What is a Fractional CMO— and Does Your Business Need One?

Many companies reach a stage where they are prepared to hire an experienced executive who can take them to the next level…and yet, until they reach that next level, they simply do not have the resources to bring a full-time executive on board. This paradoxical situation has been remedied time and time again through a creative approach…namely, the hiring of fractional executives. Recently, a number of companies have sought fractional CMOs, in particular, leveraging their advanced marketing know-how to acquire leads and boost their bottom line.

But what is a fractional CMO, exactly, and what does a fractional CMO do? Most importantly, perhaps, how do you know where to find a fractional CMO whose experience aligns with your business needs? Let’s hit each of these questions, one at a time.

what is a fractional cmo

What is a Fractional CMO?

Let’s begin with a simple definition. A fractional CMO is a marketing leader or executive who may be enlisted to assist your company with the acquisition of customers, sales development, and bottom-line growth. A fractional CMO essentially works on a flexible schedule and may split their attention between your business and a couple of others.

This may sound like a fairly radical model, but actually, it’s not that new. Mid-sized companies have outsourced key strategy and decision-making responsibilities to virtual CEOs for a long time now, and part-time CFOs can provide financial stability to businesses not yet large enough to require a full-time executive. The fractional CMO works in much the same way.

What Does a Fractional CMO Do?

As for the specific duties or responsibilities of a CMO, they can vary depending on the specific needs of your company. Basically, a fractional CMO does all the same things that a traditional CMO might do. The difference is, they do so for a fraction of the cost.

Some of the most common responsibilities of a CMO include:

  • Set measurable marketing goals and benchmarks for the organization.
  • Plan, implement and oversee the overall marketing strategy.
  • Review and manage the development of marketing assets and content.
  • Determine the most relevant KPIs for the marketing department.
  • Manage the marketing budget.
  • Measure the results of marketing efforts, and report to the C-suite or Board of Directors on KPIs.
  • Collaborate with sales and customer service teams, ensuring goals and workflows that are in alignment.
  • Analyze the company’s current marketing strategy and suggest improvements.
  • Use data to guide all marketing efforts.

These are just a few examples of what a traditional CMO might do, and thus, what a fractional CMO might do on behalf of your business or brand.

Why a Fractional CMO?

As for the benefits of hiring a fractional CMO, there are several big advantages for companies to be aware of. Why a fractional CMO?

  • A fractional CMO has the insight and experience needed to help you evolve current sales and marketing processes, keeping pace with your business growth and providing the infrastructure for further development.
  • A fractional CMO will also be able to craft a unified strategy for gaining and retaining customers, one that can include marketing efforts but also your sales and customer service teams.
  • More specifically, a fractional CMO can identify any gaps where the sales team is losing leads and opportunities. One of the core benefits to hiring a fractional CMO is the added support for your sales team.

Again, a fractional CMO can accomplish all of this on behalf of your business or brand, and for a rate that’s less than what you might pay for a full-time marketing executive. For many growing companies, this represents an incredible value.

How Much Does a Fractional CMO Cost?

This brings us to an important question: Roughly how much does a fractional CMO cost?

The whole point of hiring a fractional executive is that it provides you with high-level expertise without a high-level cost. With that said, it’s challenging to identify a specific price point for any fractional or part-time executive. The reason for this is that any CMO partner you choose will want to learn more about your needs and expectations and develop a service schedule that’s in alignment. As such, the cost of a fractional CMO can be pretty variable. The best way to learn more is to reach out about getting an individualized quote.

Where to Find Fractional CMO Services

Another common question is where to find fractional CMO services. Should you seek a fractional CMO agency? And if so, exactly how does the hiring process work?

First and foremost, the best place to look for a fractional CMO is often a high-level marketing consultancy service, where you can ensure you’re speaking with talented marketing professionals who have a proven track record of innovation and strategy.

Understanding the Process of Hiring a CMO

As for the process of hiring a fractional CMO, different agencies may do it differently, but the general pathway is as follows:

  • Discovery. Schedule a one-on-one talk with a potential CMO, providing you a chance to tell them more about your company, your goals, the challenges you’re currently facing, etc. This can be a valuable “getting to know one another” experience that reveals to you and the CMO whether your expectations fit.
  • Statement. The fractional CMO should then draft a statement of work, basically outlining the services they plan to offer and the results they seek to achieve on your behalf. This is an important way to formalize expectations and to ensure your fractional CMO is doing what you want them to do.
  • Start. Once the statement of work is agreed upon, a good fractional CMO will be ready to begin work promptly, and to continue to work hard on your behalf for the duration of the agreed-upon timeline.

Again, this is just a rough summary, but most fractional CMO agency experiences will proceed along these lines.

Do You Need a Fractional CMO?

Before you set out to find fractional CMO services, it’s worth reflecting on this question: Is your business in a place where it could really benefit from a fractional CMO?

There are a few common indicators that you could use the expertise and flexibility of a fractional CMO. These indicators include:

  1. You’re not yet ready to hire a full-time marketing executive. Startups and smaller businesses require marketing leadership, just the same as larger enterprises do. And yet, you may not have the work or the budget to justify making a full-time hire. This is reason enough to consider hiring a fractional CMO.
  2. You have an established company, but no clear marketing vision. Some companies can exist for a long time and eventually reach a plateau with their marketing efforts. A skilled CMO can help you transform your existing marketing efforts and establish a more coherent, visionary plan.
  3. Your sales team is developing their own marketing materials. You may have the world’s greatest sales team, but still: There’s no reason why they should be investing their time in the development of creative assets. That’s a job for the marketing team, under the leadership of a proficient, fractional CMO.
  4. You don’t have access to useful data sources. Are you making marketing decisions based off intuition, or actual data? Data-driven decisions can ensure the most efficient use of your resources. A fractional CMO can help you develop the marketing data sources you require.
  5. You have a vacancy in your marketing department. One additional sign that you could use a fractional CMO? You’re looking to hire a full-time executive, perhaps following the departure of a previous CMO, and you want to make sure there is a steady hand at the helm while you conduct your search.

These are some of the main reasons why it might make sense to find fractional CMO services.

Fractional CMO Services from Sefati & Co

If you’re ready to learn more about where to find fractional CMO services, we invite you to contact us.

Our agency is staffed with highly experienced marketing professionals who have provided guidance to major enterprises across the world. And we enjoy strategic partnerships with world-renowned Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and fractional CMOs. Contact us to set up a discovery call.

Author: Al Sefati

Al Sefati is an enterprise SEO and search marketing expert and the founder of Sefati & Company. Al works with marketing agencies and enterprise level clients and he is in charge of forming and monitoring their SEO and SEM strategies. Al blogs often about latest SEO, SEM and digital marketing trends and tactics.