What is a fractional CMO and how can it benefit my business?
A fractional CMO is a chief marketing officer who works on a part-time or contractual basis. This type of CMO can be hired to provide strategic marketing guidance and support for a company on an as-needed basis. A fractional CMO can be a valuable asset for businesses that do not have the budget or need for a full-time CMO.
In this article, we’ll explore what a fractional CMO does, why they’re becoming increasingly attractive to companies, and when you should look to hire one.
So, what is a fractional CMO?
Unlike a ‘normal’ CMO – who works for a company full time – a fractional CMO performs the same role and duties but on a fractional basis. They’re an outsourced marketing executive so the costs associated with hiring on a fractional basis are much lower than that of having someone full-time. Fractional CMOs bring speed, knowledge and experience to the table of any business, often leading marketing teams of any size and at any point of the growth stage, to help drive and deliver the results a company needs in order to succeed.
What does a fractional CMO do?
Much like a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO oversees all of a company’s marketing activities. That includes everything from planning and management to the execution of all marketing and advertising initiatives. From developing and implementing new strategies, and brand development, to sales management, product, distribution management, and customer service, a CMO has to have a broad knowledge and ultimately, wear many hats within a business to provide real value.
Why are fractional CMOs becoming increasingly attractive to companies?
We’ve already established that for a business’ marketing tactics to succeed, it needs real leadership. A marketing team needs somebody to rally, organise and encourage them to succeed. Yes, a marketing team can implement a go-to-market plan or integrate a marketing strategy into a business, but developing the strategy in the first place is a whole other ball game. To do so, you need somebody with a lot of knowledge and experience that’s been accumulated over a significant amount of time.
Fractional CMOs – unlike consultants – typically only join the executive board of a company on a part-time basis. This often results in them providing more accountability than consultants as they’re offering quality over quantity. They also tend to operate from within the company itself, so they’re regarded as an extension of the existing team, rather than an unknown outsider that’s come to flip the tables, as it were. The fact that they’re fractional also means that they’re cost-effective. As the title suggests, they’re only working a fraction of the hours that a full-time CMO puts in, but they’re still driving results thanks to their vast experience in the field.
When should you hire a fractional CMO?
If you’re not sure if your business needs to hire a fractional CMO at this point, here are 5 signs that you may just need to…
Budget is often a deciding factor when it comes to hiring for the C-suite, especially for small and boutique businesses. Those facing budget constraints or that are uncertain of the future budget they’ll have for C-suite or marketing can look to a fractional CMO to save costs. Whatsmore, they can also make most of the little marketing budget a business has to ensure the rewards are still high.
If your business is lucky enough to have the budget both now and in the future for marketing efforts, then great, but you can only dedicate so many resources to a marketing team. This means that inevitably, the department and its resources will get stretched. Every piece of content, social media post, ad of even decision, makes up the marketing budget. By working with a fractional CMO, every penny of the marketing pound is distributed more wisely as you’re saving costs and able to redistribute funds to other areas of the business – it’s a win-win.
Incoherent marketing strategy
This is something particularly common within small businesses. The person in charge of marketing may also have other roles and commitments, or the overall marketing team may lack a leader and therefore, strategy is formed from the opinions of several members of the team. The is haphazard and will only result in disjointed efforts and no unified goals or cohesive outcomes. Fractional CMOs can guide a marketing strategy from a high level, providing strategic advice to form a coherent and relevant plan that aligns with a business’s overall objectives.
Lack of organisational and financial flexibility
Enterprise agility is a must for small businesses. They need to be able to switch focus at a moment’s notice to benefit from changing trends and new opportunities. This is why hiring someone full-time and quite literally locking away that business capital for a salary isn’t the way to go. Leverage marketing resources as and when you need them by hiring a fractional CMO.
Lack of perspective
Last but by no means least is perspective. Businesses that have been working with the same people day in and day out sometimes lack the fresh perspective that only bringing somebody new in can provide. Marketing strategies and plans should evolve in line with new trends and opportunities – simply using what worked one year doesn’t guarantee it will the next. Fractional CMOs can provide that unique outsider perspective. Equally, feedback from them is more likely to be earnest rather than sugar-coated because they don’t have to conform to internal politics, relationships, and considerations that feedback coming from a full-time employee might.
So, what about the cost? Depending on how much experience a fractional CMO has or where their specialties lie, you can expect to pay anywhere between £150-£300 p/h.
Marketing agency or fractional CMO?
Now, if you’re weighing up the differences between hiring a fully-fledged marketing agency or a fractional CMO, let us lend a hand. Yes, it will depend on the individual company’s needs, i.e. how many people they need to help them with their marketing initiatives and how much budget they have However, a marketing agency will deliver work in terms of content and ads, like email blasts and thought leadership resources. Whereas a fractional CMO goes one step higher in the C-suite pyramid and delivers accountability, a strategic vision and leadership for a business. For those seeking a cost-effective marketing leader, a fractional CMO is ideal.
How to choose the best fractional CMO for your business
Now, obviously, choosing the right fractional CMO for the business will largely depend on the overall goals of that business and what it wants to get out of its marketing initiatives. However, there are a few standard things to look out for:
- Track record – find the proof that they can deliver on their promises
- Marketing strategies – do they know the right trends and strategies that will specifically support and drive your business and industry?
- A good fit – they may have the track record and the right strategies but are they a good culture fit with the rest of the team?
- Set up for success – a fractional CMO is exactly that, fractional, and the work they do while with a business should reflect exactly that and set it up both now and for the future to ensure longevity
Conclusion: Hiring a fractional CMO for your business
So, now you know why, when, and what to look out for when hiring, it’s time to look at who to hire.
The Leadership Group provides fractional CMOs that join your team to lead your marketing strategy and deliver transformative leadership from day one, and at a fraction of the cost of hiring somebody full-time.
Contact us today to discover how a fractional CMO can help take your marketing strategy to new heights.