Are There Benefits to Using a Fractional CMO?

Growing a business is exhilarating — but it is no easy task. Sheer enthusiasm and effort will only take you so far. It might help you get the ball rolling and raise a few rounds of funding, but there will inevitably come a time when your growth will stagnate. When that day comes, it will be in your best interest to surround yourself with proven experts who can help carry your brand to the next level.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing. To hit your next growth goals, you will need to bring in a seasoned marketing professional who knows how to develop an integrated strategy that effectively promotes your brand and converts people into customers. This requires experience in generating leads across multiple channels, managing people — and managing a P&L.

In other words, you need a brilliant chief marketing officer who understands what success looks like and knows how to deliver it. Unfortunately, finding this capable person is often easier said than done, especially for small to mid-size businesses.

The Path to Find the Right CMO

We have seen companies waste tons of time and money trying to recruit and hire full-time CMOs. It usually looks something like this:

    Turn to your personal network to see whether a friend (or a friend of a friend) is looking for a job. Most of the time, this approach will not yield top-tier talent — and it could easily present an awkward situation in which you jeopardize a friendship by telling someone, “Sorry, you are not the right fit for my company.”
    Post a job description, which leads to a deluge of résumés and cover letters. Sifting through them in search of someone with the right experience and attitude for your company is no short order — and that is assuming you or your hiring manager understand what the right CMO candidate even looks like.
    Hire a headhunter to do the dirty work for you. A headhunter will most likely speed the hiring process, but it is also a huge investment not in headhunting fees.

All of the above options could easily cost your company more time and money than it has to spare. From there, you still face several rounds of interviews and salary negotiations before you can potentially fill the position with a great candidate. Then you have time required to on-ramp the hire. It could take you up to a year to find the right fit, negotiate mutually beneficial terms, and incorporate the new hire into the fabric of your company.

Imagine if the hire does not work out. If your growing business is looking to improve its marketing results today, we strongly recommend you take a different route.

When to Consider a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs are basically on-demand executive-level marketers. Just like traditional CMOs, their ultimate goal is to supercharge your current marketing efforts, identify new opportunities for experimentation and growth, and provide mentorship to your in-house team.

However, there are two big differences between fractional CMOs and traditional CMOs: Fractional CMOs will cost you much less money, and they are equipped to have an immediate impact on your marketing ROI from day one.

Sure, you will be working with an “outsider” — but this outsider will lend an impartial eye to your company’s inner workings. We will make honest suggestions regarding your current tactics and strategies, provide input on future initiatives, and put a plan in place for follow-through. Just as importantly, a fractional CMO will put all the necessary metrics in place that illustrate your marketing ROI.

Last but not least, a fractional CMO can serve as a stopgap while you search for your future full-time CMO. He or she will ensure your company does not lose momentum as it takes the time it needs to find the perfect permanent hire. They can even help you weed out candidates who will not meet your needs during your search.

If your company is stuck in a rut and is struggling to accelerate its growth regardless of how much time, money, and effort you invest toward the cause, it is time to consider partnering with TBGA and hiring a fractional CMO. Our fractional CMOs are industry veterans who have embedded themselves in a wide variety of businesses across multiple industries. We know exactly what it takes to help companies like yours achieve their next growth goals.

Contact us today for a one-hour consultation to learn more about how our marketing veterans can accelerate your brand’s business growth.

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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 one.

Here are four misconceptions that surround fractional CMOs:

  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 steer junior marketers 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 support your organization while you search for the best candidate. Given the amount of time and money it takes to find top-tier marketing executives, partnering with a TBGA fractional CMO is a great way to quickly leverage experienced leadership without sifting through hundreds of résumés or hiring a headhunter. In fact, he or she can help you vet candidates — all while managing your strategic marketing initiatives and mentoring your less experienced marketing professionals.

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

    Fractional CMOs can even train and mentor your up-and-coming internal candidates until they are ready to take on the CMO position — and they come in ready to contribute. Think about the amount of time, training, and resources it will take to transform junior team member into an experienced CMO. It could take months, even years.

    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.”

    You get what you pay for. 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.

    Fractional CMOs bring 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 and P&Ls — 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 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!

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The CMO as Your Growth Partner

Ultimately, the people at the helm of your company make or break your organization’s strategic abilities.  If what makes a CEO shine is growth, then your CMO is your partner in crime. Their input will be essential to the broad challenges that you will face: competition, innovation, and core customers. Also, few have a better feel for the end-user/consumer pulse than the marketing executive – their relevant and refined perspective on customer preferences will play a vital role in your company’s growth.

In today’s economy, the CMO is at the crossroads of growth and customer experience. CMOs are increasingly seen as a director of growth and customers, rather than the director of spending and advertising, worldwide. The CMO role has changed from working exclusively on brand communication and messaging to driving impactful growth and cultural change. Marketers not only need to funnel customer intelligence into all parts of the business; they also need to keep up their technological proficiency, utilize big data to create meaningful customer interactions, and deliver value within a consistent brand experience.

While CMOs need to be part of the key decision making, they also need to partner closely with your CFO part of the key leadership.  It’s important that your CMO partners with chief financial officers to help them contribute to top-line growth and position themselves for a seat at the board table.  Together, they can steer the ship responsibly.

A strategic focus on return on investment, coupled with the rise of customer centricity and acquisition allows for CMOs to achieve measurable value within the organization. In fact, the CFO and CMO should be working hand in hand to increase accountability and reduce inefficiency — the CFO’s role is greatly enhanced by today’s savvy marketer as they are often the most resourceful person on your team.

Change the way you work with your CMO. Both CEOs and CFOs stand to gain tremendous insight at the ground level and meet the growing customer expectations. The role of the CFO is also becoming more multifaceted so work closely with your marketing person to help your organization survive and thrive in this increasingly competitive landscape.

How to tell a good CMO from a successful one? The latter has the ability to think long-term, adapt quickly, and pitch in with the team. They are able to shift from focusing on growth to a ‘big picture’ mentality. Thus, your CMO should not only influence decision-making but be able to make the tough calls, embrace uncertainty, and put relevant issues in front of the board to consider. This focus on vision makes a difference. Consider opening a conversation about bringing your CMO to the boardroom and see how they can deliver even more value as your strategic partner in crime.

Want to chat about this topic? I’m speaking at the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco on Thursday, June 30th on Marketing through the Funding Lifecycle.

Categories Marketing, Operations, StrategyTags , , , , , ,