FRACTIONAL CMO: Definition, Cost & Services


Your company is set to expand, but you need a manager to oversee your marketing and foster that expansion. Finding someone who can help is not difficult; there are many knowledgeable marketers in the world. Finding the ideal candidate—someone who will be honest with you and provide you with the necessary direction at a reasonable cost—is the challenge. A chief marketing officer, or CMO, is required to oversee all marketing initiatives. However, many mid-sized enterprises cannot pay the salary required for fractional CMO services. The services provided by a fractional agency will be discussed in this post.

What is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional chief marketing officer (CMO) is an external marketing professional who takes on the responsibilities of a CMO without requiring your business to hire a full-time inside marketing manager. They arrive prepared to lead several marketing teams of the appropriate size and stage of development to produce the outcomes your business requires.

Numerous businesses profit from having access to fractional marketing leadership since it eliminates the high costs and risks involved in hiring, training, and the “ramp-up time” required for internal CMOs.

Although employed under contract, fractional CMOs—also referred to as CMOs-as-a-Service—are just as dedicated to the business they work for, from managing day-to-day operations to giving presentations at board meetings.

What Is the Difference Between a Marketing Agency, a Marketing Coach, a Consultant, and a Fractional CMO?

The various options available to firms for marketing assistance might be bewildering. However, if you want to concentrate on strategy and implementation, you can choose between working with a marketing agency, a marketing coach, a marketing consultant, or a part-time CMO.

#1. Marketing Agency

A marketing agency is a business that provides clients with services in one or more marketing-related fields. Although they frequently concentrate on the commercial side of implementation, agencies occasionally engage in strategy. They are helpful for businesses that already have a strategy in place but need assistance with its execution.

#2. Marketing Coach

A marketing coach typically offers training materials, serves as an accountability partner, and suggests strategic measures without getting directly involved in implementation.

#3. Marketing Advisor

Marketing consultants are subject matter specialists who support businesses by offering suggestions and creating their marketing strategies. However, they hire independent contractors or a third-party marketing team to handle the implementation.

Responsibilities of the Fractional CMO

A typical fractional CMO is responsible for a variety of tasks that are all tailored to the needs of the businesses they work with. These may consist of:

#1. Setting objectives and creating a marketing plan

Clear goals for the marketing team should be able to be developed and communicated by a fractional CMO. And make sure they are shared by everyone in the organization.
The creation of a brand’s marketing strategy, including its budget, vision, team composition, customer journey, systems, and techniques, is another duty of fractional CMOs. They must concentrate their marketing efforts on the most important channels and create a successful, replicable plan for the company.

Marketing-focused fractional CMOs who are adequate can guide the strategy. They could, for instance, suggest the finest markets to target, define the ideal clients and select the most effective marketing strategies to increase sales.
This is the most crucial aspect of the job because it makes the organization stand out from the competition in the eyes of its ideal client.

#2. Managing the marketing division

Fractional CMOs may manage an internal department or have their team carry out the strategy. A fractional CMO’s well-known duties include hiring, caring for, and occasionally promoting workers.
A fractional CMO has one of the most challenging jobs. Since the typical CMO only serves for 40 months, they must be ready to have an immediate impact.

Since most fractional CMOs have their own implementation teams, establishing a network of experts who can assist you in carrying out your plan is crucial for maintaining steady growth as an agency, according to our experience teaching successful marketing managers and consultants.

#3. Creating marketing KPIs and Metrics

Establishing specific marketing objectives, metrics, benchmarks, and key performance indicators (KPIs) is the responsibility of a fractional CMO. These are used to gauge development and assess if the marketing team is accomplishing the objectives of its campaigns.

The number of qualified leads in a specific time frame, sign-ups or appointments made, lead conversion rates, lead-to-customer conversion, cost per lead, monthly recurring revenue, and others are some of the metrics that are frequently known for a marketing department.
Metrics can assist fractional CMOs in understanding the issues and subsequently delivering reliable and long-term solutions.

#4. Increasing revenue and sales

The goal of a fractional CMO is to boost sales by creating a comprehensive marketing strategy that will provide the company with a competitive edge and generate more income. Additionally, they are in charge of managing the effectiveness of the marketing initiatives as well as how the marketing budget is allocated.

Fractional CMOs need to be strong communicators and leaders to inspire the marketing team and other cross-functional teams in today’s digital age. They also need to be skilled at strategy and execution.

#5. Provide advice to the marketing team

Both successful and part-time chief marketing officers often have a strong sense of purpose and can instill values within the organizations they work for. They are strategists, consultants, and coaches in addition to being order takers.

The development of programs that offer various forms of support to employees is one of a fractional CMO’s additional duties. For instance, they could design management training or mentorship programs for their team or the teams of their clients.

Fractional CMOs may also use their staff of professionals to carry out the marketing plan. This has the potential to be much more efficient than making an effort to distribute these tasks throughout your organization or developing and staffing a brand-new department.

Why is a Fractional CMO Good?

A good fractional CMO is someone who has done it before, has seen the appropriate degree of growth that your business has experienced or is aiming toward, and has managed and/or grown the same size of the staff that your business needs.
To cover all their bases, fractional CMOs must be able to manage, lead, and generate ROI.

  • Management must be able to plan the daily operations of the marketing team and oversee its long-term goals.
  • Leadership must gain the confidence of their subordinates as well as other stakeholders (CEOs, CSOs, VPs, and the board).
  • Present ROI to ensure that each component of the marketing function justifies continued investment (or not).

Why it works

 Fractional CMOs are effective because they have experience doing it. They have experienced the highs and lows associated with a certain period of a company’s growth. They are therefore better able to deal with common “out-of-the-ordinary” events and concentrate more on producing the outcomes required to support the company’s growth.

