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The Evolution of the Fractional CMO

The Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a new position that has been popping up with increasing frequency. But what does it involve, and do you really need one?

Chad Perry
Principal
Fractional CMO working at a computer.
January 5, 2022

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a new trend in marketing and one that has been popping up with increasing frequency. The Fractional CMO idea has emerged as an answer to the growing need for more specialized skill sets among marketers, without the fully-burdened costs. If you are looking at hiring your first Fractional CMO, or if you want to understand what they do, this article will help.

What is a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

A Fractional CMO is a marketing leader who works with your company to drive growth on an as-needed basis, versus a full-time basis. You did not employ this individual full-time but they still work as the marketing leader for your company.

A Fractional CMO can be beneficial because you don’t have to pay them a full-time salary or benefits, even though they work as a marketing leader for your company.

Because you only need their expertise and guidance on an as-needed basis and not a long-term commitment, you only pay a fraction of the cost of a full-time CMO.

What can a fractional marketing executive do for your company’s growth?

A fractional marketing executive can be an effective way for your company to grow by leveraging limited marketing resources and budget.

Today, marketing is moving away from being a department that just runs campaigns and instead has grown into a strategic role where marketing strategies, planning, and sales execution are all closely connected to function as one cohesive unit.

A Fractional CMO can move the business forward by organizing marketing talent, sales talent, and company executives in managing and delivering your go-to-market strategy.

What should a Fractional CMO do to establish marketing leadership for your company?

Speaking of go-to-market strategy, the Fractional CMO should take a leadership position amongst your executives in performing a marketing audit, as well as in determining your unique approach to the marketplace.

Marketing audits are vital to the success of new marketing initiatives, and they provide leaders with a documented approach for how your company will enter or continue its competitive sales cycle. Marketing audit results can create an actionable plan of attack against competitors and unique challenges, highlight areas where processes may need improvement, develop better customer relationships through improved messaging, along with other benefits.

Marketing audits are also an integral part of establishing your unique approach to the marketplace. A Fractional CMO should work closely with sales leadership, as well as other stakeholders on what makes you different from competitors and who your target audience is for new business development efforts.

What are some of the advantages of utilizing a Fractional CMO?

There are many advantages of using a fractional CMO to help set your marketing strategy outside of just the cost savings.

A good Fractional CMO should bring industry experience that you normally could not afford. They should be able to show a track record of success in the industry and market you are looking to serve.

They should also bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that would otherwise take years for your company to accumulate themselves.

Another advantage of hiring a fractional CMO is that you will get exactly what you are looking for. And because fractional CMO services are relatively temporary, it’s easier to regroup if you have a misfit (it happens), without major disruptions in the business or sunk costs.

Who should use Fractional CMO resources?

The fractional CMO model is beneficial for companies with limitations on headcount or funds. They are also helpful when you need someone with specific expertise in setting marketing strategy, but don’t require full-time executive support.

How do you set expectations with your Fractional CMO?

Your Fractional CMO is coming from a successful background and has experience using marketing strategy to bring brands to the next level. But expectations need to be set for a smooth working relationship.

There is a fine line between micromanaging (which talented Fractional CMOs will not operate well under) and setting expectations. Set expectations around lead generation, sales, and KPIs that drive growth.

By setting clear boundaries, it will ensure your company’s and your Fractional CMO’s success with your company.

What responsibilities do Fractional Fractional Chief Marketing Officers have?

Ultimately, you need to hold your Fractional CMO responsible for marketing strategy, marketing leadership, and marketing programs.

But you should also expect them to touch the following areas:

Fractional CMO Task 1: Who are your prospects and customers?

You need to determine who your prospects and customers are. They will play a vital role in determining how to create content, target specific audiences, and plan campaigns that reach the right people at the right time with what they want or need.

Fractional CMO Task 2: How do you use data to influence your marketing?

You should know how to use data to influence and determine your marketing strategies. With this data, you should be able to craft compelling marketing campaigns based on the data at your disposal, and then determine the best way to implement those strategies.

Fractional CMO Task 3: What does your technology stack need to look like?

Everything in marketing and sales can be tracked and reported on. A good fractional marketing executive will tell you the technology stack you need to measure and drive your business’s growth.

Fractional CMO Task 4: Who are your competitors and how do you best compete with them?

You need to understand your competitors better than they understand themselves. Your team should know exactly who you’re up against and what they have going for them, as well as knowing what their weaknesses are.

Fractional CMO Task 5: How do you communicate your value through your marketing strategy?

Most companies struggle to stand out in the marketplace. They struggle with showcasing their value in a way that is interesting and compelling. Master telling your story and conveying your value, and you will have a real business edge.

Fractional CMO Task 6: How do you build customer loyalty?

The software industry today is about repeat customers. It’s about subscriptions. It’s about software as a service. To succeed, you need to build in customer loyalty from the first introduction a customer has to your product or service.

Fractional CMO Task 7: What is the optimal structure of your marketing team?

Your fractional executive will help you decide what structure is best for your organization. Marketing team structures can include the market department itself, an outside marketing agency, or other advisory services providing deliverables for your marketing efforts.

Fractional CMO Task 8: How do you break down silos between product, marketing, and sales in your company?

Your marketing team may prefer to work alone as the marketing department — focusing on digital marketing efforts and digital marketing strategies — but they won't be successful operating in a silo.

Fractional CMO services are great for breaking down organizational silos that are the downfall of any marketing department.

Fractional CMO Task 9: How do you align your revenue objectives with company objectives?

Fractional executives have successfully navigated the waters and have learned how to align revenue objectives and company objectives. They know that the marketing department is just one of the many departments required to successfully drive revenue growth.

Fractional CMO Task 10: What does a successful marketing campaign look like?

Now that you know the basics of fractional CMO services, let’s talk about what makes a successful marketing campaign. Fractional CMOs will make your company stand out by executing flawless campaigns backed by excellent strategies, processes, and tracking for each one.

Fractional CMO Task 11: What channels do you use to reach your target customers?

Fractional marketing executives will help you not only figure out what successful messaging looks like, but they'll also help you determine what marketing and sales channels to use to reach your target customers.

Fractional executives will help you measure the effectiveness of different techniques, campaigns, and channels.

Fractional CMO Task 12: What kind of metrics do you focus on?

It's important to select the right metrics to focus on to evaluate your sales development and business development efforts.  Focusing on the right metrics can help your team prioritize activities, drive performance and provide insights into how to improve your marketing plan.

What is the cost of a Fractional CMO?

As of October 2021, the costs of a fractional marketing executive typically range between $2,000 — $5,000 per month in the United States. The variability comes from the different fractional service providers and the type of fractional services you decide to purchase.

If you want to take your company’s growth to the next level, but don’t have the budget for a full-time CMO, then we recommend considering hiring a fractional marketing leader.

A fractional CMO will bring all the benefits and expertise that comes with having worked at strategic executive levels of an organization before - without costing you as much money upfront. The near-immediate benefits of this type of role are worth exploring and it may just be what your business needs.

Let’s talk about how we can work together on getting started today!

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