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Fractional Chief Marketing Officers: Is Hiring One the Right Move for Your Company’s Bottom Line?

What’s up next for your company? Are you launching a new product or merging with another business and in need of some rebranding to fit the new deal? Maybe you just need to get the hang of using social media more effectively or mainstreaming your current projects so that you have increased profits and productivity. When it comes to marketing, your company requires somebody with a specific set of skills and a knack for getting things done. Even so, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to hire a new, full-time employee. Before you add another name to your permanent payroll, consider whether a fractional chief marketing officer might better fit your company’s needs instead.

What Is a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

Simply put, a fractional chief marketing officer is someone who spends a portion of his or her time consulting for your company. When the individual isn’t working to help you build up your own business, he or she spends time consulting for other companies. Fractional CMOs often have specialized skill sets that benefit a company part of the time but that don’t make sense to use on a full-time basis.

Are There Different Types of Fractional Chief Marketing Officers?

While most fractional chief marketing officers have the same basic set of qualifications in terms of education and necessary skills, they tend to separate their duties into four different categories. The most common type of fractional CMO is the part-time, temporary contractor, also known as an on-demand CMO. This type of individual works for a specified amount of time and provides executive leadership to create marketing tactics and strategies that ensure the company sees a rise in profits. The three other types of temporary CMOs include the following:

  • Advisory CMO Sometimes known as a coaching CMO, an advisory CMO helps to train your current marketing team by teaching them to hone their skills, such as thinking more strategically and implementing those strategies in a more productive manner.
  • Interim CMO An interim, or provisional, CMO works as a bridge between the time at which your former full-time executive resigns and when the company hires a permanent replacement. This contractor helps to maintain daily operations and may even assist with the interviewing process for a replacement since he or she has more specialized knowledge than the broader human resources department.
  • Turnaround CMO Also known as a revitalization CMO, this person is responsible for helping a company turn things around when its marketing team isn’t performing well. He or she may nix some projects, tweak others to be more effective, or create entirely new strategies to build a better business.

What Does a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer Do?

A fractional chief marketing officer performs a range of duties that depend on what the company needs. For the most part, the job entails providing insight, creating strategies and executing those strategies to raise profits and create better brand awareness. The fractional CMO works in five distinct categories: the market, the company, the product, marketing the product and creating the execution pipeline.

The process begins by assessing the company’s perspective and then gaining product-specific market insight. This involves determining the current need for the product as well as the potential need in the future, analyzing the competition, gathering information about the current customer experience and determining the size of the market now and in the future. SWOT analysis (determining a company’s current strengths and weaknesses) and segment analysis are also important parts of the job.

After the CMO gains enough insight into the company and its product, he or she creates strategies for both. In terms of the company, tasks include assessing its branding, creating a market alignment strategy, determining market segmentation and value proposition, and creating an overall go-to strategy. When it comes to the product itself, the CMO plans the product from idea conception to launch, determining its pricing and how to be innovative in getting the product out the door and into customers’ hands. This also includes branding it, such as its packaging and delivery, and positioning it in the market.

Once the planning process is complete, the CMO can finally begin to execute the plans. Marketing is an important part of the implementation. The CMO must create the optimal mix of different types of marketing, such as communications and public relations, digital marketing, social media and appealing to any customers who are already loyal to the brand. Throughout the process, he or she must also measure the metrics to determine if the return on investment (ROI) is at an optimal number and, if it isn’t, reevaluate and change the strategy as needed. Once ROI is optimal, the fractional CMO can create a pipeline that automates marketing, tracks lead generation, aligns and enables sales, and finally, teaches the permanent marketing team how to maintain this level of ROI.

Why Do Companies Hire Fractional Chief Marketing Officers?

A company may decide to hire a fractional chief marketing officer for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is because it simply can’t afford to put someone on its staff full-time at the moment. Because a fractional CMO is usually considered an independent contractor, the company pays only for the services it needs and doesn’t have to provide a full-time salary, healthcare benefits or any of the other costs that are often associated with bringing on a full-time employee.

Fractional CMOs are especially helpful for situations that require their expertise but aren’t expected to last forever, such as when a company is rebranding or if it is launching a new product on a large scale. In addition to being experienced in helping companies perform these large tasks, which require strong strategic planning, a CMO who doesn’t work with the business all the time is likely to offer a much different, often better perspective than what the executives thought of on their own. This is especially helpful for a business that is rebranding or otherwise needs to gain an improved reputation.

Perhaps a company isn’t necessarily rebranding or launching a new product but is realizing the importance of having a solid digital marketing strategy. A fractional CMO should be adept at every type of marketing, and that includes the increasingly popular and necessary digital strategies. The chosen CMO can help the company create a more user-friendly website that works across mobile devices (very important since almost every consumer searches the internet on the go now) and can also teach the proper full-time employees how to create social media accounts and use them effectively. These always include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and, depending on the type of business, may also include Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.

Before the time with the company is over, the fractional CMO can also teach someone how to properly monitor and tweak search engine optimization for the website and social media accounts. SEO is the use of keywords, image tags, link structure, incoming and outgoing links, title tags and more, and each component determines how many visitors are checking in, what they’re looking at and how long they’re sticking around. Proper use of SEO also helps a company’s website and social media accounts rank higher in search results on Google and other search engines.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a fractional chief marketing officer is its cost-effectiveness. Adding a full-time employee when you don’t have full-time needs does more harm than good to the company budget, but hiring someone on an as-needed basis often means larger profits. Hiring an as-needed professional further proves its cost-effectiveness and even boosts company productivity because you won’t need to train current employees to take on new jobs, leaving them free to handle their current daily duties more effectively. This is also beneficial because your employees won’t feel stretched too thin, which means they’ll have better overall morale and provide better work within their assigned tasks or departments.

A fractional CMO often provides a better quality of service as well. A full-time CMO must handle all aspects of marketing for the company, from the smallest product to the largest, but hiring a chief marketing officer to handle a specific task or product launch means the individual can put his or her specialized skill sets to better use, creating a better-quality campaign and product launch that lends itself to more publicity, bigger influencers and a larger, more lucrative rollout. Someone with a special set of skills often knows how to manage time more effectively as well, meaning a speedier job on top of a more productive one, which is likely to further increase the company’s return on investment.

How Do You Determine if a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer Is Right for Your Company?

Now that you understand what a fractional chief marketing officer does and why one might benefit your company, you can ask yourself a few questions to determine if it’s the next move you should make for your bottom line. First and foremost, consider your upcoming product launches or other rebranding initiatives you may have on the horizon. If you already have a full-time CMO, there’s no reason to hire a fractional one; on the other hand, if you don’t have a full-time person in charge of your marketing endeavors, hiring a part-time one could be the best idea for the company budget.

What about if your business needs to bring in a new perspective? The old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but what if it just isn’t working as well as it used to? Just because something isn’t entirely broken doesn’t mean it won’t benefit from a few tweaks. In the case of lessening profits, a fractional CMO may be a good idea even if you already have a full-time marketing team. The combination of a fresh pair of eyes on your company’s current product line and a specialized skill set like that of the part-time CMO may help you find new ways of doing things that create a better return on investment.

Has your current full-time chief marketing officer turned in a resignation letter? This is an excellent reason to hire an interim CMO. Rather than rush through the interview and hiring process to fill a full-time position, which could lead to accidentally hiring someone who is underqualified or otherwise doesn’t fit in with the company culture, go the route of a fractional CMO. This interim member of the team can not only keep the daily operations on task but can also assist the human resources team with finding a suitable full-time replacement.

Finally, you may need a fractional chief marketing officer if you simply feel that you have too many unfinished marketing projects. Just like individuals, companies sometimes get into a rut of creating too many good ideas but never following through on any of them. A fractional CMO with a new perspective and specialized skill set can help the business find the motivation to see its current branding and marketing ideas through to the finish line, or if they are no longer relevant, tweak them so that they are.

Getting Started on the Path To Hiring a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer

Of course, just because the fractional chief marketing officer you hire will only be working with you for a short time doesn’t mean you should skimp on the interviewing process when choosing one. After all, this contractor will be responsible for helping to launch a product, creating a better branding strategy and bringing in a better return on investment, so you want the individual to do the job right. When seeking a person to fill this position, it is important to hire someone who is dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable and experienced. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, verify credentials and speak to references to ensure you hire just the right person. Kamyar Shah is an example of a highly qualified consultant who enjoys helping every company he works with. Contact him today to learn more about hiring a fractional CMO and the services he provides.


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