Hiring a CMO is a big decision, albeit an incredibly exciting and expensive one (the average CMO brings in just about 300k annually). It signifies that you are taking your brand seriously, concerned about its perception and care about your customer experience. That said, many small businesses, face a real challenge making this hire because a full-time CMO might end up eating up a big chunk of your marketing budget -- and what they end up with is an amazing senior marketer who has little-to-no resources to execute the actual work. Alas, we’ve arrived at the distinct moment when a fractional CMO seems like a great plan B.
A fractional CMO is seasoned, part-time (hence the word fractional) marketing executive who generally has at least 15-20 years of experience driving category-leading growth for brands. That might seem like a generic description because it is. And for good reason. If CMOs were sold at an ice cream shop, there’d be multiple flavors. It’s important to note that each company has its own taste preferences and needs as well.
Some fractional CMOs are great at driving brand and being the voice of the customer, some are digital and customer acquisition-focused and then there are others who are commercially minded -- or strictly more on the operations side. There’s probably a few others we have missing in this pie but we hope you get the gist of where we’re going.
To help paint more of a picture for you, Bain and Co. issued a report last year describing 3 distinct CMO archetypes
One thing we think is missing from the above is what we all love to call the Generalist CMO: someone who has worked across every marketing channel and business strategy (B2C, B2B, B2B2C, B2C2B, etc.). While that's a lot of Bs, you need someone A+.
Is your head exploding yet? We hope not but know it might be at least just a little. The good news is there are tons of benefits to hiring a fractional CMO.
Sounds great, right? Of course it does, but here’s where we see fractional CMOs falling short: