What is a fractional CMO?

What Is a Fractional CMO?

When we say that we offer fractional CMO services, we are frequently met with some variation of the following question: “What does that mean?”

Then, after we define the term, we almost always hear this: “What a great idea! We did not know this was even an option.”

So what exactly is a fractional CMO?

Essentially, it is a senior-level marketer who embeds him- or herself into a company and drives its marketing results to the next level — either temporarily or on a part-time basis. This person comes equipped with a wealth of experience and knowledge, but unlike a traditional CMO, he or she does not come along with a high price tag or arduous hiring process.

Our fractional CMOs have proven track records. We have led marketing teams and sculpted marketing programs at Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. We do not work from hypotheticals; we know what works and what does not, and we apply these lessons and best practices to our clients beginning on day

1.  “It is essential to have a full-time CMO.”

The CMO’s role is certainly essential, but it is not essential for this person to be a full-time member of your team. A part-time CMO can provide the strategy based on hands-on experience in order to focus the blocking and tackling support that junior marketers provide. This focus steers the team toward high-value programs and away from low-ROI ones. In the end, you increase your return on marketing spend and do not waste time on tactics that do not work.

Even if your ultimate goal is to someday hire a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO can be there to support you while you search for the best candidate. Given the amount of time and money it takes to find top-tier marketing executives in the open market, partnering with a TBGA fractional CMO is a great way to quickly reap the reward of experienced leadership without sifting through hundreds of résumés or hiring a headhunter. In fact, he or she can help you vet candidates and determine whether they are the right fit for your company — all while managing your strategic marketing initiatives and mentoring your less experienced marketing professionals.

2.  “I am better off promoting an internal candidate.”

Think about the amount of time, training, and resources it will take to transform an internal candidate into a trustworthy, knowledgeable CMO who drives tangible results for your bottom line. It could take years.

Fractional CMOs come in ready to contribute — and they could even mentor your up-and-coming internal candidates. Beyond that, they possess a fresh, unbiased outsider’s perspective. They will not be bogged down by company politics and bureaucracy. Instead, they will feel free to point out flaws, voice concerns, and give honest feedback and suggestions that revolutionize your marketing function.

3.  “I would rather save money by hiring a junior person.”

Similar to the above misconception, this is also a recipe for wasted time and delayed growth. Most businesses have little to no margin for mistakes, and if you hire an inexperienced CMO to lead your team, you open the door to this very issue.

Because our fractional CMOs have a breadth of experience across different marketing systems, tactics, and corporate environments, they possess a big advantage over junior employees. As senior leaders, they already know how to manage teams, assemble P&L reports, and quantify their impact.

4.  “We hired a great marketing agency, so we have it covered.”

Agencies should be an extension of your marketing strategy — not drive it. Your team will need to provide the competitive landscape, target segmentation, buyer personas, and differentiation.

Your CMO is also responsible for ensuring your marketing operations are running efficiently. Agencies are not equipped to dive deeply into a company’s internal operations and infrastructure, discover inefficiencies, and provide relevant solutions that move the needle.

On the other hand, when you hire a TBGA fractional CMO, your company becomes his or her one and only priority. This person is ready and able to roll up his or her sleeves, investigate the inner workings of your marketing department and company as a whole, and offer tailor-made solutions that result in measurable benefits.


We hope that we have cleared up any uncertainty surrounding fractional CMOs and how they can help propel your marketing results. If you have any further hesitations or questions — or if you are interested in scheduling a one-hour consultation — please contact us today!


Photo credit: familymwr via Foter.com / CC BY

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