Fractional CMO: The Part-Time Chief Marketing Officer


Fractional CMO: The Part-Time Chief Marketing Officer

Your company is expanding, and you’ve finally decided to hire more staff. Growth is wonderful, but with it comes certain challenges, and at some point, you will need to decide if you need help with your marketing strategy. You could go the traditional route and hire a full-time chief marketing officer to assist you with reaching your goals, or many companies are turning to a fractional CMO.

As a business owner, you are busy wearing a variety of hats, and marketing may not be on your radar right now. Plus, marketing has become more and more complex with so many different platforms available today. However, deep down, you know, having a successful marketing strategy is imperative if you want your company or organization to thrive. It’s critical to have a marketing expert that can help customize a solution to your business needs to help drive and implement your marketing programs and marketing initiatives.

It’s why a lot of founders and CEOs are turning to working with a fractional CMO.

What Is a Fractional CMO?

Simply put, a fractional CMO (fractional chief marketing officer) is a marketing professional who works with companies and organizations for a fixed amount of time over a month – usually as a part time CMO. Fractional CMOs typically work only a few hours — in other words, they allot a fraction of the time a normal CMO would spend working with small businesses or organizations. Since they only spend a fraction of the time working with a company, they only receive a fraction of the pay a regular CMO would receive.

A Fractional CMO is a part-time Chief Marketing Officer who provides strategic marketing services on an as-needed basis.

Hiring a fractional CMO (also referred to as an outsourced CMO) can be an effective way to obtain the benefits of having a marketing professional working for your business without having to swing the cost of a full-time CMO. Plus, a good Fractional CMO service will also use a performance-based model for compensation.

Young Business Woman and marketing marker drawings in the background

This means you pay your Fractional CMO for the results they help you create. With the right Fractional CMO team, you can expect to get a 3, 5, even 10x Return on Investment (ROI).

What Are the Basic Fractional CMO Services?

The responsibilities of a fractional CMO depend on the company or organization they are working for. Overall, fractional CMOs or Fractional CMO teams typically dedicate the bulk of their time to your company’s marketing. Those marketing duties are designed to help you get more leads, clients, revenue, and growth.

A fractional CMO is responsible for developing and executing marketing strategies to meet organizational objectives.

Even better, the right Fractional CMO will help provide you marketing leadership to help you set up a marketing and sales system so that you are freed up to focus more on the vision and growth of your business – rather than you having to be involved in marketing or sales yourself.

Simple graphics of Two hands showing different marketing channels - e-mail, phone, analytics, lead generation and a magnifying glass

In many cases, your Fractional CMO could do some of the following:

  • Create an effective marketing plan

Build a system to help you get more new qualified leads daily

  • Develop Create an effective marketing strategy
  • Manage digital advertisements in platforms like Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc…
  • Assemble marketing reporting and data-based marketing models
  • Grow your email list and help create engagement with your potential clients
  • Help you set up automation and integrate the tech, so your marketing system is automated
  • Use direct marketing strategies in your marketing and sales system so you know that when you spend or invest money or time in campaigns you know where your leads and revenue is coming from
  • Interact and collaborate with your team
  • Help design a marketing and sales system that is in alignment with your values
  • Help move from manual activities to robust, scalable systems and models that are automated

In fact, the new model of a Fractional CMO is that you get the Fractional CMO and their team to help you implement the main things a marketing and sales system requires. This new method of a Fractional CMO is a team concept that helps you save money, time, hiring costs, and more.

How Much Does a Fractional CMO Charge?

The cost of a fractional CMO can vary widely depending on the scope of their services, their experience level, and the size of the company they are working with. Generally, a fractional CMO will charge an hourly rate that can range from $100 to $500 per hour. Some fractional CMOs also offer monthly retainer packages that can range from $2,000 to $10,000 per month.

Vector Graphics of a business man in a blue blazer juggling coins over a bar chart, symbolizing the balance of income and or budget

If you hire a traditional CMO full time in your company, the one’s that are highly skilled are typically compensated $175,000-$350,000 per year.

According to, the salary of a full-time CMO is roughly $253,000 per year on the low end, which is significantly more than the compensation of a fractional CMO.

Generally, a fractional CMO will charge an hourly rate that can range from $100 to $500 per hour. Some fractional CMOs also offer monthly retainer packages that can range from $2,000 to $10,000 per month.

And there is a new model for a Fractional CMO that is hard to find, however it is available. This compensation model allows you to get a super high quality Fractional CMO and their team to get the marketing systems done for you.

This type of compensation for your Fractional CMO allows you to minimize the expense and risk, and then also allows you to work with a super high-quality team that helps eliminate stress, saves you time, and gets you out of the day-to-day changes in the changing world of marketing and digital marketing today.

In fact, done correctly, getting a Fractional CMO in place should be FREE to you based on the results that they create for you over the course of a 12, 15, 18 to 24 months. And then usually, after that period, your Fractional CMO has built you a marketing and growth system that allows you to get someone in place to maintain it much easier moving forward.

Why hire a fractional CMO?

You may be asking yourself if you really need a fractional CMO. Working with marketing agencies and freelance contractors may appeal to startups and young businesses, but if you are prepared to take your company to the next level, you want an experienced marketer on your side.

A fractional CMO can provide strategic marketing expertise on an as-needed basis, enabling businesses to access top-level marketing skills without a full-time commitment.

In addition, with so many changes happening in marketing and digital marketing every day, it is a better alternative to bring in a specialist that has built, grown, and scaled campaigns.

Hiring a fractional CMO is a cost-effective way to gain access to the expertise and experience of a full-time CMO without the associated costs. A fractional CMO can provide strategic advice and counsel, develop and execute marketing plans, and help you stay on top of the latest trends in marketing.

Vector Graphics of a marketing officer holding falling domino blocks, symbolizing the fight against marketing pressure and challenges,

They can also help you identify and capitalize on opportunities, develop and implement effective campaigns, and provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your current efforts. Finally, a fractional CMO can provide a fresh perspective and help you stay ahead of the competition.

Full-time CMOs can, unfortunately, get distracted by additional responsibilities and office politics. On the other hand, a fractional CMO will typically interact with you and your company with the main focuses on strategy, accountability, training, accountability, support, and implementation of the items that will move the needle for you to produce new clients daily, grow your business, and help you get free from the day to day.

How Can You Find the Right Fractional CMO?

If you really want your search for a fractional CMO to yield excellent results, don’t just rely on looking up something on search engines. Most companies labeling themselves as a Fractional CMO are really a one-person company as an independent contractor, or a small agency where someone learned one main tactic in marketing.

  • Research: Research the fractional CMOs who specialize in the type of services you are looking for. Make sure to read reviews and look into the CMOs’ past work and successes.
  • Ask for referrals: Ask your network for referrals to fractional CMOs who may be a good fit for your business.
  • Interview: Interview potential candidates to get a better understanding of their experience, skills, and approach.
  • Compare: Compare the different fractional CMOs and their services to determine which one best meets your needs.
  • Negotiate: Negotiate a fee structure and timeline that works for both parties.

You want to find a Fractional CMO that is well rounded and ideally has experience as a proven strategist, and experience with direct mail, TV, Radio, digital marketing, social media networks, paid advertising, and more.

Vector graphics of a marketing group of 3 people paddling a ship made of a dollar bill on a crimson stormy sea

In other words, they help you implement a proven go-to-market strategy and will focus on building you a marketing and sales system to help you grow with less stress.

Research the CMO's background and experience to ensure they have the right expertise and qualifications. 

Ask for references and case studies to verify the CMO's success in delivering results for other clients.

It’s not always easy to find an experienced Fractional CMO and it gets harder every day because there are so many platforms available today that make it easy for someone to get some type of marketing certification.

The key factors to make sure a Fractional CMO is a good fit for your company is to make sure their values are aligned with you and your organization.

When interviewing candidates for the position, be sure to ask about their relevant experience. They should have experience working and collaborating with team members, a CFO type, your leadership team, and other providers you may have on your team to help support growth.

Vector graphics of a 3 marketing officers 
 standing on a winner podium, next to piles of gold coins.

Ideally, your Fractional CMO has built their own companies outside of your industry. Even better, is finding a Fractional CMO that has built multiple businesses and sold multiple businesses. This is usually a sign that your candidate has experience building a marketing system and series of marketing processes.

In addition, find out the types of companies and clients the Fractional CMO has helped build, grow, and scale.

Hiring a fractional CMO isn’t always easy. Often, personalities clash, values are not in alignment, or you the professional cannot meet your company’s needs. Fortunately, you can decide whether a fractional CMO is a good match by hiring them for a few months without the commitment of hiring a full-time CMO. If your potential candidate isn’t a good fit, you can simply hire someone else when their contract ends.

And to protect yourself, find a way where you can minimize your risk with a Fractional CMO by limiting the length of the contract. For example, there are Fractional CMOs that are very confident in their work and the results they create, even if they have a year contract, you can get out of that contract with a 90 day or as little as a 30-day notice.

What’s the Difference Between a Fractional CMO vs. Full-Time CMO: Chief Marketing Officer?

A Fractional CMO and a Full-Time CMO are both important roles in a company’s marketing and branding efforts. However, there are some distinct differences between the two that should be taken into account when deciding which type of CMO to hire.

The primary difference between a Fractional CMO and a Full-Time CMO is the amount of time and resources each type of CMO is able to devote to the company’s marketing efforts. A Fractional CMO typically works part-time and is typically hired to provide specific marketing services, such as developing a marketing strategy, creating content, and managing campaigns. On the other hand, a Full-Time CMO is typically responsible for the overall marketing strategy of the company, creating and executing campaigns, and managing the entire marketing team.

A Fractional CMO is usually a more cost-effective option as they are typically hired on a contract basis and only for a specified period of time.

Another difference between the two types of CMOs is the cost. A Fractional CMO is usually a more cost-effective option as they are typically hired on a contract basis and only for a specified period of time. A Full-Time CMO, on the other hand, typically requires a salary and benefits package, making them a more expensive option.

Vector graphics of a fractional marketing officer balancing on a earnings chart

Finally, a Fractional CMO is usually more experienced in certain marketing areas than a Full-Time CMO. They typically have a wealth of experience in specific areas such as digital marketing, content creation, and campaign management. A Full-Time CMO, on the other hand, is typically more well-rounded and can handle a variety of marketing tasks.

Always remember, the most expensive hire is a bad hire. The same is true in marketing. The most expensive marketing is bad marketing – or no marketing. Or not being able to implement marketing.

And likewise, the most expensive CMO is a bad CMO.

What Won’t a Fractional CMO Do?

Before you start to seek out the right fractional CMO, it is important to understand what this role will not do for your company. A fractional CMO is a part-time executive, so they should be responsible for looking after your marketing strategy. Your Fractional CMO should help you build an effective marketing system supported by marketing processes.

The most expensive CMO is a bad CMO.

The new model of Fractional CMO services allows you to combine the best of a CMO, a consultant, and an agency.

In other words, you get a Fractional CMO that can help you with strategy and creating and building your custom marketing system and processes. In addition, they can also provide you a team of people to get the things done for you related to marketing.

For example, some of the common things to make sure are implemented in your marketing system and processes are:

  • Creating content (videos, articles, posts) to generate engagement, leads, sales
  • Integrating your marketing tech (CRM, email system, shopping cart, google analytics, and more)
  • Help manage/integrate your website (they provide IT services to maximize the marketing)
  • Provide measurement of the marketing campaigns being built for you
  • Copywriting activities: Write and send emails
  • Copywriting: Creating Sales Pages, conversion models, follow up campaigns
  • Alter landing pages

In addition, the new model for a quality Fractional CMO will provide you with a team like the following:

  • Web developers
  • Tech Experts
  • Copywriters
  • Graphic Designers
  • Traffic Experts (Facebook, Google, YouTube and more)
  • Content Writers
  • Marketing & Sales Advisors
  • SEO Team
  • Email Marketers
  • And more…

The key is to recognize that the Fractional CMO and their team are there to help you get results. Results are based on helping you generate leads, sales, growth, revenue, and profits. They are not on board to help you drive up vanity metrics. Remember, you want to compensate your Fractional CMO based on how they help you grow your impact, not on the amount of time they are on a clock.

Should I Hire a Fractional CMO?

You should consider hiring a fractional CMO when you need experienced marketing leadership to help you reach your business goals but don’t have the budget to hire a full-time CMO. A fractional CMO can provide the expertise you need without the full-time salary and benefits. They can also provide a fresh perspective on your marketing strategy and can help you create an effective marketing plan that will help you reach your goals.

