When businesses are growing, they may need the expertise of a marketing executive to help them reach their goals. But they may not have the time or resources to hire a full-time executive.
A fractional CMO can step in to fill this role on a part-time basis, providing the organization with the expertise it needs without the commitment of hiring a full-time employee.
What is a Fractional CMO?
A fractional chief marketing officer is a marketing executive who is outsourced on a fractional basis. They provide the knowledge and expertise of an in-house marketing executive but without the commitment of hiring a full-time employee.
Because they work on a fractional basis, these marketing leaders can start working with the organization immediately. The organization benefits from not having to incur the significant costs and risks of hiring, training and integration.
When Should Companies Consider a Fractional CMO?
Companies should consider hiring a fractional CMO if they:
- Cannot afford to hire an in-house CMO, OR
- Do not need a full-time CMO because they have simple marketing needs
When an organization is in the critical growth phase and really needs the guidance and expertise that only a CMO can offer, hiring a fractional CMO can be highly beneficial.
Companies may consider hiring a fractional CMO if they:
- Already have a marketing team, but they need someone to lead the team and offer executive-level guidance
- Want to get an outside perspective on their marketing strategy
- Are spending more time on marketing than core tasks
- Don’t want to invest the time into hiring a CMO
- Want to explore new marketing channels
Generally, companies only consider hiring a fractional CMO when they need executive-level guidance for their marketing departments but do not have the means to hire in-house.
What Can a Fractional CMO Do?
A fractional CMO can perform all of the same tasks that their full-time counterparts can perform. The only significant difference is that they work on a part-time or fractional basis.
What this means is that a fractional chief marketing officer can help with:
Leading the Marketing Team
Some organizations hire a fractional CMO to guide their existing marketing teams. Their leadership can help ensure that all team members are on the same page and moving in the same direction.
These professionals can help streamline marketing operations and guide the team toward reaching both the company’s and their own goals.
A fractional CMO can help an organization develop an effective marketing strategy.
Once they have a good understanding of the company’s target audience, business model and market landscape, they can use their marketing expertise to create a tailored marketing plan that will help the company reach its goals.
Overseeing Marketing Technology Integrations
Technology plays a critical role in modern marketing. The right solutions allow companies to track metrics and analyze performance to see what’s working and what needs improvement.
A fractional CMO can step in to ensure the organization is using the best solutions for its monitoring and tracking needs.
Brand Management and Digital Presence
Fractional CMOs can be especially beneficial for businesses that don’t have an existing marketing team. It can be challenging to build a strong brand without expert guidance and leadership. That’s where a part-time chief marketing officer comes in.
These professionals can help the organization develop an effective branding strategy.
Additionally, fractional CMOs can help companies improve their digital presence by making changes to their social media channels, email campaigns and customer service. They can help ensure that branding is cohesive across all of these channels.
Managing Online and Email Marketing Strategies
Fractional CMOs can review and optimize a company’s existing marketing strategy to help maximize growth.
They can help the company understand its target audience and how to reach them. They can also help the organization develop cohesive marketing messages for all channels to ensure that branding, messaging and design are consistent.
Reporting Marketing Results
To know whether a marketing strategy is effective, you must track its performance. Understanding what’s working and not working will help a company’s marketing team make data-driven decisions when tweaking and optimizing campaigns.
A fractional CMO can help with this process by identifying and tracking the KPIs that matter most to an organization.
Top Fractional Chief Marketing Officer Benefits
There are many benefits to hiring a part-time chief marketing officer, but there are also some drawbacks that companies need to consider before taking the outsourced approach.
Pros Of Hiring a Fractional CMO
For many companies, hiring a fractional chief marketing officer has many advantages, including:
Fractional CMOs are not full-time employees. Companies do not have to commit to bringing on a new team member and the expenses that come with hiring.
These professionals can be hired on a project-by-project basis or for a certain number of hours each week. They offer a level of flexibility that cannot be had with an internal CMO.
Access to Executive-Level Expertise and Guidance
Another big advantage of hiring a part-time CMO is that they give you access to a high level of expertise and can provide valuable guidance for your team that may have otherwise been inaccessible to your organization.
Fractional CMOs are a more affordable option compared to hiring a full-time marketing executive. Businesses can save on the costs of:
Organizations that don’t have the budget to hire an internal CMO will find that a fractional chief marketing officer is a great compromise.
Improved Marketing Performance
Even though they work on a part-time basis, fractional CMOs can handle virtually all of the tasks that their internal counterparts can handle.
The strategies they implement can help organizations reach their goals and improve their marketing performance.
Cons Of Hiring a Fractional CMO
While there are many advantages to hiring a fractional CMO, there are some drawbacks that must be considered. These include:
Fractional CMOs offer flexibility and low commitment, but in exchange for these perks, businesses have limited availability of their services.
These professionals also work with other clients and may not have the availability that some companies need or want.
If a fractional CMO leaves the company, there may be a disconnect and lack of continuity in the marketing department. This can cause performance to suffer, and businesses will be left having to find a new part-time CMO.
What To Look for in a Fractional CMO Hire
When hiring a fractional CMO, there are several things to consider. It’s important to find a professional who can understand the organization’s vision, mission and goals. Ideally, they’ll have industry experience and a track record of success.
Here’s what to look for when hiring a part-time chief marketing officer.
One of the most important things to look for is industry experience. Have they worked with other companies in your industry? If so, how much experience do they have?
