6 Signs you might need an FCMO (before you hire a full-time CMO)

Happy man playing video games like a fractional CMO.

If you know me, you know that two things I can get totally caught up in are marketing strategy and video games. 

And the EPIC new Legend of Zelda game I’ve been playing (a *little* too much lately) actually illustrates something else I’m kind of obsessed with: helping businesses determine what kind of marketing assistance will best serve their company.

Zelda games have amazing storytelling, interesting characters, and breathtaking graphics — things that make you want to keep playing for hours even though there’s other stuff that needs to be done and your kid has mentioned, like, seventeen times that it’s HIS turn to play, Dad, SHEESH!

In engaging video games like these, there are characters that come along at the right time with the right skills to help the hero get further along in the plot (like a fractional CMO).

Some of these characters stay with you long-term (like Zelda in the game, or a full-time CMO in a business), and others are only with you for a while to get you where you need to be (with Zelda, probably… I don’t know I haven’t beaten the game yet)!

Similarly to a hero in a video game, your business is on a growth journey. Getting the right marketing leadership for your business is key to achieving your epic quest for success.

Eventually, a growing business WILL need a full-time CMO on their team — and that’s a good thing!

Positive growth business concept showing the benefits of a fractional CMO.

But at THIS point in your business’s journey, are you ready for a full-time CMO (chief marketing officer) to join your band of adventurers, or do you need a fractional CMO to help you work up to that full-time team member?

Here are some tell-tale signs that you are on the way to needing a full-time marketing chair… but not quite there yet.

6 signs that your business is on the way to a full-time CMO… but not there yet

1. You need marketing help, but money’s tight

Hiring a marketing expert is expensive. But hiring a full-time CMO is much expensive… -er.

  • Maybe your business doesn’t (yet) have a 40-hour a week marketing workload
  • Perhaps hiring a $200-300k executive-level employee isn’t (yet) in the budget

For situations like these, hiring a fractional CMO can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time CMO. With an FCMO, you’re only paying for the services and hours that your business needs. This can be especially helpful for small- to mid-sized companies experiencing growing pains but not yet ready to bring on a full-time CMO. 

In fact, we wrote an entire article to help you understand the differences between full-time and fractional CMOs that you might want to check out!

At 8 SIGNAL, we want to see your business get to the point where it’s able to hire a permanent CMO. It’s our goal to see your company outgrow our services and NEED to hire a full-time marketer.

But maybe you’re not quite ready.

In cases like this, an FCMO can be the supporting character that provides top-level skill and expertise at a fraction of the cost of a full-time CMO… until you can hire a CMO!

2. Your (current) marketing needs require flexibility

Fractional CMOs can adapt to suit your business’s needs and marketing goals. 

Do you just need someone to adapt for a specific project?

Do you only need marketing services for a few hours a week?

Do you need someone to roll up their sleeves and build your marketing strategy and team from the ground up?

Do you? Do you? Do you?!!!

FCMOs can fill a variety of roles and adapt to different situations and projects. 

Unlike a full-time executive, we specialize in meeting your business where you’re at — without the traditional support structure used by a CMO. 

3. You aren’t yet in the position to risk a full-time hire

On any adventure, there’s a level of risk, and hiring a new full-time employee is no different. 

Whether it’s cost, a potential mismatch in personality or strategy, or the adjustment period of understanding your business, there’s a risk that it might not work out. And if you hire a full-time CMO that doesn’t produce the results you need, it’s much harder and more costly to terminate employment. (Can you say, “Severance package?” Gulp…)

And some businesses just aren’t ready to assume that risk.

For businesses in this position, hiring an FCMO involves less risk than hiring a full-time CMO.

If you aren’t satisfied with your FCMO’s performance, you can part ways.


  • Pay our own employer taxes, professional liability insurance, and benefits
  • Allow your business the flexibility to retain our services for as long as needed
  • Assume risk and are accountable for producing results

We don’t want you to get the wrong idea — our clients love the results of our services. But like the valuable helper that comes along when you’re in the middle of a Zelda marathon (don’t judge!), FCMOs leave when the job is done instead of hanging around like that little weirdo “Tingle.” (He’s a super annoying character who’s always popping up, and you just want him to go away. IYKYK.)

4. Get the skills you’ll need to work with a full-time CMO

At the beginning of video games, there’s usually a tutorial that teaches how the game works — things like game mechanics and skills you need to succeed. In my Zelda game, Link learns things early on that later become second nature —  how to backflip, block with his shield, fight, dodge moblins with a Flurry Rush, and wail on enemies. 

Hyah, HYAH!

If you’ve never worked with a CMO on your staff, an FCMO is a good way to get your feet wet. Working with an FCMO helps you and your team find out what to expect from a CMO, how CMOs tend to be wired, and the dynamics of having a CMO as part of your leadership team.

Like we mentioned earlier, eventually a growing business will need a full-time CMO. Working with an FCMO can get you through the learning curve so you’re experienced when the time comes!

5. Diversified experience

When you’re growing your marketing strategy, sometimes you need someone who can fill multiple roles BEFORE you’re ready to have a full-time CMO.

An FMCO can bring experience from their work with clients across diverse industries and sectors to benefit your business. And because FCMOs work with multiple clients at the same time, we can bring creative solutions, innovative tools, and best practices from different fields.

At 8 SIGNAL, we’ve worked with a wide variety of clients, including:

  • The nonprofit sector
  • Medical field
  • Tech industry
  • And construction. 

These unique insights from our diverse expertise can be instrumental in preparing your business for a full-time CMO.

And in addition to our work with clients, we also have access to other subject matter experts with specific skills for different marketing activities!

We have connections with content creators, SEO (search engine optimization) specialists, data analysts, PPC (pay-per-click) experts, and others. As FCMOS, we’re able to simplify the process (and often reduce the cost!) when you need experts in other specialties.

For example, when a real estate company needed a video post production editor, we were able to get them connected with someone we knew could give them great results.

6. Results — pronto!

Maybe your business needs marketing leadership, but you also need to see results more quickly than the process of hiring and onboarding a CMO allows.

Because FCMOs have years of experience, we’re experts in quickly assessing your marketing needs — and getting right to work on a results-driven strategy!

At 8 SIGNAL, our FCMO services are meant to be the interim. We aren’t looking for a permanent CMO position, and we spend several hours a week with each of our clients. Because of this limited timeline, we specialize in helping businesses reach their marketing and growth goals quickly. 

An FCMO can help fast-track your business to success by:

  • Ultra-efficient and productive team meetings
  • Implementing organizational and accountability metrics
  • Setting clear expectations for the team and refining job descriptions
  • Training the team and ensuring that team members have the right tools to perform

Do you need an FCMO to get further in your business growth journey?

If your business is growing and you need marketing expertise — but a full-time CMO isn’t currently the best choice — find out more about 8 SIGNAL’s fractional marketing services.