Making the decision to hire a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is no small feat. Whether you're a small startup looking to gain market share, or an established enterprise looking to solidify your brand, the right CMO can make all the difference. But with so many options available, how do you choose between a full-time or fractional CMO?

As a seasoned fractional CMO myself, I've seen the benefits firsthand. Fractional CMOs bring a wealth of experience and expertise from working with multiple clients across a range of industries, providing a unique perspective on your marketing needs. Plus, you only pay for the services you need, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

In this blog, we'll explore the most relevant questions when it comes to choosing between a full-time or fractional CMO. From cost to expertise, flexibility to innovation, we'll provide you with the insights you need to make the most informed decision possible. So let's dive in and discover the power of a fractional CMO for your business.

Criteria Full-Time CMO Fractional CMO
Cost High salary and benefits package Flexible pricing options
Expertise Focused on one company, may have limited exposure to other industries or marketing challenges Work with multiple clients, exposure to a broader range of industries and marketing challenges
Flexibility May require additional resources, such as support staff or software Can tailor services to specific needs and budget
Time Commitment Typically requires a full-time commitment Can work on a part-time or project basis
Innovation May be limited by company culture or industry norms Can bring best practices and innovative solutions from previous clients

Determine What You Need Your CMO to Do for Your Company

To start, you need to consider your company's marketing challenges. Are there any specific market segments that are not being reached? Do you want to expand internationally? What kind of budget do you have for this role? These questions will help determine what sort of CMO you need.

When it comes to choosing between a full-time and fractional CMO, there are pros and cons to each option:

  • Full-time - A full-time CMO can be expected to provide more consistency in strategy creation and execution but also requires more time from management than a fractional arrangement would. It may also make it difficult for companies with multiple locations or large teams because they will need someone who can work seamlessly across all departments without getting bogged down by the day-to-day functions of those other areas.
  • Fractional - A fractional arrangement allows businesses with limited resources (or even those just starting) access to strategic guidance from an experienced professional without having to commit long-term financially or physically onsite at their offices.

Assess Your Company's Marketing Needs Against the Benefits of Each Type of CMO

Regardless of which type of CMO you choose, the first step is to assess your company's marketing needs against the benefits of each kind of CMO. A full-time CMO can be a good fit if your company has significant marketing needs and doesn't have the resources to handle them internally.

A fractional CMO could be better suited for more established companies with internal resources; however, they may still benefit from the expertise and experience of an outside agency partner who can help develop new programs or refine a few existing ones.

Consider Strategic Options Based on Your Company's Current Stage and Experience

Are you a startup with big dreams and limited resources? Or have you been in business for years with clear goals and a strong brand?

If your company is still early-stage, we suggest hiring a full-time CMO who can help steer the ship through those early years and lay down an initial strategy for growth. As your organization grows into maturity, it may be time to look at other options, such as fractional or part-time executive search consultants who will work alongside current leadership to continue building upon existing strategies.

Assess the Cost Benefits of a Fractional Over a Full-Time CMO

While you can get a good idea of how much it will cost for a full-time CMO to start, the same isn't true for a fractional program. If you don't have any history with the firm and aren't familiar with their fees, it might be hard to tell what they'll charge you. But don't worry—there are ways to figure out their rates if they're not posted on their website:

  • Ask around! Talk to friends or colleagues who use similar services. They may be able to tell you if they found the rates reasonable or not depending on certain aspects of their experience (like whether or not they received any unexpected charges).
  • Check out LinkedIn pages/profiles. The information included here may include some details about pricing and other important information about working with this particular agency/company pair in question.

If you can't find anything online, your best bet is to call and ask. Many companies have a policy where they won't disclose their rates until after an introductory meeting with new clients (this is so that you don't get any surprises later on). So if you cannot get the information from other sources, call them and politely inquire how much it will cost for a full-time CMO.

