How to Hire a CMO for Transformative Growth: 8 Key Strategies

How to Hire a CMO for Transformative Growth: 8 Key Strategies

Discover how to hire a CMO using eight critical steps, and get strategies to empower your CMO for success. Uncover the easiest way to hire the ideal CMO through Go Fractional.

Hiring a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a pivotal decision for any organization – a big step towards strategic growth and enhanced market presence.

The right CMO can drive innovation, connect with customers on a deeper level, and transform your company's marketing efforts.

But, how do you identify the right CMO with a perfect blend of creativity and analytical prowess who’ll seamlessly fit into your company culture?

We’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to hire a CMO and how to empower your new hire for success.

We’ll also share the most effective way you can find exceptional marketing leadership.

Further Reading:

What Does a CMO Do?


A chief marketing officer can boost your company's sales and revenue through effective marketing strategies.

A competent CMO will align your marketing department with your company’s growth, product development and profitability goals. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Market research
  • User acquisition/lead generation
  • Brand & business development
  • Digital marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Marketing automation
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Product marketing
  • Team leadership and development
  • Event strategy
  • Vendor and agency management
  • Sales enablement
  • Crisis management & public relations

Here’s an example:

In a company aiming to launch a new fitness app, the CMO supervises market research to understand potential users' preferences and develops a marketing strategy targeting health-conscious consumers.

They will manage the content marketing and social media campaigns and oversee app distribution across platforms and user feedback collection.

Note: A CMO may be an expert at some of the above responsibilities, but doesn’t need to excel at them all. They should understand the language, priorities, and skills of those who are experts in all the above, and bring them together into a cohesive team.

The dangerous thing is having a CMO who is fantastic at, for example, budgeting, but doesn’t understand the technical realities of automation or lead generation. It’s a quick way to alienate your team from the CMO or make them work counter-currently.

Nathalie Couet profile image
Nathalie Couet
  1. Team Building
  2. Leadership
  3. Fractional CMO
  4. Go-To-Market Strategies & Implementation
Marketing leader | Go-to-market strategy development | Data-driven, with creative penchant

When Should You Hire a CMO?

Whether you’re leading a growing startup, navigating the rapid phase of hyper-growth, or directing an established company toward new goals, knowing when to hire a CMO is crucial.

A. You’re a startup:

  • You have achieved product-market fit. At this stage, a CMO can help you architect a scalable marketing strategy to capture a larger market share. (An advisory/fractional CMO could also be instrumental in finding or validating your product-market fit.)
  • You’re defining your company’s target market and customer base.
  • Your business strategy seems unclear and you need a CMO to help you figure out your business model.

B. You’re in the hyper-growth phase:

  • Your team has expanded to include at least 10 people in marketing, alongside engineers and a head of sales. At this juncture, a CMO can significantly aid your existing marketing team in managing various marketing functions efficiently.
  • You’re seeking an external perspective to enhance marketing ROI.

C. You’re an established business:

  • Your company is preparing for an IPO.
  • You're on the verge of introducing a new product or service and require a comprehensive go-to-market strategy.
  • You encounter challenges in pivoting or keeping pace with the market. Business as usual isn’t cutting it anymore). You may need to onboard a new CMO who can introduce fresh perspectives and diverse skill sets. This CMO could overhaul your internal processes and systems, mentor the team, and even undertake restructuring.

Now that you know when to hire a chief marketing officer, let’s find out how you can find the perfect candidate to fill your CMO role.

Matt Spangler profile image
Matt Spangler
  1. Fractional CMO
Advisor and former CMO at Compass

How to Hire a CMO: 8 Critical Steps for a Successful Hire


These eight executive search steps will ensure you find a candidate who not only meets your marketing goal but also embodies your brand's vision and values:

1. Define the Role and Responsibilities

Begin this process by clearly outlining the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business strategy, such as customer acquisition costs and conversion rates. Your CMO will have to directly contribute to these metrics.

But that’s not all.

Determining the role and the skills you need is also highly dependent on the team already in place. In other words — what skills do they have? What are they working on, and how should your new CMO influence that?

Finally, identifying the right marketing leader depends on matching their responsibilities with your overarching marketing goal – whether you want to enter new markets, revitalize your brand, or innovate your marketing approach.

Below are the key types of CMOs you could hire and their primary focus areas:

  • Growth Driver: Specializes in scaling the business with skills in lead generation, marketing automation, content marketing, and sales enablement.
  • Innovation Catalyst: Introduces disruptive marketing tactics and technologies to foster innovation.
  • Brand Storyteller: Communicates the brand's narrative, utilizing exceptional storytelling and content creation to connect with your target audience.
  • Capability Builder: Upgrades marketing team skill sets and organizational capabilities through training, strategic planning, and skill gap analysis.
  • PR Lead: Manages media relations and public image, skilled in public relations, crisis management, and media outreach.
  • Competitive Analyst: Analyzes market trends and competitor strategies, with analytical skills and market research capabilities to keep a competitive edge.
  • Business Developer: Identifies new business opportunities and partnerships, leveraging strategic planning, negotiation, and relationship management skills.
Dana Doron profile image
Dana Doron
  1. Fractional CMO
  2. Fractional Marketing Director
  3. Marketing Consultant
  4. Advisor
Marketing leader focused on DTC & CPG brand, growth, GTM, and innovation strategy

2. Determine Your Budget

First, evaluate your company's marketing goals and industry standing to set a realistic budget for a chief marketing officer. This ensures you make a competitive offer without exceeding your financial limits.

While companies usually look for full-time CMOs, many experienced marketing leaders today seek part-time or project-based roles. This offers your business flexible, budget-friendly options like a fractional CMO (outsourced CMO) or an interim CMO.

Just see how the salaries of a full-time, fractional, and interim CMO compare:

  • Full-time CMOs: Many top CMOs rake in around $526,401 per year (including bonuses), but salaries can reach around $790,000 at the upper end of the spectrum.
  • Interim CMOs: Compensation for interim leadership can vary based on location, industry, and function. But you can expect to pay an interim CMO, on average, $205,146 per year. You may also have to shell out an additional $150,600 per year or more to cover bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing.
  • Fractional CMOs: These executives are the most cost-effective, with monthly salaries usually falling between $10,000 and $20,000, totaling an annual compensation of $120,000 to $240,000. Additionally, there's no need to provide your fractional executive with bonuses, private equity, or other employee perks.

Wondering how to hire a fractional or outsourced CMO?

A fractional recruiting company like Go Fractional can handle the executive search to find the right CMO for your business.

3. Determine the Level of Commitment You Need

The next crucial step is to determine the level of commitment you need from this position, making sure it fits your budget and strategic goals:

Here’s what full-time, interim, and fractional CMOs bring to the table:

Full-time CFO Interim CFO Fractional CFO
A regular member of the C-suite, receiving a full compensation package (including salary, benefits, and potentially profit sharing). A temporary executive who steps in during a vacancy or transition period, ensuring continuity in marketing leadership. A part-time executive who oversees the marketing function taking up all the responsibilities of a full-time CMO, but at a significantly reduced cost.
Long-term, with a permanent commitment to the company’s marketing vision and strategies. Short-term, providing immediate support in marketing initiatives. Part-time (typically up to 20 hours/week), with flexible duration (can be short- or long-term), ideal for businesses seeking strategic marketing leadership at a lower cost.
Nick Perold profile image
Nick Perold
  1. Fractional CMO
  2. Advisor
  3. Executive Coach
  4. Content Marketing
Facilitating Growth With Clarity & Speed

4. Create and Promote a CMO Job Description

This step helps you find a candidate with the right mix of skills, experience, and vision that match your company's marketing game plan.

Your CMO job description should include:

  • Role Overview: A brief description of the CMO's role and its importance to the company.
  • Key Responsibilities: Detailed list of duties, such as brand management, marketing strategy development, digital marketing oversight, etc.
  • Required Skills and Qualifications: Specify necessary skills like digital marketing expertise, and the minimum and preferred educational qualifications.
  • Desired Experience: Years of experience in marketing leadership roles, industry-specific experience, and previous achievements.
  • Company Culture: Insight into your company's values and culture.
  • Compensation and Benefits: Salary range, bonus potential, private equity options, and any additional benefits.

