A fractional CMO can fuel your business growth through transformative marketing leadership — without the full-time marketing executive price tag.
- Check out this detailed guide on the Types of Fractional Executives and how to hire them.
- Evaluate the benefits of Fractional Recruiting and how you can get started with it.
What Is a Fractional CMO?
A fractional Chief Marketing Officer is a part-time Chief Marketing Officer responsible for devising a comprehensive marketing strategy that drives revenue growth and improves brand recognition.
They usually report to the CEO and work closely with the leadership team to facilitate a seamless exchange of ideas and practices between marketing and other functions.
They offer top-tier marketing leadership without the substantial overhead of full-time marketing executive salaries (and bonuses).
This gives your company flexibility to scale the marketing effort as needed and maximize ROI — especially if you’re dealing with limited resources or fluctuating marketing needs.
When Should You Hire a Fractional CMO?
You should seriously consider hiring a fractional CMO when:
- You need someone with experience in your particular product category to hone your current marketing strategy.
- Your existing marketing team needs skilled leadership to manage several functions efficiently.
- You require the external perspective of an experienced marketing executive to improve marketing ROI.
- You're introducing a new product or service and need effective marketing strategies to launch it.
- You need to delegate and free up time but lack the marketing budget or don’t need a full-time CMO.
- You need a temporary CMO to fill a temporary vacancy.
What Services Do Fractional CMOs Provide?
Whether you need strategic leadership or someone to train the marketing team, a fractional CMO could be irreplaceable to your business.
Take a detailed look at how they can steer your company in the right direction with their marketing expertise.
1. Strategic Marketing Leadership
Creating a marketing plan requires a structured approach to ensure resources are allocated properly, and you can respond quickly to market changes.
A fractional CMO would first assess your ongoing marketing initiatives and identify any gaps or problems.
They then leverage their diverse experience to provide strategic guidance that aligns with your business objectives. This will result in profitable and customer-driven marketing tactics.
Fractional CMOs will offer you a better marketing ROI, as they can anticipate market changes and seize new opportunities proactively to drive growth.
2. Market Research and Analysis
Without proper market research and analysis, you risk misjudging your audience, making costly assumptions, and steering strategies away from actual market realities.
A fractional CMO can either conduct market research in-house or collaborate with a third-party agency.
The resulting nuanced insights on consumer needs and industry trends will sharpen your product positioning and audience outreach.
It can even uncover market segments with unmet needs. In such cases, your fractional CMO can work with the R&D or product team to develop new solutions.
3. Brand Development
A strong brand differentiates you from competitors but also establishes trust and credibility with your target audience. When honed by an experienced fractional CMO, it could become your company's most valuable intangible asset.
For instance, fractional CMOs can:
- Gauge the brand’s reputation by assessing market opinions through surveys and digital listening tools.
- Define brand positioning in relation to the target market and competitors.
- Use brand storytelling to build an emotional connection with your target customers.
- Select high-impact branding platforms for maximum visibility (e.g., Google ads, social media, print media, etc.)
- Maintain a consistent voice and brand experience across online and offline touchpoints.
- Encourage repeat purchases through brand loyalty programs, webinars, feedback loops, etc.
- Assess brand KPIs for iterative improvements and strategy optimization.
A fractional CMO’s fresh, external perspective lets them easily identify gaps and seize opportunities. As a result, your company could improve brand recall, boost customer loyalty, and differentiate itself in crowded markets quickly.
4. Manage Digital Marketing Channels
A fractional CMO can initiate, prioritize, and oversee all your digital campaigns. These could include:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Social media marketing (paid and organic)
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Content marketing
- Public relations (PR)
- Influencer marketing
Through regular audits and analytics, they will ensure all these activities are coordinated for maximum efficacy and ROI.
The fractional chief marketing officer can also set up omnichannel marketing processes to ensure that all marketing channels work in a coordinated manner and avoid wasting money on siloed efforts.
5. Marketing Automation
An increasingly digital landscape for marketing makes most error-ridden manual processes obsolete. Marketing automation helps your team scale up your scope of execution with the help of multipurpose software.
A fractional CMO knows what processes will benefit the most from automation.
They can select the right software, such as:
- Content Management Systems (CMS) to create and manage websites
- Email marketing platforms
- Social listening and scheduling tools
- Customer survey tools
- Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) to organize customer information
- AI chatbots for round-the-clock customer service.
Careful deployment of these tools will undoubtedly improve the speed and accuracy of your marketing processes, drastically improving your marketing ROI.
6. Analytics and Reporting
Your company may be sitting on a mountain of data from several software tools and systems. A fractional CMO will help you convert insights from this data into specific action items for your marketing department.
