Tiffany Quinn

February 18, 2024

What Is A Fractional CMO Anyway?

Advice and guidance on communication strategy that will benefit all aspects of your organisation. Let’s break it down.

Fractional CMO—a term you've likely encountered on LinkedIn. While it might have you intrigued, it might have left you pondering: what on earth exactly is a fractional CMO? Because it's quite a new term in the industry.

As a fractional CMO myself, I get asked this question all the time. Some people also call fractional CMOs contract CMOs, outsourced CMOs or even use the term interim CMO. However, in my experience, this is not what a fractional CMO is, and it doesn’t accurately capture what a fractional CMO should be to your business.

What exactly is a fractional CMO, and how can you determine if it's the right solution to define and achieve your business growth goals?

Because the offering of a ‘Fractional Chief Marketing Officer’ (CMO) itself is relatively new, the term hasn't reached a quality standard definition in the market - therefore it's important to understand the nuances.

For me, if I have to explain what I do as a fractional CMO in a nutshell, it’s advice and guidance on communication strategy that will benefit all aspects of your organisation. Let’s break it  down.

What does it mean to have a fractional CMO onboard?

A fractional CMO operates as a hybrid between a marketing consultant and an employed CMO. They are not part of your employee base but work with you continuously, filling the gap when a business or organisation lacks a marketing function.

Effective collaboration is essential when engaging with a fractional CMO. The role of CMO is akin to a marketing 'unicorn,' encompassing diverse responsibilities and delivering key outcomes. They take the time to immerse themselves in your business's overarching goals, campaigns, or initiatives and offer analysis and strategies for their implementation. Ideally, your fractional CMO should be supported by an implementation team to execute plans efficiently - offering a range of  marketing services.

The fractional CMO role provides strategic marketing guidance on storytelling, planning and design. While encompassing diverse responsibilities, the CMO focuses on analysing your business goals, developing campaign strategies and initiatives to resonate with your target audiences, and nurture them through the marketing funnel - from Awareness, to Evaluation to Conversion.

As a CMO, my role is pivotal in shaping your thought leadership strategy, serving as the creative force behind it, and providing the blueprint for implementation - pushing the traditional boundaries of a marketing executive by going beyond merely approving campaigns. Instead, producing a content strategy that is based on a true understanding of customer needs and fostering meaningful relationships.

The more you focus on sharing valuable information with your audience, the more they will trust you and your brand. Effective B2B marketing in today’s world has shifted from being product-centric to problem-centric, with the emphasis on understanding your customers' pain points and the solutions you could provide. 

This involves growing an audience and new connections through content that educates, inspires, and entertains, and builds trust through positioning you as a thought leader. 

As highlighted in this video, rather than solely promoting Brand Built Interiors as a  construction contractor in Ireland, the focus has been on fostering a deeper connection with their audience. This approach emphasises highlighting the people behind the brand, positioning them as relatable and trustworthy.

By creating informative blogs that offer solutions and assistance to their customers and audience, Built Interiors has successfully addressed problems and provided valuable insights. As a result, in the words of Barry Keenan, the Managing Director: “Built Interiors has been able to reach new clients and grow our business”.

Another example of this approach can be seen in the work I've done with Metec Consulting Engineers. I've worked to create a narrative that sets Metec apart from the competition. The posts I've crafted for them aren't average advertisements; they tell a story, weaving a narrative about who they are as a company and what sets them apart.

What fractional marketing services did for Metec Consulting Engineering.
What fractional marketing services did for Metec Consulting Engineering.

As another client of mine, Joe Delaney, Group Managing Director at Tritech Engineering, puts it, I brought “creativity and ideas that helped us to tell our story.” 

This encapsulates the essence of what a fractional CMO is and should deliver: fresh perspectives and cohesive strategies to drive business growth.

Crafting a distinctive narrative: the benefits of hiring a fractional cmo
Crafting a distinctive narrative: Tritec Engineering's innovative approach.

The importance of a fractional CMO and fractional marketing services.

The very thing that makes fractional CMO’s different is exactly what makes them so useful. We provide an external perspective, offering new insights to address internal pain points. As a business owner, CEO or COO, often you have too much going on to dedicate time to this, or you may be immersed in the trenches of your work, potentially missing important customer needs. This is where our fresh view point becomes invaluable - identifying blind spots.

Fractional marketing also presents a compelling alternative to hiring full-time staff for this very reason. A full-time marketing team member might have narrow tunnel vision, concentrating solely on pleasing superiors by catering narrowly to vanity metrics, such as likes, shares, and clicks. In contrast, a fractional CMO offers impartial advice, focusing on what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear, prioritising metrics that drive tangible results and create lasting impact. This is data driven marketing.

Fractional marketing services, or a fractional CMO, tend to work with a diverse range of clients, which helps us stay abreast of marketing trends and utilise both new and established methods, ensuring that our strategies remain innovative and effective.

By working with a diverse portfolio of clients across industries, a fractional CMO or provider of fractional marketing services gains a strategic advantage. Exposure to various business objectives and consumer audiences keeps us up-to-date on evolving marketing trends. Additionally, we’ll usually work closely with you to plan out the most effective approach to achieve your specific goals, leveraging our expertise to maximise your success. 

As a consequence of opting for a fractional CMO significant cost savings are achieved compared to hiring a full-time marketing team. This is because a fractional CMO works within your budget constraints, offering precise pricing for the methods that should be implemented to achieve your goals effectively. By collaborating closely with you, the fractional CMO can tailor strategies to fit your financial resources, ensuring optimal ROI.

So it’s clear then that the strategy of seeking highly-vetted CMO expertise can be a smart move for businesses looking to take their marketing to the next level.

But now the question is, how do you know if your business is ready to make that investment? Transparently, not every growing business is quite ready for this investment, but for those seeking to enhance and accelerate their marketing efforts to attract and convert  more leads, bringing in a CMO could be a prudent move. 

What are the signs that your business is ready to hire a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

The first indicator that you're likely ready to hire a fractional CMO is if you're an established business but feel like you're constantly on a hamster wheel, struggling to determine what to prioritise and navigate within your marketing efforts, and how to utilise and scale your revenue through thought leadership and brand building. If this sounds familiar, bringing on a fractional CMO could be the next step for you.

The second good indicator is if you're not worried about cash flow, have consistent revenue sources, and aren't seeking a get-rich-quick scheme but feel you’re ready for a long term effective marketing strategy.

'For my clients, survival isn't the concern; they're focused on scaling their revenue, boosting their authority and brand presence, and freeing themselves from wondering how to market themselves.'

Let me share an example of how hiring a fractional CMO made a significant impact for one of my clients who recognized the need for marketing but lacked the time to plan or execute handling marketing strategy effectively; Ciara Byrne, CEO of Green Our Planet, attests, “we are an NGO and we’re so busy, our marketing team are amazing and Tiffany has helped us think outside the box, and helped us to be more targeted and strategic.”

Ready to step up your marketing game?

Fractional CMOs offer a unique blend of strategic savvy and innovative thinking. They provide fresh insights, understand your business goals, and work with your teams to devise effective strategies to achieve them. If you're an established business feeling stuck in your marketing efforts, and tired of handling everything on your own, it's time to bring in an experienced fractional CMO whose strategic acumen and innovative approach will inject new life into your marketing initiatives, drive growth and unlock untapped opportunities.

Head over to the Services page to see the prices. 

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