What is a Fractional CMO? Benefits, Cost, and FAQs for 2024

5 minute read

What is the branding strategy for hiring a fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), and what are the costs and benefits of using this strategy for full-time marketing executive leadership?

Hello, and welcome to the C-suite.

This is where the company executives live—the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, the Fractional Chief Marketing Officer… 

Wait, what? The Fractional CMO doesn’t need an office!

Let’s back up. 

What is a Fractional CMO?

…And what is the difference between a traditional CMO and a fractional CMO?

First of all, what is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO (or Chief Marketing Officer) is a marketing executive professional who works with businesses for a fixed amount of time in a given month—usually just a handful of hours.

In other words, they dedicate a fraction of the time that a regular Chief Marketing Officer would spend working full-time for the company. 

What Are the Benefits of Using a Fractional CMO?

Using a Fractional CMO can be beneficial for your marketing strategy.
Hiring a Fractional CMO can be beneficial for your marketing strategy.

It boils down to time and money.

When you hire a fractional CMO, you get the benefits of a professional marketer without having them on your payroll as a full-time Chief Marketing employee.

There are no benefits to pay, no bonuses to figure out, no long-term commitment, or upfront investment. 

The other advantage to using someone outside your office is that they have their eyes everywhere.

Working with often just a handful of clients at a time, a fractional CMO sees and hears more about the competitive landscape than a traditional chief marketing officer would have access to.

What Does a CMO Cost?

If you’re considering whether or not fractional CMO benefits are right for your business, your first question is likely: “What does it cost to hire a Fractional CMO?” 

There’s no one easy answer to this question because different CMO professionals and companies offer different levels of engagement, expertise, and pricing structures.

The good news? There’s a Fractional CMO that will meet your marketing needs and stay within your budget. 

To better understand the comparison between Fractional and Traditional CMOs, you might consider the yearly salary of the full-time Chief Marketing Officer to the hourly wage you’d likely pay a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer. 

Per Glassdoor the average base for a CMO is $190,000. ZipRecruiter puts the national average salary for a CMO at $154,000. In addition to the base salary, there are other benefits, incentives, and bonuses to consider when adding up the potential cost of adding a full-time CMO. Another full-time executive employee will more likely cost you around $275-400,000 per year.

The hourly rates for a Fractional CMO will vary, of course.

Still, you can typically expect to pay a Fractional CMO between $50 – $1,500 per hour

For the budget and strategic planning process, factor in your Fractional CMO to spend at least 40 to 60 hours a month to drive change.

What Does a Fractional CMO Do?

A Fractional CMO can play a pivotal role in rapidly growing your business’s marketing strategies.

Fractional CMOs’ responsibilities are multifaceted, as they provide expertise without a full-time commitment.

Here’s what you can expect from a Fractional CMO:

Fractional CMOs play multiple roles in marketing.
A Fractional CMO oversees various aspects of your marketing strategy.

1. Strategic Planning

When you hire a Fractional CMO, they will work closely with your marketing team to create comprehensive marketing strategies.

They assess your business goals, target audience, and market trends to develop plans that drive growth and brand visibility.

2. Execution

These professionals are not just theorists—they roll up their sleeves and execute marketing campaigns.

A Fractional CMO will oversee various aspects, from digital advertising and content marketing to a social media management team, and provide executive-level marketing expertise to media management and SEO.

3. Team Leadership

If needed, a Fractional CMO can lead and mentor your existing marketing department and other executive team members, ensuring that everyone is aligned with the established marketing strategies.

4. Data Analysis

Analyzing data and interpreting key performance indicators is a crucial part of the Fractional CMO role. A Fractional CMO will use this data to make informed decisions and refine your marketing efforts.

5. Cost Optimization

Another key benefit you get when you hire a fractional CMO is their ability to make your marketing budget work smarter.

A Fractional CMO will allocate resources efficiently to maximize ROI on your marketing initiatives.

6. Adaptation

A Fractional CMO remains agile and adaptable, adjusting strategies as the market evolves.

Their wide range of experience across different industries equips them to pivot quickly and stay ahead of the competition.

Does My Company Need a Fractional CMO?

The benefits of hiring a Fractional CMO depend on a range of factors specific to your market research and business objectives and needs.

Think of Fractional CMO services not as a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather as a flexible resource that can be highly beneficial to a variety of business scenarios.