They’ll keep a keen eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) like:
- Marketing Campaign Performance: Impressions, Clicks, Survey Response Rate, Email Open Rate, etc.
- Customer Retention: Customer retention and churn rates over a period
- Return on Investment (ROI): Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), etc.
- Customer Satisfaction: Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), etc.
They can set up a live dashboard with critical KPIs to give the team a bird’s eye view of all marketing campaigns and how they align with broader business goals.
7. Budgeting and Forecasting
A fractional CMO can easily identify inefficiencies in current budget allocation. They can then redirect funds to campaigns with a higher ROI.
Suppose your social media engagement continues to be poor despite allocating a huge marketing budget to a marketing agency. A fractional CMO could renegotiate terms, shift to a performance-based payment structure, or reallocate the budget to another agency.
Using market insights and past performance data, they can also predict future budgetary requirements and advise on strategic changes to keep costs in control.
8. Team Leadership and Development
Given their fresh perspective, a fractional CMO could give you a more unbiased evaluation of team performance. They can groom your marketing team and instill a data-centric, productive work approach.
- Identify redundancies in roles and restructure for optimal productivity.
- Educate the team on the latest marketing trends.
- Train the team to use marketing automation and analytics tools.
- Establish best practices like cross-training of sales and marketing teams to drive customer satisfaction.
- Introduce new tools, such as a new performance review system focusing on continuous feedback rather than annual evaluations.
Ultimately, a fractional CMO ensures that your marketing department is fully equipped to take charge of the company’s marketing operations before they move on to their next fractional engagement. They could even help you recruit a team of experts or find a full-time traditional CMO when the time is right.
9. Event Strategy
A fractional CMO can leverage their network and industry experience to promote your product via offline avenues like trade shows, fundraising fairs, and/or online events like webinars.
Your fractional CMO will:
- Pick events and venues with the highest engagement potential for your target audience.
- Negotiate terms with vendors for better pricing and value-add.
- Determine an event theme that resonates with your audience.
- Promote events (online and offline) for maximum reach.
- Leverage data to ensure cost-effective planning and execution.
In essence, a fractional CMO can provide strategic depth and tactical know-how to your event planning without sticking to traditional methods.
10. Vendor and Agency Management
Managing third-party vendors and agencies is often the biggest time-sink for marketing teams.
A fractional CMO can help you at every stage of your vendor relations. This includes
- Collecting and reviewing proposals and selecting the right agencies
- Negotiating and signing contracts
- Assigning a single point of contact (SPOC) for each vendor
- Managing and evaluating their performance
- Setting budgets
- Resolving conflicts
- Terminating contracts and transferring data
In short, they ensure that your vendors deliver the expected results.
11. Sales Enablement
The average B2B buyer reads up to 13 pieces of marketing content before buying a product. This shows how intertwined marketing and sales departments should be.
A fractional CMO can align your marketing and sales efforts by:
- Setting up systems to integrate marketing and sales data into a single pipeline. (For instance, they can set up a CRM system like Salesforce to have the marketing and sales teams operate from the same data set. Once a lead is captured through a marketing campaign, it's funneled to the sales team for immediate follow-up.)
- Leveraging sales data to gear marketing collaterals for maximum lead generation.
- Training the sales team in the latest market insights.
- Redirecting the results of marketing analytics into sales processes (For instance, if analytics show that some leads engaged deeply with content but abandoned their shopping carts, the sales team can be alerted to offer personalized deals to them or answer their queries.)
12. Public Relations (PR) Management
As brand custodians, especially in a small business, fractional CMOs are ideal candidates to oversee your company’s PR outreach, ensuring it aligns with the broader marketing approach.
Your fractional CMO can shape the brand voice in all external communications. Moreover, they can train company spokespeople to represent this brand best during public appearances.
Finally, fractional CMOs are also your first line of defense during a PR crisis.
These senior leaders will strategize a measured response and help you:
- Draft an appropriate and brand-compliant statement for the press or relevant parties.
- Engage with key stakeholders to find a resolution.
- Gauge public opinion via various marketing channels like social media.
- Navigate customer relations affected by the crisis. (For example, following negative press about a service glitch, a fractional CMO can initiate a hotline for affected customers to ensure their grievances are addressed.)
Clearly, the services a fractional CMO offers can be a huge boon to your business. But there are even more benefits to hiring one.
5 Key Benefits of Hiring Fractional CMOs
Even if you’re tempted to go the full-time route with your CMO position, you should know the numerous advantages of hiring this fractional executive.
We’ll explore a few of these below.
The cost of a full-time employee includes salary, benefits, bonuses, and other overheads. The average annual salary of a CMO in the US as of August ‘23 was up to $349,146. And when one adds overheads like bonuses, 401K, healthcare, etc., this figure reaches $630,004.
