The Benefits of Hiring a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (fCMO): Perspectives of Agencies, Buyers, and fCMOs

Author's avatar Marketing Apr 18, 2024 37 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Can you really get all the expertise and strategic thinking of a top-level marketing exec without having to cover the cost of a full-time salary?

    Well, that’s the main idea behind having a fractional chief marketing officer (fCMO).

    And it’s become increasingly popular over the last few years, especially among smaller businesses or startups that need to make their marketing budget stretch further.

    Even for marketing pros themselves, becoming an fCMO offers the freedom to tackle a variety of challenges across different sectors.

    But how do you know whether hiring an fCMO is the right decision for your specific company? What are the exact benefits you get from this model?

    That’s what we set out to find out in partnership with Active Campaign and Duct Tape Marketing.

    Together, we surveyed 271 fractional CMOs, marketing agencies that offer fCMO services, and companies that hire fCMOs to understand better how this model actually works in the trenches.

    We gathered a lot of valuable insights into how this model works, what benefits it brings, and direct feedback from our respondents on their experiences with hiring or working as an fCMO.

    You can find everything you need to know below:

    Who Did We Survey

    For this report, we partnered up with Active Campaign and Duct Tape Marketing, and surveyed 271 respondents.

    Of 271 respondents who took the survey:

    • Almost half (47.97%) are currently fractional CMOs
    • 17.34% are agencies currently offering fractional CMO services
    • 14.39% are individuals considering becoming a fractional CMO
    • 6.13% are companies that hired a fractional CMO
    • 5.90% are agencies considering offering fractional CMO services
    • 2.95% are companies considering hiring a fractional CMO
    • 6.64% didn’t fit in any of the offered options

    This survey is connected to the Benchmark Group Marketing and Social Benchmarks for All Companies – you can join it for free if you want to know how you compare against competitors when it comes to marketing strategy data. All benchmark data from contributors is anonymized.

    And if you’re interested in other benchmarks aside from just your marketing strategy, you can join Benchmark Groups for free and find the groups most relevant to your organization. We have insights on everything from sales and marketing to finance and accounting.

    Three Different Perspectives on the Fractional CMO Model

    Our survey revealed a growing trend in adopting the fractional CMO model, which is mainly driven by its strategic benefits for all parties.

    From the perspective of marketing agencies, bringing an fCMO into the mix means they can offer clients high-level strategy and insights without having to permanently have someone on staff.

    For companies, it’s a chance to level up their marketing efforts with expert guidance they might not be able to afford otherwise.

    And for the marketing pros themselves, becoming an fCMO offers the freedom to tackle a variety of challenges across different sectors and not be tied down to a single organization.

    For analysis, we will compare these three different perspectives in detail: 

    fCMO Perspective

    In our survey, we had 130 Current fCMOs and 39 professionals who are considering becoming a fractional CMO.

    One of the first things we asked them was about their workload.

    Fractional CMOs mostly describe their workload as balanced (26.45%) or busy (25.16%), which indicates a healthy service demand.

    Unsurprisingly, the majority of them had substantial experience in marketing roles before becoming fractional CMOs, with over 70% reporting having more than 10 years of experience.

    But what exactly do fractional CMOs help with the most and what do their clients expect from them?

    We found that the main area in which they help clients is strategic planning.

    But let’s check out other key services they offer as well:

    • Strategic planning (92.86%)
    • Marketing strategy development (88.96%)
    • Content strategy and development (82.47%)
    • Digital marketing (78.57%)
    • Brand positioning and messaging (77.92%)
    • Customer segmentation and targeting (72.08%)
    • Brand development (68.18%)
    • Marketing operations (67.53%)
    • Lead generation strategies (67.53%)
    • Product launches (57.79%)
    • Marketing technology (tech stack) consulting (50.65%)

    This diverse range of services highlights the broad skill set required for the role.

    We also asked them about some of the main factors that determine a fractional CMO’s success with clients.

    For most of our respondents, these include client communication skills, comprehensive strategy development, and flexibility to adapt to client needs. 

    As for the most common industries that seek out fCMOs, we found that fractional CMOs primarily work with clients in SaaS, software, or technology (64.29%) and professional services (54.55%).

    Based on our survey and these insights, we find that the ideal fCMO profile includes:

    • 10+ years of expertise
    • Strong foundation in various marketing disciplines (hard skills) with a focus on strategy development and digital marketing
    • Excellent soft skills like communication and adaptability
    • Targeting industries like SaaS, Software, or Technology and Professional Services could be a wise initial focus.

    “The survey revealed that the ideal fractional CMO has 10+ years of expertise, a strong foundation in various marketing disciplines (hard skills) focusing on strategy development and digital marketing, and excellent soft skills like communication and adaptability.

    However, we believe that pure description might limit someone’s ability to scale this model and that the experience level can and will be less important for those working within a proven, repeatable framework.”

    John Jantsch

    John Jantsch

    Founder at Duct Tape Marketing

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Agency Perspective on Providing fCMO Services

    In our survey, there were 47 agencies that are currently offering fCMO services and 13 agencies that are considering offering fractional CMO services. 

    When it comes to workload, most of the agencies stated that they are engaged in the fCMO concept in some way.

    To be precise, 19.23% are actively engaged (with numerous ongoing engagements), 46.15% are moderately engaged (with a few ongoing projects), and 21.15% are exploring the model and considering future engagements.

    The main areas in which agencies most often provide (or plan to provide) assistance with fractional CMO services are strategic planning, followed by digital marketing. 

    But how complicated is it for an average marketing agency to adapt to this new model?

    When we asked our respondents, most of them said that they experienced slight to no challenges adapting agency services to fit the fCMO model. No agency found it very challenging.

    As for the primary benefits for agencies offering fractional CMO services, agencies mostly stated that it makes them more strategic as an agency and the enhanced client relationships.

    What about the success factors? What skills do you need to succeed as an agency that offers fCMO services?

    For most agencies, the ability to develop comprehensive strategies, client communication skills, and flexibility to adapt to client needs are crucial for success.

    When it comes to industries, SaaS and technology is once again the industry that employs fractional CMOs the most.

    Agencies offering fCMO services primarily work with clients in SaaS, software, or technology (56.60%) and professional services (50.94%).

    As we can see, adapting to the model isn’t challenging for most agencies.

    But the benefits of including the model are substantial – it’s about positioning your own business as more strategic and enhancing relationships with clients.

    Client Perspective on Hiring fCMOs

    In our survey, there were 16 companies that hired a fractional CMO and 8 that are considering hiring a fractional CMO.

    Top-ranked factors influencing companies’ decision to hire are the need for specialized expertise, cost-effectiveness (compared to a full-time CMO), and desire for unbiased guidance.

    For the main areas in which an fCMO helps them, respondents chose digital marketing and strategic planning as the primary ones.

    Now, how easy (or difficult) is it to find a suitable fractional CMO for your business?

    When we asked our respondents this, they reported only encountering slight challenges in finding a suitable fractional CMO. 

    When it comes to the greatest benefits attributed to hiring a fractional CMO, companies have top-ranked strategic expertise. Cost savings come second, together with diverse industry knowledge.

    Lastly, let’s talk about the most important factors you need to consider when choosing a fractional CMO to hire.

    In the survey, the companies have top-ranked the ability to develop comprehensive strategies and depth of industry knowledge, flexibility to adapt to client needs, and understanding and navigating market trends. 

    Understanding the Fractional CMO Model

    The fractional CMO model has gained traction in recent years, particularly among startups, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and companies looking to scale without committing to a full-time CMO.

    However, this model is still far from being “fully understood” by the market. There are still a lot of nuances and misunderstandings about what a fractional CMO model is and how it works.

    That’s why we asked our respondents about how they perceive the market’s understanding and acceptance of the fractional CMO model.

    Here’s what they had to say:

    You Need a Support Staff alongside a Fractional CMO

    The success of the fCMO model depends on more than just the expertise of the hired executive – you need to make sure there’s a good relationship between the fCMO and your company’s internal team.

    Or, that you even have an internal team that can implement the strategies your fCMO creates.

    Simply put, hiring an fCMO isn’t a silver bullet that will automatically resolve all of your marketing challenges.

