Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for Your Business

By Eric Dickmann

February 11, 2020

CMO On Demand, Fractional CMO, Virtual CMO

As your business grows, you are faced with the challenge of building awareness in the marketplace for your products and services while generating leads for your sales team. This is where marketing fits into your overall business strategy. But frequently, companies assign marketing tasks to managers with other responsibilities and skills, which can leave the marketing strategy in limbo. If your business needs a marketing strategy for growth, you might be considering hiring a full-time Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). However, a full-time executive hire is not always necessary, especially in the early stages of building out a strategy. A more practical solution might be to hire a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer to fill your company’s marketing leadership needs.

A Fractional Versus a Full-Time Marketing Leader

A Fractional CMO is different from a full-time CMO in several ways, the most prominent being a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer is not a full-time employee. As a fractional executive, they get hired for a contracted engagement to help implement new marketing strategies. A Fractional CMO works part-time, often remotely, to manage the creation and execution of the marketing plan. The names for these contract services vary, but they are also known as a Virtual CMO or a CMO On Demand.

The Fractional Chief Marketing Officer comes from outside your company, which might seem like a dangerous position. The reality is, these “outsiders” come with an unbiased perspective. They have worked with other, similar businesses and have seen many of the same problems before. Their experience outside your organization allows them to cut through the noise and quickly focus on delivering strategies to address your company’s marketing challenges.

The Fractional CMO is trained to understand marketing systems and how technology can be used in various company environments. They know marketing channels, tactics, and techniques and which are the most effective, the least effective, and why.

They come with a strong background in managing diverse groups of resources and the skills to communicate with both internal and external stakeholders.  As an outsider, they bring an unbiased perspective. When looking at a problem too long, companies can sometimes become blind to the potential solutions. Other times, they don't know where to start. A seasoned CMO has the experience to understand the problems and propose the right approach.

Reasons to Consider a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer


Saves Money - By outsourcing Virtual CMO services, you could cut salary and benefits expense by half or more.


Elevates Product - The outside perspective of a Virtual CMO can offer an unbiased assessment of your products and services, and as a result, provide insights to give your products the boost they need.


Broadens Network of Resources - By working with a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer, your talent pool extends beyond your physical location which provides exposure to a wider range of resources and expertise.


Deliver Consistent Results - The priority for any outside resource will always be to provide your business with marketing strategies that deliver consistent, measurable results.

When Is the Right Time to Hire a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

As companies grow, they tend to invest in the resources they feel are most important at any given time. Often, that means the first hires are the people who can build out a product or service. Once it’s ready for the market, then salespeople are added to the mix. With customers, there’s a need for customer service, so hires are made to support the customers. As the organization grows, resources are needed to manage HR and accounting. So, where does that leave marketing?

It’s often the case that marketing is neglected until later in a company’s lifecycle. The company is busy putting the foundational pieces in place. Marketing responsibilities are often assigned as side tasks for other managers or turned over to junior-level employees who lack deep domain expertise. Without a comprehensive marketing strategy and the right skills to execute the plan, a company may find itself starved for new leads and revenue. This is where a Fractional CMO can be of great benefit to a company. 

Signs Your Company Needs a Fractional CMO

  • Your company isn’t ready for a full-time marketing executive
  • Your company has been around but still no one is leading marketing
  • The sales team is creating their own marketing materials
  • You lack marketing insights that inform executive decisions
  • You need an interim leader
Fractional Chief Marketing Officer

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer might also be an excellent temporary solution for companies looking to hire someone full-time, but unable to justify the cost of hiring a seasoned executive. A contract hire provides a way to get a sound strategy in place, and kick-off the execution of the marketing plan, while avoiding the costs of an executive salary. Money saved on salary expenses can be used to pay for the marketing programs instead! The contract hire isn’t meant to be permanent, but it gives you time to interview potential full-time candidates instead of forcing you to hire someone quickly, and at a lower cost than a full-time CMO.

A Specialized CMO Skillset

The Fractional Chief Marketing Officer possesses a specialized skill set that can help you make meaningful, data-driven decisions for the future. He can assist you in decisions about what kind of marketing automation software to invest in, how to allocate your marketing budget, and the best vendors to use for each tactic. If you’re planning a new campaign, the Fractional CMO can provide guidance to help you understand the steps needed to quickly achieve the most positive results. They can help established metrics and dashboards to track and monitor performance and are incentivized to deliver measurable results quickly.

Other Considerations

For growing companies, the pace of change can easily cause rifts within the company’s organizational culture. Communication might suffer, causing severe problems in marketing efforts and lead to fewer sales and even negative customer experiences. In some companies, the CEO tries to manage every issue, overloading themselves, and stifling organizational development. This often happens when the CEO isn’t confident in the knowledge and skills of those tasked to complete the work. An experienced Fractional CMO can assess the problems and the resources available and work with the CEO and members of the management team to put a plan in place that offloads the work from others and lets them concentrate on other business priorities. The planning skills that a Fractional CMO brings to the company can help everyone better understand the marketing roadmap and what results can be expected from the successful execution of the marketing strategy.

Who Needs a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

  • Companies that have an existing marketing team but need executive-level guidance, perspective, and leadership.
  • CEO's, VP's of Sales or Marketing who would like an independent, outside perspective on their business and go-to-market strategy and tactics.
  • Companies that are planning on hiring a VP of Marketing or an in-house Chief Marketing Officer but want to get started on major marketing activities while taking the time to find the right full-time hire.


As a business grows, it needs to both increase marketplace awareness of its products and services, and develop a predictable lead generation engine that provides a steady stream of new opportunities for the sales team. This is the role of marketing and one that is often overlooked until sales start to falter. A comprehensive marketing strategy is critical for any growing business, and a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer provides seasoned leadership to craft and executes a plan at a lower cost than a full-time hire. If your business is looking to grow and wants to put a marketing plan in place, consider a Fractional CMO to jumpstart your marketing strategy.

It's time to grow your company!

Learn how a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer can help your business grow!

Contact us today to learn more about our CMO On Demand consulting service.

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the founder of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast - The Virtual CMO, and a CMO On Demand for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies and bring innovative products to the market.

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