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What Is a Fractional CMO, and Am I a Good Fit to Work With One?

A fractional CMO is a part-time Chief Marketing Officer (marketing director), and for most companies with a tight budget, working with one can be a game-changer.

Here's the deal: Having a seasoned marketing expert on your side is only... crucial.

A fractional CMO brings so much experience and know-how to the table without the hefty price tag of a full-time executive. It's like having the best of both worlds – the expertise of a CMO and the flexibility your budget needs.

Think about it this way – marketing is a dynamic field that requires constant adaptation to new trends and technologies.

With a fractional CMO, you get access to their up-to-the-minute knowledge and the ability to pivot your strategy as needed.

Plus, they're well-versed (super important) in leading marketing teams and strategic marketing, so you're not just getting a solo act – you're getting a leader who can orchestrate your marketing efforts efficiently.

So, do you REALLY need one? There are some things to consider first before working with a fractional CMO.

So, let's get some answers, shall we?

marketing meeting with a fractional CMO from HaCoeur

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The distinction between strategic and tactical marketing is not just a matter of job titles and salaries... it's a fundamental difference in approach and impact.

Strategic marketing is the big picture. It's about setting the course for your entire marketing effort. A marketing director(CMO) is the architect of the entire marketing strategy.

On the other hand, tactical marketing is about execution. It's the day-to-day work that brings the strategy to life.

Even the numbers don't lie.

Just take a look at the salary figures:

Let's compare the median salary paid to a marketing director (strategic) and a marketing supervisor (tactical).

According to, the median salary of a marketing director is $201,326 per year, while the median salary of a marketing supervisor is $68,307 per year.

In the end, it's simple math.

A well-thought-out strategy leads to bigger profits, and that's why a strategic marketing leader(CMO) commands a salary that's three times greater than a tactical supervisor.

Sure, tactical marketing has its place – it generates some ROI and keeps the engine running. But let's be honest, it's the strategic moves that make the real difference.

But don't worry about the salaries mentioned above. That's NOT what a fractional CMO asks of you if you were to work with one!

Keep reading to learn the why.


"Agility is key." We've heard this expression so much that it probably has lost its meaning for some. But it's true.

Markets evolve, consumer preferences shift, and technology advances at a breakneck pace.

That's why more and more businesses demand to tap into top-tier marketing leadership and expertise without the need for a full-time, in-house executive.

This led to the introduction of "CMO-as-a-service," which provides strategic (not tactical) marketing.

You pay for what you need - only when you need it.

Remember....they work part-time, usually for no more than 20 hours per week!

You won't have to pay ridiculous amounts of money to tap into their knowledge. As simple as that!

Fractional CMOs are perfect to speed up a key project (like expanding to another country) or just test the waters before hiring an entire in-house team.

Fractional CMOs help develop and execute marketing strategies, oversee campaigns, manage teams, and drive growth.

Although contracted, they are equally as committed to the company they work for––from running the day-to-day function right down to presenting in your board meetings.

In fact, a fractional CMO can act as a catalyst, accelerating your international expansion.

They'll mobilize resources, collaborate with local experts, and build a strong foundation for your brand in a new market.

By the time you're ready for a full-scale in-house team, you'll have a solid foothold and a clear understanding of what works and what's what.


In a study conducted in 2021, CEOs were asked an open-ended question about the "most critical role of the CMO," and a staggering 47% of them responded with a clear and resounding priority: the CMO's role is to drive business growth.

That's why one of the most important qualities a good (fractional) CMO must have is leadership. You need someone who can lead projects and teams and help the company navigate through change.

Also, they should have a strong understanding of marketing strategies and tactics, as well as a deep knowledge of the industry in which the company operates.

A good fractional CMO is highly adaptable and able to quickly understand the unique challenges and opportunities of a company.

They should be able to assess the current marketing landscape, identify areas for improvement, and implement effective solutions that align with your company's goals and objectives.

Simply put…

They need to be smart, creative, problem-solvers, visionary and ROI-focused!


