Why Hire A Fractional CMO Over a Traditional CMO?

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The world of employment began a fundamental shift in the latter part of the last decade. New startups skyrocketed around 2010 and are now at an all-time high right across the developed world. It is largely driven by new technologies and easy-access, user-friendly internet services, and a variety of other solutions. One of the biggest challenges facing these startups then and today is effective marketing. No business can hope to survive with the right strategy, tools, and people, to grow a business. This is just as true for B2B (Business to Business) as it is for B2C (Business to Consumer).

There are two options facing businesses looking to hire a CMO – do they choose the traditional full-time employee route or hire a Fractional CMO instead?


What is a Fractional CMO?

As a start-up, sole proprietor or small business, do you sometimes wish you could harness the sort of marketing strategy and leadership that multinationals can afford? Small businesses rarely have the budget, but it’s not difficult to imagine what you could accomplish with the same or equivalent resources. Financial constraints are sometimes the only thing stopping your business from expanding. However, it is possible to acquire the experience and skills of a CMO quickly and hit the targets you want to achieve when you hire a Fractional CMO.

Simply, a Fractional CMO conducts whichever marketing tasks and goals you need but not as a full-time employee. The “Fractional” part of the equation means he or she does so on a part-time freelance basis; it also means at a fraction of the cost. There are many benefits to outsourcing your marketing to a Fractional CMO.


What are the Benefits of a Fractional CMO?

There are five main benefits to choosing a Fractional CMO over a Traditional CMO.

Click the image to download our “Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CMO” infographic.

  • Financial cost: The biggest and most important benefit is the bottom line cost. For many businesses, particularly those on the smaller end of the scale (sole proprietors and those with no more than a handful of employees) it’s out of the question to hire a full-time CMO. The costs are prohibitive. When hiring a Fractional CMO, you don’t have to pay a full-time salary, benefits, insurance and all other associated costs.
  • Experience: Cost issues may apply to smaller businesses, but nearly every business will benefit from the wealth of experience of a Fractional CMO. They are likely to work on multiple jobs at once, acquiring experiences, overcoming problems and applying new techniques. These experiences come much slower for a full-time CMO working on a single job at a time. Fractional CMOs keep on top of marketing industry standards and always looks at ways of improving their services through new experiences.
  • Turnover: Did you know the average traditional CMO stays in a job for around 44 months? That means hiring somebody else and going through the issues of finding the right person every 3½ years. Working with a Fractional CMO is a long-term working relationship. You’ll build rapport and understanding over much longer periods. In time, they become a valuable member of the team with all the benefits and none of the drawbacks.
  • The Bigger Picture: Fractional CMOs are unconstrained by the bad habits that exist in a corporation’s culture. The reason many companies, regardless of size, are hiring freelancers and outsourcing to third-parties at all is that they are finally realizing the importance of thinking outside the box and looking for solutions from outside of their industry. Arguably, those who most effectively think outside the box are those operating from outside it.
  • Fractional CMOs Tailors Strategy: Not all organizations have the resources for a trial and error approach to marketing. Based on past experiences and measurable results, a Fractional CMO will know precisely which strategies will and will not work for your industry, corporate culture and public perception, and in conjunction with other marketing strategies.


The Benefits of a Full Time, In-House, Traditional CMO

It would be disingenuous to suggest there are no benefits to hiring an in-house full-time employee to fulfill the role of CMO.

  • You’re a Multinational: One of the few reasons we perceive why any business would choose a full-time CMO is that they require a dedicated employee, in the office, five days per week, dedicating all their time to marketing. The services of a Fractional CMO under these circumstances would be insufficient and potentially far more costly in the long-run. You probably have the budget, but it may not be the best use of it.
  • The crucial growth phase: At the other end of the scale, businesses experiencing rapid growth and have moved through the start-up phase may find they require a dedicated full-time CMO to drive further growth. Although a Fractional CMO represents a cost-saving, sometimes it’s worth the extra financial commitment for 100% availability, especially when reaching out on multiple channels and needing one person to handle all of it.
  • Marketing in a niche: Regardless of business size, if you’re marketing products or services in a niche that is so specialized or so obscure that it requires industry knowledge (for example, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment) you may find Fractional CMOs with niche industry knowledge is limited. Therefore, options will be limited to people with qualifications and industry knowledge and they are usually best hired as full-time employees.

Final Thoughts

As the shift in business operations continues to hiring contract employees, freelancers, and other specialized talents, it is worth your time and money to consider your options and weigh the benefits. It is no secret that startups continue to grow and the Kauffman Index shows this, but other entrepreneurs and their teams can gain the educational experience of working with a Fractional CMO on an hourly, daily, or ongoing arrangement to supplement their team. (Published May 30, 2018)



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The Pony Group

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The Pony Group is an Austin, Texas-based firm providing fractional CMO services, marketing consulting, and business growth advising to companies of all sizes, across a variety of industries. Specialties include travel, finance, real estate, subscription, and membership businesses. 

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