A fractional CMO is also less expensive than a full CMO. Companies don’t have to pay the additional costs of hiring and training an in-house CMO, including the expense of medical insurance, benefits, and signing bonuses, because fractional CMOs are often there to help in the short-to-mid term. Organizations may start developing their marketing function immediately with a fractional CMO—it just makes sense.

Challenges to consider

Fractional CMOs won’t be the subject-matter authorities in the business. As they scale up, they will need to rely on the company’s other leaders to provide industry knowledge, just like in-house CMOs do.

With a fractional CMO, you simply need to concentrate on learning about the industry as opposed to “learning on the job.” Furthermore, fractional CMOs are not permanent; they function best when you no longer require them. This entails recruiting an internal staff and using the right industry best practices for marketing to position your company for long-term success.

Why Are Fractional CMOs Necessary?

A fractional CMO agency can be useful for many firms, but there are several factors to consider before employing one. This includes businesses and executives who:

  • Want to invest in a new marketing position
  • Have a marketing team already in place that requires executive-level direction and leadership.
  • Are eager to hear an unbiased, outside opinion on their company, go-to-market plan, and methods
  • Want to start strong with a large go-to-market strategy and give yourself plenty of time to discover the ideal hire
  • Lack of time or resources to hunt for a CMO
  • Are investing more time in marketing than matters about the CEO?
  • Want to investigate further demand-generation avenues?

Fractional CMO Salary

A factional CMO offers the knowledge and experience of a full-time CMO for a small portion of the cost. As a result, you can swiftly change your marketing and execution to get your product or service to market quickly. They provide value in the form of lower risk and higher marketing effects. Based on an approximate hourly rate and agreement, they’ll oversee your marketing, manage your staff, and carry out the daily tasks of a full-time CMO.
Some people might be on retainer for a set number of hours each month. For instance, if a fractional CMO accepts a retainer of $8,000 and works 40 hours per month, the annual cost for just one customer comes to $96,000.

Average CMO Salary

A full-time CMO’s salary might exceed $200k annually in some companies. Approximately $174,000 is the national average, according to A CMO’s fee varies according to their level of experience and the business they work for. You should also take into account the fact that a full-time CMO position almost certainly comes with benefits that the company pays for in addition to substantial compensation.

Fractional CMO Hourly Rates

A fractional CMO typically bills for their services at an hourly rate of $200 to $350. This implies that their annual salary changes depending on both their hourly rate and the duration of their employment. A fractional CMO, for instance, who charges $250 per hour and works for a customer for 40 hours per month, might earn $120,000 in salary from that client alone each year.

For the best outcomes, hire a fractional CMO on a retainer, specify their time requirements, and choose the fee. A part-time CMO does not have an ongoing cost like a full-time CMO. You can engage a fractional CMO whenever it’s convenient for you, so take that into account when estimating how many hours they’ll need.

How to Pick the Right Fractional CMO Agency?

#1. Determine your goals.

There are a few considerations to make if you’re thinking about working with a fractional CMO agency.

  • What is your budget first? How much money per month can you afford to spend on marketing?
  • What are your marketing objectives? What do you expect from collaborating with a fractional agency to accomplish?
  • What is your timeline? When do you require the results?

You may begin exploring organizations that meet your needs when you have the answers to these inquiries. Take your time and locate a fractional CMO agency that you are comfortable working with, as there are several available. Consult with friends or coworkers who have previously used smaller agencies for guidance, and check out online reviews.

#2. Recognize their procedures and personnel

As you consider working with a fractional marketing agency, be sure you are fully aware of the services they provide. Inquire about their procedures and how they plan to collaborate with you to meet your marketing objectives.
A discipline of specialization is marketing. The placement agency approach, however, gives you just one marketing contact. This person lacks the time and knowledge necessary to develop a strategy and implement it across the numerous facets of marketing, including demand creation, content marketing, and customer success.

#3. Evaluate pricing schemes

Comparison shopping is crucial when thinking about a fractional agency. While some agencies charge a monthly fee, others charge on an hourly basis.

An hourly fee has the advantage that you only pay for the time you use. The drawback is that if your needs in marketing are complicated, you can end up paying more over time. To make sure that hours are spent on strategies that align with your objectives, the fractional CMO might modify your scope.

#4. Include important decision-makers in the process.

Last but not least, no matter how fantastic a fractional CMO agency may be, it won’t work for everyone. As with any consultant, you need to confirm that their personality, working style, and values align with those of your business. Furthermore, marketing shouldn’t take place in a silo. The likelihood of success increases with the number of people who support this external hire (or hires).

What is the difference between fractional CMO and interim CMO?

A fractional CMO could serve as the part-time marketing executive for several different businesses. Full-time or part-time CMOs who are hired for temporary positions are known as interim CMOs.

How do you become a fractional CMO?

You need years of experience operating at a senior level as a marketing leader if you want to become a fractional CMO. A part-time CMO needs to be well-versed in the latest marketing techniques and strategies.

Why hire a fractional CMO?

While you’re adjusting to the expansion of your organization, a fractional CMO can easily assign team members. If you want to upgrade your marketing team, they can even make hiring suggestions.

Is CMO a stressful job?

Yes. The role of the CMO is challenging, gratifying, and intricate. The modern chief marketing officer has their hands in many pies, from managing all marketing-related tasks to taking on product development. High turnover rates and frequent burnout are indicators of how challenging the job is.

Is a fractional CFO worth it?

Yes. A developing small business to a lower middle-market company’s financial management might be enhanced by working on a part-time basis with an experienced CFO.

What are the benefits of fractional services?

Key advantages of hiring a fractional CFO include:

  • Enhancing decision making.
  • Better financial information.
  • Improved internal controls.
  • Flexibility.
  • Cost.
  • Support on-site.


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