Consider the Ideal Skill Sets for Both Types of CMOs

  • Full-time CMOs are more likely to have a solid strategic background, which can be an advantage for companies that want a robust marketing vision and direction.
  • Fractional CMOs may be better suited for companies that need more tactical expertise and specific knowledge in certain areas (e.g., digital marketing).

It's all about finding a CMO who is a good fit for your company. If you're looking for someone to take on a variety of marketing tasks, then full-time might be better. But if your company is just getting started and doesn't have much experience with marketing or doesn't need someone full-time, then maybe having a part-time CMO could work better. It all depends on what kind of service you're looking for and what works best for your needs as an organization!


What does fractional CMO mean?

A fractional CMO is a Chief Marketing Officer who works for a company on a part-time or project-by-project basis. They provide strategic marketing expertise and guidance, but only for a portion of the time that a full-time CMO would be employed. This allows a company to access top-level marketing talent without committing to a full-time hire's cost and resources. This arrangement is becoming increasingly popular as more companies look for cost-effective ways to access top-level marketing talent.

Fractional CMOs are experienced marketing professionals who deeply understand the latest marketing trends and techniques. They bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table, allowing companies to quickly and effectively improve their marketing efforts. Additionally, fractional CMOs are often hired for specific projects or initiatives, which means they can bring a fresh perspective and outside expertise to a company. This can be especially valuable for small businesses or startups that must establish their brand and reach new customers.

What are the benefits of fractional CMO?

There are several benefits to working with a fractional CMO. First and foremost, it provides a cost-effective solution for companies needing marketing expertise but not having the budget or resources to hire a full-time CMO. Hiring a fractional CMO can save a company thousands of dollars in salary, benefits, and other employment costs. Additionally, a fractional CMO can bring a fresh perspective and outside expertise to a company, which can be especially valuable for small businesses or startups. Finally, a fractional CMO can be scaled up or down as needed, making it easy for companies to adjust their marketing efforts as their needs change over time.

Working with a fractional CMO also provides greater flexibility and control over a company's marketing efforts. Instead of being locked into a full-time employee, companies can work with a fractional CMO on a project-by-project basis, allowing them to only pay for the marketing services they need. This can be especially helpful for companies with seasonal or sporadic marketing needs, as it will enable them to adjust their marketing efforts as needed.

How much should you pay a fractional CMO?

The cost of a fractional CMO can vary depending on several factors, including their level of experience, the scope of the project, and the amount of time they will be working with the company. As a general rule, companies can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 per month for the services of a fractional CMO. However, it's essential to remember that the cost can vary widely depending on the company's specific needs and the fractional CMO's experience level. It's always best to get quotes from multiple fractional CMOs and compare their services and pricing before making a decision. This will help ensure that you get the best value for your money and the highest quality of marketing services.

Do you need a fractional CMO?

Whether or not a company needs a fractional CMO depends on many factors, including its marketing goals, budget, and available resources. If a company has a small marketing team or limited marketing experience, a fractional CMO can provide valuable expertise and guidance to help them reach their goals. A fractional CMO can be a cost-effective solution for companies needing marketing support but not having the budget for a full-time CMO.

On the other hand, a fractional CMO may not be necessary if a company has a large marketing team and a well-established marketing strategy. In this case, it may be more cost-effective for the company to rely on its internal marketing team and resources.

What is fractional content strategy?

Fractional content strategy refers to developing a content marketing strategy on a part-time or project-by-project basis. A fractional CMO or a fractional content strategist can help a company create a content marketing plan tailored to its specific needs and goals. This strategy can include creating and managing a content calendar, developing new content formats, and implementing best practices in content marketing. A fractional content strategy aims to provide a company with the support they need to effectively reach and engage its target audience through creating and distributing high-quality content.

Working with a fractional content strategist can be especially helpful for companies just starting to develop a content marketing plan or those that need to improve their existing strategy. With a fractional content strategist, a company can access expert marketing guidance without committing to the cost and resources of a full-time hire.

What is fractional engagement?

