Article | 21 Oct 2022

The Rise of the Fractional CMO (+ why your company needs one)

Posted in Business, Marketing, Startups, Client,

There's no two ways about it: marketing a business requires a great deal of resource.

It may be one of the most crucial puzzle pieces towards a company's success rate, but marketing can be a huge cost on a business' finances, time and workforce.

This is particularly true for younger, burgeoning businesses such as start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs who don't necessarily have the budget or established grounding big brands do. Leaders and decision-makers are often faced with three, less-than-ideal options:

1. Drain the company's resources executing a great marketing strategy, and see other workstreams (and potentially commercials) take a hit because of it.

2. Create sporadic marketing tactics on a shoestring budget, and consequently see sporadic performance and success.

3. Put marketing activity on the backburner entirely, hope it won't limit their growth potential, and agonisingly revisit the conversation every quarter.

If this is starting to sound familiar to you, don't worry - there's light at the end of the tunnel. Now, a growing number of businesses are opting to bring in a 'fractional CMO'. And it could well be the answer to your challenges too.

What is a fractional CMO?

It's a simple, but powerful concept.

A fractional CMO is much like any other Chief Marketing Officer, except rather than being a permanent, full-time employee, they're brought in as external consultant or contractor.

This is a particularly attractive proposition for businesses that are newly starting out, rapidly scaling up, or otherwise have competing priorities. Not only will a fractional CMO support a high quality marketing strategy and drive great outcomes, but it's a cost- and resource-effective way to upskill your permanent workforce and bring a bird's eye view to your business.

Why the sudden rise in popularity?

The likes of fractional CFOs or any number of C-Suite Level consultants have been in practice for some time now - but the use of fractional CMOs speaks of something different.

The pandemic has drastically shifted how businesses operate, and in particular the way many view a strong, well-rounded workforce. Rapidly evolved technology (think CPaaS, various project management tools, and video communication) and new social norms have meant that working remotely full-time is now much more accepted than pre-2020.

For businesses, that's opened up a global talent pool. There's no longer a need to make a significant financial commitment on hiring a permanent employee when leaders can tap into the same skills and expertise on a more flexible basis. Opening the door to hire more experienced consultants, such as fractional CMOs, for the level of expertise required to achieve objectives without the cost.

What does a fractional CMO do and don't do?

The best way to think about a fractional CMO's responsibilities is to think of any other CMO.

They'll care for the strategic creation and execution of your business' marketing, based on your central objectives. Whether that's to attract and/or convert more leads, drive brand awareness, integrate your marketing tech, or more than one key goal.

It's unlikely that a fractional CMO will do smaller tactical tasks such as write ad-hoc social copy, or change your landing page or CTA buttons. However, they may well make strategic recommendations and oversee these tasks from a leadership perspective.

How do I know if a fractional CMO is right for my business, and right now?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to hiring a fractional CMO. However, what we will say is that it provides a strong middle ground for many start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs.

Hiring a marketing officer or manager - permanent or freelance - can be a great option for brands who have a strategic approach already in place, and simply need support rolling it out. Comparatively, a marketing agency may suit companies with a significant budget, or multiple campaigns in the works, but they often lack the interpersonal approach.

A fractional CMO is a strong medium. As an experienced consultant, they have the ability to bring the solutions your business needs, for however long it needs. And because they're self-employed professionals, they'll be extremely driven to provide quality outcomes, and retain a great relationship with leaders, stakeholders and individuals alike.

Sourcing a great fractional CMO for your business.

There are a few ways you can find a great professional to drive your business' marketing. Many opt to rely on peers and associates (and general word of mouth) for a great recommendation. You could also use LinkedIn or a number of other job posting sites to find yours  - just be sure to request references.

Of course, you can also use The Work Crowd's platform to find the perfect fractional CMO for your company. The Work Crowd has a strong network of freelancing professionals, ranging from junior officers, to C-Suite Level consultants. Join today to find the next addition to your team, on your terms.