Ready to take your business to the next level? FAQs about Fractional Chief Marketing Officers

Hot air balloon stuck on the ceiling, illustrating the answer to what is a fractional cmo.

Have you ever felt like your business could be achieving more — but you’re just hitting a ceiling? 

Do you offer a great product or service, but just aren’t getting the customers, sales, and growth that you know you could? Or maybe your business is growing — but you need support in the meantime before you can hire a CMO (chief marketing officer).

In either case, you know your business needs help marketing and facilitating growth. 

However… you might have a lack of experience on your team, or financial limitations that keep you from being able to hire a CMO (or maybe hiring a full-time marketing employee doesn’t currently make sense for your company!).

Whatever the ceiling (which, in my house, I’ve been informed is “Farmhouse Ecru,” NOT “Antique Lace”)…

 …the way to break through those barriers might be hiring a fractional leader as a CMO.

Maybe you’re thinking, “That sounds great…but what is a fractional CMO?”

Here are some FAQs about Fractional Chief Marketing Officers (Fractional chief marketing officers), and the fractional model to help you weigh the benefits for your business.

Team leader with employees in an office answering the question what is a fractional cmo.

What the heck is a fractional CMO anyway?

Fractional CMOs are experienced marketing executives who join your leadership team to bring insight, develop strategy, and oversee implementation to get your business the results you want — on a fractional basis. Instead of a full-time, on-site employee, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers are members of your leadership team who provide the exact amount of service your business needs — not more, not less.

Sometimes, hiring a full-time ($200-300k/year) CMO isn’t a feasible (or best) option for a company.

With a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer, you retain an experienced executive that you couldn’t afford full-time!

This marketing expert assumes ongoing accountability for major functions of your business’s marketing — for a fraction of the cost.

At 8SIGNAL, we see our Fractional Chief Marketing Officer services as a transitional position to get you where you want to be (think Mary Poppins. Or a much nicer Gordon Ramsey on the show “Kitchen Disasters”… but not British, and doesn’t curse as much, and never references “a dog’s dinn-ah”). 

As your business grows and thrives, the end goal is to have your own, full-time CMO.

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer’s job is to get the strategy pieces in place and moving — to speed up your business’s success timeline.

Why would I use a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer instead of hiring full-time?

There are different answers to the question, “What is a fractional CMO, and why wouldn’t I just hire a full-time employee?”

  • Maybe you can’t currently afford an experienced, full-time executive.
  • Maybe you recognize that hiring an under-qualified person (that you can afford) will simply delay achieving your objectives.

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer has the skill and years of experience across industries to set up your team’s goals, metrics, and processes —  along with a meeting and accountability cadence — so that you see results.

And, as “outside insiders” on your team, Fractional CMOs bring a unique perspective that a full-time CMO doesn’t. While we understand a business’ goals, culture, and strategy, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers bring objectivity and experience across sectors that can uncover the underlying issues stalling your success and productivity. 

Why would I use a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer instead of hiring a marketing agency?

It can be tempting to use a marketing agency as a shortcut instead of filling a CMO seat on your leadership team, but it comes with risk.

An agency can help implement strategy, but has little “ownership” in a company. Marketing agencies are simply hired to implement existing strategies (or develop basic plans) — without being part of formulating those decisions from the beginning. 

Part of the answer to “What is a fractional CMO, and what makes it different from an agency” involves decision-making. A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer is a member of your executive team, while an agency is just told what to do. And when the plans were made without a marketing expert, the agency’s hands are essentially tied when it comes to enacting real change.

How can you lead if you’re not with us full-time?

You might be thinking, “A 40-hour work week doesn’t seem to be enough to accomplish everything. What is a fractional CMO, and how could they possibly produce results when you’re part-time?”

Great question!

It can be tough to be in management — especially when it seems that team members need constant supervision to deliver.

However, this need for constant supervision (or “helicopter management” — similar to “helicopter parenting” in the family structure) often masks root issues:

  • Maybe expectations of employees aren’t clear.
  • Maybe there’s not an accountability process to keep people on track.
  • Perhaps the employee isn’t in a position that uses their strengths.
  • Staff meetings might lack clarity, focus, and healthy cadence.
  • Or maybe the team has needs that aren’t understood by management.

The team goals, metrics, processes and cadence that Fractional Chief Marketing Officers set up can be effectively implemented in a half a day to 2.5 days per week. This structure and accountability within the organization streamlines productivity — enabling team members to deliver without babysitting. And the Fractional Chief Marketing Officer can also act as a voice and advocate for the team to the executive leadership, to get them the tools they need to deliver.

And this efficiency and organizational maturity also influences departments outside of the marketing team! We have seen entire businesses transformed and primed for success through the impact of a well-oiled marketing department.

What is a fractional leadership team member, and how can you be successful when you’re not physically here?

Have you ever made up a fantasy football team?

 You know… a roster with the best people for the position, who couldn’t ever actually all be on the same team?

With Fractional Chief Marketing Officers, you can build your business’s “dream team” — without the limitations of geography.

When you are searching for a team member, it can be nearly impossible to find the exact “right-fit” expert within commuting distance of your business. In the absence of a perfect fit, you end up hiring someone without the experience you want — which only delays your timeline.

Even though Fractional Chief Marketing Officers don’t have a physical desk in your office, they bring the value and experience of a full-time, on-time team member. 

Virtual (not hybrid) meetings with fractional leaders have proved extremely effective in creating a healthy meeting cadence for thousands across the globe. 

And while remote, fractional team members might not be right for a deeply embedded in-person culture, many businesses find the remote adjustment preferable to the pain of inexperienced leadership.

So what is fractional leadership? Experience, value, and insight without the constraints of location.

So… you’re basically a consultant?

No — “Fractional Chief Marketing Officer” isn’t a fancy way to say “consultant.” 

And we’re not dogging on consultants! 

Fractional Chief Marketing Officers and consulting can both be great choices — but they address different needs.

Consultants are third-party vendors outside of your organization, who operate in a very limited capacity. A consultant’s job is to give suggestions or execute on discrete projects — and they aren’t accountable for the follow-through.

How are Fractional Chief Marketing Officers different?

  • We are embedded in an organization. We have meetings with your leadership team and those who report to them.
  • We take ongoing accountability for an entire function of a business (marketing, sales, technology, etc.)
  • We figure out what needs to happen — and shoulder the responsibility for getting those things accomplished!

Why do you charge X when I’d pay an employee WAY less per hour?

It can be a harsh reality, but you really do get what you pay for — and experience and skill come at a cost.

Few of us would hire a fitness coach instead of a brain surgeon to perform surgery. Both are valuable in their own right — but some things are too important to skimp on expertise.

Still, businesses often hire someone without the necessary experience to perform at a high level — and then feel pain and frustration because of underwhelming results.

CMOs are paid more than lower-level employees — but they also assume greater risk and are held to a much higher level of accountability.

Fractional Chief Marketing Officers deliver and charge for results — we don’t work for hourly wages like a traditional employee. 

We offer premium services, at a fraction of the full-time cost, and at the level a business needs.

Can’t you find a full-time job? What is fractional leadership and why would you want to be a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

Okay, ouch! That’s a little harsh…

Just kidding, of course — that’s a great (and totally fair) question! 

To find the right Fractional Chief Marketing Officer for your business, it’s important to know and understand their motivation for offering fractional services.

  • Are they looking at fractional leadership in your company as a stepping stone to something more permanent elsewhere?
  • Is the Fractional Chief Marketing Officer offering fractional services because they have had problems producing results?
  • If cost wasn’t a limitation, would you be hesitant to hire them as a CMO?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” proceed with caution! If you wouldn’t want them as your CMO, you don’t want them as your Fractional Chief Marketing Officer either!

But that’s not 8SIGNAL.

We’ve talked at length about how hiring a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer can benefit your business. But what’s in it for us? 

Why does 8SIGNAL offer fractional marketing services?

Simply put, we love the freedom and independence of fractional services, and have a big vision for impacting communities! 

We value the flexibility of being able to take on the number of clients that fit our priorities and availability.

Working fractionally with clients from diverse industries is interesting and engaging, and it helps us apply creative solutions to challenges.

At 8SIGNAL, we want to maximize our impact in local communities. We know that successful businesses can benefit communities as a whole. With Fractional Chief Marketing Officer services, we can genuinely help businesses grow — and extend that influence to other teams in the company and beyond.

So why are we passionate about our Fractional CMO services? 

Our vision to impact communities is bigger than what can be achieved through just one CMO position.


Our passion is your success

Are you wondering whether 8SIGNAL’s Fractional Chief Marketing Officer services might be what your business needs to reach the next level? Contact us today for a consultation!