    As Tyler Howard of HowHub Consulting puts it, “a lot of companies think that just because they hire a Fractional CMO with no support staff, things will just magically get better, and that’s not the case with the traditional model of a Fractional CMO.”

    He explains that “there needs to be an understanding that you need the strategic mind but also need some people internally to execute as well as sometimes needing the Fractional CMO to execute if business needs call for it.”

    PRO TIP: Want an easy way to keep track of your team’s monthly marketing performances and instantly see all of your most relevant metrics in one place? You can download our free Monthly Marketing Performance Dashboard and set up a dashboard in literally minutes. Track everything from lead gen goals to sessions and new contacts, all in one dashboard.

    Agencies Are Offering fCMO Services but They’re Not Packaging It That Way

    A lot of agencies often provide specialized offers that include everything from digital marketing strategy to campaign automations without explicitly branding them as fCMO services.

    But this could be an untapped opportunity as the model grows in popularity.

    As David Gaglione of PS212 points out, “many agencies already offer Fractional CMO services, but don’t package them as such. They’re offering brand development, digital marketing strategy, or campaign automations as separately priced services, which may seem like a strategic tiered model.”

    “However, a lot of Fortune-level businesses might be willing to outsource “Fractional CMO” services entirely at premium prices. That single change in positioning could drastically alter your revenue and the nature of your client base.”

    “Many agencies already offer Fractional CMO services, but don’t package them as such. They’re offering brand development, digital marketing strategy, or campaign automations as separately priced services, which may seem like a strategic tiered model.

    However, a lot of Fortune-level businesses might be willing to outsource “Fractional CMO” services entirely at premium prices. That single change in positioning could drastically alter your revenue and the nature of your client base.”

    David Gaglione

    David Gaglione

    Founding Partner at PS212

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    The Market Still Doesn’t Have a Full Grasp of What the Fractional CMO Model Is

    Sure, the fCMO model is on the rise – but many companies still struggle to fully understand how the model works and how it differs from similar exec roles.

    For starters, the role and responsibilities of an fCMO can vary significantly from one organization to another.

    Unlike a full-time CMO whose duties are usually clear, an fCMO might be brought in to address specific challenges (e.g. for strategic projects or to fill in leadership gaps).

    This variability can make it hard for some people to understand exactly what an fCMO does.

    Also, for businesses that are not used to hiring part-time executive-level talent, understanding the value proposition can be difficult.

    Dana Doron of Doron Marketing agrees that “the market’s understanding of the fractional CMO model is muddy.”

    “I’m in a number of FCMO groups and even FCMOs can’t agree on what the model is, so how can we expect the market to understand? There are people with a few years of experience as a specialist in a particular marketing area, agency owners with a whole host of marketing services, and senior marketers with 20+ years of experience in large and small companies all calling themselves fractional CMOs.

    Ultimately, all those people have a place in the diverse ecosystem of companies out there needing help, but I think everyone would benefit from the “fractional” moniker being applied to more than just the executive level so that there can be more clarity about what a company’s real needs are and what a marketer’s true capabilities are so that it’s easier to determine the right match at an appropriate compensation level.”

    She continues by saying that “a lot of client companies don’t really understand the difference between a marketing specialist who can help with specific areas like digital advertising, SEO, etc., and a seasoned marketer who can identify growth opportunities and priorities, develop a strategy and marketing plan, and lead a team to successful execution.”

    Understanding of the fCMO Model Varies Based on the Leadership’s Experience

    Another interesting perspective in our report has been that the experience of the leadership plays a huge role when it comes to understanding the fCMO model.

    For example, leaders with a background in traditional, hierarchical organizations may be more accustomed to full-time roles and might find the concept of fractional CMOs less intuitive.

    On the other hand, those who worked in startups (or similar dynamic environments) tend to see the value of an fCMO more clearly.

    Kurt Uhlir of Ethereal Innovations went into further detail on this:

    “Understanding of the Fractional CMO model varies widely, influenced heavily by the leadership’s experience and the company’s growth stage. First-time CEOs or those at the helm of eight-figure companies for the first time often believe that only a full-time CMO can drive growth, overlooking the strategic value a Fractional CMO can bring.