Fractional engagement refers to connecting with a company's target audience through various marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, and advertising. Fractional engagement aims to build relationships with potential customers and encourage them to take action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

A fractional CMO or marketing professional can help a company develop a fractional engagement plan tailored to its specific needs and goals. This type of plan can include tactics such as creating and sharing engaging content, running targeted advertising campaigns and building relationships with key influencers in their industry. With the right fractional engagement strategy, a company can effectively reach and engage its target audience, build brand awareness, and drive results.

What are fractional CMO services?

Fractional CMO services typically include a range of marketing services, such as developing a marketing strategy, managing marketing campaigns, and providing marketing guidance and support. The specific services a fractional CMO offers will vary depending on their level of expertise and the company's needs. Some standard fractional CMO services include:

  • Developing a marketing plan
  • Creating and executing marketing campaigns
  • Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy
  • Managing social media accounts
  • Conducting market research and analysis
  • Guiding marketing technology and tools
  • Offering training and support to internal marketing teams.

What should I look for in a fractional CMO?

Consider their experience, expertise, and track record when looking for a fractional CMO. Some of the key qualities to look for in a fractional CMO include the following:

  • Deep understanding of the latest marketing trends and techniques
  • Proven track record of success in driving results for previous clients
  • Strong strategic thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work effectively with cross-functional teams
  • Flexibility and adaptability to changing marketing needs
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Consider your company's specific needs when looking for a fractional CMO. This will help you find a professional with the expertise and experience needed to effectively support your marketing efforts and help you reach your goals.

How can a fractional CMO help my business save money compared to a full-time CMO?

Hiring a fractional CMO can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time CMO because you only pay for the services you need. A full-time CMO typically requires a high salary and benefits package, which can be a significant expense for a small or medium-sized business. With a fractional CMO, you can tailor their services to your business's specific needs and budget, and only pay for the amount of time and expertise required to achieve your marketing goals.

What advantages does a fractional CMO have over a full-time CMO in terms of flexibility and agility?

A fractional CMO can provide greater flexibility and agility compared to a full-time CMO. They can adapt to changes in your business's needs or market conditions more quickly, and can pivot your marketing strategy as needed to achieve your goals. Additionally, a fractional CMO can work on a project basis, allowing you to take on more or less work as needed, which can be particularly beneficial for businesses with seasonal or fluctuating marketing needs.

Can a fractional CMO provide the same level of expertise as a full-time CMO?

Yes, a fractional CMO can provide the same level of expertise as a full-time CMO. Fractional CMOs are typically seasoned marketing professionals with years of experience in their field, and can offer a broad range of skills and knowledge. In fact, because fractional CMOs work with multiple clients, they often have exposure to a broader range of industries and marketing challenges, which can further enhance their expertise.

How can a fractional CMO help my business achieve its marketing goals faster than a full-time CMO?

A fractional CMO can help your business achieve its marketing goals faster than a full-time CMO in several ways. Because fractional CMOs work with multiple clients, they have a broader range of experience and knowledge to draw upon when developing marketing strategies. Additionally, fractional CMOs can often hit the ground running, bringing best practices and proven strategies from previous clients to your business. Finally, because fractional CMOs work on a project basis, they can focus their time and resources on achieving specific marketing goals quickly and efficiently.

What level of involvement can I expect from a fractional CMO compared to a full-time CMO?

The level of involvement you can expect from a fractional CMO will depend on your specific needs and the scope of the project. Typically, a fractional CMO will work closely with your business to understand your marketing goals and develop a strategy to achieve them. They may also provide ongoing guidance and support, such as reviewing marketing materials, tracking progress, and providing regular updates. However, because they are not a full-time employee, you may have less day-to-day interaction with a fractional CMO compared to a full-time CMO.

Can a fractional CMO work with my existing marketing team, or do they work independently?

A fractional CMO can work with your existing marketing team, or they can work independently, depending on your needs. If you have an established marketing team, a fractional CMO can work with your team to provide additional expertise, guidance, and support. If you do not have an existing marketing team, a fractional CMO can work independently to develop and execute a marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals.