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    THE IMPACT OF A
    FRACTIONAL CMO
    (CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER)

    6 min

    Why FORWARD-THINKING Companies ARE Increasingly ChoosING Fractional CMO SERVICEs

    From venture-backed, early-stage startups to well-established brands, CEOs across various industries are increasingly seeing the benefits of fractional executives – particularly the Fractional CMO.

    The “GIG” ECONOMY HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING

    Businesses are rapidly changing how they work, and the “gig economy” has undoubtedly been one of the most significant paradigm shifts over the last decade.

    What started as an idea for Uber drivers and Airbnb rentals has now scaled all the way up to the C-suite of leading companies.

    Combined with the COVID pandemic lockdowns, companies have changed their perspective on the stigma of ‘working from home.’

    Businesses now acknowledge that employees, contractors, and freelancers are just as productive, if not more so, than those ‘coming into the office.’

    Remote workers were 13% more productive than their peers working from the office in a Stanford research study by Nicholas Bloom, a Professor of Economics at Stanford University.

    TODAY, THE PLAYING FIELD HAS BEEN LEVELED

    Without these barriers, the smallest of early-stage start-ups, mid-cap companies and even the Fortune 500 have unprecedented access to world-class talent with extensive experience helping companies scale.

    MARKETING EXECUTIVES ON DEMAND

    The proliferation of talent marketplaces and even a simple Google keyword search for ‘Fractional CMO’ has dis-intermediated the most expensive of New York-based C-suite executive search firms.

    You’re just a Zoom call away from launching your next demand generation campaign with a fractional Chief Marketing Officer leading an entire team of fractional multi-channel marketing experts on demand.

    WHAT IS THE COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF HIRING A FRACTIONAL CMO?

    If we’re all connected remotely through Zoom, Slack, and Skype, why does it matter if a chief marketing officer is a full-time W-2 employee or a 1099 contractor?

    It doesn’t.

    It’s far less expensive for an organization to hire a fractional CMO than a full-time Chief Marketing Officer with a guaranteed salary, benefits, vacations, bonuses, and stock options.

    The average Chief Marketing Officer salary in the United States is $344,955 as of May 01, 2023, but the range typically falls between $298,333 and $420,121 annually.

     

    Download Our Brochure, "The Impact of a Fractional CMO'

    DOES A FULL-TIME MARKETING EXECUTIVE MAKE SENSE AT THIS STAGE?

    Many businesses would like to hire a full-time CMO as a marketing leader.

    Still, the economics do not add up in the early stages of a company’s evolution to bring on a full- time CMO with extensive experience to lead their go-to-market strategy.

    But not having an experienced executive certainly isn’t the answer in an age when marketing, sales operations, and the ‘tech stack’ have grown infinitely more complex.

    The opportunity cost of having a rudderless team is too critical as measured by revenue growth, custom acquisition targets, a desired exit horizon, and multiple of the business valuation.

    DOES A FRACTIONAL CMO DO EVERYTHING A FULL TIME MARKETING LEADER DO?

    In short, yes.

    Fractional CMOs work just as full-time chief marketing officers — spanning strategy all the way through execution.

    A Great FRACTIONAL CMO CAN DO WONDERS

    To drive sales growth, a business can now hire experienced professionals on demand to serve as fractional CMOs.

    A fractional Chief Marketing Officer with a proven track record can provide the management team and its other C-suite executives with a fresh perspective to help their company meet its business objectives and exceed its growth targets by offering:

    Strategic Advisory,

    Best-in-Class Strategies,

    Demand Generation Campaigns,

    Market Research,

    Strategic Planning Process,

    Branding Strategy,

    Influencer Marketing,

    Strategic Support,

    Digital Marketing.

    FRACTIONAL CMO SERVICES ARE BECOMING THE PERFECT MATCH FOR MANY COMPANIES

    As a contractor rather than a full-time employee, a fractional CMO can serve as an interim leader, seamlessly plugging and playing into and leading your department.

    Companies still gain access to a senior executive, with the fractional CMO providing world-class strategy and driving day-to-day execution.

    However, a company is not burdened with the full-time cost of recruiting, hiring, and retaining a full-time chief marketing officer position with the highest turnover rates of any of the c suite executives.