This makes hiring a CMO hard for bootstrapped startups or budget-conscious mid-size companies.
Plus, a 2019 analysis by Korn Ferry reveals that the average tenure of a CMO is the lowest of all C-suite executives, at 3.5 years — across 1000 surveyed organizations. This means the decision to hire a traditional CMO who works full-time may not have the expected long-term payoff.
A fractional CMO, on the other hand, makes a much more affordable hire because you only pay for their limited time commitment or specific projects.
2. Diverse Experience
Thanks to multiple short tenures across a range of companies and across industries, fractional CMOs usually have varied experience and broad-based marketing expertise.
Some fractional CMOs own and run successful startups on the side. This gives them the vital entrepreneurial experience of setting business priorities, budgeting, fundraising, and much more. Hiring them gives you the unique opportunity to work with someone who understands the nuances of running a company.
As a result, they’ll foresee challenges better and adapt to the market faster than in-house staff.
They may also have specialized skills – digital transformation, branding relaunch, international expansion, etc.
A full-time CMO usually doesn’t have the same breadth of experience.
3. Immediate Impact
Fractional CMOs typically are seasoned professionals who can hit the ground running quickly. They are often quicker to onboard and orient than full-time CMOs.
Because they are used to working for new companies and require less of a learning curve, they can deliver results faster than someone new to the role or the industry.
Plus, because you can hire these fractional marketing executives for limited durations, they’re motivated to meet these objectives quickly and efficiently.
4. Access to a Network
A fractional CMO will have a deep network of vendors, consultants, and even investors from their previous engagements.
You can leverage this network to expand your marketing department, hire third-party marketing services, or find new prospects.
Want instant access to an exceptionally talented and well-connected bunch of people?
Just hire a fractional executive with Go Fractional and unlock an entire network of not just marketing leaders but also sales gurus, tech wizards, finance masters, and more.
Fractional CMO vs. Marketing Consultant
Maybe you’re wondering why you shouldn’t hire a freelance marketing consultant instead. Couldn’t you get many of the same benefits?
Well, there is some overlap between services that marketing consultants provide, but fractional CMOs offer two irreplaceable advantages over marketing consultants.
1. Overarching Leadership vs. Specific Tasks
A fractional CMO typically provides an overarching direction. They can see how different marketing approaches and channels can work together to create a unified marketing strategy.
More importantly, they can provide a complete range of marketing services, from leadership to strategy to execution.
On the other hand, a consultant's role stops at making recommendations. They’ll offer you a plan to solve a problem, but it’s up to you to implement the marketing initiative into action. They don’t offer strategic leadership or execute the strategies they propose.
2. Committed Engagement vs. Low Ownership
A fractional CMO might step into a marketing executive role with decision-making authority. They will have a more holistic view of the company’s success than a consultant just completing a project.
Marketing consultants don’t always have such high-stakes engagement with their clients. They usually only answer for the specific projects they’re entrusted with. Fractional CMOs may work for you in the short term, but they could also hang on for longer-term engagements, staying accountable for their results and ensuring everything runs efficiently.
So that settles it.
Now, let’s find out how you can go about hiring one.
How to Hire a Fractional CMO with Go Fractional
Go Fractional is a community of dynamic fractional CMOs and other marketing leaders. We take the guesswork out of the fractional hiring game by:
- Finding the best fit for your team without any hidden fees
- Helping you and the candidate get to know each other’s needs via interviews
- Managing all the administrative tasks during the hiring and onboarding processes
Just follow these steps to hire a fractional CMO from Go Fractional:
- Step 1: Connect
- Step 2: Meet
- Step 3: Begin
How We Source Fractional CMO Candidates
Rest assured that your candidates pass through a stringent selection process.
- Applications: Our rigorous selection process primarily zeroes in on individuals already in leadership roles.
- Interviews: Exhaustive interviews help us gauge their alignment with our community and clientele.
- Profiles: Go Fractional aspirants must craft a detailed profile encapsulating their past endeavors, assignments, and feats.
Our experts have chosen the fractional route because it allows them to engage with diverse projects and clientele. And they bring this multifaceted background to your table.
How Much Does A Fractional CMO Cost?
The cost of hiring a fractional CMO hinges on the duration of their engagement, range of responsibilities, experience, etc.
At Go Fractional, we customize the pricing model in order to do justice to each fractional executive’s role, skills, and past experience.
Our pricing structure is based on monthly retainers, typically between $10,000 and $20,000.
Our transparent billing operates on a monthly cycle. Regardless of the number of fractional experts you work with, you receive a single invoice.
Ready to Go Fractional for the Chief Marketing Officer role?