What makes Fractional Chief Marketing Officers and Hallmark movie heroes successful? A shift in perspective!

Single man on the couch watching tv and learning about fractional vs. full-time CMOs.

Raise your hand if you recognize this movie plot:

A big-city workaholic moves to a small town to take care of a relative/the family business/start a new job/cover a news story (pick your plot device — they all turn out the same way!).

He or she is initially taken aback by the pace of life and differences in peoples’ mindsets. There are misunderstandings, and a comedy of errors ensues. The main character feels frustrated and thinks about going back to their former life. But then… 

We all know how the movie ends, right?

Almost like clockwork, the protagonist works through their issues, falls in love with the quirky, local shopkeeper, and decides that they prefer this new way of life.

Even though they’re so predictable …*ahem*… SOME people continue to tune in.

(Alexa, remind me to watch the Hallmark Channel tonight!)

In these shows, the small town is a place where the protagonist has rewarding, fulfilling relationships.

They just need a shift in their mindset. 

The bulk of the story is about how they adjust their expectations, actions, and meet the challenges of a new setting.

Surprisingly, this also applies to the mental shift between being a fractional vs. full-time CMO!

A shift in perspective

In many respects, a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (fractional chief marketing officer) and full-time CMO have similar objectives.

  • They’re both marketing experts.
  • They’re both decision makers on your business’s executive team.
  • They set marketing goals and strategy.
  • They develop initiatives to reach customers, leading to increased revenue.

However, there are vital differences between the two:

  • CMOs are full-time, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers contract hour 3-4 hours per week.
  • CMOs are on-site, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers are usually remote.
  • CMOs are salaried employees, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers’ services come at a fraction of a CMO’s $2-3K salary.

But even beyond these differences, there’s a significant mental shift between being a fractional vs. full-time CMO.

How is being a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer different from a CMO?

Business idea concept of the shift between fractional vs. full-time CMOs.

Diversity of experience

Like the protagonist who moves to a small town in our example, a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer needs the ability to adapt to a variety of situations. 

Because CMOs are full-time employees, they’ve likely honed their skills in a handful of businesses. This allows them to develop niche knowledge and expertise in a certain industry.

However, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers work with a wide variety of clients from across industries at the same time. This requires a high level of adaptability that a traditional CMO might not need. Although Fractional Chief Marketing Officers aren’t able to exclusively devote their time to a single business, they’re able to bring a very diverse set of experience and tools — from across sectors. 

As fractional marketers, we at 8SIGNAL work with clients in the medical field, construction industry, non-profit organizations, and technology companies (to name a few). 

We pride ourselves on the ability to bring solutions and best practices to businesses from a wide variety of industries.


In the “big-city-to-small-town” plot, the main character often finds themselves having to do jobs without the support structure they’re used to. This flexibility is also a key mental shift between fractional vs. full-time CMOs.

CMOs usually have a set job description and a trained team to implement strategy. But Fractional Chief Marketing Officers often step into situations that require them to build processes and conduct training.

Successful Fractional Chief Marketing Officers are able to quickly onboard, fill a variety of roles, and adapt to different projects. 

Some assembly required… 

Often, small businesses just don’t have the processes in place that larger companies have. 

Maybe they don’t have the experience, training, or resources to get those essential processes up and running. When you compare a fractional vs. full-time CMO’s assignment, a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer’s tasks are often more ambiguous.

That’s where Fractional Chief Marketing Officers are in their element!

While CMOs usually enter situations with intact infrastructure and procedures, Fractional Chief Marketing Officers must be willing to start from scratch, train, and do what needs to be done to help a company succeed.

A successful fractional CMO needs to be willing to assess a businesses’s needs, roll up their sleeves, and meet the company where they’re at — no matter how basic the “blocking and tackling.”

Fractional Chief Marketing Officers can help a company become more efficient by:

  • Developing job descriptions and setting clear expectations
  • Implementing organizational and accountability charts 
  • Creating healthy meeting cadences to ensure everyone is on the same page, accountable, and has the tools they need to execute

At 8SIGNAL, we can create and implement systems that help your business to be efficient and productive — so that these processes are in place as your company grows.

Every business is unique

We mentioned earlier that a business can benefit from a fractional vs. full-time CMO’s diversity of experience. Regardless of the industry, there are certain best practices and strategies that can transfer to unrelated companies.

That said, it’s important for us as Fractional Chief Marketing Officers to avoid comparing clients to past experiences. Every business represents unique challenges and has their own needs.

For 8SIGNAL, this uniqueness is one of the things that makes fractional services so exciting! We love the challenge of implementing the best strategies and tools for each of our clients!

A successful Fractional Chief Marketing Officer needs to have an mindset always open to learning and innovation. We must ask questions to understand each of our clients’ individual situations, obstacles, and goals — and then formulate recommendations and strategies.

Top view of three intercultural managers discussing fractional vs. full-time CMOs.

Fractional CMOs, for the win

The right perspective is important, both for high-powered executives-turned-Christmas-tree-farmers in cheesy movies AND fractional CMOs. 

As your business grows, the tools and processes that your Fractional Chief Marketing Officer set in place can pave the way for continued success — whatever that looks like for your company.

Could your business benefit from the strengths of a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer? We’d love to help get your business on track for success! Contact 8SIGNAL today for a free consultation.