Next, you’ll need to promote your CMO job description by:

  • Using platforms like LinkedIn to reach out to potential candidates directly and post in relevant groups.
  • Sharing the job post on your company’s social media profiles.
  • Posting the job description on marketing and business forums, as well as on job boards that specialize in executive-level positions.
  • Featuring the job listing prominently on your career page to attract candidates exploring your company.
  • Encouraging employees to refer qualified candidates by leveraging internal networks and offering incentives for successful hires.

5. Source Candidates from Different Channels

Explore a variety of recruitment channels to improve your chances of finding the right marketing leader for your business needs.

Consider the following channels:

  • Leverage an executive search firm like Go Fractional: Go Fractional offers access to great CMOs for part-time roles. This allows businesses to access expert marketing leadership without the full-time expense or commitment. You can also engage a fractional head of talent through Go Fractional to help you hire the ideal outsourced CMO.
  • Look within your professional network: Tap into your existing professional contacts for potential CMO candidates. Referrals often lead to trustworthy and vetted professionals aligned with your company's values and objectives.
  • Use online networks, LinkedIn, Slack groups: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn for a wider reach and targeted search capabilities. Joining Slack groups and other online marketing communities can connect you with industry-specific talent.
Ashley Simon profile image
Ashley Simon
  1. Fractional CMO
Expert Generalist

6. Have a Comprehensive Interview Process in Place

Establish a thorough interview process to vet your chief marketing officer candidates effectively.

It should have multiple stages to assess technical skills, leadership skills, and cultural fit, including:

  • Screening calls
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Team interactions

Incorporate scenario-based questions and discussions on past marketing campaigns to gauge strategic thinking and creativity.

This approach will give you a deep understanding of each candidate's capabilities and how they will match your company's values.

Need guidance on interview questions?

Here are 45 CMO Interview Questions to help you find the right CMO.

7. Conduct a Background Check

Conducting a background check verifies that the candidate's history meets your company's standards and expectations.

Executive-level background checks usually contain the following:

  • Educational qualifications verification
  • Employment history verification
  • Social media and online presence checks
  • Legal and financial checks
  • Reference checks
  • Criminal background checks
  • Credit history checks
  • Professional license verification

These checks will confirm the integrity and reliability of your potential CMO, safeguarding your company against future risks.

8. Make and Close the Offer

Make a compelling offer to your chosen CMO candidate that stands out against competing offers.

Your offer should reflect a competitive package, including salary, benefits, and bonuses while highlighting the opportunities for professional growth.

Close the offer by having team members and board executives express their excitement about the potential partnership through personalized emails or messages, or by extending an invitation for lunch or dinner. This thoughtful approach can be the deciding factor for the CMO candidate.

Neha Goel profile image
Neha Goel
  1. Fractional CMO
  2. Advisor
  3. Marketing Consultant
  4. Demand Generation
Building strategies for early-stage B2B SaaS startups to achieve revenue growth

Now, finding the perfect CMO is just one part of the process.

To make the most of your executive search efforts, you need to set your CMO up for success.

Here’s how:

6 Essential Strategies to Empower Your CMO For Success


Here are six strategies to ensure your newly hired CMO not only transitions smoothly into their role but also thrives in your organization:

1. Ensure There’s a Proper Transition and Onboarding Strategy

A well-structured transition and onboarding strategy is essential for a CMO's successful integration and effectiveness.

Your onboarding plan should include detailed briefings on current marketing strategies and key ongoing projects. It should also prioritize introductions to the marketing team, cross-departmental collaborators, and other essential stakeholders within the organization.

Facilitate a series of meet-and-greets and strategy deep-dives within the first few weeks. This includes inviting them to engineering scrums (where applicable), sales weeklies, and other sector-specific meetings from the beginning.

Such exposure is crucial as it enables the CMO to grasp the nitty-gritty details of various operations. After all, CMOs can only effectively market what they fully understand.

Jana Keaton profile image
Jana Keaton
  1. Fractional CMO
  2. Creative Director
  3. Copy
Writer. Thinker. Joke-teller.

