In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, companies must become agile and adapt to stay competitive, particularly in marketing. This field has seen tremendous change over the past decade, thanks to advances in technology and shifts in consumer behavior.

As businesses seek new ways to optimize their marketing efforts, many innovate by hiring fractional Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). So, what exactly is a Fractional CMO? In short, these experienced marketing executives offer their expertise on a part-time or project basis, rather than serving in full-time roles.

This approach can deliver numerous benefits for businesses – from cost savings and flexibility to access to specialized skills and knowledge. Let’s dive into some of the key types of fractional CMOs out there. That way, you can better understand which might fit your company’s needs.

Agency Fractional CMOs

Agency fractional CMOs are becoming increasingly popular as marketing agencies recognize the need to provide more tailored solutions to a select group of clients.

While regular account managers generally handle 10 to 20 clients, an agency fractional CMO works with only a few clients. This provides them with part-time CMO services that include strategic planning and execution of marketing initiatives.

Despite the association with a particular marketing agency, agency fractional CMOs offer several advantages for businesses in search of specialized support.

For companies already working with a marketing agency, adding a part-time CMO can be relatively simple. Above all, it feels convenient since it integrates seamlessly into an existing relationship.

However, beware of some drawbacks: these professionals might prioritize selling their own agency’s services over finding the best cost-effective options within the industry.

Additionally, they might not have extensive experience or training compared to full-time CMOs.

Nonetheless, their unique position allows them to deliver personalized attention and expertise that could benefit many organizations looking for additional guidance in their marketing efforts.

Licensed Fractional CMOs

Moving on from the agency model, brands can engage with another type of fractional CMOs: licensed fractional CMOs.

These professionals have earned a certification or license through an established brand, As a result, they may undergo some level of vetting and training before operating under that brand’s name.

They typically work as independent contractors running their own businesses while representing the licensed brand.

Licensed fractional CMOs offer various types of engagements to suit clients’ needs. These range from short-term engagements for specific marketing projects to long-term relationships providing ongoing strategic guidance.

Since these certified professionals pay annual license fees, they might charge more than other types of fractional CMOs to offset those costs.

However, partnering with a licensed fractional CMO can provide additional benefits. For example, they offer access to community events and continuous training provided by the licensing brand. In turn, this ensures high-quality services and up-to-date industry knowledge.

Employed Fractional CMOs

Imagine having access to top-tier marketing expertise without breaking the bank by offering an annual salary and benefits package. Employed fractional CMOs make this a reality for businesses seeking high-level marketing strategy without the cost of a full-time executive.

These talented professionals bring their skillsets, experience and dedication to multiple clients simultaneously while still supported by their employing company. Employed fractional CMOs offer the best of both worlds; they receive ongoing training and support from their employer while also providing customized strategies for each client’s unique needs.

This allows them to stay up-to-date with industry trends and maintain strong peer networks they can leverage across all engagements. The result is efficient, effective and adaptable marketers who are committed to helping your business succeed. Thisall comes at a fraction of the cost compared to hiring someone full time with similar skills and experience.

Independent Fractional CMOs

When envisioning independent fractional CMOs, picture a dynamic marketing leader who brings their expertise to multiple organizations on a contract basis. These professionals have the freedom to work with various companies and industries, adapting their skills and strategies accordingly. This approach allows them greater flexibility in shaping their careers while offering businesses valuable insights from diverse experiences.

However, companies seeking to engage with independent fractional CMOs must conduct thorough due diligence when selecting candidates. Ensuring that these marketing leaders possess proven track records of success and relevant industry knowledge can mitigate potential challenges arising from this arrangement.

By carefully vetting prospective hires and aligning expectations upfront, both parties can benefit from an effective partnership. Consequently, they can advance business objectives while allowing the marketer to continue honing their craft in diverse settings.

How To Choose The Best Model For You?

Picture this: you’re a business owner with a main goal to see continuous growth for your company. You know you need a solid marketing strategy, but hiring a full-time CMO might cost too much or overwhelm you at the moment. 

Fractional CMOs serve as an ideal solution; they provide top-notch expertise on a part-time basis, allowing you to reap the benefits of their knowledge without breaking the bank.

Choosing the best model for your business involves assessing your current marketing needs. Next, you align them with the right fractional CMO who can deliver results.

Begin by evaluating which areas of your marketing strategy need improvement or focus. Could it be brand development, digital channels, lead generation or something else? Once you’ve identified these key areas, search for a fractional CMO whose background and experience cater specifically to those aspects.

This way, you’ll ensure that their skills directly contribute to driving business growth while maximizing value from their services.

What Is The Average Duration Of A Fractional CMO Engagement Across Different Types?

The average duration of a fractional CMO engagement can vary greatly, depending on an organization’s specific needs and goals.

Generally, these engagements can last anywhere from a few months to over a year or more.

These factors often influence the duration:

  •  the size and complexity of the project
  • whether it’s ongoing or one-time 
  • the industry in which the company operates

Vitally, businesses must carefully consider their objectives when determining the appropriate length of time for engaging with a fractional CMO. This will help ensure they receive maximum value and impact from the partnership.

How Do The Costs Of Different Types Of Fractional CMOs Compare?

The costs of different types of fractional CMOs can vary significantly, with factors such as:

  • scope of work 
  • expertise level
  • industry 

Each one plays essential roles in determining pricing.

Generally, a fractional CMO charges hourly fees ranging from $200 to $350 for their expertise. Of course, this means what a client pays depends on their rate and the number of hours they invest. For example, a fractional CMO charging $250 per hour for 40 hours per month would bill $120,000 over a full year.

Typically, a more experienced CMO or one specialized in a particular niche will command higher fees than those with less experience or broader focus areas.

Additionally, the complexity and scale of marketing initiatives that the fractional CMO is expected to manage also impact their cost. In short, larger projects usually require greater investment.

Overall, businesses should carefully consider these influencing factors when comparing the costs of hiring various fractional Chief Marketing Officers. That way, they will ensure they align with their specific needs and budget constraints.


In summary, working with various types of fractional CMOs can reward organizations looking to boost their marketing efforts.

It’s important to consider factors, such as engagement duration, costs, success measurement, and potential challenges when selecting the right fit.

As an organization, understanding how your fractional CMO manages time and resources across multiple clients ensures they deliver the desired results.

By being proactive in addressing these concerns, you can maximize the benefits of this flexible marketing solution.

Schedule an introductory call with Growth today to get paired with a Fractional CMO that suits your business best.

About the Author

Mosheh Poltorak

Mosheh is a growth consultant, advisor, and fractional-CMO to early-stage startups. His specialty is at the intersection of marketing and product, and the overlap between data and customer experience. Mosheh has successfully deployed these strategies for companies big and small, across B2B and B2C industries. He has served as CMO for a number of startups in healthcare, technology, and eCommerce verticals.