    A common misconception prevails in the market, grouping consultants, agencies, and Fractional CMOs together which obscures their distinct roles and contributions. However, in the middle market, particularly within private equity-backed companies, there’s a more nuanced appreciation for the Fractional CMO model. These leaders understand the value in efficiently utilizing resources, especially during critical growth phases or when addressing operational gaps.

    They acknowledge the value of a Fractional CMO in offering the essential expertise and direction to drive growth, while pinpointing the critical skill set required for a full-time executive. This perspective is crucial for effectively leveraging the Fractional CMO model, ensuring it is employed in contexts where it can deliver maximum value and facilitate business growth and transition.”

    Succeeding as a Fractional CMO Requires both Strategic and Tactical Skills

    While strategic skills seem to be the biggest priority for fractional CMOs, it’s important to also have a good grasp of tactical skills to go along with them.

    Tactical skills allow the fractional CMO to not only devise strategies but also oversee (or even directly manage) their execution.

    As Neha Goel of Rippler Group puts it, “success in this role requires not just strategic vision but also a hands-on, tactical approach.”

    “The fractional CMO must be capable of directly implementing strategies and managing day-to-day marketing activities, ensuring that plans are not only devised but also effectively executed. This balance of high-level insight and practical involvement is essential, especially for companies needing immediate results without the financial burden of a full-time executive. Clear communication and adaptability to the company’s culture and market needs remain critical for the model’s effectiveness.”

    PRO TIP: Do you want to keep track of how successful your new marketing strategies are and whether your performance is improving? By downloading our free Marketing Overview Dashboard, you can do exactly that, all in one screen. With this dashboard, you’ll have real-time insights into how the new strategies your fCMO devised are panning out and whether there are any areas you need to work more on.

    Being an fCMO Allows You to Take Long-Term Projects and Set Your Own Hours

    As a fractional CMO, you have the freedom to select projects that fit your expertise, interests, and the amount of time you want to commit.

    This way, you can work on longer-term projects with more extensive scopes, which can be more rewarding both professionally and financially. And the best part is, fractional CMOs have more flexible hours compared to full-time execs.

    Katy Widrick of Make Media Over LLC shared how she first found out about the fCMO role and why it’s proven ideal for her schedule:

    “My path to becoming a Fractional CMO was not strategic – in fact, I didn’t even know what the title or role entailed! But when I left a corporate role and looked around for my next opportunity, it quickly became clear that visionary CEOs who were ready to scale needed cross-department support and leadership, but weren’t interested in hiring or managing a large team.

    I, in turn, was interested in working in taking on longer-term projects with larger scopes of work, while still determining my own hours, execution plans, and more. And through that, I realized that while the fCMO role is ideal for many — the understanding of it is still very new. So as I developed my offer and my own services, I was able to educate my clients, and since then, many others!”

    “My path to becoming a Fractional CMO was not strategic – in fact, I didn’t even know what the title or role entailed! But when I left a corporate role and looked around for my next opportunity, it quickly became clear that visionary CEOs who were ready to scale needed cross-department support and leadership, but weren’t interested in hiring or managing a large team.

    I, in turn, was interested in working in taking on longer-term projects with larger scopes of work, while still determining my own hours, execution plans, and more. And through that, I realized that while the fCMO role is ideal for many — the understanding of it is still very new. So as I developed my offer and my own services, I was able to educate my clients, and since then, many others!”

    Katy Widrick

    Katy Widrick

    Owner at Make Media Over

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Positive Impact of Hiring a Fractional CMO

    Strategic expertise, cost efficiency, minimized risk… we touched upon a lot of benefits that come with hiring a fractional CMO.

    But below, we’ll go over the direct insights our respondents shared on what positive impacts they experienced with hiring a fractional CMO:

    Fractional CMOs Can Help Analyze Marketing Analytics and Adjust Strategies Based on the Data

    Fractional CMOs often come with a wealth of experience across various industries and marketing channels.

    This experience makes them well-equipped to dive into a company’s analytics, understand what the data is saying, and then quickly identify areas for improvement that might not be immediately obvious.

