In this article, I intend to help CEOs make educated decisions when considering hiring a fractional CMO. I will touch on some key points to help identify specific organizational needs to decide on the right profile and timing when choosing a fractional CMO so that organizations can mitigate the risk of wasting time and financial resources.

What is a Fractional CMO?

Fractional CMOs offer marketing leadership to companies for specific periods or projects. Depending on a company’s stage in its organizational lifecycle, seasonal changes, or budget modifications, a fractional CMO plays a crucial role in identifying practical, short, and sometimes long-term marketing strategies. They build and improve organizational structures, introduce new tools and technologies, and execute campaigns. With some exceptions, fractional CMOs usually come in during the birth, early growth, growth, and early maturity stages.

Why Hire a Fractional CMO?

When you hire a fractional CMO, you gain a marketing executive with diverse experience across various companies and projects. Full-time CMOs, on the other hand, may have more experience within your specific organization. Hiring a fractional CMO can bring a fresh perspective to your organization.

The cost of hiring and retaining a fractional CMO is a topic of debate. You might pay more for a fractional CMO than for a full-time CMO during their engagement, but you benefit from not bearing the long-term cost of a full-time CMO.

Another advantage of fractional CMOs is their extensive network, developed through their work with multiple companies and projects. As a fractional CMO, I know and work with numerous subject matter experts in all marketing functions. These connections have helped me gain additional experience in executing specific campaigns. When a company brings me on board, the first thing I assess is their organizational structure—not to be confused with an organizational chart, as a chart means nothing without a custom structure. If my client already has employees for the necessary functions, I bring my team to work with each function peer-to-peer to enhance their job knowledge.

How Fractional CMOs Operate

The way fractional CMOs operate ideally depends on the company and its specific organizational lifecycle stage. Here is my simplified operational process for an IT Management company in the growth stage:

  1. Assess organizational and departmental alignment.
  2. Assess historical goals and performance.
  3. Assess tools, technology, and processes used.
  4. Asses the existing marketing database and sales leads.
  5. Assess marketing organizational structure.
  6. Create a report for the assessment and identify specific organizational, technical, and process optimizations.
  7. Specify the budget to implement this assessment.
  8. Assess your competition and understand how you differentiate yourself from them.
  9. Investigate alignment and discrepancies between how you describe your target audience vs what data says.
  10. Assess how you currently distribute your content.
  11. Assess how you collect and analyze customer feedback.
  12. Review the assessment with the CEO.

Once I gather the information and complete my assessment, I go into more specific questions such as:

  1. What are your current marketing data sources (where you gather contacts you engage in making sales)?
  2. How are the internal sales and marketing teams engaging these contacts (cold calls, cold emails, warm emails, etc.)?
  3. What are the ratios for:
    • Cold calls/cold emails to appointments?
    • Cold calls/cold emails to appointments to appointments held?
    • Cold calls/cold emails to appointments held to sales?
    • Warm calls/warm emails to appointments?
    • Warm calls/warm emails to appointments to appointments held?
    • Warm calls/warm emails to appointments held to sales?
  4. What is the LTV per client once a sale is made?
  5. What is the retention rate?
  6. How often do you publish new articles on the website?
  7. Do you have a content calendar in place?
  8. When was the last time you published content?
  9. What CRM do you use?
  10. Where is your website hosted? (credentials)
  11. What CMS do you use for the website? (credentials)
  12. What Cloudflare package do you use? (credentials)
  13. Do you currently run any paid campaigns (AdWords, LinkedIn, or a directory)?
  14. Do you have any AI solutions in place (either for marketing, sales, or simple operations)?
  15. What are the ideal locations for your target audience (name states and cities)?

What I Specifically Do as a Fractional CMO for Start-ups

If your organization is a start-up, I offer the following services:

  • Conduct market research to identify main buyer personas and calculate your total addressable market and sample size for a paid marketing budget with a 95%+ confidence interval.
  • Build your SEO for the short and long term, ensuring that even after our contract ends, you can run the process I set up.
  • Analyze and optimize your web assets for value proposition and conversion rate optimization.
  • Create an extensive social media plan with a strategic content production process for each social media channel.
  • Develop your email marketing strategy, workflows, and content production process.
  • Establish a lead management process with workflows that align with your existing and future organizational posture (inbound and outbound).
  • If you have a marketing department, I will train and improve the employees, adapting them to the processes I set. If you don’t have a marketing department, I can build one for you or bring in my own team to execute each channel.
  • Enhance or create your YouTube channel.
  • Create an owned media channel for your organization.
  • Create a SWOT analysis for you and your competitors for all items above.

When my learning process about your organization is complete, I first ask myself:

  • Why am I here?
  • What was the cost to the company of not having me here?
  • How do I specifically solve the problem I was hired for?

A fractional CMO’s top priority is identifying steps to maximize marketing efficiency with existing human and financial resources. This helps quickly identify what doesn’t work. There is no point in taking impulsive steps without first optimizing existing resources, and clear objectives cannot be set or accomplished without first clarifying what didn’t work.

When to Consider Hiring a Fractional CMO

Several factors come into play when considering a fractional CMO:

  1. Start-ups: If you are in the early stage of your brand or organization and want to mitigate the risk of mistakes in building a marketing organization, a fractional CMO is a smart choice. They bring experience from having made and learned from many mistakes before. If you are a startup and decide to hire a fractional CMO, I recommend hiring someone with strong go-to-market experience.
  2. Mid-size companies: If you already have a marketing department but are not meeting objectives, your costs exceed net profit, or you have issues tracking, analyzing, and reporting marketing contributions, a fractional CMO with strong performance-based marketing skills can help.
  3. Gap-filling: Some companies use fractional CMOs between full-time CMOs. However, this approach can lead to drastic changes and long-term impacts, which might conflict with the direction of a newly hired full-time CMO.

How to Find the Right Fractional CMO

Finding the right fit for a fractional CMO is crucial. Fractional CMOs are troubleshooters on an organizational scale. As a CEO, be specific about the problem you want to solve. Here are a few dos and don’ts:

Insufficient problem definitions:

  • Our branding is weak.
  • Product packaging and web assets need improvement.

Sufficient problem definitions:

  • I don’t see proper reporting to measure my marketing organization’s performance (cost vs. contribution).
  • I love my solution, but I don’t know how to effectively market it.
  • I have no leads.
  • I have leads but no sales.

Once you have identified specific problems, such as a lack of proper reporting and leads, you can focus on finding a fractional CMO with a strong background in performance marketing and analytics. This will make it easier to assess their experience and find the most efficient CMO for your needs.

Categories: Blog

Ugur Gulaydin

Visionary Chief Marketing Officer with a profound quantitative background excels in leading transformative marketing strategies across competitive B2B sectors like cybersecurity, managed IT services, home automation, and cloud security. Specializes in assembling and guiding elite teams to pioneer performance marketing techniques, focusing on measurable, scalable outcomes. Follow me on LinkedIn


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *