Hire a Fractional CMO

To help your start-up thrive.

Fractional CMO

When your start-up or growth-focused business is experiencing rapid growth, sometimes your needs don’t scale uniformly. Smart hiring choices are the key to ensuring fast growth for your start-up. Key to early-stage successful marketing teams is the following hires - a hands-on Growth Marketer, a Creative Copywriter and a really good Designer.

As your business is ready to grow, you may need specialised marketing and strategy services to manage your marketing and create further growth, but you aren’t ready for the multi-six-figure commitment. Good Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are expensive, but not having good leadership and strategy will cost you much more. Enter the fractional CMO.

What is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is a marketer who works with businesses for a fixed amount of time in a given month, often just a handful of hours. In other words, they dedicate a fraction of the time that a regular CMO would spend on the company and receive a fraction of the pay.

Handing CMO tasks to a more junior person from within the organisation is often tempting. However, they will lack the executive background and may be in over their head when tasked with creating a strategy for the business. Not everyone can handle marketing strategy effectively, and only one in 100 effective marketers have the skill to move on to these important executive positions.

Think of a Fractional CMO as a ‘CMO-as-a-service’ - someone with top-level executive experience who comes in and performs the function for a few hours a week without being locked into the cost of having someone like that as permanent staff. This will also help you maintain a lean structure and avoid burning through your capital too quickly.

How does a Fractional CMO work?

A fractional CMO becomes an integral member of your marketing team and provides you with the same calibre of expert marketing leadership that a full-time member would, but for a fraction of the cost. A Fractional CMO is best considered a part-time executive addition to your senior management team. A Fractional CMO performs the same general tasks as a full-time CMO but in a part-time capacity. For example, leading marketing strategy, overseeing implementation and tracking, managing the marketing budget, hiring marketing talent, deploying campaigns, acting as a bridge between product and marketing etc.

A true Fractional CMO will do more than just build a glorified funnel. They will build a strategic plan, understand the appeal and profitability of different products and services, understand the sales sequence and how sales happen, be conversion rate focused and identify the right talent to do the job at the right time.

A Fractional CMO will take ownership of the success or failure of your company’s marketing campaigns. They can give the other C-suite executives more time to focus on their unique roles and help ensure that your company implements everything from ads to analytics properly. A fractional CMO will typically only interact with your business enough to provide honest feedback, instructions, guidance and training.

What are the wider benefits of having a Fractional CMO?

  • Executes your goals. A fractional CMO steps in, shapes your strategy and delivers results. If you’re the CEO of a small company or have been doing everything yourself, a CMO will lift the weight and ensure your plans are consistent with your goals.

  • Brings perspective and expertise. A fractional CMO will assess your existing marketing efforts with a fresh perspective and extensive experience. They’ll identify your unique growth potential and create a strategy to drive your marketing efforts. You don’t have to be a marketing expert. Your fractional CMO will be.

  • Save as much as 50%. If you hire a fractional CMO instead of a full-time executive, you’ll save as much as 50% while being able to recruit top talent. Let your new hire reallocate the funds to marketing initiatives that will generate even more sales.

  • Experienced leadership. Instead of scattering your efforts across no-results-guaranteed initiatives, your fractional CMO will make data-driven decisions. If you have a bigger team with an executive level, a fractional CMO will share insights and collaborate with them effectively.

  • Industry knowledge. No two businesses are alike, but industries have similarities. The best fractional CMOs have experience in your niche and understand your unique challenges.

  • Processes. Processes guarantee predictable results, so a fractional CMO will set up processes to streamline your marketing efforts. This results in significant time and cost savings, making every hour even more valuable. After all, they’ve been in your shoes before and know exactly what to do.

  • KPIs. If your marketing strategy feels disjointed or you don’t have the buy-in from your entire team, a fractional CMO will create a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) framework to ensure everyone is focused on contributing to company goals through marketing efforts.

  • Reporting. As the CEO, you’re tackling so many things at once. Who can blame you for not looking closely at every marketing metric? Fortunately, a fractional CMO has the privilege of focusing on one area and understanding how the shift of one metric affects your business health.

  • People Management. Unlike freelancers or consultants, a fractional CMO is happy to manage immediate and broader team members. A fractional CMO can also spearhead hiring efforts for the marketing department.

  • Get Value out of Every Hour. A fractional CMO recognises the value of every hour. They’re almost exclusively focused on results, making the arrangement more cost-effective.

Should I hire a Fractional CMO?

A Fractional CMO should be hired if you’re at a critical growth phase and need the strategy that only an experienced CMO can bring but cannot afford a full-time investment. Key signs that your company needs fractional CMO services are:

  • You don’t have a marketing strategy

  • Your marketing feels random

  • You don’t have a predictable sales funnel

  • A marketing agency isn’t enough

  • Your marketing team lacks leadership and commercial acumen

  • You know who your best customers are, but don’t know how to acquire more at scale at the right customer acquisition cost

  • Your marketing team is busy doing lots of stuff, but you’re either not seeing results, or don't know what is or isn’t working

  • Your sales team make their own marketing materials

  • You lack executive marketing insights

  • Your business needs a fresh outlook

  • Your past marketing strategies have failed

  • Your investors are questioning your CAC, CLV and ROI metrics

  • You’re struggling to answer the question of how much do I need to spend on marketing to get to profit and onto exponential growth

With the post-coronavirus economy emerging and the digital transformation having accelerated, there is another reason to bring in a Fractional CMO: The need to bring in experienced leaders who understand the latest trends in digital and social media marketing and can spark growth for your company in these competitive channels. Working with freelance contractors and marketing agencies is great for fledgling businesses, but when you’re ready to really take flight, you should have an experienced hand at the helm.

How do I hire a Fractional CMO?

When selecting a Fractional CMO, it’s wise to ask peers and partners for referrals to find someone who is a good fit for your business and who has experience creating sustainable growth. You may also want to base your decision on a number of factors, such as:

  • their experience as a marketing leader

  • their expertise in marketing

  • their marketing process

  • their system of working with other companies as a Fractional CMO

  • their recommendations as to how they propose to work with you in a marketing function

  • their business model

A good fractional CMO will have a decade or more of hands-on experience across multiple industries, having worked in both large and start-up-sized companies, with experience in B2B and B2C marketing, a proven track record of delivering international growth, effectively managing multi-million-pound marketing budgets, leading large global teams, and who has proven themselves in delivering impactful, results-driven award-winning marketing campaigns.

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Zone 4 offers Content Marketing, Growth Marketing, Business Consulting & Fractional CMO services to help you grow your business today.