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ClearEdge Marketing – What is the Difference Between a CMO and a Fractional CMO?

Author: Lesly Cardec, SVP of Marketing + Recruiting, ClearEdge

The role of chief marketing officer (CMO) is well-established. The creation of “chief marketing officer” as a position dates back to the 1990s in response to the increased complexity and strategic importance of marketing as a business growth driver. Today, most every company listed on the Fortune 500 has one and the broad parameters of the role are well understood. In recent years however, organizations began experimenting with a new twist on marketing leadership: the “fractional CMO.”

Frequently used by startups and small and mid-sized firms looking to grow, the fractional CMO can be hard to define for those unfamiliar with the approach. Not quite a consultant, certainly not a full-time employee, it creates a good deal of questions for companies weighing their options for strategic marketing leadership.

If you’re testing the waters on adding some strategic marketing horsepower to your stable, lucky you! This blog is all about identifying the differences between a fractional CMO and a traditional, full-time CMO.

CMO Fractional CMO
What is it?
  • A senior marketing executive who reports to the CEO
  • Works full-time for the organization and oversees all aspects of marketing (strategy, demand
    generation, content, brand management, etc.)
  • Ensures all marketing activities align with business objectives and support revenue growth
  • Manages all marketing teams, tools, and processes
  • Works closely with sales, product/solutions leadership
  • Continuously focuses on the needs of the customer
  • A senior marketing executive who works for a portion of their time with an organization to oversee many or all aspects of marketing (e.g. strategy, demand generation, content, brand management, etc.)
  • Ensures all marketing activities align with business objectives and support revenue growth, provides frameworks to ensure implementation of effective programs (from ideation through analytics) and has a deep understanding of your market and its dynamics
  • Partners directly with sales and product/solutions leads
  • May serve as fractional CMO for more than one organization
Who does this model typically work best for?
  • Larger organizations (either in maintenance or growth mode)
  • Startups and small to medium-sized organizations who want to grow but don’t have the budget or need to hire a full-time marketing executive
  • Organizations that have more junior marketing personnel in-house but need experienced strategic leadership to develop and execute successful strategies
Compensation
  • Dependent on many factors: geography, direct reports, company size, years of experience, etc.
  • Median salary is $342,859
    (source: Salary.com)
  • Standard benefits (401k, health/dental insurance, etc.)
  • Roughly $200-350/hr
Hours
  • Full time
  • Typically 5-20 hours/week depending upon budget and scope

Whether you’re leaning toward hiring a full-time or a fractional CMO, either route can take your marketing function to the next level. The real key is deciding which kind of marketing executive is going to be the right fit for your organization’s strategic needs and how much budget you have to devote to it.

This article was originally published in ClearEdgemarketing.com.

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