CMORecently, I sat on a roundtable panel of the Marketing Leaders Connect (MLC ) networking group.  With two other marketing professionals, we discussed everything about fractional CMOs or Chief Marketing Officers, from who they are to what they do and more.

Big Ideas Writing functions as a content-focused marketing consultancy, but have we functioned as a fractional CMO for clients? Absolutely.

What is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) works with companies on a part-time or project basis, providing strategic marketing leadership and guidance. Since fractional CMOs are not employed full-time, they offer companies access to high-level marketing talent without the expense of a full-time executive salary. Fractional CMOs have expertise in areas such as marketing strategy, branding, customer acquisition, digital marketing, and marketing analytics. They typically tailor their services to the specific needs of each client to help them develop and execute their marketing plan, optimize their marketing budget, and achieve their business goals.

Personal Spoiler Alert: Companies often approach Big Ideas Writing for marketing consulting but then realize my value as a fractional CMO and are with me for many months (or even years!) beyond their initial engagement.

When Should I Hire a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is a great hire if you are small and need a marketing department for your company. Sometimes, you may have a marketing department but need someone to oversee the operation. The CMO can also offer support and resources to help you fulfill your marketing goals.

Fractional CMOs have their areas of specialty and experience. While I am experienced with SMBs, some of the other professionals at the Roundtable were adept with publicly-held companies, investor relations, and managing million-dollar marketing budgets.

When Should I Hire a Fractional CMO Over a Marketing Consultant?

While both fractional CMOs and marketing consultants provide marketing expertise to businesses, there are some key differences. Mainly, it has to do with integration into the company.

Fractional CMOs become part of the team and play an integral role in developing and executing marketing strategies. They typically have a long-term engagement with the company they serve, while marketing consultants may be hired to help with a special event or project on a shorter-term basis.

CMOs are also concerned with the overall effect of each marketing initiative and how it contributes to the company’s overall success, while marketing consultants are looking to deliver results from their specific initiatives.  Given their deep involvement with the company, CMOs can provide strategic leadership and direction to the marketing team to ensure sales goals are aligned with the marketing plan. Quite a bit of discussion at the Roundtable was devoted to making sure sales and marketing were working synchronously and the problems arising when they do not.

Everyone agreed, however, that the fractional CMO is a valuable member of your team.

Planning-a-Website-RefreshWhat are the Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CMO?

ROI.  Some studies have revealed incredible gains (29%) credited to their fractional CMO’s efforts. While results may vary, all fractional CMOs are looking to the numbers to show their ROI to their hiring firm.

Cost-Efficiency.  A fractional CMO will cost a fraction of a full-time CMO salary. The average fractional CMO works about ten to twenty hours a week, with concentrated productivity within those hours. For smaller companies that can’t afford a full-time CMO, the fractional CMO can provide expertise at a fraction of the price.

Scalability. Fractional CMOs are typically contracted for a set period. After that time, companies can scale up or back the hours of the fractional CMO depending on the company’s needs and changing requirements.

Expertise. Most fractional CMOs have worked for many different companies and even in various industries. They will bring vast knowledge and resources to your marketing solutions and a fresh perspective, innovative ideas, and unbiased insights that may have yet to be explored in the company.

What to Expect from a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs are hired to produce results. So, what kind of deliverables can you expect if you work with a fractional CMO?

Data-driven decisions. Fractional CMOs will ask to look at the numbers to help you make the right decisions. For example, they’ll not only help conceive the social media campaign, but also watch the website to see how many more people visited that day so they can tell if their campaign was effective.

Strategic planning. Fractional CMOs can propose a marketing strategy, devise a written plan, and supervise the plan’s fulfillment. The fractional CMO can provide as much or as little help as you want going forth with marketing efforts.

New Methods. Fractional CMOs typically keep up with emerging marketing trends and ideas. Along with their expertise, they can offer new techniques and methods for reaching marketing goals.

Better communication and teamwork. The fractional CMO’s job is to show value and analyze the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. Consequently, they will pull teams together for meetings and strategy sessions to align goals and report on relevant statistics. Cooperation and communication will be more consistent and relevant.

Resources. Often, fractional CMOs come with a vast network of marketing professionals with expertise in different areas that can be beneficial for everyone.

Is a fractional CMO what you need?

If you are a small or B2B business and think a fractional CMO might benefit your company, we’d love to discuss your needs and see how we can help. Contact Karen at Big Ideas Writing at or 630-605-0169.