What is a Fractional CMO?

​Do you have a marketing budget that is just too big for you to handle on your own? Or maybe you don’t have the time to fill all the roles required for a successful marketing strategy. Introducing fractional CMOs! A fractional CMO is a great option for businesses who want access to high-level marketing experience and skills, without having to hire a full-time CMO. Fractional CMOs can help with everything from developing and executing marketing strategies, to managing social media campaigns and creating brand awareness. If you’re considering hiring a fractional CMO, here are a few things to keep in mind. (continue reading below…)

Sonja Ceri - Marketing Strategist

Marketing is a core aspect of any business. Without a strong marketing department, no company can be successful. That is why a lot of resources are employed towards making a marketing structure as solid as possible.

When building your marketing team, you need people with excellent skills. And as difficult as that sounds, it is hardly the most taxing part of building a marketing unit. There are many talented people who have studied and practised marketing for years, so talent and skills are not scarce in this regard.

So what you really need is to find someone that understands how to use those skills to help your business and multiply your profits. You need the right person for the job, not just the right skillset. That is why you should look for a leader, someone who can guide other people towards doing their best while also telling you the truth about your company, even when it is difficult to do so.

parrots on the table​So who do you need to run your marketing unit now that your business is ready to grow? It definitely can’t be just any other skilled marketer. For real leadership and coordination, you need a CMO.

CMO stands for chief marketing officer, and the job description fits into everything your business will need for growth and proper marketing management. With a CMO working for your business, you will have someone that is taking full responsibility for all your marketing campaigns and the corresponding outcome.

With a good chief marketing officer by your side, you can be sure that your ads, analytics, and every other part of marketing will be handled with executive governance. A full-time CMO is not usually affordable, especially for a new or smaller company, and this is where a fractional CMO comes in.

Besides the heavy fees you will need to pay a full-time CMO, it is easy for such an executive person to get mixed up in office politics or be required to apply their experience in other departments in the company, so it is always advisable to get a fractional CMO for your business.

What is a fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO explained.

Strategy Planning and rolling out

A fractional CMO works for your company on a part-time basis. This person should be an expert strategist and team player who can lead your marketing team by planning and delegating tasks as the strategies require.

If you are just starting a business, there is a very high chance that you will not be able to afford a full-time CMO, even if it would be great to permanently have one at your place of business. With a fractional CMO, you will have a partner that will put in only a few hours a week or a month. This may appear to be a small amount of time, but because of the value that a fractional CMO brings to a marketing department and the entire business as a whole, it is actually a lot of time with respect to productivity.

Even if they charge you a high amount of money, it will never be as costly as having a full-time CMO in your company or worse, having no strategic thinker on the team. And even if this option could be costlier than freelancers, it is guaranteed to be a far better option.

Therefore, it is safe to say that having a fractional CMO is the gap between having a full-time CMO and a freelancer that may not give you the value that you need. It is by far the most stable of all the CMO options on the table, and you can reap all the benefits and watch your business grow with excellent leadership through a fractional CMO.


four drunk parrots on the martini glassWhat are the benefits of hiring a fractional CMO?

Successful companies are always employing part-time service for many departments. So, doing the same for your marketing unit with a fractional CMO is only logical.

A lot of benefits come with this wise decision that all successful businesses have been using for many years, and some of these benefits are mentioned here.

A fractional CMO will bring in strategy

Without a good strategy, no business can move forward, especially in this time of tight competition in every industry.

In marketing, there are many options and so many paths towards the same goal. If you don’t have a fractional CMO that will bring in a proven, successful marketing plan, your team could be doing too many things at the same time, and this is not a good path to success.

As a CEO with goals and objectives for your company, your CMO will work closely with your values and take responsibility for how things turn out.

They will ensure the execution of ideas

Anyone can have a brilliant idea, but can this idea be executed successfully at minimal cost? The ideas and strategy is just the beginning of a CMO’s work, as they also ensure that the smart strategy that has everyone clapping will also ensure that the company grows.

With a full-time CMO, your marketing team may not feel the urgency to get the work done. But when they see a new face that shows them a new set of plans and delegates accordingly, there is bound to be more seriousness and execution.

You get the full service without paying the full cost

Having a fractional CMO allows you to enjoy all the benefits of having a full-time CMO and also avoid all the demerits they could possibly bring to the company. For example, the cost.