    WHEN TO CONSIDER HIRING A FRACTIONAL CMO

    Some of the most common situations where a fractional CMO is an ideal fit are:

    Early-Stage Venture and Private Equity-Backed Startups

    Startups need to grow, and they need to grow quickly.

    Marketing is critical to meeting your growth initiatives. But, you may be working with a small team without the capacity to hire a full-time CMO to provide meaningful strategic contributions and orchestrate marketing activities.

    A fractional CMO is a great solution, especially if they bring fractional marketing teams on demand.

    Pre-and Post-Acquisition for Private Equity and Venture Capital

    Private equity and venture capital firms need a strategic marketing executive to make pivotal decisions, quickly build a team, and move forward on various multi-channel growth initiatives.

    When a Company Outgrows its Existing Marketing Department

    Companies sometimes decide to forego a CMO, especially if they already have an established brand built long before the arrival of today’s intricate marketing + tech landscape.

    Forward-thinking companies who want to build for sustainable, long-term growth can tap a fractional CMO to guide them as they seek to elevate their marketing team’s performance and return on investment.

    Companies in Leadership Transition

    A fractional CMO can be fast relief for a company needing interim marketing leadership, whether because they require an expert to step into a vacated position or an external player to audit the existing marketing operations and advise on new directions.

    Transformational Leadership (The Change Agent)

    Sometimes, you need to think outside the box and get an outside perspective.

    When an organization knows it requires a significant change in direction or needs help validating a strategy, a fractional CMO can provide an outside perspective that others inside the bubble don’t see.

    A fractional CMO can help rethink what’s not working.

    A former client of Moving Minds described it as “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

    A fractional CMO is a perfect way to “shake the box,” setting forth a vision to get the organization on the right track with a new go-to-market plan, new positioning, branding, the right budget, personnel, channels, and a new outlook.

    Slowing and Plateauing Growth

    One of the most effective ways a fractional CMO can help a company is if it lacks a strategic plan or its growth has stalled.

    A fractional CMO brings the expertise to craft a strategy and put the systems in place to enact and drive initiatives, creating a pathway to growth to help meet ambitious growth targets, often set by their private equity and venture capital firms.

    Marketing Performance Audit

    A performance audit is a systematic evaluation process that assesses the effectiveness of a company’s marketing efforts using specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

    Fractional CMOs review inbound and outbound strategies, ensuring the company’s messaging, branding, and positioning align with business objectives.

    The audit evaluates personnel to determine if the team possesses the right skills and resources to execute initiatives, analyzes databases and contact data quality, and how it utilizes its CRM systems.

    Fractional CMOs dive into an organization’s measurement capabilities, evaluate KPI performance and ad budget allocation, and check online visibility and engagement metrics like search engine rankings, conversion rates, and social media presence.

    The fractional CMO uses this analysis to guide clients to improve their approach, working closely with each organization to drive results while continually monitoring and adapting strategies to ensure ongoing success.

    Companies Seeking a Lower-Cost Marketing Solution

    Hiring a full-time CMO is expensive.

    For a portion of the cost, companies can meet all their needs with a fractional CMO.

    Whatever services you would expect – design, PR, social media, branding, digital, and others – can all be expertly managed by a fractional CMO team.

    Companies Seeking a Greater Return on Marketing Investment

    How does a fractional CMO help companies achieve a greater return on marketing investment?

    Fractional CMOs establish baselines, analyze data, and identify the most lucrative channels to allocate resources.

    By leveraging this expertise, companies can avoid unnecessary ad spend, harnessing the power of organic growth through SEO and other cost-effective methods. Fractional CMOs devise strategies to optimize every dollar, aligning campaigns with specific targets and continually fine-tuning tactics.

    The fractional CMO’s holistic approach enables companies to discover imaginative spending opportunities, chart a successful course, and achieve their ROI goals more efficiently.

    HOW HIRING A FRACTIONAL CMO CAN REDUCE COSTS

    Before signing a letter of intent on a new acquisition, a fractional CMO can help private equity and venture capital firms evaluate a potential target’s marketing readiness, programs, systems, and personnel.

    During the strategic planning process, a fractional CMO works with the company’s CEO, chief financial officer, and leadership team to determine the resources needed to achieve the sales growth targets set by their venture capital or private equity investors.

    LEADING THE MARKETING TEAM AND OVERSEEING THE MARKETING FUNCTION

    A fractional CMO can develop and implement the organization’s go-to-market strategy post-acquisition.

