How to Choose Between a Full-Time CMO & a Fractional CMO | CMO Recruiters | Top Marketing Executive Search Firm

      How to Choose Between a Full-Time CMO & a Fractional CMO

      There’s no doubt that CMOs offer a lot to organizations. Their marketing expertise and understanding of customer behavior are often enough to propel a new business or startup company to new revenue heights. 

      However, small businesses and startups often lack available funds, and this prevents them from attracting the most experienced marketing minds to their companies. 

      In addition to funding issues, some businesses find they don’t need the full-time assistance of a dedicated, on-site CMO. These companies may be just starting out or have a steady source of revenue that they are seeking to scale slowly. Let’s break down when to hire a fractional CMO versus when a full-time CMO is an optimal choice.

      Fractional CMO: Lack of Funds

      One of the top reasons for hiring a fractional CMO is a low budget. Hiring a full-time CMO won’t make financial sense if the company is newly starting out or if the company is experiencing budget concerns. 

      Most executive CMOs earn well over $100,000 or $200,000 per year. If the idea of paying that much for someone to direct marketing activities seems daunting, you should likely hire a fractional CMO instead. There is no need to pay more for a new, full-time CMO if you can’t afford to do so.

      A CMO for hire can offer significant insights and observations to expand your customer reach without going over your budget. You can choose a fractional CMO to join for a set number of monthly hours. Your savings will be significant and you’ll still gain assistance with growing the company’s market share.

      Functional CMO: You Need Marketing Leadership Full-Time

      Once a business has scaled and developed a following, it’s often time to hire someone with the higher-level thinking required to take it forward. Companies in this position appreciate having someone they can turn to for marketing leadership at any time during the workday.

      Your full-time CMO can focus on developing marketing campaigns designed to attract more clients to your business. At the same time, you can step away to focus on the long-term organizational strategy and manage other facets of operations.

      A full-time CMO will dedicate time to ensuring your sales and marketing teams work together with the right strategies. They’ll analyze your company’s products, look at current client retention, and make sure customers are satisfied with the products or services they purchase. 

      When changes are needed, you can rely on your CMO to design the right solutions that align with your company’s business strategies.

      Fractional CMO: You Need a Fresh Opinion

      Sometimes, sales and business strategies go stale. No matter what you try, customers aren’t biting. When this occurs, it’s time for a new outlook gleaned from a CMO for hire. 

      The great thing about fractional CMOs is that they work with various companies in many different sectors. They develop expertise that niche, full-time CMOs simply can’t offer.

      While you may think you need someone with niche expertise to provide you with new marketing ideas appropriate for your business sector, that isn’t always true. A fractional CMO can present you with a wide array of options. They’ll describe what strategies have worked for others in your industry and ideas you might not have considered taking from other sectors.

      Greater diversity often comes with more expertise. Fractional CMOs have seen it all. They’ve likely worked for many different companies of varying sizes and values. They’ll know what to consider if you’re thinking about expanding to a nearby city, state, or even internationally. 

      If you’re contemplating a brand-new product, they’ll identify the potential drawbacks that could make it unsuccessful. In other words, their expertise will open your mind to situations you hadn’t thought about before.

      Functional CMO: You Want a Brand-New Marketing Team

      Functional CMOs have spent their careers building marketing teams from the ground up. As a result, they usually have many previous employees and contacts they can reach out to if you want to develop an entire in-house marketing team. 

      Allowing a full-time CMO to build their team ensures you have a group you can rely on for your marketing efforts. They’ll likely communicate well together and have all of the marketing expertise your CMO expects from them.

      While full-time CMOs have a network they can draw from, realize that a fractional CMO probably has access to marketing support, too. 

      For example, the fractional CMO could be aware of freelance marketing support they’ve previously worked with who produced excellent results. In some cases, fractional CMOs run their marketing agency, which you can tap into for additional help. 

      Fractional CMO: You Need Someone Who Can Hit the Ground Running

      The fractional CMO has been here before. Not necessarily literally, but certainly figuratively. If they’ve been in the fractional CMO role for a while, they’ve likely worked with dozens or hundreds of businesses seeking to grow their customer base. 

      Working with numerous companies on various marketing initiatives gives them a certain level of knowledge a functional CMO won’t have.

      For example, a CMO for hire will likely take a deep dive into the company as soon as they set foot in the door. They are used to jumping in quickly and making an assessment. There won’t be a need for extended pleasantries or an introduction to the business. 

      Instead, the CMO will study the company’s products or services, check out the customer base, and examine current marketing efforts. Within a few days, the CMO can provide you with an entire marketing strategy. Functional CMOs will need much more time to do so.

      CMO for Hire vs. Functional CMO

      It isn’t always easy to decide between a fractional and functional CMO. After all, both have their benefits. If you are unsure, you can always start with a fractional CMO and see what value they can bring to your company. That way, you’re not stuck paying a high salary and benefits. 

      If necessary, you can add more hours to your functional CMO’s contract until you get the help you’re seeking.

      Larger companies that don’t currently have a CMO on board are usually better positioned to hire someone full-time. They’ve already established the company, and a functional CMO can help take them to the next level of success.

      Whichever one you choose, you’ll likely see the returns in future revenues and customer satisfaction. 

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