    Franklin D Rivera II of V2M2 Group Inc. shared one situation when “we were hired as an fCMO for a large medical practice to be an intermediary between themselves and their vendors. We analyzed all of the data and aligned the vendors with the business goals of the client.

    They did not know how to analyze digital marketing analytics and had no idea how to adjust their strategies based on the data. We are able to get them on the right path rather quickly. The downside was that once they felt everything was smooth, we were no longer needed.”

    Fractional CMOs Help You Create a Tailored Marketing Plan Based on Strategic Expertise

    Fractional CMOs should work closely with your team to understand your unique business challenges, goals, and overall market dynamics.

    This allows them to create a marketing plan that is specifically tailored to your needs, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Vicky Wu of Vicky Wu Marketing mentions that “in one instance, a small business was struggling to scale and differentiate itself in a crowded market. Their strategies were random, with the CEO regularly distracted by the new shiny object syndrome. By bringing in a fractional CMO, they gained access to strategic marketing expertise, which led to a tailored marketing plan.

    This plan included a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, which significantly boosted their online presence and customer engagement. As a result, the business saw a remarkable increase in leads and conversions, demonstrating the transformative impact of having expert marketing leadership on a flexible basis.”

    PRO TIP: Is your new fCMO helping you boost your website’s engagement? If so, you can download our free Website Engagement Overview Dashboard to keep track of all the performance metrics you need to see how effective the new strategy really is. You can set up your dashboard in minutes and track metrics such as sessions, events, views, and much more.

    Fractional CMOs Can Improve Stagnant Marketing Results

    If your marketing results have been stagnant for a while, fractional CMOs can help by bringing a fresh perspective to your business and building new campaigns to try and improve the numbers.

    They provide a fresh set of eyes to evaluate your existing marketing strategies and identify any shortcomings in your current plans.

    Chris McDermott of Intercoastal Consulting & Life Care Planning talked about this and shared how “our company was struggling with stagnant marketing results, so we brought in a fractional CMO. Within six months, the fractional CMO implemented targeted campaigns, streamlined operations, and secured key partnerships, resulting in a 30% increase in qualified leads and a 25% boost in customer acquisition.”

    Fractional CMOs Can Enhance Your Company’s Sales Outcomes

    While marketing is the main area of expertise for fractional CMOs, they can also help your company improve other areas – including sales.

    That’s what Eugene Koplyk of Wiserbrand experienced when he hired an fCMO:

    “In our experience, the involvement of a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has been pivotal in several projects, particularly in enhancing sales outcomes. We’ve observed that clients often approach us with a predefined target audience and a set of marketing actions they believe are necessary. However, this approach doesn’t always yield the best results, as there are numerous underlying challenges that need to be addressed before launching a marketing campaign.

    This is where a fractional CMO becomes invaluable. They bring a strategic perspective, guiding the team towards more effective solutions and helping to navigate the complexities of marketing. Their expertise is especially crucial when a business is at a crossroads, needing to make significant leaps in growth. Moreover, their experience is a game-changer for many businesses, especially small enterprises and startups. These organizations often lack the experience in crafting a robust marketing strategy.

    A fractional CMO not only steers these businesses in the right direction but in some cases, their guidance is critical in preventing potential financial failures. Their role transcends beyond traditional marketing; it’s about building a sustainable pathway for growth and stability.”

    PRO TIP: Want to see how many new sales leads you’re getting each month, without having to check multiple tools and dozens of reports? Download our free HubSpot Sales Overview Dashboard for free and get instant insights into your sales performance. Track sales metrics like won deals, closed won amount, lost deals, and more – all from a single dashboard.

    Fractional CMOs Are Useful in the GTM Stage for Startups

    Fractional CMOs can be particularly valuable for startups in the go-to-market (GTM) stage.

    They usually excel in developing clear, compelling positioning and messaging that differentiates startups in the marketplace. This is crucial in the GTM phase, where first impressions can significantly impact a startup’s long-term brand perception.

    Megan Thomas of Rize Brand agrees and adds that “while a full-time hire takes on average 6 months to recruit, interview, hire and onboard. A Fractional CMO can get started on Day 1 of the first meet. I’ve had several ‘rescue projects’ where an outside agency was hired but was not producing the brand strategy and position that was satisfactory to the client.

