Tamanna Gupta, Virtual CMO and Founder of Umanshi Marketing

A Postgraduate from IIM Bangalore, this sassy woman is driven to the finish line! An expert in Sales and Marketing with over 16 years’ experience across 25+ industries and 60+ brands, Tamanna defies all stereotypes. She has led marketing functions for B2C and B2B brands such as Marvel Realtors and Allcargo Logistics. Tamanna is working towards creating and nurturing more entrepreneurs as a Mentor on the panel of NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore for the Goldman Sach’s 10K Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.


Large MNCs are more likely to recover faster from a pandemic disaster primarily on 2 accounts: their strong brand equity and massive distribution & outreach. During times of uncertainty, people trust brands. People are even ready to pay a premium to be more sure and secure. Most small businesses and startups, on the other hand, usually have to work harder to come out of setbacks. Traditionally neither have they invested in their brand-building nor even gone digital. But this approach now calls for a major re-haul. This is the time of the rise of the Virtual Chief Marketing Officer (VCMO) – a marketing expert who could be strategically engaged and responsible for managing the marketing needs of the company, in shoe-string budgets through effective vendor management without sustained commitments.

A VCMO helps startups and SMEs solve their biggest business challenges which are currently not just the pandemic but the consumer buying behaviour, which has changed drastically. Like large MNCs, small businesses too deserve the best of the business experts working for them and guiding them through these uncertain times. The problem is strategic marketing and branding can be inaccessible to small businesses and startups where the founders are always pressed to meet their monthly or quarterly sales targets. Unlike large enterprises, they cannot afford to invest in a full-time CMO with the requisite experience and expertise. And this is where a virtual CMO can be the game-changer. S/he can work in innovating your business in several ways:

Brand building

Startups/ SMEs have great products/ services at an even greater price value than many MNCs. However, in their bid to achieve their sales targets, they end up selling their wares without being able to build a brand out of them. They lack the right way to position their brand and more importantly

communicate rightly to their target segment. So that they are off a treadmill called sales. And sales continue to come in even when the founder or core team decides to go for a long vacay.

New outreach channels

Studies show that with COVID, more people and businesses have gone online either for work or leisure. However, most small businesses have failed to capitalize on this opportunity. Their website can easily be a money-making tool for them by generating leads or turning it to an eCommerce website. This is the time for startups and SMEs to create their digital footprint. This is almost like adding an extra salesperson to their team! They can even start small with Google ads as these ads are only charged if a viewer clicks on it. Diversify their geographical reach by displaying these ads to newer markets!

Working with a VCMO is just like having a full-time CMO, but for a fraction of the cost. They spend a predetermined amount of time on the business’s premises, engaging with business leaders and other stakeholders to identify their problems. VCMOs actively collaborate with the business stakeholders to formulate strategies for overcoming their challenges. They also oversee the execution of these strategies to ensure tangible improvements in marketing performance. Their remuneration may consist of fixed as well as success-based components.

As a virtual CMO, I have helped several startups and small businesses solve their biggest marketing challenges which, often, run deeper than just bad marketing and ads. Because sometimes, it is not about what you sell, but why you sell. At times, it may not be about overcoming circumstances but about monetizing the circumstances. Defining your unique brand positioning and communicating the same to your target audience can help you achieve a quantum leap in business performance without requiring you to upscale your sales operations. That’s because once you sell your brand, your products will sell themselves — just like Slack managed to gain 2 million monthly users within its first 2 years WITHOUT hiring salespeople! Small business CEOs either don’t see marketing as a strategic supplement to their business goals or are unable to hire a full-time CMO. As a result, they are unable to leverage marketing and branding to achieve desired business outcomes. An experienced VCMO can look at the business from a fresh perspective to identify any gaps and make the marketing function an active player in strengthening your profit centre.

Modus operandi and outcomes of a VCMO
  • A virtual CMO (VCMO) is a consultant who helps businesses discover their brand purpose, create a brand identity, and strategize and execute marketing campaigns to drive exponential growth.
  • With a virtual CMO on board, business owners can focus on their core operations, while entrusting the marketing function to the expertise and experience of a VCMO.
  • Equipped with experience in marketing across brands, industries, and geographies, a VCMO has diverse knowledge. They have a noticeably short learning curve and can hit the ground running to deliver immediate results.
  • They do not lead to any overhead costs that are generally associated with full-time employees, such as a full-time workstation while being just as accountable for driving results.


More about Tamanna Gupta

Tamanna Gupta is the Founder and Director at Umanshi Marketing that focusses on startups, SMBs and social sector. She believes that these sectors also deserve the best of the branding and marketing solutions, just like large MNCs. Her portfolio of work features an impressive clientele with the likes of HSBC, VW, Bridgestone, Qatar Airways, Eureka Forbes, Birla Sunlife Insurance, ACC Cement and others. Tamanna’s work has exposed her to international markets such as Greece, Istanbul, UAE, China, and the Netherlands. She directed the opening and closing ceremony of International Film Festival of India in 2011.


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