Marketing is a crucial piece to business success, as it’s the primary source of customer acquisition. Even though hiring a chief marketing officer (CMO) to lead strategy, acquisition, branding, and oversight of your company’s marketing goals is ideal; it’s not always feasible. If this sounds familiar, there’s a potential solution — hire a fractional CMO.
While having one on the team is extraordinarily helpful, a CMO is usually expensive. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often cannot afford to bring on this key person right away. The fractional CMO is one way to overcome this challenge and many others.
What’s a fractional CMO?
A fractional CMO is similar to a consultant or contractor and is most often used when a business needs marketing leadership and strategy but doesn’t require a full-time person. Depending on the organization’s size, a fractional CMO may communicate directly with the CEO/owner and the marketing team, including working with other executives to keep all plans aligned. A fractional CMO may also work for multiple organizations in the same role.
What are the benefits of a fractional CMO?
There are multiple benefits to hiring a fractional CMO. When comparing a fractional CMO to a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO usually is more cost-effective for an SMB, as the typical salary for a CMO is more than $200,000 a year. A full-time CMO’s salary alone could be most of the marketing budget for your organization. A fractional CMO would charge an hourly rate, let’s say, $200. If they work 15 hours a week, that would be $3,000 for the month or $36,000 for the year. The organization gets the same knowledge and experience at nearly one-sixth the cost.
Another significant benefit of hiring a fractional CMO is hiring an outside person to assist the organization. An in-house CMO will be in the office and working on the same campaigns every day. Onboarding a fractional CMO gives the projects a fresh set of eyes for review. Your hire could give a new perspective, recommendations, or competitive insight that a full-time CMO may not see.
Finally, marketing priorities change throughout the year. If the business has a peak season or time of year when sales are highest, hiring a fractional CMO could be a good move. The fractional CMO can stay on throughout the busy season to help create and oversee the strategy.
The negatives of hiring a fractional CMO
While a fractional CMO could be an asset for any SMB, beware of the downsides. For instance, a fractional CMO may not be able to bring a new marketing campaign to fruition as quickly as an in-house CMO if there’s no long-term agreement in place. Also, being an external resource, a fractional CMO may not fit your company’s culture or be as aware of your company’s goals and objectives, creating confusion among your workers.
Hiring a fractional CMO might be the best move for your business if you’re just starting out. Your organization would receive all the benefits of a CMO without the commitment of hiring a new, expensive executive.