Star Wars, Darth Vader, and what to expect from fractional CMO services

Yorkie with Star Wars toy illustrating fractional vs. full-time CMO

It’s one of the greatest villain debuts of all time. 

The Empire’s troops are assembled in rank, and the commander gulps nervously as the door opens.


In walks Darth Vader — and he’s not happy. There’s a schedule to get the Death Star fully operational, but the process needs to speed up NOW! 

They really need more time (or more people!) to finish, but Vader makes it clear that this isn’t an option.

“We shall double our efforts!” the commander gulps.

After a few ominous threats and a few more “Khhh…pshhhs,” Vader power struts offscreen.

Duh duh duh duh-DAH duh, duh-DAH duhhhh!

You’re probably thinking, “I know, right? It’s a great scene! But what does it have to do with fractional marketing services?”

It brings up some key points about what to expect from a fractional vs. full-time CMO (chief marketing officer).

Same idea, different strategy

A fractional chief marketing officer (FCMO) does many of the same things as a full-time CMO — with some key differences.

Like a salaried employee, an FCMO is an executive-level leader who develops marketing strategies to generate growth, connect with customers, and increase revenue.


But the major difference between a fractional vs. full-time CMO is that FCMOs work remotely with a company for a fraction of the week, and at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee.

How can an FCMO get 40 hours’ worth of work done in 1-2 days a week?!

Like the nervous commander in the Star Wars scene, you might be thinking, “It’s impossible! We need more (hours)!”

Sometimes that’s true! Businesses that NEED 40+ hours a week devoted to marketing should hire a full-time CMO. 

And actually, the goal is to eventually be able to (and need!) a CMO to handle your booming business. Our goal as an FCMO is for you to eventually outgrow our services! But many businesses aren’t at a point that they need a full-time CMO yet (and it doesn’t make sense to hire someone full-time to work part-time hours).

So rest easy, Commander — we aren’t trying to squeeze a week’s worth of work on the Death Star into one or two days. The question of fractional vs. full-time CMO comes down to your needs. And FCMOs provide a curated level of service for your business: what you need, and not more or less.

How does an FCMO keep in touch with the team?

The same way that Darth Vader does — bursts in, barks out commands, and makes everyone nervous.

JUST KIDDING! That is absolutely NOT how 8SIGNAL operates as an FCMO!

When we join your team, our goal is to help you succeed with your goals. We set up accountability systems to help you achieve the things you want to see happen — and make sure you have the tools you need to be successful. 

Fractional leaders attend vital team meetings, and communicate often (email, text, Slack, Flock, Zoom, etc.) — so that everyone is on the same page and expectations are clear. And because FCMOs meet with the team, we can be a liaison between the team and executive management to make sure their needs are met.

How can an FCMO be productive over an abbreviated schedule?

Now, Darth Vader isn’t a business leader that we’d want to imitate, but you’ve got to hand it to him — his meetings are quick and to the point! 

More time doesn’t necessarily mean more productivity —  which is another shift in perspective between fractional vs. full-time CMOs.

If you’ve ever been in a stereotypical Monday morning staff meeting, you know this is true! Too often, meetings drag on for hours without accomplishing much of…anything! And at the end of the morning, people still aren’t on the same page, team members often don’t know what’s expected of them, and there’s not an accountability procedure for follow-through.

As FCMOs, we at 8SIGNAL structure our time with your business to maximize productivity. We schedule meeting times in advance, stay on track, and structure our time with your team so that it’s productive. 

Even though we aren’t with you full-time, you can expect us to “do our homework” and come prepared. FCMOs make use of technology (like shared drives and documents) so we and the team can create and share content —  and stay on track and connected.

So what type of work schedule should you expect from your FCMO?

Even though an FCMO works “one to two” days a week, that may not mean that they’re working with your business for one PHYSICAL day. Because we use technology to work with a business, the work schedule of a fractional vs. full-time CMO is spread over the week.


FCMOs allot time to meet with and strategize for your company for a few hours at a time, 3-4 hours a week. 

We’ve found that spreading the time out is the most effective way to maintain connection, accountability with the team, and keep a healthy meeting cadence.

Expecting efficiency and results

8SIGNAL is passionate about fractional marketing services (which is probably why I thought of FCMOs while watching Star Wars!). 

It can be a very different way to think about a team member, but we’ve seen how the right FCMO can be game-changing for a partner business. Efficiency, structure, and clear expectations are the keys to a successful relationship — that produces results. 

FCMO services are tailored to fit a company’s needs like a glove, and you can expect your fractional partner to devote every minute of your contracted time to helping you succeed. No business wants to be charged for time they don’t need — and conversely, fractional leaders don’t want to give away their time for free! Clear expectations and boundaries allow both to thrive, grow, and produce results.

Are 8SIGNAL’s fractional services right for your business? Contact us for a free consultation.