    Within two weeks, a Fractional CMO directing the work with an internal team or external contractors was able to turnaround the brand strategy, identity, and marketing assets that were aligned with the vision and commercial objectives, and fit for purpose with the audience and market they were operating in. Significantly moving up time to launch at half the cost and minimizing marketing spend by working with the existing channels and product for PLG + ABM growth.”

    “While a full-time hire takes on average 6 months to recruit, interview, hire and onboard. A Fractional CMO can get started on Day 1 of the first meet. I’ve had several ‘rescue projects’ where an outside agency was hired but was not producing the brand strategy and position that was satisfactory to the client.

    Within two weeks, a Fractional CMO directing the work with an internal team or external contractors was able to turnaround the brand strategy, identity, and marketing assets that were aligned with the vision and commercial objectives, and fit for purpose with the audience and market they were operating in. Significantly moving up time to launch at half the cost and minimizing marketing spend by working with the existing channels and product for PLG + ABM growth.”

    Megan Thomas

    Megan Thomas

    Fractional CMO / Founder at Rize Brand

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Fractional CMOs Can Train Your Marketing Team

    Another big advantage of having a fractional CMO is that they can train your marketing team on how to best implement the strategies and campaigns they built. This way, you make sure that the training is relevant, practical, and directly applicable to your business goals.

    Sometimes, they can even identify potential leaders within your team and nurture them to take on more significant roles.

    Neal Schaffer of PDCA Social shared his experience about being hired to train in-house marketing teams for clients:

    “My first fCMO client hired me first as a consultant to create a social media marketing strategy. After I created the strategy, the CMO mentioned that he liked my work but didn’t have anyone in-house who could actually implement it. I was hired to not only help implement the strategy, but also to train their marketing team and, when necessary, not team members, on what we were doing.

    The net-net is that the junior digital marketing associate is now a digital marketing manager and sales attributed to digital marketing have now exponentially grown. I have continued to work together with this company for many years, and they never had to hire a full-time senior marketing executive to attain these results. In addition, they retain all of the IP of our work together, another benefit of working with a true fCMO versus an external “black-box” consultant.”

    Fractional CMOs Can Help You Develop a More Modern Marketing Approach

    Many “traditional” businesses often find themselves struggling to keep up with the changes in customer behavior, technological advancements, and digital marketing trends.

    This is where a fractional CMO can step in and modernize your marketing efforts.

    Chris Jowsey of Nugget Digital Pty Ltd  shared one situation where they helped a professional services business take on a more modern marketing approach and switch to digital marketing channels:

    “I’ve found the greatest impact on businesses that generate between $5 > $50m in revenue however this varies per industry and objectives. One example that springs to mind is for a professional services organization that operates, markets, and sells retirement villages.

    In 2 years we’ve helped generate in some instances 10x the volumes of monthly leads for retirement villages by rolling out a modern marketing approach (taken from other industries like technology) converting most of their marketing spend to digital marketing channels from traditional marketing channels like newspapers and publishers.”

    Fractional CMOs Bring Resources that They’ve Spent Years Collecting

    Fractional CMOs are not just there for strategic help – they also bring a ton of resources (including networks and tools) that they’ve accumulated over years of experience across different organizations.

    Over their careers, fractional CMOs usually develop extensive networks of contacts, including industry experts, potential partners, media contacts, and vendors.

    For businesses looking to expand their reach, build new partnerships, or simply get more insights into the latest trends, these resources can be invaluable.

    Ryan Carrigan of moveBuddha agrees and says that “the amount of resources that a good Fractional CMO comes with is outstanding.”

    “Our FCMO worked with tens of companies for over 15 years. They know people, they have connections, they have business sense, and they know how to achieve the best outcome in the time they have. We needed some assistance after our initial launch to help get us to the next step. It was easy to market on social media, but we really needed a third party to assist us in creating strategic growth and making campaigns that supported it.”

    “The amount of resources that a good Fractional CMO comes with is outstanding.

    Our fCMO worked with tens of companies for over 15 years. They know people, they have connections, they have business sense, and they know how to achieve the best outcome in the time they have. We needed some assistance after our initial launch to help get us to the next step. It was easy to market on social media, but we really needed a third party to assist us in creating strategic growth and making campaigns that supported it.”

    Ryan Carrigan

    Ryan Carrigan

    Co-Founder at moveBuddha

    Want to get highlighted in our next report? Become a contributor now

    Fractional CMOs Can Fill Different Leadership Gaps

    Organizations, especially startups and small to medium-sized businesses, often face leadership gaps in their marketing departments.

    This can be due to factors like budget constraints, rapid growth, transitional phases, or something similar. The good news is, fractional CMOs can often come in and fill these leadership gaps for a fraction of the price.

    Michelle Heath of Growth Street talks about filling a demand gen leadership gap in the tech space:

    “In my work with a SaaS CMO in the HR tech space, I was filling a Demand Gen leadership gap. The CMO said: ‘By working with you, I got someone highly qualified who was able to jump right in and add value to my team/the business right away – and in more ways than I had even hoped for. Not to mention, someone that could flex into multiple roles as things evolved. The fact that I had a resource that was HIGHLY capable and could just jump in, stay on longer, and take on different roles was immeasurably valuable to me. Frankly, without you – I have no idea what I would have done at any of those junctures. To me, to me, there was no question of the value!’”

    Sometimes, the company might not bring a fCMO for leadership per se, but that’s what they end up doing either way.

    Melanie Asher of Omicle talked about a common issue that companies have with outsourcing a variety of tasks to different providers, leaving no one in particular to oversee the entire strategy and steer the project:

    “Typically, I am brought into companies because they have outsourced marketing tasks to different providers, and expect them to function as the company’s CMO. That’s not their role, responsibility, or capability. The company sets these outsourced task managers up for failure. They also set themselves up for failure because the outsourced task managers don’t have access to the internal resources they need, and executive knowledge, and the company usually doesn’t own its assets.

    A qualified fCMO will ensure that the company’s assets are owned and protected, the strategy is developed with the company’s short and long-term goals in mind, and tasks are managed and executed with appropriate metrics to be managed that align with company goals so there is no overvaluing of vanity metrics. In my work with clients, we’ve accomplished goals like: – Going from steadily losing clients and SEO rankings to appearing on page one of search results as a result of new more targeted messaging. – Raising more funds in the first three months of launching the rebrand and messaging than what they were able to raise in five years prior. – Doubling the business and receiving three buy-out offers within two years of working together.”

    Mark Osborne of Modern Revenue Strategies also talked about how fractional CMOs that take on leadership tend to provide better results than one-off marketing consultants:

    “Many Founders and CEOs of B2B companies have been burnt by Marketing Consultants that spent lots of time and resources on making things “pretty / on-brand” but didn’t impact revenues. Likewise, they’ve been burnt by agencies that spent their money without accountability for results. Fractional CMOs have a different focus than consultants or agencies in that they are committed to providing leadership that is tied to the company’s success.”

    Future Changes for the Fractional CMO Model

    Predicting what the future holds for fractional CMOs isn’t exactly straightforward seeing that many industries still don’t fully understand the model even today.

    But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

    Here are some of the most interesting predictions our respondents shared in the survey on the future of fractional CMOs:

    There will be Increased Demand for Fractional CMOs

    There are several reasons why marketing professionals believe that the demand and popularity of fractional CMOs will continue to grow in the upcoming years.

    One of the main ones is that many organizations still don’t have the necessary specialized knowledge within their internal teams to build the right strategies and implement them. Often, this is because of budget constraints.

    Fractional CMOs make up for this at a fraction of the price of a full-time marketing executive.

    Steve Farnsworth of Rezilion also explains that “more companies will seek fractional CMOs to access top-tier marketing expertise affordably. “

    He says that “fractional CMOs will need to focus on niche areas or industries to differentiate themselves. Also, embracing AI, machine learning, and automation will become essential for data-driven marketing strategies.”

    Paul Bies of Mystique Brand Communications predicts that “increased demand from small and medium-sized businesses will likely drive this growth, emphasizing the need for specialized expertise in specific marketing domains and industries. There will be a stronger focus on delivering measurable ROI and aligning marketing strategies with business outcomes. Adaptability and agility will be key, as will the ability to manage and collaborate with remote teams effectively.”

