The FAQs of Working with a Fractional CMO
What is a fractional CMO?
A fractional CMO is a contract Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), retained on a part-time basis to provide executive marketing leadership for a growing business. They are a key part of your executive team brought in to take a holistic view of your business. They seek to understand your business objectives with enough clarity to develop fresh and impactful marketing strategies that will drive growth for your organization. They work with you to develop strategic insights, formulate branding strategies, and oversee a marketing transformation that will help companies compete in a crowded marketplace. They are qualified to take on many roles or responsibilities and have great insight into how the different aspects of an organization can work together. While they can focus on the broad picture of your organization (like we do with our Be Ready to Scale Audits), they can also focus on specific goals such as improving or upgrading marketing operations, rebranding the company or a product, or marketing strategy execution.
Why should I hire a fractional CMO?
An organization can benefit from a fractional CMO if they are dealing with an unexpected CMO vacancy, needing to quickly refocus marketing efforts and accelerate growth, simply looking for the right experience in a right-sized engagement, or engaging an executive advisor that can be your marketing eyes and ears. Working with a fractional CMO can be the best solution to developing your marketing strategy to support business growth and how to structure your marketing function.
How does a fractional CMO work?
There are various fractional CMO models are emerging. Some focus exclusively on short-term strategic initiatives, like building a marketing plan or providing input on a strategic initiative, like a product launch or market expansion. Others, like Omicle, embed themselves in your company as the lead executive responsible for your marketing efforts carrying the weight of such responsibilities as digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, SEO, marketing automation, account-based marketing, and client experience. We seek to understand your business objectives with enough clarity to develop fresh and impactful marketing strategies that will drive growth for your organization.
How much does a fractional CMO cost?
It depends. Compensation for full-time CMOs varies widely, depending upon the skill and experience of the person, $150K - $570K numbers for base pay come up in a quick online search, with averages ranging between $250K-$300K. Fractional CMOs, by contrast, usually collect a fee or retainer for a block of hours of dedicated time to your company, which is a much smaller outlay.
The average hourly rate of a fractional CMO is typically between $150-375 an hour. Some fractional CMO providers charge ad hoc by the hour, and others work on a retainer for a dedicated number of hours per week/month. Omicle generally works on a retainer basis and is compensated based on the amount of time required for the engagement. As far as budgeting goes, you'll want to set aside $60K-100K per year for a fractional CMO.
What does a fractional CMO do?
They build out strategies and hire specialists to get projects and tasks across the finish line. They are great people managers, partner relationship builders, and communicators. Typically, fractional CMOs are responsible for things like:
- Setting marketing priorities
- Identifying target audiences
- Overseeing marketing channels, new and old
- Building go-to-market plans
- Hiring for marketing roles
- Develop marketing campaigns
- Manage external marketing agencies
- Oversee sales enablement programs
- Spearhead branding efforts, and
- Execute product launches, demand generation campaigns, and channel marketing initiatives.
Do I need a Fractional CMO?
You need a fractional CMO if you need someone who comes prepared with insights, strategies, plans, and tools that will help you focus and execute your marketing goals with excellence. At the strategic level, a fractional CMO will help you build a marketing machine that you can rely upon. They’ll deliver marketing plans, lead competitive intelligence efforts, and identify and manage progress toward KPIs.
A fractional CMO is perfect for short-term engagements, such as filling an unexpected CMO vacancy, a need to quickly refocus marketing efforts and accelerate growth, or engaging an executive advisor that can be your marketing eyes and ears.
What should I look for in a fractional CMO?
An ideal fractional CMO is adept at working alongside the CEO and embedding with your executive-level leadership. You trust them with working on high-level business objectives that are the foundation of your company’s goals. They also should be able to motivate marketing team members, develop strategies that are in lockstep with your business objectives, and have a toolbox filled with ideas and resources to implement those strategies.
It comes down to three criteria: your budget, professional expertise, and culture fit.
- BUDGET: This one is straightforward. You probably already have an idea of what you want to spend on marketing. Your budget for a fractional CMO will need to be factored in in addition to a designated amount for ads. For a fractional CMO, you’ll want to set aside between $3K-8K per month or $96K per year.
- PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: While anyone can call themselves a fractional CMO, there will be a difference in the results that you get when you work with someone who has experience aligned with your goals. Be realistic about what you need and the expectations you have for someone in this position. If you expect this person to do “everything”, something will be compromised. Is industry experience truly a requirement? Do you need someone who has experience with pitching investors, or taking a company public? Remember, a CMO is intended to lead the strategy, adapt it as needed, and manage the team responsible for executing it. Omicle is also proactive in aligning sales and client experience for a consistent brand experience.
- CULTURE-FIT: You may not realize how often you’ll be working with your fractional CMO. Anytime there is a marketing, customer experience, or sales question your fractional CMO should be the first person you call. You and your fractional CMO will also need to be able to share uncomfortable truths with each other—After all, the first step toward solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. The more open you can be with each other, the better your chances are of finding solutions.
Though your results may vary, the benefit is clear – if you are looking to position your company for a new market or gain a greater handle on the essence of contemporary marketing, sales, and operational alignment, a Fractional CMO can be of great benefit.
How is a Fractional CMO able to respond to my organization's problems quickly?
Embedding with the executive team is critical. It gives the Fractional CMO a top-down perspective to quickly assess where to focus to drive short and long-term results, and what additional skillsets might be needed to drive initiatives forward in a cost-effective way. Fractional CMOs bring a variety of experiences to your organization – which gives you an unfair advantage. Omicle has the tools needed to be nimble and responsive, quickly.
What are the benefits of hiring a Fractional CMO?
Hiring a fractional CMO allows a company to leverage the skills and insights of a seasoned experienced executive marketer for a fraction of the price of full-time right away. It also allows you to find the right combination of experiences and cultural fit at a price point that you can afford.
You also can select a fractional CMO that has direct experience in your industry or vertical – so they can contribute immediately, and implement strategies and tactics that can make a measurable difference in a more efficient time frame. A Fractional CMO delivers:
- An aligned strategy for sales, marketing, and operation efforts that accelerate your growth
- A measurable, go-to-market strategy that supports your business goals
- Agile implementation to accelerate results and empower your team
When should a startup bring in a fractional CMO?
Startup companies might consider bringing in a Fractional CMO to manage their fledgling go-to-market aspirations. An experienced fractional CMO brings decades of experience in your stage and/or industry, and knows how to deliver time-tested methodologies, processes, and a track record of success.
What is the typical working arrangement for a Fractional CMO?
The engagement is part-time in nature and usually lasts between 3-18 months. There are exceptions to this of course, but that is the normal range of engagement. You get the support you need when you need it. A Fractional CMO is flexible to meet in-person, via Zoom, or at a third-party location for client meetings, cadences, and other regular or recurring tasks.
What’s the Difference Between a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer and a Marketing Firm?
One of the biggest hurdles that executives run into when communicating with a marketing agency is that they don’t know how to explain what they really hope to achieve. When you can’t communicate what you want, it leaves both you and them frustrated with results harder to achieve. A Fractional CMO knows the lingo, and can accurately explain your goals and the way to get you there.
A Fractional CMO is better positioned to execute a quick pivot in strategy and is also able to adapt to your culture and embed within your staff while a marketing firm will always be more of a third-party resource. A Fractional CMO supports the development of growth strategies that will positively impact your entire organization as well as be adept at spotting and filling in gaps in the execution that might exist in your team.
Another key difference is that a marketing firm is hired to focus on executing specific campaigns, while a Fractional CMO is brought in to improve your team, operations, and business strategy—not to please everyone, including you. This means that you need to be prepared for constructive criticism. To get the most from the relationship, remember, that the advice and opinions shared with you are genuine and intended to help you/your company grow and get better results.
What’s the difference between a Fractional CMO, Virtual CMO, Interim CMO, On-Demand CMO, and Outsourced CMO?
From an SEO perspective, nothing. Virtual CMO, Fractional CMO, Interim CMO, On-Demand CMO, and Outsourced CMO are all terms that are used interchangeably. Virtual, On-Demand, and Fractional are newer terms based on today’s business environment. Interim and Outsourced are more traditional terms and may carry some “traditional” stereotypes of old white men.
What results do you want to achieve? We’ll get you there.
Omicle delivers brand clarity, marketing strategy, and operational efficiency to prepare leaders to scale their business. If you are ready to scale your business, contact us today to get started.
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