Consider hiring a fractional CMO when you need experienced marketing leadership to reach your business goals but don’t have the budget to hire a full-time CMO.

Is hiring a fractional CMO the right move for your company or organization? The best way to answer this is to examine your current marketing team. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your marketing strategy clear, on track, and producing consistent new clients and leads daily?
  • Are you keeping up and using the marketing platforms that can help you grow?
  • Have you hit a plateau with your growth?
  • Do you have someone that is an expert committed to your marketing strategy and the implementation of that strategy?
  • Do you have a clear marketing growth blueprint to align your team, company, and leadership team?
  • Are you finding it difficult to coordinate marketing with a marketing agency or contractors?
  • Are you in need of a marketing leader?
  • Are you closer today than a few months ago to having a marketing system and supporting marketing processes to drive leads, growth, revenue, and profits?
  • Do you lack a strong understanding of marketing yourself?

Depending on your answers above, you may benefit from the help of a fractional CMO to revive your marketing campaigns, expand your business, and help you get free from the day to day of the marketing.

Why Do Fractional CMOs Appeal to Companies?

With many professionals working from home, outsourced marketing help is becoming a more attractive prospect. A fractional CMO can offer extensive marketing knowledge and act as a leader with experience in everything from acting as a marketing department executive to developing an ironclad marketing strategy.

Fractional CMOs appeal to companies because they provide the expertise of a Chief Marketing Officer at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire.

Fractional CMOs appeal to companies because they offer a cost-effective solution to businesses that need marketing expertise but don’t have the budget or resources to hire a full-time CMO. Fractional CMOs bring the same level of expertise, but on a part-time or project basis.

This allows companies to access the same level of expertise without the cost and commitment of a full-time hire. Additionally, fractional CMOs can provide a fresh perspective, allowing companies to benefit from a new set of eyes and ideas without the need to completely overhaul their existing marketing strategy.

If you don’t have someone on your team to carry out such functions, hiring an outside professional to do it can be a low-risk investment with a high rate of return. With digital techniques and strategies in marketing constantly changing, a fractional CMO can help you understand the latest trends and craft a modern marketing campaign so your company or organization can remain competitive.

A Limited Commitment

If you want to hire a marketing professional without the full-time commitment of having a traditional CMO, consider reaching out to a fractional CMO. These professionals can often provide much of the guidance of a full-time CMO without the burden of an executive salary. When fractional CMOs are hired, they typically only have a certain number of hours to work per week for a given amount of time, so there is no need to worry about a full-time salary, benefits, and other perks that are often available to full-time executives.

In most cases, you can even hire a fractional CMO only as needed rather than signing a long-term contract, depending on the requirements of your business. Such flexibility allows business owners to mitigate some of the risks of external events such as a poor economy or global pandemic.

A Fresh Perspective

It is not unusual to overlook ways to improve your marketing strategy even when you are working closely with your team. There may be gaps in a company’s brand messaging or outdated methodologies that aren’t readily identified due to familiarity. To combat such issues, it may be wise to hire a fractional CMO who can provide a fresh and experienced perspective and catch flaws in your marketing campaign that others may have failed to notice.

Noticing flaws and implementing effective solutions is a key element of your marketing strategy, so hiring a fractional CMO may have a greater return on investment than working with your standard marketing team. This ROI will be most obvious in your revenue and the number of new clients you attract.

What Type of Companies Can Benefit from Hiring a Fractional CMO?

When deciding whether to hire a fractional CMO, consider factors such as the size of your company, what states you are doing business in, and how the other teams at your company support the marketing team.

Companies of any size that need expert marketing guidance but don't have the resources to hire a full-time CMO can benefit from hiring a fractional CMO. 

Examples: Startups and small businesses.

Small to mid-sized businesses, startups, and businesses in transition can all benefit from hiring a fractional CMO. A fractional CMO can provide a cost-effective and customized solution to help companies create and implement a marketing strategy, analyze data, track metrics, and more.

They can also provide guidance on how to optimize existing marketing efforts, develop new campaigns, and create a competitive edge in the marketplace.

For example, a small startup may hire a fractional CMO until they expand enough to hire a full-time CMO, while a more established company may not want to downsize the role of their current CMO to a fractional position.