When a fractional CMO knows and understands your business and market, they can develop more effective strategies to improve performance and drive results.
Business Size Experience
When comparing your options, consider whether they have experience with a business of your size. It’s important to find a fractional CMO who has worked with other organizations of your size and has successfully helped them reach their marketing and performance goals.
Small, medium, large and enterprise-level businesses each have unique needs and characteristics when it comes to marketing. It’s important to work with a professional who understands these needs.
Fractional CMOs must have excellent leadership and interpersonal skills. They will be working directly with your marketing team, so they must be confident in taking on a leadership role.
Marketers must be creative. Competition is fierce, and the one quality that can separate a “good” CMO from a “great” CMO is their ability to be creative. A thorough review of their experience and former projects should help you better judge their creativity.
- Are they forward-thinking?
- Are they willing to go the non-traditional route to generate sales?
Traditional and digital marketing are must-haves in today’s marketing world. CMOs need to have a pulse on technology just as much as they do on the industry. The right candidate will be savvy on the latest CRMs, content management systems, tools and software.
Specialization in the business’s field is crucial because it allows the CMO to have in-depth marketing insights on what works and doesn’t work in the industry. The right “fit” is a person who has a pulse on industry trends and can help decide which are relevant and effective.
They’ll also have a greater understanding of consumer behavior in the industry, allowing for impactful changes to be made.
CEO Vision Match
CEOs and CMOs often disagree, and this can quickly lead to their relationship souring. It’s crucial that the personality and vision of the CMO match that of the CEO. If the two clash, it can lead to rapid replacement of the marketing executive, causing:
- Marketing initiative failure
- Disarray of marketing teams
How Much Does a Fractional CMO Cost?
Fractional CMOs are paid well for their time and expertise, and they will typically charge on a per-hour basis. The average hourly rate is between $200 and $350 per hour. Businesses can negotiate different terms with a CMO, such as:
- Monthly retainer
- Hourly blocks
If you hire a fractional CMO for 5 hours per week, you’ll pay between $52,000 and $91,000 per year for their services.
The right hire will boost average sales value and revenue, covering more than the annual expense of hiring them. The impact of working with a fractional chief marketing officer is often immediate.
Fractional Chief Marketing Officer Impact
CMOs have an immediate impact on business operations. Expertise in the industry, processes and templates rapidly benefit their employers. The key areas of impact from a fractional chief marketing officer include:
- Strategic planning, helping businesses make sense of marketing plans and their validity
- Oversight of marketing activities and monitoring employees to ensure that they’re working within their own strengths
- Tracking systems allow managers and owners to have a visual representation of marketing success
- KPIs are put in place to monitor milestones and the success of long-term goal planning
Once these initiatives and processes are in place, the CMO will work on helping businesses achieve growth through:
- Acquiring new customers and filling sales pipelines
- Increasing the average order value to boost revenue
- Focusing on retaining more clients and customers
Targeted marketing campaigns allow a fractional CFO to achieve all of these growth possibilities. Revenue and profit increases elevate businesses, allowing them to invest more in research and development, marketing and long-term goals.
CEOs play a major role in helping a CMO achieve success.
It’s up to the CEO to allow the CMO to execute marketing plans and help the company reach its goals. Often, a CEO has expectations that the CMO doesn’t, leading to businesses changing CMOs often.
Fractional positions benefit companies because it allows for a “trial” of a CMO without the long-term commitment.
The impact of the CMO is best felt when their vision and goals align with that of the CEO. If the two have conflicting expectations, it can lead to internal conflict between these two executives. A CEO can help the CMO reach goals by defining what success means and how it is measured.
Why Startups and SMBs Should Consider a Fractional CMO
Small businesses (SMBs) and startups often have low cash flow. Lack of adequate cash flow is the leading cause of business failures. Hiring a fractional CMO offers companies the freedom to:
- Invest in new marketing avenues
- Provide your existing marketing teams with the leadership of a CMO
- Take time to find a full-time CMO without stalling current marketing projects
- Gain instant access to a CMO
- Reduce the cost necessary to work with a full-time CMO
- You want to test the waters and learn if a CMO can propel your business forward
- No commitment to keep the CMO on board for long-term
Fractional CMOs bring a wealth of experience to startups and small businesses without the major investment and commitment involved. Similar to other fractional roles like Fractional Sales Leaders, Fractional VP of Sales , B2B Sales Consultant, and a Fractional COO.
Your business’s first few years are formative and require a lot of sacrifices before you find success. Working with a CMO can jumpstart your business’s marketing and revenue, and a fractional CMO opens the benefits of these professionals without long-term contracts.
Invaluable Marketing Experience
CMOs have 10+ years of experience on average. Over a decade of experience can help you build your marketing and lead teams to success. When you hire a CMO, they come with:
- Years of leading marketing teams
- Track record of successful marketing campaigns
Your marketing team is enhanced thanks to the help of the CMO, who will review all of your marketing strategies and the talent responsible for execution. When scaling campaigns, the fractional chief marketing officer will focus on streamlining the process and making data-driven adjustments.
Final Thoughts on Fractional CMOs
Fractional chief marketing officers are process-driven and follow strategies that they have experience in and know work. Hiring a professional who specializes in your industry and business size can help you reach your initiatives faster.
These professionals know how to leverage digital and traditional marketing efforts to improve business growth.
Marketing campaign success and failure rely highly on the experience of a fractional CMO. The right professional will adjust their approach and work on delegating team members to tasks that their experience allows them to excel in.