What Is a Fractional CMO?

Usually, when we mention that we offer fractional CMO services, we are frequently met with a variation of the question:
“What is a Fractional CMO?”
After we explain the Fractional CMO definition, we always hear: “What a great idea! We didn’t know this was even an option.” Over the years, it's become pretty usual for a startup, transforming, and high growth companies to integrate the so-called part-time CMO’s in their strategies.

They're used in software and hardware systems (CIO), accounting and finance (CFO) and human resources and payroll (VP of Human Resources). Why not apply the same on-demand model for marketing knowledge and expertise?

“Probably the most important trait of a successful fractional CMO is his/her ability to translate the CEO’s vision into an insightful, measurable, and actionable marketing plan.” Forbes

Fractional CMO Definition

A Fractional CMO provides broad-based perspective around best customer acquisition, marketing execution, and sales pipeline. With these kinds of outsourced marketing services, you're getting a Chief Marketing Officer - level participation in your company, without the costs of a headcount that's working full-time. Often, you can get caught up in the operational realities of a company and get distracted from the objectives that are relevant. A fractional CMO is a focused resource that will be there on demand. Often, you can get caught up in the operational realities of a company and get distracted from the objectives that are relevant. A fractional CMO is a focused resource that will be there on demand.

What Does a Fractional CMO Do?

Fractional CMO’s services can be made from both tactical execution as well as strategic elements. Your part-time CMO can target markets and buyers. They will analyze and understand the best market opportunities and the decision makers within them, including the core value prepositions by the customers.

Content strategy and Execution
Fractional CMOs can help with mapping and positioning content for the entire buying process. This includes the optimal channels to reach target buyers and their touch points along the buying journey.
Metrics and measurement
A fractional CMO can help with monitoring the key performance metrics like the cost of customer acquisition, lead growth rate, lifetime customer value or cost per lead.
An Executive Voice
These experts add independent and impartial go-to perspective of the market to the executive management team.

The idea for fractional marketing executives is not new. To give an example, virtual CMOs have been around for decades. Fractional CMO’s services can bring enormous value to businesses. If hiring a full-time CMO doesn’t make sense, fiscally or due to the scope of challenges needing attention, fractional CMO cost will be justified.

Why is Fractional CMO rising in popularity?

In this highly competitive digital landscape, mid-sized B2B companies are in need of smarter-than-ever marketing strategies. However, without an overall strategy that ensures that resources are being maximized, marketing can be nothing else but a little more than mere gambling.
This is exactly what too many businesses do - they roll the dice and cross their fingers hoping it would work. 99% of the time, it doesn’t. But, Fractional Chief Marketing Officer can provide top-level guidance and strategic marketing consulting services. The result will increase the odds for everything to simply click together. They will be stacked in the business’s favor.

One man figure being picked up among others, symbolizing companies that are choosing Fractional CMO

Remember, It’s not essential to have a full-time CMO

We don’t deny the essential role of CMOs, but it’s not essential for this person to be a full-time member of your company. A part-time CMO can provide practically the same strategy based on hands-on expertise, which will steer junior marketers toward high-value and away from low-ROI programs. At the end of your day, you didn’t spend time on tactics that don’t work, and your return on marketing spend has increased.

If the ultimate goal for you is to hire a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO can carry your organization while you search for the right candidate. It takes a lot of time and money to find a top-tier marketing executive. Partnering with a part-time CMO is the best way to quickly leverage experienced leadership without going through hundreds of resumes. This expert can help you vet candidates all while managing your marketing strategies and mentoring your less experienced marketing professionals.

Hiring Fractional CMOs Means You Get What You Pay For

A Fractional CMO is a variable cost, unlike a full-time CMO. This is ideal for growth-focused businesses that depend on flexibility and changing levels of strategic and tactical support as the marketing function develops. One business is less agile with a big salaried CMO taking a big slice of the overall marketing budget. And that level of leadership talent might not be a 40-hours-per-week need. It’s important to know that for half of the annual cost, the business can hire a fine combination of marketing talents. A marketing executive that will define and shape its strategy and specialized talent to execute the strategy.

Hire A Part-Time CMO

If you’d like to know if hiring a part-time CMO might be the perfect solution for your marketing needs, consider the following:
- Do you need a “general contractor” for a series of marketing and branding initiatives that you have going on or plan to start, but there isn’t anyone in-house who’s really fit for taking on that role?
- Are you in need of someone who brings an outside eye and expertise to a variety of marketing and branding issues you are struggling with?
- Someone who can turn that insight into a long-term strategy, but then has the resources and the capacity to implement the plan?
- Are you having a long-term branding or marketing project that requires a leader with expertise you don’t have in-house?
- Are you in need of a cultural transformation of your business so that it can become more focused on branding and marketing?
- Are there multiple unfinished marketing and branding initiatives that you just can’t seem to move over the finish line?
- Or, your current CMO is taking a leave of absence for a long period and you need to fill his/her shoes to make sure things keep humming along?

If your answer to any of the above was "yes", the smartest move for your business would be to find a fractional chief marketing officer.

Business team with a woman at the front representing Fractional CMOs and their teams

Still Not Sure if You Should Hire Fractional CMO?

Any company that feels like their marketing team could use some executive-level guidance, leadership, and perspective. For example, CEOs, VPs, and CMOs of Sales or Marketing who want an outside perspective about their business which will be independent. Also, if they want go-to-market tactics and strategies. Or companies who plan on hiring a VP Marketing or CMO role that are expecting to get a running start on big market activities and take the time to pick the right hire. 

We've written a blog where you can find out all the different reasons Why You Should Hire a Part-Time CMO.

Final Words

The beauty of hiring a Chief Marketing Officer on a fractional basis is that you’ll be able to surgically craft the work that you want them to achieve. In this on-demand economy, it makes perfect sense that an on-demand CMO is a right solution to improve your branding and marketing and grow your business without the struggle of having to hire them full-time.

If you’re still not convinced, feel free to read more on our own Fractional CMO and how she together with the whole Vrootok team can help you increase your profit gains and digital marketing presence.