Fractional CMOs provide a higher degree of flexibility, so companies can choose the tasks they must do.

Fortunately, most fractional CMOs are experienced enough to assume many roles within your marketing department. For companies with specific deliverables or goals, such as improving their brand image or marketing operations, hiring a fractional CMO often makes sense.

How Do You Integrate Your Fractional CMO Into Your Company?

Once you have hired a fractional CMO, you will need to add them to your leadership team. Unless an executive has access to the various dimensions of your company, they will not be able to make a strategic impact. By adding your fractional CMO to your leadership team, you will set the tone for your marketing department’s importance. Doing so can also enable effective cooperation and communication between other executives and your fractional CMO. If you are uncomfortable with adding your fractional CMO to your team of executives, you may have hired the wrong person for the position.

Steps to consider

  1. Clearly define the role: Before hiring a fractional CMO, it is important to clearly define the role and responsibilities of the position. This will help ensure that the individual you hire is a good fit for the company and can help with the specific tasks that need to be accomplished.
  2. Set measurable goals: Working with a fractional CMO requires setting measurable goals and objectives. This will help ensure that the CMO is able to focus on the tasks that will have the most impact on the company’s bottom line.
  3. Develop a timeline: Developing a timeline for the fractional CMO’s work will help keep the project on track and ensure that the CMO is able to complete their tasks in a timely manner.
  4. Communicate regularly: Communication is key when working with a fractional CMO. Regularly communicating with the CMO will help ensure that both parties are on the same page and that the CMO understands the company’s goals and objectives.
  5. Monitor results: It is important to regularly monitor the results of the fractional CMO’s work. This will help ensure that the CMO is on the right track and that their efforts are having a positive impact on the company.

Adding a new executive to your company may be looked at as a threat at first, however an experienced Fractional CMO can minimize that threat by being collaborative and having experience in helping associates who are part of supporting marketing grow, get access to training, insights and more that help them as a staff member for you.

As you get started with your Fractional CMO it is important to establish clear decision-making responsibilities, identifying what determines wins, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Since strategic marketing affects so many aspects of a company, it is important for your executives to understand the role of your new fractional CMO.

Setting a Budget for Your Fractional CMO

Setting a marketing budget for a fractional CMO can be both complex and simple at the same time. Creating a budget is simple if you view it as simply allocating a set percentage of your revenue towards marketing. Taking such an approach to setting a budget can be appealing, but you should allocate a larger portion of revenue towards areas of your company that will drive the most growth — such as your marketing department.

Your marketing department is immensely important because it is responsible for establishing your brand’s relevance with its audience and positioning your company for long-term success.

Once you set your strategic growth goals, you should allow your fractional CMO to allocate dollars for the highest rate of investment. Your total budget for your company should serve as a function of the level of effort and time to reach your goals.

And done correctly, an effective Fractional CMO can show you how your leads and generating customers and clients are free for you.

Marketing is not a cost. It’s an investment. Done correctly your marketing should be free to you. This is because you should see a positive ROI.

Consulting With Your Fractional CMO

Once your marketing strategy launches, your fractional CMO should evaluate and refine it to ensure it produces the desired results. Meeting with your fractional CMO to review marketing performance should be a regular occurrence.

Your Fractional CMO is now part of your team. Ideally you meet weekly or bi-monthly with your Fractional CMO.

When you meet up, your conversation should revolve around revenue generating activities like leads, sales, as well as the progress being made on building your marketing systems and processes. And an effective Fractional CMO will help you identify potential bottlenecks, blind spots, and help you see around corners so you can pivot quickly to make improvements and adjustments proactively.

Having a strong key performance indicator dashboard is important. Your KPI stats must be able to demonstrate performance in terms of cost per lead, new business, how many new clients, and lead volume to name a few.

During your regular meetings with your Fractional CMO, you should feel comfortable addressing any issues and identifying performance hurdles.

Contact Us

If you need an experienced and capable fractional CMO and team to help you building your marketing systems and processes, contact Breakthrough3x. We help you get more new clients daily, grow exponentially without the stress, and help you get free and exit the day to day of your business.

If you are tired of inconsistent sales or stunted growth, we can help. Contact Breakthrough3x today to learn more.