    Tim Jones of Eternal Works also believes that fCMOs will grow in popularity as “more companies lean on them for their strategic thinking. I also think more fCMOs will act as the agency of record.”

    The Specific Roles of fCMOs Will Become Clearer

    Traditionally, CMOs have been seen as generalists responsible for a wide range of marketing activities – from brand management and market research to digital marketing strategy and implementation.

    However, as the concept of a fractional CMO matures, the specific roles of fCMOs are expected to become more defined and nuanced.

    Currently, there’s still a lot of grey area around what exactly an fCMO is responsible for, but many of our respondents expect this to change in the future.

    Paula Skaper of 33Dolphins Growth Strategy says that there will be “more clarity around the different types of engagements, likely more competition from more entry-level marketers (PMs) and boutique agencies. I also expect to see many fCMOs being recruited in-house by clients, lured by the offer of job security.”

    Brian Gencher of Gencher Insight also anticipates “the fCMO model to become more formalized, with a clear understanding of what it brings.

    I also see it as developing into a two to three-step process. 1) project to develop a brand strategy and strategic plan, 2) becoming a true FCMO that manages the internal team, provides ongoing direction and training to keep the strategic plan on track 3) transitioning out, helping hire an internal VP or CMO and staying on as a resource for incremental advice and help.”

    Dudley Peacock of Q&A Marketing Ltd expects to see “a rise in specialized fractional CMOs catering to niche markets or specific marketing channels, such as digital, content marketing, or e-commerce.”

    Companies Will Hire Fractional CMOs to Help Them Leverage AI

    AI’s capabilities in data analysis, consumer behavior prediction, and personalized marketing are completely changing how companies connect with their audiences.

    And as businesses try to understand how to best use this new technology, the expertise of fractional CMO in this area will become increasingly valuable.

    Some of our respondents believe that an increasing number of companies are likely to hire fCMOs specifically to help them leverage AI in their marketing efforts.

    Norvin Eitzen of Eitzen & Associates also adds that the “intersection of AI and the marketing industry as a whole will start to dilute the multi-years of experience fCMOs have had in their previous roles. FCMOs will need to stay on their toes and continue to communicate as a trusted advisor with their clients. AI has a number of quick answers, but it cannot replace experience.”

    “Intersection of AI and the marketing industry as a whole will start to dilute the multi-years of experience fCMOs have had in their previous roles. FCMOs will need to stay on their toes and continue to communicate as a trusted advisor with their clients. AI has a number of quick answers, but it cannot replace experience.”

    Norvin Eitzen

    Norvin Eitzen

    Fractional CMO at Eitzen & Associates

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    Lisa Schuck of Enthusias says that “marketing is complex and is only getting more so with generative AI. Having the ability to utilize resources specific to the company’s needs will only increase over time.”

    People Without Experience or Expertise Will Start Offering fCMO Services

    While the fractional CMO model does bring a ton of benefits to the table, it also brings a few challenges.

    And one challenge that our respondents particularly mentioned is the fact that an increasing number of inexperienced marketers will start offering fCMO services, without having the expertise to back it up.

    William Collins of Chief Outsiders warns that “more and more companies will embrace the model and we will have a slew of people who don’t have the experience or expertise stating they are fractional CMOs and sullying the concept.”

    Marcelo Salup of Iffective predicts that the space “will be invaded by a bunch of bullshit artists whose experience is going to be 2 clients with $50,000 annual budgets and no experience in anything except search.”

    Stay on Top of Your Marketing Strategy with Databox’s Benchmark Groups

    Are you a fractional CMO and you want to show your clients just what an impact you’ve made on their bottom line since you started working together?

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    Either way, you’ll need benchmark data in your toolkit.

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    With this product, you can compile all of your most relevant marketing insights in one comprehensive dashboard and get a birds-eye overview of your most important performance metrics, all in one place.

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    Filip Stojanovic

    Filip Stojanovic is a content writer who studies Business and Political Sciences. Also, I am a huge tennis enthusiast. Although my dream is to win a Grand Slam, working as a content writer is also interesting.

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