    Additionally, a fractional CMO can lead the orchestration and execution of a fractional marketing team to scale growth rapidly and increase the company’s valuation for the exit horizon.

    HOW A FRACTIONAL CMO CAN HELP YOU ELIMINATE OPPORTUNITY COSTS

    With a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) involved before an acquisition, the opportunity cost of waiting to hire a full-time marketing executive and an internal department of full-time marketing professionals is eliminated.

    It can take months to recruit and fill a CMO position and get all the necessary resources in place, while establishing an enterprise-level fractional CMO takes weeks, saving money and time.

    Instead of focusing on filling a full-time position, companies working with fractional CMOs can begin expanding their offerings and growing their brand immediately.

    THE FRACTIONAL CMO COST IS LESS EXPENSIVE THAN NOT MEETING YOUR COMPANY’S BUSINESS GROWTH TARGETS

    By outsourcing the CMO function, companies can rapidly improve critical financial metrics such as revenue per employee, headcount ratio, and total revenue per employee.

    Compared to a fractional CMO cost, a company can reduce the full-time cost associated with a full-time executive, including healthcare and benefits, recruiting, training, retention, attrition expenses, and other headcount-related costs.

    FIND A FRACTIONAL CMO TO ALIGN MARKETING STRATEGY WITH YOUR COMPANY’S BUSINESS GOALS

    A fractional CMO’s breadth and depth of work will depend on the each company’s unique needs.

    By thoroughly understanding company objectives, industry, and target audience, a fractional CMO tailors plans, KPIs, and campaigns to directly support these goals and boost your company’s growth.

    HIRING A FRACTIONAL CMO AS AN INTERIM SOLUTION

    Some companies need a Fractional CMO to serve in an interim role if the previous Chief Marketing Officer left the organization until they hire a new marketing leader.

    A FRACTIONAL CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER CAN HELP YOU SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES

    As fractional CMOs, we collaborate with the executive team to identify and capitalize upon growth opportunities and ensure the company’s marketing strategies, programs, investments, and tactics are aligned to deliver sustainable, long-term growth.

    Moving Minds also provides the knowledge and tools to drive a client’s marketing initiatives daily.

    WHAT IS IN A FRACTIONAL CMO’S SCOPE OF WORK?

    The span of consultation, expertise, and execution you can expect with a fractional CMO services engagement include:

    Executive Leadership

    Much like a full-time CMO or full-time executive, being a fractional CMO means serving as an integral member of the executive team to help the company achieve rapid growth and exceed its business goals.

    Even on a fractional basis, the fractional CMO oversees the entire marketing strategy and marketing function, including day-to-day operations.

    Marketing Strategy

    With deep industry knowledge, a fractional CMO will thoroughly evaluate a client’s current marketing efforts, including developing strategies and providing ongoing strategic marketing guidance. They also produce a comprehensive marketing strategy to assemble, lead, and direct the necessary resources to execute continuously.

    Strategic Project Support

    Fractional CMOs can provide valuable strategic project support, guiding businesses through digital transformation, mission-critical initiatives, implementing cohesive messaging across channels, launching e-commerce initiatives, and much more.

    Branding & Messaging

    Much like full-time CMOs, fractional CMOs who are experienced marketing professionals can provide strategic marketing leadership and art direction to ensure all marketing deliverables map to the organization’s desired image, and positioning that resonates with key markets. Market research may inform the positioning of a company.

    Integrated Marketing Initiatives

    Review campaigns already underway to ascertain the proper measurements are in place and recommend any changes to existing marketing spend, channels, and mix to improve performance.

    Marketing Budget

    Fractional CMOs manage marketing budgets, allocating resources effectively, tracking expenditures, optimizing ROI, and recommending adjustments. They ensure every dollar spent aligns with strategic goals and maximizes marketing impact.

    Marketing Channels

    One critical duty of a fractional CMO is assessing and optimizing marketing channels and selecting the most suitable platforms and strategies. They ensure a dynamic and balanced mix of digital, social, traditional, and emerging media to reach the target audience effectively.

    Marketing Personnel

    Marketing team existing marketing team marketing department. A thorough evaluation of the marketing talent and many companies as they are ready from a sales lead company to a brand first strategy, often from product market fit and whether the company may need a full-time CMO.