First off

It's essential to recognize that these fractional CMOs aren't walking encyclopedias of every industry out there, and that's perfectly fine.

Similar to your in-house CMO, they'll need a bit of a knowledge boost from your internal team regarding the nuances of your industry.

Oddly enough, this lack of laser-focused expertise can actually be a strength. It opens the door to fresh, disruptive ideas that industry veterans might overlook.


Let's talk tools and resources.

Your fractional CMO needs to have the right arsenal at their disposal. This includes access to analytics, CRM systems, and more.

If you're lacking in these areas, it might just be on their to-do list to implement them. Why?

Because these tools are the lifeblood of data-driven decision-making and the efficient execution of marketing campaigns.

Without them, it's like trying to navigate in the dark.


Your fractional CMO isn't a mind-reader!

Effective communication and collaboration are absolutely non-negotiable. Shockingly, CMO are rarely welcomed into boardrooms.

The thing is that they need to fully grasp your company's vision, culture, target audience and everything else to do their job correctly.

To achieve this, clear objectives and timelines need to be set in stone. You need a roadmap for success, and it has to sync seamlessly with your overall business strategy.


The cost of hiring a fractional CMO varies and is typically based on the amount of time required for the engagement.

They usually work on a retainer basis (collecting a fee for a block of dedicated hours) which results in a much smaller outlay for the company.

So, let's look at the overall cost for each option you have:

Hire an agency

It sounds convenient, but be prepared to invest your time in managing the relationship. Plus, brace yourself for high turnover!

Hire a junior marketer

Sure, it may seem cost-effective, but get ready to spend a lot of your time training them. And there's a good chance they might jump ship sooner rather than later.

Hire a senior marketer

This one's expensive. As mentioned before, full-time CMOs can command salaries ranging from $150K to $570K, and that's not even factoring in benefits.

Hire a fractional CMO

Surprisingly, an experienced individual working just 1 or 2 days a week can achieve more than you might think! And you pay only for that time spent! So, it can vary from $2k to 15k per month.

Remember, an excellent fractional CMO prepares you to no longer need them.


Here are some questions you can ask yourself. If the majority of these questions is YES, then you do need a fractional CMO!

  • Is your CEO the one doing the CMO role and now needs to focus on other aspects of the business?

  • Do you need to increase your performance fast with professional guidance?

  • Are you looking to invest in a new marketing function?

  • Do you have an existing marketing team that needs executive-level guidance and leadership?

  • Are you interested in getting an independent, outside perspective on their business, go-to-market strategy, and tactics?

  • Do you want to get a running start on major go-to-market strategies and take your time to find the right hire?

  • Do you feel like you don't have the time or money to look for a marketing leader?

  • Are you spending more time on marketing than CEO-related items, i.e. working in the business rather than on the business?

  • Do you want to explore more demand-generation channels?


Here are situations where hiring a fractional CMO might not be the best choice:

Skepticism About Marketing's Impact

If you're not convinced that marketing can make a meaningful difference in your business, then a fractional CMO might not be the right person to change your mind.

Existing In-House Marketing Manager

If you already have someone leading your marketing efforts (say, as an in-house marketing manager), it's critical to carefully assess the situation. Consider whether this person still fits into your company's future plans or if they have specific skill gaps that a fractional CMO could help address.

Shared Leadership

Leadership is often most effective when it's unified. If you're contemplating dividing responsibilities between an in-house marketer and a fractional CMO, it might be a sign to reevaluate your actual needs.

The relationship you build with your fractional CMO can span months or even years, so finding the right fit is paramount for both parties. It's a two-way street.


Ready to get the ball rolling? Contact us, and we'll dive deep into your needs during a FREE discovery meeting. After our call, you'll say, "Wow, I just got some invaluable advice, and I'd have happily paid $500 for it!"

The free Discovery call is the best way to figure out if HaCoeur is the right fit for your business, and hey, there's no obligation! We can also evaluate if your project could be eligible for a $15,000 grant.

Book Your FREE Discovery Call Today

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