Here’s a closer look at the situations in which you should consider hiring Fractional CMO services: 

1. You’re Seeking Expertise Without Full-Time Commitment

If you operate a small or medium-sized business, you likely face resource constraints, especially when it comes to hiring senior executives. In such cases, a Fractional CMO can be a game-changer.

A Fractional CMO gives you access to a seasoned and experienced marketing professional who can develop and execute effective and influencer marketing strategies, without the financial burden of employing a full-time Chief Marketing Officer.

Hiring a fractional CMO ensures your marketing efforts are in capable hands while you benefit from their experience on a short-term basis.

2. You Want to Optimize Your Marketing Budget

It's critical to effectively manage your marketing budget.
A Fractional CMO can help you allocate resources efficiently.

Effective budget management is critical for any business.

A Fractional CMO will be adept at optimizing marketing budgets and will know how to allocate resources efficiently to maximize return on investment.

If you’re looking to make sure every other in-house marketing team and dollar count and need a professional who can ensure that your budget is used wisely, a Fractional CMO is an ideal choice.

3. You’re Looking to Gain Fresh Perspective and Innovative Ideas

In the rapidly evolving marketing landscape, fresh ideas and innovative strategies can set your business apart from the competition.

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer will often bring diverse experiences from working with different companies and industries.

Fractional CMOs are experienced marketing professionals who can inject creativity and new approaches into your marketing strategies, helping you stay ahead of the curve.

If your marketing efforts are stagnating or need a fresh perspective, a Fractional CMO can provide a breath of fresh air.

4. You Have a Lack of In-House Marketing Leadership or Temporary Support

Some companies lack in-house marketing leadership and strategic project support, either because they are startups or have undergone leadership changes.

In such cases, a Fractional CMO can fill the void.

As a marketing leader, they provide sales teams with the necessary expertise and strategic marketing guidance to ensure that your various marketing initiatives and efforts are well-executed and drive impact.

Additionally, if your regular CMO is temporarily unavailable, perhaps due to extended leave, a Fractional CMO can step in and provide seamless support to the existing marketing team during the interim period.

This ensures that your marketing efforts continue without disruption.

Whether you’re a small business looking for cost-effective expertise, a company in need of fresh marketing insights, or one requiring temporary support, a Fractional CMO can provide a flexible and more affordable solution tailored to your unique business needs.

Want more insight into how you can master marketing for your small business? Check out this video from Dia Creative to get a jump start:

Why You Should Choose Dia Creative as Your Fractional CMO

When shopping for a CMO, don’t forget the adage, “You get what you pay for.”

While there is a CMO for every budget, you will want to find a partner who is designing your marketing plan with you and your future in mind. 

At Dia Creative, our philosophy is simple:

1. Design with the Future in Mind

The platforms we customize and design for our clients are flexible and powerful enough to be the cornerstone of your business as you grow and evolve.

2. Empower Our Clients to Own Their Marketing and Digital Assets

Every deliverable comes with training, including ensuring that you can manage your business leader’s own digital marketing teams and assets and execute your marketing strategy without us.

3. Have Fun Creating Beautiful Things

We love creating things together that share your passion for what you do engagingly. 


Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Should You Pay a Fractional CMO?

The cost of a Fractional CMO can vary depending on their expertise, the scope of your project, and the specific services you require. Hourly rates typically range from $50 to $1,500, so it’s essential to discuss your needs with potential candidates to determine a rate that fits your budget.

How Many Hours Does a Fractional CMO Work?

A Fractional CMO typically dedicates 40 to 60 hours per month to your business, but this can be adjusted as day-to-day operations to match your specific requirements and budget.

What Does It Mean to Be a Fractional CMO?

A Fractional CMO is a part-time or temporary marketing executive who provides expertise and leadership in developing and executing marketing strategies for your business without the long-term commitment and cost associated with a full-time CMO.


Get Started with Dia Creative

Once you decide working with a Fractional CMO is the best decision you could ever make, it’s time for your new partner to get to know you.

At Dia, we like to dive in and learn as much as we can about you—who you are, what you do, and why you’re unique.

Then, we look at everyone else to analyze the current market, competition, trends, and figures. This allows us to go to market and gather as much competitive data as possible to build your plan.

Get started with Dia Creative today!

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