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Fractional CMO Guide: What to Expect From a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer

8 min read2023-08-31


Fractional marketing services are a trending topic in the B2B marketing world. Many businesses need some marketing support throughout the year. They don’t want the cost and complexity of an in-house marketing department. For businesses like this, fractional marketing is perfect. A fractional marketing engagement gives businesses flexible part-time support from marketing leaders.

The most popular fractional marketing role is the CMO, or Chief Marketing Officer. Let’s look at fractional CMO engagements. We’ll discuss the nature of the role and the benefits a fractional CMO provides. Then, we’ll dig into the details of BlackBean’s very own fractional CMO program.

Looking for general information on fractional marketing services? Check out our full guide, Fractional Marketing: In-House Marketing Without the Headache.

What is a fractional CMO?

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is an experienced marketing professional. They are usually a current or former executive. They provide part-time strategic leadership to your business on a contract basis. This role offers high-level marketing guidance for B2B companies. They are usually cheaper than a full time chief marketing officer.

A full-time CMO is an integrated part of your leadership team. Fractional CMOs provide coaching and strategic oversight without becoming a permanent team member. They are ideal partners for sales and marketing audits. Fractional CMOs are perfect when assisting with new marketing efforts and campaigns. They help oversee major organizational change of your sales and marketing department.

Responsibilities of a Fractional CMO

A fractional CMO may offer a range of services, including:

  • Leading and guiding the marketing team to achieve strategic goals.
  • Developing and executing positioning, segmentation, and messaging strategies.
  • Taking charge of product pricing, go-to-market planning, and launch strategies.
  • Enhancing and optimizing clients’ online presence for most impact.
  • Establishing and maintaining marketing and sales automation infrastructure.
  • Crafting prospect onboarding and nurturing programs for lead conversion.
  • Creating customer retention and loyalty campaigns to boost satisfaction.
  • Managing branding, public relations, and trademark strategies.
  • Spearheading content marketing initiatives and thought leadership efforts.
  • Overseeing both paid search and organic search marketing strategies.
  • Identifying and recruiting top talent while ensuring seamless onboarding.
  • Preparing marketing materials to support fundraising efforts.

Why choose a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO is more than a part-time marketing team member. You will work with a marketing pro on targeted initiatives to grow your business. A fractional leader is an experienced business owner or manager. They know the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of running a business. They can act as a trusted high-level partner and sounding board for your leadership.

A fractional engagement is short term and targeted. They offer benefits that a long-term employee cannot. Fractional CMOs aren’t afraid to ruffle some feathers. They commit to growing your business, not to making friends. This frees them up to provide candid, direct advice. A fractional CMO can see the forest for the trees.

Who should work with an FCMO?

Established businesses benefit most from a fractional CMO. A fractional engagement can hit the ground running with your historic marketing data. They can find top opportunities for growth, then act decisively. A fractional CMO will help you focus on actions to achieve marketing clarity. They strive to increase performance as fast as possible.

What to look for in a CMO

The most important part of choosing a fractional CMO is fit. There are many experienced and talented CMOs to choose from. You need to find the one that suits your needs and working style best. Even though their engagement with your company is short, it’s impactful. Your F-CMO will need access to sensitive information and may need to work closely with your team. You need a trustworthy partner with experience in your industry.

When evaluating a CMO engagement, consider the following:

  • Will you enjoy working with them? Your enjoyment may not be the ultimate goal of the engagement, but it matters. If you dislike working with the CMO, you may not commit to their suggestions and initiatives.
  • Does their professional experience align with your needs? If you work in hospitality, you should find a CMO familiar with the industry. No two verticals are alike. Find someone whose skills are most relevant to your needs.
  • Can you afford their services? Pricing for fractional CMOs varies based on experience and reputation. While a reputable CMO is likely to do good work, make sure that your budget can support their high price tag.
  • Does their process suit yours? Some businesses need more high-level, conceptual support. Others need hands-on, practical intervention. Don’t hire a high-level consultant if you need a hands-on manager! Have an alignment call before making any commitments.