2. Ensure Access to Necessary Resources and Budget

Providing your CMO with the necessary resources and marketing budget is crucial for them to build effective marketing strategies and drive growth.

This includes access to advanced marketing tools, a sufficient marketing budget for market research, and a dedicated team to execute initiatives. For instance, giving your CMO access to marketing platforms and analytics tools from day one allows them to assess current campaigns and strategize accordingly.

This strategy will foster a smooth transition and immediate impact.

3. Empower the CMO with Decision-Making Authority and Trust

Give your CMO decision-making authority to spark innovation, agility, and accountability within your marketing department.

This allows them to respond to market changes and capitalize on emerging opportunities swiftly.

For example, enabling the CMO to make executive decisions on marketing campaign adjustments without seeking approval at every turn can significantly enhance the speed and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

4. Facilitate Collaboration Across Sales, Product, and Engineering Teams

Encourage collaboration between the marketing, sales, product, and engineering teams to empower your CMO to tailor marketing strategies with the company's broader objectives.

This synergy ensures that marketing strategies are informed by product capabilities and sales insights, leading to more cohesive and effective campaigns.

Effective best practices include establishing regular inter-departmental touchpoints, using shared project management tools for increased transparency, and ensuring frequent C-suite meetings to discuss both high-stakes and everyday projects.

5. Honor the Commitments Made in the CMO's Job Offer

Uphold the promises made in the CMO's job offer to build a foundation of trust and respect from the start.

This signals to the CMO that the organization values integrity and is committed to supporting their success.

Make sure that any agreed-upon resources, budgets, or team expansions are made available as promised.

Additionally, if you've hired the CMO on a fractional or retainer basis, avoid trying to increase the scope of responsibilities that weren’t initially discussed.

6. Define Clear Metrics for Success and Accountability

Define specific, measurable metrics so that the new CMO understands what is expected of them in terms of performance and results. An example could be “grow lead-to-customer conversion rate by 15% by the end of 2024”.

This will allow the CMO to focus their efforts on activities that directly contribute to the company's objectives and justify marketing investments.

These metrics also give you a tangible way to measure the impact of marketing strategies and initiatives on the company's overall success.

Now, does hiring a CMO sound like a lot of work?

Well, you don’t have to go through it alone:

Hire a Visionary Fractional CMO through Go Fractional Today


At Go Fractional is an executive search firm that offers a distinguished network of fractional marketing leaders for businesses of all sizes.

Our marketing leaders tell great stories and can help you craft effective marketing strategies to drive revenue and brand awareness.

We'll take on the time-consuming administrative tasks involved in hiring an experienced CMO, freeing you up to concentrate on what you're passionate about — your core business activities.

How We Select the Candidates

  • We vet candidates to ensure they have a solid track record in marketing leadership and business growth.
  • Those who qualify are interviewed to align with our stringent standards.
  • Candidates create detailed profiles that showcase their specific areas of marketing expertise and notable achievements.

Next Steps?

  • Contact us to tap into our exclusive network of fractional executives. We offer recommendations that align with your specific marketing needs, including access to select members not publicly listed on our website. If the ideal match isn't in our network, we'll find them for you.
  • Schedule a meeting with potential candidates to discuss their roles, responsibilities, timelines, and fees. Having your executive team meet the candidates is also wise to confirm a cultural match with your organization.
  • We will then send over a proposal.
  • If everything checks out, kickstart your collaboration with a comprehensive agreement.
  • You receive a monthly invoice and ongoing assistance from our team at Go Fractional.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost for an experienced CMO at Go Fractional fluctuates, depending on their time commitment, marketing expertise level, and responsibilities. But you can expect to allocate $10,000 to $20,000 monthly, or $120,000 to $240,000 per year, for their services.

This will be significantly lower than the annual compensation, including bonuses and stock options, that you would typically pay full-time CMOs.

In short, if you're thinking about bringing on board a fractional chief marketing officer, Go Fractional offers a streamlined, flexible, and budget-friendly solution.

Ready to fill your CMO role?

Collaborate with Go Fractional now.

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