    Marketing Campaigns

    Develop a suite of marketing communications materials, content, and deliverables to improve the organization’s brand perception and understanding of key programs, including collateral and sales toolkits.

    Business Development

    Evaluate, design, and implement business and referral development strategies and tactics to drive growth.

    Digital Marketing & Search Engine Optimization

    We provide recommendations to build a web presence that will create a sustainable organic search position over time and assist in creating and managing digital ad programs, such as display, social media, and keyword-related pay-per-click media buys.

    Marketing Infrastructure & Tools

    Assess existing marketing and sales systems and provide guidance, as well as the implementation of new methods for sales, marketing, lead management, advertising, public relations, automation, and more.

    Marketing Agency Reviews

    Sometimes, companies hire a fractional CMO to perform an agency review and bring a fresh perspective and extensive experience working with marketing agencies, vendors, and service providers.

    As a part-time CMO with extensive executive experience working with agencies, you can hire a fractional CMO to boost your marketing efforts and marketing strategy.

    Sales Enablement

    Working with the sales team, fractional CMO work may include working with business leaders in the sales organization to build branding strategy, ramp up demand generation, and help companies scale and meet their business objectives and desire for rapid growth.

    Marketing Measurement

    A good fractional CMO establishes robust marketing measurement systems, crafting customized dashboards, and defining and prioritizing KPIs critical to business objectives.

    Fractional CMOs constantly monitor and interpret data and metrics to guide informed marketing decisions.

    HIRE A FRACTIONAL CMO THAT CAN EXECUTE

    Fractional CMOs should be marketing experts who believe in the success of a fractional CMO model. This approach relies on the ability of the marketing expert to create a comprehensive marketing strategy but also execute that strategy using internal and external resources as needed.

    A Fractional CMO should have a significant track record of implementing a go-to-market strategy for multiple companies and should be an experienced CMO for many businesses, led marketing teams, and have held the responsibility for the marketing of an entire organization.

    A fractional CMO who delivers a marketing strategy but doesn’t or can’t execute the marketing plan and strategic objectives they provided to the client during their engagement impacts the company’s long-term success significantly.

    A fractional chief marketing office can perform an in-depth evaluation of your business operations, inbound lead volume, search engine discoverability, and sales pipeline, and provide you with a high-level strategic plan for your team to implement.

    Unfortunately, their playbook is more likely to become an expensive doorstop than the guiding plan for marketing and sales initiatives.

    Your overwhelmed internal team will quickly move to meeting the next big deadline or putting out fires.

    THANKS FOR THE STRATEGY DECK, BUT DOES A FRACTIONAL CMO EXECUTE?

    Here’s the difference with an action-oriented fractional CMO: your company receives the same world-class insights as the big consulting firms, plus the knowledge, drive, and talent to turn that plan into reality.

    Corporate inertia is replaced with an experienced marketing professional driving growth, not office politics.

    When you hire a fractional CMO to lead your marketing efforts, you bring decades of CMO-level experience to create your strategy while also assembling a comprehensive marketing budget, go-to-market approach, and a multi-channel team of experts to execute ongoing marketing programs and tactics.

    Rather than disparate marketing agencies, contractors, and freelancers, you have a fractional CMO leading a single team, one that will help you outpace the competition via both online and offline channels and realize a significantly higher return on your marketing budget.

    To learn more about our Fractional CMO offering and how it would benefit your company, schedule a consultation now.

     

    Source: Harvard Business Review: Thriving in the Gig Economy authored by Gianpiero Petriglieri, Susan (Sue) Ashford, and Amy Wrzesniewski

    Source: Stanford University: Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment authored by Nicholas Bloom, James Liang, John Roberts, and Zhichun Jenny Ying

    Source: Salary.com: Chief Marketing Officer Salary in the United States

    Source: Harvard Business Review: Why CMOs Never Last, authored by Kimberly A. Whitler and Neil A. Morgan

    Lou Hughes
    Fractional CMO and CEO of Moving Minds
    Lou Hughes is CEO of Moving Minds and serves as a Fractional CMO to a diverse group of clients ranging from early stage start-ups to mid-cap companies. In this role, Lou leads mission-critical strategic marketing engagements and digital marketing initiatives that consistently increase market valuation, revenue and demand.
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