Every company, regardless of size, will sooner or later reach the stage when they finally need a marketing team or die as a business.
On the other hand, every marketing team will benefit from having strong leadership, which ultimately comes in the form of a chief marketing officer (CMO).
However, not all businesses are ready to make the long-term and often expensive commitment of hiring a full-time CMO: probably it’s just a small startup with not enough budget, or probably there’s not enough leadership work at the moment to justify the cost and commitment of hiring a long-term executive leader.
In this case, outsourcing the marketing leadership to a fractional CMO can be a more cost-effective and sensible option.
What Is a Fractional CMO?
As the name suggests, a fractional CMO is essentially an individual that performs the responsibilities of a CMO with a fraction of the cost, average hours per week, and contract period when compared to a traditional CMO.
Thanks to the help of technology, fractional CMOs nowadays can work remotely over the internet, and thus they are also often called virtual CMOs.
In practice, fractional CMOs can come in several different forms:
- An actual individual/CMO that performs fractional CMO responsibilities for your team, can work on a per-project basis or hourly basis
- A marketing agency that covers the responsibilities of a CMO on a contract-to-hire basis
- A marketing agency or independent consultant that provides marketing consultation service with a banner of “fractional CMO” service, typically on a per-consultation basis
However, the underlying principle remains the same: you are outsourcing the tasks and responsibilities of a C-level marketing executive to a third-party service or individual outside your company for a fraction of commitment both in terms of time and financial commitments.
Key Reasons You Should Hire a Fractional CMO
Above, we’ve discussed how a fractional CMO can be a
- Efforts Without Direction Is Nothing
Probably at the earlier stage of your business, you can get away with the “go with the flow” approach when it comes to marketing and sales.
However, as your company grows bigger and especially when the competition becomes tighter, having a clear marketing strategy to help with your tactical decisions will be more and more valuable.
Without a clear marketing strategy, your marketing efforts will be inefficient and it’s possible you will juggle with too many things at one time. Even if you do a lot of marketing efforts, you won’t get the desired results without the right direction. It’s quite possible you’ll be running in ten different directions at the same time, forcing your business not to move at all.
A fractional CMO can provide the strategic directions for your company in achieving your marketing objectives.
- Well-Formulated Process To Achieve The Desired Results
Field experience is extremely important for the executive marketing leadership job. Other roles like a project manager can get training and certification in order to stay competitive in the role, but there is no such option for CMOs.
This is why hiring an experienced CMO that is also well-versed in your niche/industry can be extremely difficult and expensive, and outsourcing to a fractional CMO can be a more cost-effective option for your business to get a well-formulated process for predictable results.
By executing the formulated process based on experience and proven results, we can get impressive results in a shorter amount of time.
- Wider Experience and Better Strategy
Above, we have discussed the importance of experience for the CMO role. However, finding a CMO that is rich in experience across different industries and niches can be very difficult, but the more diverse his or her experience is, the better your marketing strategy will be.
A fractional CMO, especially those in the form of a full-fledged marketing agency, can provide this wider range of experience, allowing the fractional CMO to find more innovative strategies and tactics that work in another niche/industry, fine-tune them, and bring them over to your business.
- Execution of Strategies
Great ideas without the right execution are nothing, and no matter how good your strategy is, it won’t bring any value to your business when it’s not executed well.
You or your marketing team might come up with great ideas and innovative tactics on your own, but without a clear leadership on how to execute the plan right, you won’t get anywhere.
By investing in a fractional CMO, you have a more versatile and cost-effective option to invest in the right tacticians to execute your strategy and achieve your marketing objectives in a timely manner.
- Save Even More Money
According to PayScale, the average salary for a CMO in the US in 2020 is $174,857/ year, not including benefits and equity options. A fractional CMO, on the other hand, can cost a lot less, and in most cases, you won’t need to worry about benefits and equity costs.
Hiring a fractional CMO simply means you can save even more money while having the leverage of a CMO without the full-time cost.
- Versatile Commitment With Sustainable Results
When you are outsourcing your CMO responsibilities to a fractional CMO, you can opt to sign a short-term commitment of, for example, 30 days to 90 days. On the other hand, the average tenure for a CMO is 3 and a half years.
Meaning, by hiring a fractional CMO rather than committing to a full-time CMO, you’ll be able to mitigate your financial risk and have more versatility in your marketing leadership.
This is also useful, for example, in times when you are actually looking for a long-term CMO but haven’t found one yet. A fractional CMO, in this case, can help fill the gap until you can find the right person for the job.
- More Transparency and Accountability
Your marketing team needs direction. So many times, employees are eager to do their job, but simply don’t know what to do and what is expected of them. This is where marketing leadership can provide better transparency for each role in the marketing team and accountability for everyone in the team.
A fractional CMO can provide a clearer understanding of what it takes for the marketing team members to do a satisfactory job, which can lead to higher employee satisfaction, boosted morale, and better confidence in performing their jobs and achieving the results.
If hiring a full-time CMO isn’t a viable option at the moment, or if you simply feel it’s not yer the right time, then outsourcing a fractional CMO can be a more sensible choice in giving your well-meaning team members and marketing contractors the leadership they’ve been yearning for.
Do You Need a Fractional CMO?
Do you actually need a fractional CMO at the moment? Here are some key questions to ask to let you know if a fractional CMO is right for your business:
- Do you need marketing leadership?
You’ve probably gotten away with your team of marketers for a while now: graphic designers, copywriters, social media managers, and others. However, if you truly want to grow your company and reach out to more audiences, proper executive marketing leadership can be the missing link your marketing team needs to move your company into the future.
A fractional CMO can help companies of any size to come up with innovative marketing strategies and objective-focused campaigns to help achieve your marketing and business objectives.
- Are you ready to commit to a full-time CMO?
As discussed, hiring an experienced full-time CMO can cost you at least $200,000 per year, including benefits. Is your business ready to make such commitments at the moment?
Also, assess whether there are actually enough jobs for a full-time CMO to do to justify this cost. If, for example, you only need a CMO to plan your annual marketing strategy, their average week would probably involve less than 20 hours of total tasks.
- Are you about to launch a new product or service?
If you are launching a brand new product or service, especially if you are targeting a new audience, then having a fractional CMO can help plan a strategic approach in targeting this audience and help boost your product launch.
On the other hand, hiring a full-time CMO might not be a good idea if the product launch is just a short-term thing, and in this case, a project-based fractional CMO might make more sense.
- Can you easily make informed marketing decisions?
If you don’t have enough marketing insights, it can be difficult to make informed marketing-related decisions for your business, and it can result in a massive waste of resources and time.
For example, you might end up investing in the wrong campaigns and channels because you don’t have enough data.
A fractional CMO can provide you these valuable insights, as well as performing additional research and analysis to help you make informed marketing decisions.
Outsourcing your executive marketing leadership to a fractional CMO can provide a way for your business to get high-quality leadership and the values of a full-time CMO while allowing a short-term and more versatile level of commitment.
Hiring a fractional CMO can be a cost-effective solution for your business if you are not yet ready to meet the budget of a full-time CMO, or if you feel that there isn’t enough job at the moment to justify the cost.