stock image showing a fractional cmo working with a client on a laptop

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer or Fractional CMO is a marketing executive who is outsourced for a company in need of a CMO but does not want to hire an in-house marketing executive who works full time.

Sometimes, companies do not have the funds to hire an in-house CMO or may not have the time and resources to invest in this position.

Are you interested in becoming a fractional CMO? Or is your company interested in hiring a fractional CMO?

If so, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about this type of marketing executive, including the salary, job objectives, daily tasks, and other insights.

What Is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional CMO operates a fractional marketing company.

This means that a marketing executive is hired on a part-time basis or potentially as a contractor to help a company save the costs of hiring a full-time chief marketing officer, according to Forbes.

This specific position ranges from short-term contracts to a more lengthy hire for completing ongoing marketing programs.

While it may seem that this role is simply a type of marketing contractor, there are key differences.

Is a Fractional CMO Mostly a Fancy Word for Marketing Freelancer?

A marketing freelancer is generally a consultant who a company implements when they need a new marketing strategy.

However, such a consultant does not take part in executing the plan. Furthermore, marketing agencies are more likely to produce tactical work.

On the other hand, a fractional CMO becomes part of the company’s existing marketing team.

This staff member partakes in developing the marketing tactics and meeting company objectives.

A fractional CMO works with the entire executive team to reach their sales and marketing goals.

Essentially, to be a genuinely successful contractor-based CMO, this staff member needs to become a complete part of the executive team.

A fractional CMO has numerous responsibilities to take part in when attempting to revolutionize a company’s marketing initiatives.

Their job functions range from running day-to-day operations to conducting presentations in meetings and in front of the

What Does a Fractional CMO Do?

Some of the big picture responsibilities of a fractional CMO includes:

  • Creating and executing a new and innovative marketing strategy
  • Providing marketing leadership to effectively compete in their market
  • Improving the customer experience
  • Keeping marketing and sales spending low due to economic uncertainty
  • Ensuring a marketing return on investment (ROI)

It is essential for anyone in this role to create new strategies that will improve customer engagement and lead to greater revenue and long-term growth for the company.

Enhancing the customer experience and the buyer journey is also essential to succeed as a fractional CMO.

Some other typical tasks that fractional CMOs complete are:

  • Driving the messaging of a company
  • Boosting the company’s online presence
  • Branding the business and partaking in public relations
  • Being the marketing leader of the entire executive team
  • Conducting product launches
  • Partaking in customer retention programs

These are some of the major responsibilities of a typical fractional CMO.

Who Hires Fractional CMOs?

Various companies and organizations can benefit from implementing fractional CMO services. Often, this includes startups and small or medium-sized individual companies.

Since hiring a full-time CMO is a relatively expensive endeavor for a startup, hiring a fractional chief marketing officer becomes a company’s primary option.

Furthermore, there are specific factors that such businesses will likely have, such as companies looking to develop an innovative marketing function or marketing teams in need of functional marketing leadership.


At yorCMO, we partner with C-Level seasoned fractional CMOs directly with our company or through our franchise solo practice model.

The ladder is designed for marketing leaders who want to take their experience to the next level without the grind of opening their own marketing practice. What sets us apart is that we have a complete and proven system to follow and deliver the service and best practices for managing client engagement.

We also provide full-time marketing coordinators to support the workload, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and interactions to support CMO development and client outcomes.

The bottom line: If you are a marketing leader ready to launch your own practice, work from home and still have access to a market-level salary, but would like to have a baseline team to support you, we may be a fit.

How Much Do Fractional CMOs Make?

According to Forbes, the number of startups has been growing in recent years but cannot afford a full-time CMO.

Sometimes, these startups only need short-term marketing guidance to begin the next step of company growth.

These factors mean that fractional CMOs, especially those operating on a part-time basis, do not make the same amount of money as a typical in-house marketing executive.

Fractional CMO Hourly Rate

Generally, hiring a fractional CMO for approximately 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month is a good idea.

This ensures that the fractional CMO can genuinely learn about the company, including its culture, assets, and the direction that its CEO and business executives are seeking.

This ensures a better marketing campaign and strategy for companies. Generally, the fractional CMO hourly rate is about $200 to $300, so businesses need to set aside about that much for a part-time marketing executive.

Fractional CMO Annual Salary

Fractional CMOs tend to charge their clients based on a retainer, and their salary is dependent on the outcomes of the marketing planning stages.

Generally, a company will need to set aside at least $8,000 per month to pay a fractional CMO for their services.

A fractional CMO and the marketing support involved in these services cost about $96,000 per year.

This is the approximate budget that companies will need yearly for a marketing executive role.

How Much Does a Fractional CMO Cost a Business?

Based on the annual salary information previously mentioned, a business will need to have at least $96,000 to pay a fractional CMO every year.

However, the amount of money business executives need will also depend on how long they plan to hire a fractional CMO.

For example, if a company only looks to hire for this role on a six-month basis, they’ll need to spend about $48,000. It will all depend on the number of hours or months that a fractional CMO works for a company.

What Makes a Good Fractional CMO?

The most important part of hiring a successful fractional CMO is to find one who is experienced and has marketing expertise, including digital marketing, advertising, social media, and SEO experience.

It’s vital to hire someone who has helped develop the right amount of company growth for other businesses in the past and follows best practices.

Furthermore, this individual will need to have managed the same number of people and teams that your company has. Management and marketing leadership experience is key.

Strong leadership will also help gain the trust of their marketing team and the executives on the board.

The marketing talent will need to work well with the CMO and mesh together to reach company objectives and increase sales.

The CMO role involves delivering a solid return on investment. A good fractional CMO will need to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of the marketing team as well as focus on long-term goals in the company.

Challenges of Being a Fractional CMO

There are numerous challenges that a fractional CMO faces. While many are easy to overcome, you should understand the potential pitfalls before diving in head-first.

First, this kind of role may be difficult when it comes to finding new clients.

In addition, some fractional CMOs may find it hard to manage their schedule when working for multiple clients or handling a part-time schedule.

Some other obstacles include the difficulty of developing completely brand-new marketing campaigns and strategies as well as helping clients compete in their industry.

Another common challenge that faces a fractional CMO is how to develop a compelling customer experience.

Creating a captivating experience for the buyer is not an easy task. However, by discovering the typical buyer persona and understanding customer needs, one can create an effective marketing campaign.

It is also difficult for CMOs to reduce company spending and stick to a small budget when developing impressive marketing brands.

As such, it is crucial to pick the most critical and pertinent areas of marketing to allocate the budget toward.

Fractional CMO vs. Full-Time CMO

The most significant difference between a fractional chief marketing officer and a full-time CMO is the overall cost.

Smaller companies and those without a considerable revenue would benefit from employing a part-time CMO for about half the price while gaining the same marketing talent.

The companies that hire a fractional CMO will still obtain a better marketing strategy and strong talent to execute marketing campaigns and improve their brand image.

Fractional CMO vs. Marketing Agency

The biggest difference between a fractional CMO and a marketing agency is that consultants from an agency don’t put in the same type of work into their clients.

A fractional CMO is focused more on revolutionizing a brand and growing a business, while marketing consultants tend to have only a specific set of services.

CMOs tend to be much more involved in the marketing strategy and adopt a more hands-on approach.

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve read through this guide, you should know all about the fractional CMO role.

If you’re looking to lower the costs spent on a marketing executive, consider hiring a fractional CMO to obtain the services of a talented marketing guru.

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