Recently, I spoke with a CEO who runs a mid-size company.  He was telling me his tale of frustration at needing more marketing mojo, but not having enough work to warrant a full-time person. His solution? Engage a fractional CMO (aka a part time CMO) on a consulting basis to get the job done. 

It's a typical situation in today's competitive business world; your growing company doesn't need a full-time CMO, but you do need someone who can help you move some of your most critical branding and marketing activities across the line. 

As a branding and marketing strategist, I've not only noticed this trend, I've seen it work from the inside. More and more of my clients are looking for me to go one step beyond consulting and implementation to becoming a virtual part of their team on a part-time, limited basis.  

The real reasons a part-time CMO might be a better choice. 

One reason for this uptick in using a fractional CMO is that bringing someone on full time is a big expense (and risk) for most mid-size companies. Often these full-time senior folks don't work out due to factors such as: 

  • Poor cultural fit
  • Misaligned strategies 
  • Basic personality incompatibility

In addition, the amount of money and time it takes to hire a c-suite marketing executive at this level, may not be equal to the amount of marketing and branding work that needs to be done.

While mid-cap companies have needs for these services, they may be significantly less than those of a larger corporate enterprise. Even in cases where a full-time CMO is the right way to go, the right person can take up to a year working with a placement firm to find. 

The great thing about fractional CMOs is that they go beyond consulting to being a part of the team, but not so far as being an employee. They have specific deliverables to produce over a given period of time, and they are in and out relatively quickly --usually within a year.  

Finding out if a part time CMO is right for you.  

So how do you know if engaging a part-time CMO might be the right solution for your marketing and branding needs? Consider the following:

  • Do you need someone who can act as a "general contractor" for a series of marketing and branding initiatives you have going on (or need to start) but have no one in-house who's really capable of taking on that role?
  • Do you need someone who brings an outside eye and expertise to a wide variety of marketing and branding issues you are struggling with, can turn that insight into a strategy, but then has the resources and capacity to implement the plan? 
  • Do you have a specific long-term branding or marketing project that requires a leader with expertise you don't have in house? 
  • Do you need someone to lead a cultural transformation to help your business become more brand and marketing focused?
  • Do you have a multitude of begun, but not done, branding and marketing initiatives that you just can't seem to move over the finish line?   
  • Do you need someone on an interim basis to quarterback all your various and sundry marketing and branding initiatives, while you look for a full-time CMO?
  • Is your current CMO taking a leave of absence for a given period of time and you need to fill his/her shoes to make sure things keep humming along?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, taking on a fractional Chief Marketing Officer might be an elegant solution for your marketing needs at this time.

The beauty of hiring a CMO on an interim or fractional basis is that you can surgically craft the deliverables you want them to achieve. In an on-demand economy, it makes sense that an on-demand CMO is a smart solution to help you level up your branding and marketing --just without the hassles of having to hire them. 

Published on: Aug 29, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.