It is very expensive to hire and maintain a permanent CMO in a company, so you get to escape all that expense, but at the same time, enjoy all the benefits as if you had one working for you alone.

The role of a CMO is an executive role, and whoever you hire for such a position will not be expecting anything less than 180,000 per year, and this does not even include other high-cost employment benefits.

So it is not up for debate that even some companies that have been around for many years will not be able to afford a full-time CMO to work for them. In some cases, startups go for freelancers. They see it as a more affordable option when compared with the cost of employing a full-time CMO, but it is not ideal.

Before you hire someone for such a powerful and sensitive position, you need to carry out due diligence, and that cannot be done in its entirety with freelancing platforms. Remember, this is not only about skills, but also about picking the right person to run your marketing unit.

There is a huge difference between an affordable option and a cheap option for a chief marketing officer. In a bid to save money, don’t be in a hurry to hire someone that will not be competent enough.

They bring ideas from other companies

This is one of the main reasons why a fractional CMO is far better than a full-time CMO who works for only your company. Since fractional CMOs work on a part-time basis, they are able to work with different companies, including your toughest competitors.

What this means is that they gather information from other marketing structures and also see what works for them. They can apply this knowledge to your own company if you can get them to work for you—this is why you need a fractional CMO that has a lot of experience.

If your fractional CMO has previously come across a team structure that did not work, they will be able to identify it in your already-existing marketing team and immediately replace it with one that does.

They are very good leaders and people managers

Since fractional CMOs work for different companies, they are always leading and managing people of different backgrounds, skillsets, and values. This means that no matter how diverse your team is, there is a high chance that a fractional CMO has already encountered something similar.

They understand how people in marketing teams behave, so no one is better than them when it comes to leadership and people management.


Signs that show the need to hire a fractional CMO

How can you tell that your company needs a fractional CMO? Here are some of the signs that will help you see the need for one.

Your marketing department is always divided: if there is no leadership and organisation in your marketing team, division is always inevitable. You will start to see this when there is no cohesive brand identity for your business.

A marketing team consists of different experts, and when leadership is missing, there will be no progress, just clashing intelligent ideas that lead to poor outcomes.

Your sales team is making their own materials: when there is unity in a marketing department, all the teams will use the same materials. And this will be reflected in the way clients connect with your brand.


If your sales team is making their own materials:

it means there is no connection between all the units of marketing in your business, and this will be confusing to your customers and partners.

You are not seeing good results:

when your marketing team is doing things the right way, the best way to tell is from their results. If you are not making sales or improving the number of leads your business has, then there is a big problem—a problem that a fractional CMO can solve.

Your marketing team is overworked:

most of the time, the members of your marketing team will not tell you they are frustrated. They don’t want to come off as weak or incompetent, so they keep pushing themselves and risk getting burned out.

But with a fractional CMO to lead and manage your team, the activities will be uniformly distributed and your team will not be overwhelmed.

four drunk parrots flying on the tableHow to find a good fractional CMO

Now that you already know the importance of a fractional CMO and also know when you need one, the next thing to know is how you can find a good fractional CMO for your business.

This will not be the same as hiring for any other position, it involves a lot of background checks and due diligence before making a choice.

There are many ways to get a fractional CMO willing to work for you. But so far, one of the best ways to get the best fractional CMO is by referral. If someone has had experience with a fractional CMO and shares that experience with you, you can go ahead and hire them.

As good as this sounds, it is only one of the criteria required to hire the best fractional CMO. Remember, skills are not scarce, but the skills that are good for your business might be.

So after you get referrals from sources that you trust, the next thing to do is to confirm if these excerpts will be good for your type of business. During interviews, ask about the type of experience they have had.

The best person to work for you is a fractional CMO that has worked with marketing teams in your specific industry. This will not only increase the chances of a successful partnership between you and your fractional CMO, but it will also help your marketing team long after the contract is over.

Any fractional CMO you choose should be able to speak the language your team will understand. And this can only be possible if you bring in someone that has worked with other marketers in that line of business. For example, if you own a fintech startup, get a fractional CMO that has worked with a fintech startup successfully.


You started your business with goals and dreams, and only a good fractional CMO can give your marketing team the leadership they will need to bring those goals to life. This is why you should prioritise the need for a fractional CMO and invest all that is necessary to hire one that has an ethical as well as a rewarding track record.