All About Fractional CMOs – your questions answered

A fractional CMO provides all the experience and accrued wisdom but at a fraction of the price of employment.

Most start-ups and small businesses could benefit from a talented and experienced marketer but it can often be folly to recruit one. Good CMO salaries are upward of £130,000, plus additional employment costs, and the truth is in many cases 50% of the time that CMO will be doing the work of someone well beneath that paygrade.

You don’t want to pay someone £130k+ a year to write blog posts or set-up PPC campaigns. But you may need someone to oversee and direct that activity.
You just don’t need them there 5 days a week.

What is a fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is a strategic head of marketing who you hire for a fraction of the week or month rather than full time.

Fractional CMO’s are slightly different to part-time employees – we have chosen a portfolio career and have the skills to quickly get up-to-speed with your business and start to add value fast.

What does a fractional CMO do?

A fractional CMO will focus on the highest value work – that might include:

  • Getting your strategy right
  • Ensuring the organisation (including the team and tech set-up) is optimised
  • Creating and enhancing marketing processes
  • Ensuring execution is on point
  • Coaching, mentoring and leading the marketing team

Why use a fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO can help in a variety of circumstances – whether you are scaling or have hit a growth wall, whether you need fresh ideas or you’re just not ready for a full time CMO yet.

A fractional CMO gives you flexibility (we are usually pretty quick to start and you’re usually tied-in for just a few months to start), we’re cost effective (we only do the high value work) and we’re cheaper to hire (only pay us for the days we work, no recruitment fees, no additional employment costs).

What sort of companies use a fractional CMO?

While any business can use a fractional CMO, those most likely to do so have a turnover of between £1m and £10m.

However, there are plenty of larger businesses – particularly in B2B sectors – who benefit from a fractional CMO.

Many businesses using a fractional or portfolio CMO will be going through an inflexion or major change in their business – for example:

  • High growth companies – or those seeking high, fast growth
  • Businesses facing a growth challenge
  • Companies pivoting in their product or market approach
  • A business which has a junior marketing team who need coaching from someone with experience.

For smaller businesses and early-stage start-ups, a fractional CMO could work for you but you may also want to consider marketing mentorship – something I offer for just an hour a week.
Think of me there as a “founder’s friend”, someone who can offer advice and support, not just from a marketing perspective.

Should I hire a fractional CMO or outsource marketing to an agency?

Both approaches have their merits and it does depend a little on your circumstances:

  • Typically, a fractional CMO won’t execute many marketing campaigns directly (they’re too expensive for that!) – they are better at directing the activity to be done by a junior marketer (who could be freelance, employed or agency-based)
  • While agencies do get involved in strategy work, this is often not the best use of them – they’re also unlikely to be able to develop internal processes or build your internal marketing capability long-term
  • If your business would benefit from working closely with an expert over an extended period of time, someone who takes a deep personal interest in your growth and success, a fractional CMO is usually the better route.
  • And don’t forget, they’re not mutually exclusive! One key use-case of a fractional CMO is in managing your agency – this can be super-helpful if you don’t have marketing experience in-house and your agency isn’t delivering as well as you had hoped.

How much does a fractional CMO cost?

Less than an employed CMO!

Because you’re only paying for the contracted days, you’re not paying all the additional employment costs like NI, recruitment fees, that fancy-pants laptop they will likely insist on…

What’s most important is the value you get from a fractional CMO – they only focus on the important work.

Most fractional CMOs will charge on a day-rate or retainer basis, depending on the number of days used a month. In my case, that could range between £759 and £874 a day – I’m totally transparent on rates.

There is so much to do when you run your own business so having a fractional CMO is extremely valuable. I would recommend Richard to anyone who needs to formulate a strategy to both grow and cement a business, and ensure you have an exciting story to tell!

Zoë Camper, founder Zoë Camper LLC

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