The Rise of the Fractional CMO
A smart strategy for capturing marketing executive leadership at a fraction of the cost.
Who doesn’t need marketing expertise to help grow their organization? You have real budgets, but you can’t attract the top talent needed to effectively execute. Or you have a small marketing team that needs support, but you don’t need a full-time CMO. Even some of the best companies find themselves strapped for talent, falling behind in advancing their marketing plans. That’s why many organizations are turning to the fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) model for help.
What Is a Fractional CMO?
A fractional CMO is a C-level marketing expert who works on your team as a fiduciary, but isn’t hired as a full-time employee. Typically, they work 30-60 hours per month and support your company’s growth for engagements that last 12 to 24 months. They often come with a well-oiled team of specialists they have worked with in the past, thus avoiding a big learning curve.
This concept of a C-level consultant isn’t new. For decades, companies have hired fractional CFOs, CTOs and CEOs to bridge gaps during growth periods. But now the practice is reaching into other C-level marketing positions.
Who Needs a Fractional CMO?
There are two types of businesses that can benefit from hiring a fractional CMO.
- Companies struggling to find talent. In this age of the Great Resignation, companies that may not be sexy enough to attract and fill the CMO post with top talent are struggling. Hiring a fractional CMO to fill this role is an excellent option.
- Companies too small to have a full-time CMO. They may have junior or mid-level marketing staff, or the owner may be trying to fill the role, but at the end of the day the staff doesn’t have the proper toolkit for the job. In this case, a fractional CMO can fill in the gaps and lead the marketing agenda.
Types of Fractional CMOs
When deciding on whether a company can benefit from the services of a fractional CMO, it’s important to know what is needed. In general, there are two paths.
Some fractional CMOs work independently and fold into the existing structure of the company. They take a seat at the table, provide direction, and help develop plans. But ultimately, the work is left to others to execute.
The other type of fractional CMO comes with a team. Not only do they provide a C-level expert to fill the CMO seat, but that executive comes with resources that can get all the work done. Whatever work is needed, this fractional CMO can handle it.
How It Works
Board of Child Care (BCC) is a private nonprofit organization that provides youth and their families with education, mental health, and therapeutic residential services across the Mid-Atlantic. The organization has a Senior Director of Development and Marketing, but they needed help in developing strategy and maximizing their marketing and communications initiatives for the upcoming year.
BCC selected C-360, a full-service marketing agency in Baltimore, MD, to provide CMO leadership and a range of services, including design, social media development and management, website updates, copywriting, digital marketing strategy, and external communications to support BCC’s mission. (Make sure to check out BCC on Facebook.)
“We know that now, more than ever, we need strong branding and messaging that defines us and connects all of our many programs and services to our mission and audiences,” said Kristian Sekse, BCC’s COO. “We’re looking forward to teaming with C-360 to develop communications that resonates with our donors, referral sources, clients, employees and prospective employees.”
By enlisting a fractional CMO, BCC harnessed a team of professionals to effectively determine and execute their marketing vision.
As hiring conditions continue to impact businesses, there are opportunities for business owners who are paying attention to fractional hiring trends.
“Watching market conditions evolve for hiring top talent and talking to many CEOs in 2021 has helped our approach to serving clients evolve,” said Michael DeMos, CEO and President of C-360. “And we are finding great success.”
Hiring a CMO may not be within grasp for every company, but fractional CMOs make it more feasible.