In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Confluency Solutions is featured as one of the Top Insurance Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.

There’s a common theme among the insurance industry. While the industry itself is growing, individual agencies are having difficulty remaining competitive. We’re at a point where anyone can Google marketing strategies and come up with a decent plan, but beyond that, nobody is really sure what to do. Some have even brought in marketing professionals and teams, and while the results have improved, they’re just not enough to move the needle and push forward.

So, what gives? If you’re looking for honest advice, a few people, or even a dedicated team isn’t always enough to drive results. What you need is leadership, experience, and innovation – in other words, it’s time to think about a CMO.

What Is a CMO?

Let’s start with the basics. A CMO, or Chief Marketing Officer, is the person who manages and leads the marketing functions of your insurance agency. It’s a position that requires the ability to strategize, develop and execute your marketing functions. From a professional standpoint, these are skills that typically take years of hands on experience to develop.

A CMO is more than just a marketing professional. Through experience and innovation, a results driven CMO develops strategies and leads team members in increasing brand awareness, expanding upon the existing market, understanding the nuances that build client loyalty, and effectively driving revenue growth.

The digital landscape of the insurance industry is continually growing more competitive. According to a study by Forrester and Accenture, nearly two-thirds of insurance businesses say they are ready to move forward with their digital practices, but not even a quarter of them actually do. A CMO can take your agency into the future, while those without one get left behind.

What a CMO Does for Your Insurance Agency

Once you understand what a CMO does, the benefits seem pretty obvious. Still, many agencies wonder if bringing in a dedicated CMO or outsourcing the responsibilities is worth the cost. This is especially a concern for small to medium sized agencies that are finding it difficult to effectively scale their growth. To address this concern, let’s take a more intimate look at what a CMO does for an insurance agency.

A CMO manages multiple functions of marketing for insurance agencies. At a very base level, they’re team builders in the sense that they bring everyone together to help them organize and realize the vision and goals of your agency. While each member of your team might not play a direct role in marketing, a CMO can help them understand how the different functions and responsibilities of each team member are connected from a marketing standpoint.

On a more detailed level, a CMO manages and executes marketing strategies. They look at the overall goals and brand message of your agency and develop a plan that includes everything from budgeting, determining which resources will be used, and developing a timeline to knowing how to produce measurable outcomes through strategic implementation of each tactic. In essence, a CMO handles all the functions of a successful marketing campaign that nobody else has the time or capacity to deal with.

Take for example, the development of a marketing stack. A marketing stack is nothing more than a set of digital tools that are used to facilitate your marketing strategies and make them more effective. A CMO has experience with, or at least knowledge of, these tools and can build a stack that performs efficiently without going overboard with extras or missing any opportunities.

Furthermore, a CMO assembles a team of talent to execute their strategies. Internally, this might mean bringing in new team members or tapping into the talents of those who are already on staff. They look at the big picture, everyone who is a piece of it and intuitively put it all together. An outsourced CMO works in a similar way, except some of the talent they access might be from their own digital team rather than pulling resources from the agency itself.

The fact is that there is constant change happening in the digital landscape. Your insurance agency needs the person who knows how to adapt, change and innovate your marketing strategy for success, and a CMO fits this description.

Should You Delegate CMO Responsibilities?

This is the big question for many insurance agencies – should you delegate or outsource CMO responsibilities? Depending on the size of the agency, this question can either be easy or complex to answer. Smaller agencies that are already strapped and working with a small team simply don’t have the resources to handle the responsibilities of a CMO in-house unless they bring in someone for that designated purpose. Not to mention that few insurance agents are also seasoned marketing professionals.

For a medium sized agency, the question is more complex. They might already have a marketing team in place, along with someone who leads it. It could also be that they have one or two digital marketers on staff who seem to be handling the challenges just fine, and wonder if there would even be any benefit to bringing in a CMO.

While it’s certainly possible to delegate the responsibilities of a CMO, agencies that are looking for real growth are smart to at least consider outsourcing. If you were to ask other agencies that have made the leap into outsourcing their CMO function, some of the top reasons for their choice would include:

  • A CMO comes to the table with unparalleled experience and knowledge
  • They’re up to date on technology, along with the changes and trends in digital marketing
  • Handling CMO functions in house was becoming too costly in terms of finances and other resources
  • There was a noticeable gap between the skills needed for CMO functions and what was available within their team
  • The industry had grown more competitive and there was a pressing need for marketing expertise
  • An outsourced CMO could provide the team leadership, tactical management and oversight that was missing from their current approach
  • The cost risk associated with ineffective marketing strategy is essentially reduced to zero when outsourcing the CMO function

Common Questions About CMOs

There are plenty of insurance agencies out there that could benefit from working with a talented CMO but feel that it’s just too far beyond their current scope. For example, one of the first things out of  the mouth of many agencies is “but, we don’t even have a marketing team!”. In all honesty, you don’t really need one, and here’s why.

More marketing and growth professionals are arguing that marketing “teams” are unnecessary. Of course, a few members of your staff that handle marketing responsibilities effectively is great, especially if you have the resources for dedicated staff. However, the mindset is shifting to one that looks at marketing from the approach that it’s everyone’s responsibility.

This means that a CMO can be an incredible asset, especially if you don’t have a marketing team because they can help guide each member and help them understand their role in the future success of your agency.

The second most common question is about cost. How much will a CMO cost your agency annually? Well, we can’t lie. A CMO is an expensive asset if you’re bringing them in to work in house. According to Indeed, the average salary is a little over $145,000/year, but many CMOs demand salaries in the $200,000 range. While this is an expense that will easily pay for itself, outsourcing or working with a fractional CMO is one way to reduce these costs.

What Is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is simply a professional that performs Chief Marketing Officer functions for multiple businesses. Rather than working in house and solely for your agency, they’re outsourced professionals that help multiple businesses achieve their marketing goals – with one of the primary benefits being that their services come at a fraction of the cost of an in-house CMO.

The fact that fractional CMOs are splitting up their time doesn’t mean that you get anything less than the top level of service from them. In fact, they often come to you with insights that narrowly-visioned in-house CMOs miss. Fractional CMOs are up to date on trends and influences in marketing and they’re often specialized in specific industries, meaning they understand the marketing hurdles that you’re facing in ways that might take a standard CMO months to learn.

What can a fractional CMO do for your agency? Well, everything that an in-house CMO can do and more. Fractional CMOs often work within teams, meaning that you get the benefit of that brainstorming and collaboration. Plus, with the digital tools available to marketers growing at an incredible rate, a fractional CMO has the benefit of more exposure to those tools through the everyday operations of their work.

Insurance agencies today have two choices – charge full steam ahead and get noticed in the digital world or fade quietly into the background. Connecting with a digital team that provides fractional CMO services is key for thriving in the industry while being mindful of practicalities like budgets and costs. We encourage you to take the first step in growing your agency and connect with a fractional CMO service today.

Kevin McDonald
Kevin McDonald
Managing Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at

Kevin is a 30 year veteran of the insurance industry. Before co-founding Confluency in 2005, he worked in several capacities including Vice President of Agency Technology for Kemper insurance and as an agent and manager at a large regional insurance agency.