Although we’re proud to have helped many different companies with their marketing needs, we understand that not everyone has heard of the term “Fractional CMO”. The average person (especially if they understand the language well) might be able to guess what the role entails, but they might still be unclear on the specifics.
In all of our time working with clients across industries including healthcare, business software, and eCommerce, we have found that there are generally four broad roles that a fractional CMO takes on: manager, strategist, consultant, and resource manager. Keep in mind that in many cases, they’ll serve multiple roles with the same client. Sometimes they might begin as one of the roles but then transition to a different one as needed.
Now we will spend some time going in-depth into each of the four roles and provide some examples of how they might look in a real-world setting when a fractional CMO is engaged by a client.
At its most basic level, a manager is defined as someone who is responsible for the work and results of other employees. While a company executive or owner is responsible for the direction of the entire organization, As you likely know, the job of a manager can vary dramatically depending on the nature of the company, its operations, and the kind of people working there.
Many companies, especially newer startups with remote teams, operate on a flat structure. That means there is little (sometimes zero) management between employees and the principals of the business. On the other hand, certain businesses like creative services have built-in levels of middle management to ensure a larger operation can run smoothly. These types of managers also serve as communication conduits between experts and others who may not be as technically savvy.A fractional CMO is versatile enough to fit any kind of management role a client needs. Click To Tweet
Maybe content marketing initiatives aren’t being completed consistently enough, which is leading to missed opportunities for lead generation. A CMO could work strategically with company principals to determine specific processes – involving people, deliverables, and deadlines – that can be repeated to ensure the content gets produced and distributed on time. They could also be tapped to work one-on-one with team members from time to time, to help ensure there are no recurring gaps in the process that need to be filled in order for the broader team to continue running smoothly.
A strategist is someone who sets the direction of the company’s operations. In the context of these other roles, a good way to think about a strategist is someone who sits between the manager and the consultant. The strategist translates concrete business goals related to revenue or sales into a set of actions that can be taken by the team members or contractors chosen to carry out the campaign.
A fractional CMO might carry out this role by speaking to your company about its goals for lead generation from a new type of marketing campaigns, like search engine advertisements or social media display ads. They could then help you translate your monthly and annual goals into actionable steps, such as a specific budget or audience to target. They’ll also choose particular platforms and channels you should pursue with your marketing efforts.
The term “consultant” might bring to mind stoic men in suits, carrying briefcases and holding lots of meetings. That view is outdated – today’s consultants don’t even have to be in the same country to provide immediate benefits to their clients. A consultant is simply someone that gives advice or insights into a specific area.
In many cases, a consultant is also a strategist, but their roles are slightly different because a consulting client typically doesn’t know what problem they are facing. While some consultants may also serve as strategists, there are plenty of fields like network engineering where expert insights are required just to identify a problem.
In this role, a fractional CMO would first help you to nail down your specific marketing goals. They’ll probably provide you with a few questions to answer and then offer in-depth recommendations about how and where to achieve them.
There is one other common type of scenario where a fractional CMO is particularly useful: serving as a critique of a campaign that’s already taken place. Again, this is a situation where the client may not know what’s gone wrong or why the steps they’ve taken previously are not leading to results. For example, if your team has recently run an ad campaign that failed to convert many leads, it’s helpful to have a consultant examine the data to help you understand what happened.
You might think of this kind of fractional CMO role as a blend of some of the above roles with a typical accountant or finance specialist. A resource manager can first help you identify what percent of your revenue should be put towards the marketing activities you’re thinking of, then help you further divide that budget into specific categories. You’ll likely need to invest in software, personnel costs, and possibly paid advertisements depending on the particular campaigns you are running.
A fractional CMO as a resource manager can also serve as a consultant – they can take a look at your previous budgets or ad spend limits and help you identify issues that you might have missed. They bring the benefit of outside experience and perspective from many other client campaigns, which they can apply to help you adequately manage your company’s resources. A skilled CMO can even help you manage your human capital, taking a look at the roles of each team member and helping to discover if anyone is misplaced in their current position. This kind of outside perspective can unlock a team member’s undiscovered aptitude, causing transformative effects on not only the business but that individual’s career path going forward.
Final thoughts on fractional CMO roles
As you’ve likely come to realize by now, there is a lot of overlap between all of the different tasks involved in a CMO’s work. That’s because a cohesive marketing team should be working together to achieve a company’s goals. While the idea of a fractional CMO might be new as a concept, the roles they serve are critical in helping clients create a comprehensive strategy, assess past campaign results, or understand how best to distribute resources going forward to achieve desired goals.
Whether you need a fractional CMO to work with your team members to facilitate their specific responsibilities or you want someone who can give you and your team a blueprint to reach desired outcomes, the key is working with the right provider. Our team at grwth.co consists of senior-level executives and experienced operators who have been in leadership roles at some of the most prominent companies in their industry. They’ve been in a broad array of situations with companies and teams of all sizes.
If you’re interested in learning more about our services and the process of matching you with one of our expert fractional CMOs, click here to fill out a form to schedule an introductory call and take the first step toward taking advantage of this powerful new form of a scalable marketing leader.