Should You Hire a Full-Time or Fractional CMO?

Should You Hire a Full-Time or Fractional CMO?

Your business may have recently undergone changes that leave you asking some big, important questions. Some of these changes may be great news, like unprecedented growth that requires more discipline and strategy. Some of the changes may be necessary to mitigate the damage that a pandemic has wrought on your bottom line.

Because marketing is often the first budget cut during difficult times—or the last budget boosted when growth begins to take off—marketing leadership can be left to wither. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to weather the storm or light a fuse under your already rapid growth: You need marketing. You need marketing leadership.

Now that you’re convinced, you need to determine if you’re ready for a Chief Marketing Officer, and if that CMO should be hired on a full time or fractional basis. We’ll examine some likely scenarios you may face to determine which is the best choice for your individual needs.

When Full Time Is Needed

  • You want your marketing leader to be part of executive suite, privy to all business choices and not just marketing.
  • Marketing, branding, and customer service are the most important aspect to your brand’s bottom line.
  • You already have a team in place, or the budget to hire a full team, and need a leader to execute your marketing plans.

In this particular economic environment, you may find you don’t meet these criteria, especially if you’re experiencing shrinking revenues and mass layoffs of staff. As previously mentioned, marketing is often the first to go when the belt tightens.

This could be the exact reason you need a fractional CMO, but there are other indicators that a part-time role would better suit your needs.

When a Fractional CMO Is the Answer

  • You’re growing at a steady pace and want to make the transition between mom-and-pop branding to a more disciplined approach.
  • Your marketing team has grown significantly but there’s no real leader in place to guide efforts.
  • Your revenue doesn’t support a full-time CMO yet, but you need someone in the interim.
  • Your current CMO is leaving and you need someone to fill the gap until the perfect new executive is identified and hired.

These bulleted lists might seem as though too many factors have been boiled down to a neat little pro/con list—maybe too neat—and you’d be right. Some of the other factors that could affect your decision include the size of your organization, the state of the economy or your company’s marketplace, and the roles currently in play within your business.

Let’s break these down a little more to help you determine how to match the bulleted list with the additional factors that could influence your decision.

State of the Economy or Your Organization’s Marketplace

Perhaps one of the largest factors when making this decision is the state of the economy or the particular marketplace where your organization lives. If there’s a downturn for any reason—such as our current struggle against a global pandemic—downsizing often follows. This could be reason enough for you to set aside hopes of hiring or keeping a full-time CMO and instead bring in a fractional CMO.

Size of Your Company

If and when this happens, it’s crucial to find a fractional CMO who has the experience necessary to work with a company of your size who understands your marketing needs. In many cases, fractional CMOs deal with smaller companies, though some have the experience to work with bigger brands when necessary—those times when an interim CMO is needed, for instance.

Fractional CMOs are the option to turn to when you’re looking for quick movement on a smaller budget. Full-time CMOs may be more accustomed to slower growth with higher revenue numbers.

Team Dynamics and Roles

In some cases, a full-time CMO ends up doing the work that should be handed off to their team members. When this happens, organizations are frankly wasting money by paying a CMO salary for tasks that could be done at half that hourly rate. If you find yourself in this position, you may discover that a fractional CMO is a better choice, as you can rely on them for leadership and strategy without paying them for the production.

The bottom line is this: the need for a full-time or fractional CMO depends on your current state and your business goals.

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Author: Liz Papagni

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