The Fractional CMO: A Growing Trend

Fractional CMO
There are four basic types of engagements for a fractional CMO: on-demand, turnaround, interim, and advisory.

Not every small or mid-sized business needs—or can afford—a full-time marketing executive. But those same organizations would invariably benefit from the knowledge and strategic leadership that an experienced and accomplished Chief Marketing Officer could bring to bear. That’s one of the primary reasons that the use of fractional CMOs has become so popular in the last few years.

Beyond serving as a part-time addition to the C-suite, fractional CMOs usually offer other services to their clients, such as:

  • Advising the CEO on marketing related issues and opportunities
  • Driving strategic marketing initiatives
  • Ensuring marketing/sales/customer experience alignment
  • Serving as the voice of the customer
  • Managing organizational change
  • Leading strategy workshops
  • Coaching/mentoring lower-level marketing staffers
  • Conducting marketing audits

Working with a fractional CMO also gives the CEO the ability to “rent instead of hire” with no long-term commitment, and it saves recruiting costs, shortens delays, eliminates interviews and relocations, etc.

There are four basic types of engagements for a fractional CMO.

On-Demand (Part-Time, Temporary) CMO

If you can’t afford, don’t need, or just aren’t ready for a full-time senior marketing executive, this is a great option. You can leverage a fractional CMO on a temporary, on-demand basis for a short period of time to provide the same executive-level leadership and experience of a seasoned executive—at a fraction of the cost. As an integral member of your C-suite, s/he can bring a market-based perspective to help drive the strategies and tactics that will ensure profitable growth.

Turnaround (Revitalization) CMO

A common challenge facing many CEOs is understanding how to “fix” an under-performing marketing team. Bringing on a fractional CMO to revitalize your marketing efforts or to implement a complete marketing-led turnaround for your entire company may be just what the doctor ordered.

Interim (Provisional) CMO

Another common scenario is figuring out how to keep the marketing department moving ahead when your current CMO resigns, and you need to fill the gap while looking for your next full-time CMO. Leveraging a fractional CMO as an interim/provisional marketing leader enables you to maintain continuity and day-to-day operations while you search for and interview permanent candidates. And your fractional CMO can even help with the interviewing and vetting process if needed.

Advisory (Coaching) CMO

Do you have a capable marketing person or marketing team, but they just don’t have much experience? Then bringing on a fractional CMO to serve in an advisory or coaching role might be a great option. Whether it’s helping your junior marketers master the skills of functional marketing, think more strategically, develop departmental leadership abilities, or simply make better decisions, your fractional CMO can improve their level of contribution and help accelerate their professional growth.

A final thought: “Probably the most important trait of a successful fractional CMO is his/her ability to translate the CEO’s vision into an insightful, measurable, and actionable marketing plan.”