If you’re struggling with marketing or feel your current strategies aren’t driving you forward with enough pace, you may seek external help. Hiring a fractional CMO could be a viable way to get you out of a marketing rut.

But what exactly is a fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), why will they benefit your startup, and where do you find one?

You’ll find all the answers to all those questions right here.

What is a fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is a marketing superhero who can go into a company, identify its marketing struggles, and provide solutions. They develop strategies, set up automation, evaluate metrics, build tools for success, and mentor teams to help them become better marketers.


Fractional CMO superhero

Fractional CMOs don’t necessarily only work with the marketing team but also the sales team, customer success, or demand generation teams. They usually come from a Chief Marketing Officer or marketing leadership positions and have the experience and expertise to provide niche advice.

They only work for your business part-time, so they cost a fraction of the price of a full-time CMO, with the expertise that an experienced marketing leader can bring to the table.

What’s the difference between fractional CMOs and CMOs?

A traditional Chief Marketing Officer (CMOs) is in charge of everything marketing, from lead generation and social media to partnerships and community; some even look after the sales funnel and post-sales experience. They have many responsibilities and can be spread very thin over different projects.

Fractional CMO wearing many hats

A fractional Chief Marketing Officer (fCMO) concentrates more on specific goals as they go into a company to mentor the right people. They may get involved with developing yearly strategic objectives or marketing tactics, building efficient teams, or helping prepare reports for investor meetings.

Instead of heading up a massive operation as an in-house CMO, fractional CMOs get to do what they’re best at all the time.

As a fractional marketing leader, you’ll work with businesses of different sizes. Sometimes you’ll work with a marketing team of one and directly with the founder(s) or the CEO. In that case, the role is hands-on. You’ll write website copy, run paid advertising, create landing pages, and set up email automation.

With larger companies, you’ll go in to solve a specific problem. For example, they’ll need help understanding their metrics to pitch to investors.

What traits does a fractional CMO have?

If you want to be a fractional CMO, your inner salesperson is essential, as you need to go out and sell your marketing expertise to different companies. Strong organizational skills are critical as you manage multiple projects for various businesses.

You must be flexible, creative, analytical, and have excellent leadership skills. If you’re going to go in and help the team level up, you need to be able to draw on your past experiences, which is why experience as a CMO or Director of Marketing will help you.

There is much to be said about specializing in one area if you want to be a fractional CMO. However, if you want to have the most impact, understanding the functions of the broader business, like customer success and product, is essential.

Cat typing fast

Why do companies hire fractional CMOs?

Hiring a fractional CMO is a great option for startups that don’t have the budget to hire a full-time CMO. They can get the expertise they require without the full-time commitment to an employee. A part-time CMO can devise a marketing strategy, and then a more junior team member can execute the day-to-day operations.

Another reason companies hire fractional CMOs is that they’re stuck; the things they did the year before are no longer working, and they need help. A fractional CMO can help you set up experiments to take you to the next stage and increase your growth rate.

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Suppose you need a deeper understanding of your numbers. In that case, a fractional CMO can dive deep into the metrics and analytics and answer specific questions like “What is the lifetime value of customers we bring in through webinars?”

What are the difficulties of hiring a fractional CMO?

Finding the right fit for your team and integrating them into the business can take time and effort. If your fractional CMO only spends a few hours a week working on your business, ensuring they feel part of the team and align with your vision is essential.

To ensure they understand your customer and their needs, you could onboard a new fractional CMO by getting them to talk to customers. Help them to understand the data by having honest conversations with people who didn’t convert. They’ll quickly get a real feel for the business and the problem that needs solving.

How do you become a fractional CMO?

Mentoring with a VC is a great way to get experience working with different companies on their marketing initiatives.

Some other words of advice for aspiring fractional CMOs:

  • Put yourself out there – make a website showing your experience and the projects you’re proud of.
  • Spend some of your spare time working on side projects to determine if being a fractional CMO is for you.
  • Figure out your niche by considering where your area of expertise and what you love intersect.
  • Say yes to projects that involve aspects of marketing you’re passionate about so you can provide the most value to your customers.
  • Hate Google Ads? Say no to the project that’s 80% Google Ads work!

What are the hiring options for fractional CMOs?

There’s no set structure for fractional CMO services. It could be:

  • A quarterly planning day with the team followed by a report.
  • Weekly chats with the company’s marketing manager so they can bounce ideas and grow as a marketer.
  • Bigger projects where they spend two or three days a week with the team for six months.

Fractional CMOs are used to being flexible and adaptable to your needs. Starting small to ensure they are the right fit for your business and marketing team, can be a great way to test the waters if you’re new to working with fractional marketing leaders.

Where can you hire fractional CMOs?

Use your network by posting on Twitter or LinkedIn that you’re looking for fractional CMO services. Ask people in your network if they worked with someone exceptional.

You can also use platforms like GrowthExpert and GrowthMentor to find the person you’re looking for.

Learn more with a mentor

If you’re thinking about working with a fractional CMO, why not speak to a Growth Mentor first? They can help you formulate a plan for your marketing efforts. You can get in touch with our resident fractional CMOs here.

Frequently Asked Questions

A fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a marketing expert who comes into your business to help you develop your marketing strategy or solve a problem. They aren’t a full-time member of your team and act as more of a mentor or advisor figure.

The cost will depend on the skills and experience of your fractional CMO, but they charge an hourly rate. This could be between $200-$400 per hour, excluding their retainer fee. You can negotiate the hours required depending on your needs.

Fractional CMOs can come in with fresh eyes to analyze your marketing strategy and create strategies for improvement. They can work on a project basis and offer niche expertise that you may not have in your full-time team. Companies hire fractional CMOs as they can get an experienced marketing professional at a fraction of the price of a full-time CMO.

You can hire fractional CMOs through your network or marketplaces such as Growth Expert and Growth Mentor.

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