startups face when it comes to marketing – the choice between hiring in-house marketing or bringing on a CMO as a service agency. The decision can seem daunting, but you’ve come to the right place for help.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of both options so that, by the end, you will be equipped to make the best decision for your business.

What is CMO as a Service?

Let’s start with the basics.

If it’s unfamiliar to you, CMO as a service for startups is a model where companies outsource their marketing needs to a team or agency of experienced professionals.

This route is a very different approach from the traditional marketing model, wherein companies hire a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) who is expected to manage all the moving marketing pieces by themselves.

Taking on a CMO agency provides you with strategic marketing leadership and guidance without the long-term commitment associated with a permanent CMO role.

When bringing in an outsourced CMO marketing agency, startups gain access to an entire team of marketing professionals with expertise across a variety of industries, target audiences, and geographies – sometimes at a lower price.

And, even if your marketing needs don’t call for an agency’s vast network of marketing professionals, the good news is that a marketing-as-a-service agency can also just provide you with a fractional CMO.

Fractional CMOs: Tailored Marketing Leadership

A fractional CMO is exactly what it sounds like: a senior marketing executive who specializes in SaaS and works part-time or on a project basis.

The fractional CMO offers a powerful blend of C-level expertise and hands-on day-to-day operations management, all available on a part-time basis.

And the benefits only multiply when that person has a marketing agency backing them.


Because as opposed to finding an independent contractor who may be limited in resources or knowledge, a marketing agency can provide you with a B2B fractional CMO who specializes in marketing for the SaaS industry. In this way, you receive a full array of benefits: 

  • Backed by expertise: They have an entire team of skilled coworkers they can consult with on strategy, all of whom specialize in different marketing niches.
  • Proven success rates: A successful marketing agency will have a slew of case studies with companies in your same industry, proof that they can help you achieve your marketing KPIs.
  • Cost-effective: A cost-effective solution that minimizes overhead expenses while still providing access to specialized skills and scalability.
  • Provide fresh perspective: In-house CMOs can be affected by company politics and run out of new ideas. With a fractional marketing specialist, you get a fresh set of eyes.

As you can see, a major benefit of taking on marketing as a service is the ability to bring on either a team of marketing experts or a SaaS fractional CMO who is backed by a team of SaaS marketing specialists.

The Numerous Advantages of CMO as a Service

We’ve touched on some of the reasons why choosing marketing as a service is ideal for startups, but let’s delve into it a bit deeper.


One fantastic benefit of bringing in a CMO as a service is the various aspects of flexibility.

Firstly, working with an agency keeps your marketing efforts scalable.

As an evolving startup, your needs are constantly fluctuating. An outsourced marketing agency has the ability to ramp up or down based on your immediate needs. This is far more difficult for an in-house marketer.

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, an agency is backed by a full team of marketers with vast experience and different areas of specialization. This means that any marketing situation or unique challenge can be handled with ease.

Lastly, with a marketing agency that specializes in marketing for SaaS companies or a SaaS fractional CMO provided to you by an agency, you can be sure that marketing efforts and projects will be implemented quickly due to readily available expertise.

Wide Array of Experience & Offerings

In addition to the flexibility they offer, an agency’s accumulated experience from their diverse portfolio of companies equips them with an understanding of various industries, target audiences, and markets. Conversely, an in-house marketer may only have experience from 2-3 companies.

Moreover, outsourced marketing agencies are deeply familiar with the full range of marketing strategies and tactics, and can therefore offer you any marketing services and products you need.

And what’s better – if you don’t know what you need, they know how to tell you that, too.

What they can offer:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Brand strategy and messaging
  • Social media content and management
  • Email marketing & newsletters
  • Website design, development, and upkeep
  • Market research & data-driven business insights
  • Public relations management
  • Event planning and management
  • Growth strategies, including customer acquisition and retention

Cost Effectiveness

Now, we’ve also mentioned cost. 

So – how is it that an outsourced CMO agency can be more cost-effective than bringing on an in-house marketer?

Well, there are several factors at play.

1. Less overhead

a. When you hire an in-house CMO, you have to pay various expenses apart from just salary, including benefits, office space, equipment, etc. With an outsourced CMO, you only have to pay for the work itself.

2. Agile payment structure

a. With an outsourced CMO, you can hire on a project basis or part-time. This flexibility in payment structure allows startups to allocate their budget more efficiently and scale up or down as required.

3.No recruitment costs

a. Hiring an in-house CMO involves recruitment expenses such as advertising, interviewing, and onboarding. Outsourcing eliminates these costs, streamlining the process of acquiring expert marketing talent.

Long story short: startups have a lot to gain from bringing on an agency or a fractional CMO from an agency.

Making the Best Choice for Your Startup

So, we’ve laid out the numerous benefits of implementing CMO as a service for startups, but hiring in-house marketing is also an option. 

Some startups choose to transition to in-house marketing teams, but it’s usually once they have matured into later business stages.


As companies grow, their marketing needs become more predictable, as does their target audience. Furthermore, their marketing workload tends to stabilize. 

All of these factors may be more appropriate for in-house marketing teams, since it’s less vital they be prepared for quickly evolving situations.

However, if your startup needs projects executed quickly, flexible employees, and the ability to pivot with short notice, this can be a big burden to be carried by in-house teams.

If that’s the case, a B2B fractional CMO from an agency is the way to go.

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