“It’s great to hire people who know how to grow an organization very fast if you are ready to grow your organization very fast. However, if you do not or you are not, then you need someone who can do the job for the next eighteen months.”

— Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Congratulations! You’ve grown your business to the point where you’re considering hiring a full-time Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Marketing Director.

One the hand, you know you lack the expertise to formulate a strategic marketing plan to take your business into the future. On the other, you’re not sure you can justify the expense of a senior marketing person – or if your business is ready for such a person.

Horowitz is right. If you’re business isn’t ready growth, if you’re struggling with a declining market, or if you’re still trying to figure out your vision for the coming years, the marketing skillset you require now may be very different from what you need in 18 months.

Instead of hiring a person you might outgrow, or hiring someone “bigger” than you require in the immediate future, consider a part-time CMO.

Here’s why a part-time CMO or Marketing Director makes sense


Keep your payroll trim. According to Payscale, the average salary of a CMO in London is about £120K per year. And that’s not taking into account benefits and payroll costs, likely an additional 25% – a price tag out of reach of most small businesses in the UK. However, outsourcing a CMO or Marketing Director skillset starts at around £32,000 a year; around the same as a Marketing Executive.


One of the most significant challenges for any small business is finding someone who not only delivers but also fits your company culture. A part-time or virtual CMO gives you the flexibility to start with a specific project – digital marketing transformation – and gauge performance and fit before committing to a long-term engagement. While the ideal scenario is a long-term relationship, most outsourcing arrangements run month-to-month. Giving you the flexibility to end the arrangement if it’s not working for your business.


You may already have a tactical marketing team; however, you probably don’t have a marketing person at the table when company decisions are being made about vision, mission, strategy, tactics and growth plans for the next 3-5 years. The result is that unless you invest the time in guiding your marketing team, they’re probably engaging in random acts of marketing – efforts unlikely to deliver any real value for your business.


A part-time CMO will have diverse experience. The kind of experience and knowledge that would take years to nurture internally. Having access to a broad range of marketing expertise from a variety of industries will encourage out of the box thinking, and disruptive marketing techniques sure to catch your customer’s attention. Also, part-time CMOs probably come with an established network of skilled marketing professionals. Skills that will prove useful when you need specialist skills to augment your team.


The right CMO can galvanize your existing marketing team, and coach them into a sustainable marketing engine that delivers predictable results. Senior marketing expertise and leadership are essential at a strategic level in order to bring together the micro-level experts needed to deliver results.

Having a competent leader on your team, even if only for a day a week, can help you stay abreast of trends, align resources, implement a strategy, and resist the temptation to spend money on random acts of marketing.