The critical value of expertise

A fractional CMO isn’t a freelance marketer. They are executive staff with executive experience. A good CMO should understand the complexities of running a business. Fractional CMOs often specialize in particular industries. They may excel at specific marketing tactics and strategies. It’s critical that you find a CMO that suits your industry and your needs.

Coaching & consultation for business growth

Besides guiding your marketing team, fractional CMOs offer personalized coaching and consultation. Many business owners and executives enjoy peer-to-peer discussion, advisement, or even debate! The idea is not to hire a “yes man” who will tell you what you want to hear. A good fractional CMO can challenge your leaders to grow and adapt.

Advantages of Fractional CMOs

The primary benefits of hiring a fractional CMO include cost, efficiency, and flexibility.

A fractional CMO engagement is less expensive than hiring a full-time position. It offers your business a chance to test the waters. Use a fractional engagement to test whether a permanent CMO role would add value to your team.

Fractional CMO engagements are efficient. The goal of a fractional CMO is to oversee, coach, and consult. By focusing on these services, they deliver value even within a limited schedule.

Finally, hiring a fractional CMO is flexible. Some clients want a short, intense engagement with several consultations per week. Others want monthly check-ins over the course of a year or more. A fractional CMO will work with you to find a cadence that works best for everyone involved.

What does a Fractional CMO cost?

Pricing structures for fractional CMOs vary. Many fractional marketing companies offer packages for as-needed marketing support. For example, you may pay $1,000 for 5 sessions as needed throughout a calendar year.

Other companies work on a contract or retainer basis. This could be a structured engagement or an unstructured “bucket of hours”. A structured engagement might include one call each week plus labour time. An unstructured retainer allows you to spend more or less time each month as needed. This can be useful when the client’s needs aren’t immediately clear, or change. A typical hourly rate for fractional CMOs can range from $100/hr to $500/hr or more based on their experience.

Contracting a fractional CMO can be a good idea to oversee critical projects, like adopting a CRM. In this case, you may pay a project rate based on the scope and difficulty of the implementation. This is usually a flat fee with an expected start and completion date. CRM setup, training, and onboarding might be a $20,000 project billed over one business quarter.

Finally, some fractional marketing companies charge based on their performance. Say a fractional marketing company launches a campaign on behalf of a company. They may charge commission on all sales attributed to the campaign. If specific, agreed-upon marketing benchmarks are met, they may charge a performance fee. This kind of fee structure can be very appealing to companies. You only pay full price if goals are met! It’s important to remember the cost of risk. Performance fee marketing companies with may demand higher payment than rate-based companies.

BlackBean’s B2B Fractional CMO Services

We are currently accepting applications for fractional CMO engagements. Curious about hiring a fractional CMO? get in touch with us today for a free no-obligation consultation.

Global Focus

Our team’s specialized background make us a great fit for B2B industrial companies. We have lived and worked in cities around the world, from Hong Kong to Milan. We apply our unique insights into the global business community to every recommendation.

Tailored Engagements for Each Client

No two businesses are exactly alike. We customize every CMO engagement to best suit your needs. We accommodate for your schedule, communication style, and your company’s needs. The nature of our engagement ranges for each client. Anywhere from personal one-on-one consultation to group discussions, workshops, and free-form brainstorming sessions.

Access a network of marketing professionals

We’ve been lucky to work with skilled freelance marketers, and you can tap into our network. We’ll assist you in getting freelancers to help with your marketing needs.

Simplify marketing complexity

Do you ever feel like there’s too much to learn in one lifetime? You’re an expert at what you do—whether that’s sales, operations, or any other part of running a business. We’re marketing experts. We pride ourselves on our ability to simplify marketing concepts. We help you make informed marketing decisions without needing a marketing degree.

Take action for sales growth

Every business wants to boost sales. Many don’t know how they can use their marketing budget to do so. We find efficient ways to spend your marketing money. Our focus is on tangible demand generation. We provide marketing with measurable impact for every client.


A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) offers part-time strategic leadership without full-time commitment. Fractional CMOs offer tailored advice to help businesses grow.

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