Marketing leadership is the difference-maker in any campaign – regardless of how well planned it might be. Nearly 80 percent of businesses experience leadership gaps, and finding the right personality to head marketing operations can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, this struggle can be made significantly easier with the help of a fractional chief marketing officer.

What exactly is a fractional chief marketing officer?

A fractional CMO is a versatile solution to fill the leadership gap in a marketing department. It’s no secret that full-time, in-house CMOs come with a hefty price tag. The median salary for a Chief Marketing Officer is $231,230. a fractional CMO is a solution when you do not need a full-time CMO – but still need an expert strategy and someone to lead it.

A fractional CMO manages all the same duties as a full-time CMO – which include (but are not limited to):

  • Leading the marketing strategy
  • Sales development
  • Growth opportunities
  • Managing the marketing department

There are many, many reasons to hire a fractional CMO to fill the void in your marketing efforts. In this post, we want to discuss four ways a fractional CMO may be the answer to the problems you’re currently facing.

1. You’re Trying to Fill a Permanent Position:
A fractional chief marketing officer can be a transitional solution when you’re either between CMOs – or are looking to hire one for the first time. To reiterate, hiring a full-time CMO in-house is a huge investment – and not one you want to make in a hurry. Hiring the wrong person can be a massive setback. It may take months (or years) to find the perfect candidate. Marketing operations cannot stop as you work to fill the position. Hiring a fractional chief marketing officer can be the short-term answer to keep the wheels turning. As the fractional CMO heads your marketing operations, you are free to be calculated in your mission to find the perfect full-time CMO. In other words, this solution removes the stress and urgency to bring someone on immediately.

2. Your Marketing Team Needs a Leader:
Being a talented marketer and a talented leader are two completely different ballgames. Even the most capable marketing team can be stifled by poor leadership. This situation usually applies to startups and small businesses. These companies often start their marketing efforts by hiring team members to work on the nuts and bolts of a campaign. Leadership and management at the time may be handled by the owner or CEO. It’s not until later that these companies hire managers and big-picture marketing strategists. As the business grows, professional marketing leadership becomes more important. In many cases, the owner or CEO is not a true marketer. This is the point when hiring a fractional CMO is ideal. You’ve got a growing team of doers. But now, you need high-caliber leadership to bring marketing operations to the next level and provide guidance. Keep in mind, your marketing team should be thriving – both in terms of your business efforts and their own careers. Failing to provide them with dedicated leadership is doing both you and them a disservice. A fractional chief marketing officer is a seasoned leader. They are trained to maximize your marketing operations and provide proper guidance to the team.

3. Your Current Marketing Strategies Lack Consistency:
Consistency within the marketing mix is crucial to seeing positive results. You may have experts managing social media campaigns, content marketing efforts, branding, paid ads, and so on. A CMO must make sure the respective talents of these individuals are working as a unit – and their efforts are not conflicting with each other. For example, maybe the branding specialist is emphasizing the benefits of your product/service. The paid ads expert is highlighting discounted rates and the content expert is discussing the common pain points. The CMO is tasked with unifying all these efforts and making sure everyone is on the same page. Think of the CMO as the oil keeping the machine operating smoothly in sync. This is a job that many small businesses tend to overlook. Putting this duty on someone who doesn’t have the proper expertise or bandwidth is a surefire way for things to fall through the cracks. In a growing business, the need for the CMO role may not call for 40 hours/week. Hiring a fractional chief marketing officer gives you as much (or as little) help as you need to keep marketing efforts aligned.

4. Your Business Needs Financial Flexibility:
To echo our last point, growing businesses may not have the need or budget for a full-time CMO. Many companies hire a fractional chief marketing officer to help them through a transitional period while keeping overhead costs low. The best part about hiring a fractional CMO is you can customize the service plan to fit your needs. When you commit to a full-time CMO, you are locked into a large overhead cost for a long time. You are also committed to one personality, leadership style, marketing approach, etc.CMOs are hired based on the needs of the company. In a growing business, you’re likely seeing changes take place daily. A long-term commitment for a CMO might not make sense. Moreover, it may inhibit your ability to adapt. For instance, let’s say you decide to make a pivot in your business model and change marketing initiatives. The CMO you spent an arm and a leg to hire is no longer compatible with this change. Now you’ve got a difficult situation with a lot of money on the line. An arrangement with a fractional chief marketing officer can be adjusted to fit the mold. Many fractional CMO providers operate on a month-to-month basis; no one is losing their salary and benefits if you need to make a change. Keep in mind, fractional CMOs work with multiple clients. The good ones are extremely versatile in adapting to business needs. Chances are, they can be instrumental in helping you undergo any pivots or big changes in marketing initiatives.

Wrap Up

There are many reasons to hire a fractional chief marketing officer. The common threads usually boil down to two factors: cost and versatility.

Hiring a full-time CMO is like a marriage. Both parties have to be committed to the same vision and principles for it to work. Just like in young adults, visions and principles can change in growing businesses.

The fractional CMO model caters to these companies – helping them fill voids, meet financial constraints, and provide professional leadership where it matters most. At River Avenue Digital, fractional CMO services are our core forte. We’ve helped hundreds of growing companies empower their marketing teams to get over the hump.

If you have any questions about the benefits of a fractional chief marketing officer – or how one can help your company – don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to guide companies in the right direction.