When you hire a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (fCMO), you gain instant access to a valuable set of C-level strategic, tactical, and leadership services on a part-time or interim basis.
You also save a bundle.
A seasoned executive joins your leadership team for roughly ¼ of their time each week, versus 40 hours for your typical full time CMO. 40 hours a week is a lot of CMO power — more than many small-midsize companies actually need.
Going fractional means you can still get a proven strategy that you’ll need to succeed. You’ll have an expert to sell it to your investors and leadership. You’ll also see costs come way down for personnel.
This leaves more money available to use against other expenses or to drive into the most successful marketing campaigns.
$500K ARR is a Good Threshold for a Fractional CMO Hire
Rapidly growing companies often outstrip their ability to hire and maintain a full time team as they experiment and pivot their way to success.
Full time hires have benefits, vacations and other expenses. Not to mention that they need to give notice at their current jobs before they can start contributing to your success!
When a company hits $500,000 ARR or more, the leadership team can find themselves with these pain points:
- Sales process is handled primarily by CEO and becoming unmanageable
- Multiple marketing campaigns are in place but not performing as hoped
- Growth is not happening according to expectations or within budget constraints
- There’s a raise coming up, but there’s no marketing data or the data doesn’t tell a good story
Doing more with less is a common mantra these days with venture capitalists and investors. They tell their companies to try a “dolphin strategy,” where the company shows how it can still grow successfully while also reducing costs and keeping overhead low. Easier said than done, but it must be done.
The first full-time hire outside of the founding partners is almost always a CMO. In fact, a large majority of startups are run by just a single (extremely tired) person. Growth is the lifeblood of the organization, and the path to growth changes as the company’s growth stage evolves.
SaaS companies are especially vulnerable to issues around generating growth. According to McKinsey, software companies that grow at only 20% per year have a 92% chance of dying within just a few years.
Classic T2D3 SaaS growth theory teaches that growth should follow this pattern to achieve liftoff:
- two years where growth triples each year
- three years where growth doubles each year
To get to the specific OKRs your investors are looking for, you’ll need the right strategy, the right leader and the right mix of people resources and campaign media budget.
A fractional CMO can guide you through it all.
A Fractional CMO Means Less Overhead, More Campaigns
Over time, the impact of overhead can have a large detrimental effect on your company’s flexibility. It can kill your ability to launch campaigns with the budgets needed.
Imagine if you could have all the CMO you need, this week, for only $60,000 per year vs $240,000 per year + benefits. That’s the difference between fractional expertise and full time.
Overhiring is a real problem because of the cost. It also means your operation might get top heavy, with not enough members in the team.
- If you have a full-time CMO and no staff, the CMO will slow down the process with “hands on” implementation and/or have to hire agencies
- If you have a staff and no CMO, your marketing process and results can drift with the wrong strategy and lack the forward energy and oversight needed to truly deliver on OKRs
- If you have agencies, some staff and no CMO, the oversight and back/forth needed to properly deliver on these resources will eat up too much leadership time
A better strategy is to bring an fCMO, who can work with your internal team, agencies and vendors, and technology to grow it on an “as needed basis.”
The best marketing departments I’ve seen personally are run by a great CMO with a bunch of talented, but low level, team members. With a fCMO to train and lead them, you can replicate the same in your organization.
Spending only ¼ of the cost for a fractional CMO means you have access to the same high-level knowledge, gain flexibility and save money too.
Delivering Growth: Six Key Fractional CMO Services
As a fractional CMO agency, Snohat provides advisory and implementation in 6 main areas to kickstart and drive B2B growth:
- Strategy: Where are we going? How do we get there? How long will it take? How much will it cost?
- Narrative: Who are we and what do we stand for? Who are our customers? What do we look like?
- Owned & Earned Media: What should we say about ourselves? How do we keep our customers?
- Holistic Funnel: How will we drive qualified traffic efficiently? How do we balance high funnel and low funnel tactics? What channels do we choose? How do we convert more leads?
- Analytics: How do we know what’s happening? How will we see when we succeed and fail in our experiments?
- Team: Who do we need, in what hiring format, to best achieve our near-mid term goals?
Of course, the specific services provided vary based on the needs of each organization, its industry, and the goals of the marketing function.
Let’s look at each of these areas in turn.
If you don’t know where you are going, you certainly won’t get there.
To make sure you get to your OKR destination, your company needs to know four key things:
- Where to go
- How to get there
- How much it will cost to get there
- How long it will take to get there
A fractional CMO can assemble this strategy based on deep research into markets, competitors, company data history and customer feedback.
In addition, the fractional CMO can take charge over communicating and “selling” the strategy to leadership, investors and other employees and team members. This is an invaluable and often-overlooked aspect of successful marketing planning.
I highly recommend considering growth strategy in two time frames: the 90-day sprint and the 3 year goal.
Three years is a great window for a big goal to keep a long term trajectory in mind. But the rubber really hits the road at the 90-day sprint level. It is just enough to provide time for a strategy to roll out fully, and yet it is short enough to be energetic and push everyone to deliver in a compact window.
Here are the key aspects of growth marketing strategy that a fractional CMO provides:
Strategic Marketing Planning
Where are we going and how will we get there? How fast should we go? How much should we spend? Who do we need on the team?
- Developing Marketing Strategies: Crafting comprehensive marketing strategies aligned with business goals, target audiences, and market dynamics.
- Market Analysis: Conducting market research to identify opportunities, analyze competitors, and understand industry trends.
- SWOT Analysis: Assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to inform strategic decision-making.
- Ansoff Matrix: Go to market analyses and recommendations
Marketing Budget Management
How can we do more with less?
- Budget Planning: Developing marketing budgets aligned with strategic goals and allocating resources effectively.
- Controlling Expenses: Monitoring and managing marketing expenses to ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
- P&L Oversight: Completing marketing activities within budget and hitting OKRs
Market Research and Competitive Intelligence
What’s happening around us? How can we set our company apart in distinct, profitable beachheads?
- Analyzing Market Trends: Keeping the company leadership informed about industry trends, emerging technologies, and changes in consumer behavior.
- Competitor Analysis: Conducting competitive intelligence to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Being first to know when a new product hits or a new pricing strategy is launched into the market.
Personas and ICPs
Who are our ideal customers and partners? Where do they “hang out” online and get their professional information from? Who do they trust and respect? How do we gain their awareness of us efficiently?
- Developing Personas: Who are the people who will use, buy and influence that decision? It is usually not all the same person. B2B marketing must speak to each person separately with their own pain points and aspirations.
- Writing ICPs: What are the key attributes of each ideal customer? What are their demographic and firmographics that will help us identify them and target them?
- Key Partner Profiles: Who are the key partners with related customer profiles that might lead to profitable referral and cross marketing opportunities?
Product and Service Launches
How will we launch fast, build market awareness fast, and develop a beachhead?
- Launch Planning: Planning and executing product or service launches, including go-to-market strategies and promotional activities.
- Market Entry Strategies: Advising on go to market strategies for new products or services.
Setting Marketing Objectives and OKRs
How will we know we’re on the right path, what needs to be fixed, and what to look for along the way?
- Key Performance Indicators: Among all the leading indicators and potential data, there are a handful – or maybe even just 1-2 data points – that REALLY MATTER. Those are the ones to keep front and center.
- Long Term Goal Setting: Big goals have tiny components, all of which need to be in place and monitored.
Communication and Stakeholder Management
How will we win support and buy-in for our marketing initiatives? How can we use them in funding requests and capital raises to attract more support?
- Improving Internal Communication: Communicating marketing strategies, goals, and results to internal stakeholders and leadership.
- External Communication: Managing relationships with external partners, agencies, and vendors.
The list above is comprehensive and would keep any full-time CMO quite busy!
The fractional CMO will help block and tackle from the list to keep the lowest hanging fruit in focus and keep what is most important in mind.
The strategy is one way that a small amount of fractional expert help can have a huge impact down the road. If you get 6 months into your campaigns and are headed in the wrong direction, without the feedback apparatus that allows for quick pivots and optimization along the way, it may be too late.
The story a company tells is fundamental to every aspect of its marketing and customer success. The fractional CMO plays a fundamental role in understanding the customer voice, shaping how a brand is perceived, thinking how it should connect with audiences, and driving OKR success using these elements.
Brand Development and Positioning
Who are we and why do we exist? What is our mission? How do we do what we do better than any other company? What are our distinctive attributes and superpower brag points? What attests to our authority and credibility in our industry?
- Building Brand Strategy: Defining or refining the brand strategy, including brand positioning, messaging, and differentiation. Articulating the story, values and purpose. Finding the emotional resonance with the customers and their aspirational goals.
- Discovering Brand Identity: Overseeing the creation and maintenance of a consistent brand identity across all marketing channels.
- Developing Brand Messaging: Developing clear and compelling messaging that resonates with the target audience.
Crisis Management and Reputation Building
How will we keep customers, analysts and partners in tune with the authentic messaging and value we provide? How do we communicate transparently and forthrightly through difficult periods in markets or company results?
- Reputation Management: Implementing strategies to build and maintain a positive brand reputation.
- Crisis Communication: Developing plans and communication strategies to address and mitigate crises.
- Winning Backlinks and Online Reputation: Making sure the company collects good, quality backlinks and stays in a good digital neighborhood.
When a company stands alongside its customers in solving big problems or removing obstacles, that is a powerful brand awareness and loyalty trigger.
- Advocacy Programs: Encourage and amplify customer advocacy, turning satisfied customers into brand advocates.
- User-Generated Content (UGC): Foster the creation and sharing of user-generated content that showcases positive customer experiences.
- Industry Research Campaigns: Conducting and broadcasting research that informs and educates and brings reform and knowledge where it is needed.
A great narrative resonates narrative is a powerful tool for a fractional CMO to shape brand identity, differentiate the brand, build trust, engage audiences, and guide marketing strategies.
A compelling narrative serves as the foundation for effective marketing communications and contributes to long-term brand success.
Don’t skimp on working on this valuable step! It has exponential value for everything else when it is clearly articulated and well communicated to everyone in the marketing organization as well as employees.
Owned & Earned Media
A fractional CMO develops, implements, and optimizes strategies related to owned and earned media.
Here’s how a fractional CMO can maximize the impact of owned and earned media channels:
The website is the beating heart of any B2B organization. The home page and the first view above the fold are the most important place to show credibility, develop engagement and start directing the customer into the information and experience they need. There are two main customers: actual customers and the search engines. Hint: If you serve the customers well with an informative, useful, fast experience on your site, Google will love you.
- Upgrading User Experience (UX): Collaborate with the web development and design teams to ensure a positive user experience on the company’s website.
- Driving Content Strategy: Oversee the development of a robust content strategy, ensuring that website content aligns with brand messaging and provides value to visitors.
- Technical Optimization: Ensuring quality integration of content and messaging into Google Search and other search engines and eliminating errors from Google Search Console.
SEO Optimization and Online Authority
Building authority online means a great user experience, great content and lots of backlinks attesting to your true authority as an expert company in the space. Finding the right balance of cadence and cost with SEO work is critical. There is no black hat way to win on the search engines – the only way to the top of the first page is by pleasing website visitors with great content. Once they are on the site, how to get them more engaged?
- Search Engine Optimization: Growing online organic authority and presence through content building, website optimization, search engine optimization (SEO), technical optimization, backlinks and business citations and user experience improvements.
- Optimizing Landing Experiences: Generating, monitoring and optimizing high-performance landing pages and user experiences that bring warm leads.
- Creating Organic Offers: Creating white papers, infographics, research reports, news bulletins, video, quizzes and more that attract interest.
- Backlinks and Online Reputation: Driving local search or citations by other high authority websites and educational content.
Social Media Presence
A company’s socials are key to the holistic online profile of a company. A social media channel that has outdated content and a feeling of abandonment creates distrust quickly online. Finding the right balance of cost and engagement on social platforms is a great job for a fractional CMO.
- Social Strategy Development: Defining what platforms to focus on, content types, and engagement tactics, as well as success metrics.
- Authentic Community Building: Foster community engagement on social media, encouraging conversations and building a loyal audience.
Content Marketing Strategy
Content is a really dumb and silly word for what is needed. Your customers don’t want “content” any more than they want to eat “protein” for dinner. Content needs to inform, but it also needs to entertain. Hopefully that is why you are reading this right now.
- Creating Content Marketing: Creating and implementing content hubs, educational centers, blog posts, whitepapers, videos, and other content formats to educate the prospects at every funnel stage and nurture the existing customers too.
- Building Influencer and UGC Content: Finding authentic representatives for your brand that have followings in social media among target customers. These need to be chosen carefully, but can be explosive in their impact on credibility in the holistic funnel, especially for new market entrants that have low existing trust levels.
Once you have permission to email someone, you have a powerful connection that needs to be respected. For many companies, the emails they send form a major part of their nurturing and ongoing conversion campaigns.
- Email Campaign Development: Oversee the creation of targeted email campaigns that nurture leads, retain customers, and drive engagement.
- CRM Segmentation: Implement audience segmentation strategies for personalized and relevant email communications.
- Email Automation: Automated customer journey triggers and pipeline nurturing sequences to boost conversion.
The fractional CMO works hard on earned and owned media, which contribute in an outsized way to the overall success of the marketing function and the company. Proper care and feeding allows for the building of a strong online presence, fostering positive brand perception, and leveraging earned media opportunities to enhance brand credibility and reach.
Nothing exists in a vacuum, and neither does your online reputation.
The authority of your website, which draws traffic from Google Search and Bing, is dependent on the quality of your content and the quality of the sites that link to its content. A customer might discover you in social media, research you in Google Search and click a paid media ad, read about you on Reddit, and then convert for a free trial on your website.
A holistic funnel should be:
- Integrated: Marketing, sales, and customer success efforts should work together to provide a seamless customer experience across the journey from discovery to conversion.
- Customer-Centric: Understand and address the needs, preferences, and pain points of the customer at every stage.
- Lifecycle-Focused: Extend your funnel concept beyond the point of conversion. It’s important to nurture long-term relationships with customers.
- Data-Driven: Holistic funnels leverage data and analytics to track customer behavior every step of the way. Optimization can’t happen without it.
- Multi-Channel: Customers interact with brands through various channels, so the holistic funnel should consider the entire omnichannel experience.
No company can be everywhere and hit every channel – it just isn’t possible.
That’s why a fractional CMO is so useful in maintaining and growing your holistic funnel. They can mix and match the right strategies, test them rigorously, and use them together to build warm energy and ready conversions right through the funnel.
Every aspect of your customer’s journey through your funnel should be examined regularly so it can be optimized. Test where you invest!
Here are the key elements of how a fractional CMO can help supercharge your holistic funnel and grow your customers:
Digital Marketing Strategy
Your digital reputation and brand awareness is bolstered by your earned and owned media, but driven by your digital marketing such as paid media, digital events and retargeting. Deciding which channels to focus on, in what proportions, at what budget, for how long, to what end, is what the fractional CMO can offer expert leadership on.
- Digital Advertising: Planning and executing digital advertising campaigns across various platforms, such as Google Ads and social media.
- Programmatic Retargeting: Creating and implementing content strategies, including blog posts, whitepapers, videos, and other content formats.
- Webinars and Livestreams: Live events that draw eyeballs, educate with authentically useful information and get warm clicks.
Lead Generation and Conversion
The centerpiece of lead generation is the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and how to use it best to collect info on prospects and turn them into customers overs time. Selecting vendors and agencies, deciding on their goals and how the results will be measured, and how these campaigns will balance against other strategies, is critical work for a fractional CMO.
- Lead Generation Strategies: Designing and implementing lead generation programs to attract and convert potential customers.
- Conversion Optimization: Analyzing and optimizing the sales funnel to improve conversion rates at each stage.
- Customer Acquisition: Developing strategies to acquire new customers and clients through targeted campaigns.
- Marketing Automation: Harnessing the power of Hubspot and other CRM automation to nurture relationships with prospects and customers over time, adding sales acceleration and efficiency.
Online and in the real world, people love to get together and be social and learn. Driving great energy and thoughtful, useful thought leadership is the key to success.
- Event Strategy: Developing strategies for participation in industry events, conferences, and trade shows.
- Event Planning: Overseeing the planning and execution of events to maximize brand visibility and lead generation.
The right affiliates and partners can drive a lot of credibility and instant customer success.
- Gain Partner Relationships: Identifying and building relationships with partners who will refer their customers, members or other parts of their community into your funnel as a warm lead.
- Optimize Networks: Oversee and optimize influencer and affiliate marketing networks to maximize results.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
The essence of sales acceleration is making sure marketing aligns around creating warm, well-educated leads that are ready to receive the advanced sales care and customization that sales will provide at the close. What information, materials, proof points need to be created for sales? How can the quality of leads be better targeted? How will leads be scored and valued?
- Accelerate Sales: Working closely with sales teams to align marketing efforts with sales goals and ensure effective communication.
- Enable Sales: Providing sales teams with the tools, content, and resources needed to close deals successfully.
- Pipeline Management: Contributing to the development and management of sales pipelines.
Customer Retention and Loyalty Programs
Reducing churn is key to long term successful growth. A customer that stays and grows their relationship with you over time, increasing Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA), way more valuable than the customer lurking “in the bush.”
- Keep Them Longer: Creating and implementing strategies to retain existing customers and enhance customer loyalty. Many SaaS products use PLG (Product Led Growth) strategies to grow over time, simply by leaning into their best customers’ feedback and giving them what they want.
- Engage with Customers: Developing programs to engage customers, gather feedback, and foster long-term relationships. Consider special events and digital thank yous – anything that truly shows you understand their pain points and are on their side.
- Referral Programs: A happy customer that benefits authentically from referring to your business will keep coming back and sending more.
By adopting a holistic funnel approach, B2B companies are more comprehensive in their strategy. They stay focused on acquiring customers but also build strong relationships that maximize customer lifetime value.
Analytics & Tech Stack
A fractional Chief Marketing Officer (fCMO) is often put in charge of optimizing and managing an ideal marketing technology stack (MarTech stack) and ensuring the whole system delivers the analytics it should.
A good marketing tech stack looks like this:
- Simple for all team members to use without “breaking it”
- Integrated via API or direct integration so everything talks to everything else
- Just the right tools to do the job vs expensive enterprise software with too many bells and whistles
- Delivers attribution that tracks the customer from their earliest interactions with your brand
- Is able to take data feedback from campaigns and feed it to machine learning and AI for faster optimization
- Scalable for the next stage of growth and the foreseeable future
- Allows for personalization and automation to drive increased performance
- Aligned with business goals and OKRs
- Transparent so all stakeholders can see what they need to see easily
- Encourages experimentation and testing, wherever possible
- Secure and meets legal requirements for marketing campaigns and data security
The key is to avoid subscription creep and siloed data, which ultimately will end up costing revenue down the road – even if it seems like a short cut now. A fractional CMO can help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
The key deliverables for Analytics are:
Analytics and Performance Measurement
Inspect to see if you get what you expect. If you don’t, you’ll know early enough that you can change course, adjust and pivot to get to the right results.
- Reading the Tea Leaves & Data Analysis: Leveraging data analytics tools to assess the performance of marketing campaigns and initiatives.
- KPI Tracking: Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly tracking and reporting on marketing performance.
- ROI Analysis: Evaluating the return on investment (ROI) and return on ad spend (ROAS) of marketing efforts and making data-driven recommendations for optimization.
Analytics Platform Setup and Management
Live Data Dashboards
Data eventually ends up in a dashboard loaded with the KPIs that all stakeholders need to see to manage the marketing function correctly. The fractional CMO takes ownership of the data dashboard and is the first to spot a number out of place in its readouts.
Regular assessment, optimization, and innovation are key components of effectively managing a marketing tech stack. This is a job best left to an experienced fractional CMO.
Team Hiring, Training, Reporting
If you want a high-performance marketing machine, you need the assistance of an experienced CMO. But a full-time one isn’t necessary to get the job done right to hire, train and motivate a great marketing team.
Here’s how a fractional CMO contributes to hiring, training, and reporting for a high performance marketing team:
Team Leadership and Development
Creating exciting opportunities to learn, grow and succeed while accomplishing the mission and goals of the company. Building a fun, supportive, humbly-confident culture where people are encouraged to give their best and work hard.
- Pumping Up the Team: Leading and managing marketing teams, whether in-house or remote, to ensure collaboration and productivity.
- Talent Hiring and Development: Identifying skill gaps, recruiting talent, and providing mentorship and training to marketing teams.
- Promoting a Coaching Culture: Team members receive regular feedback and coaching for professional growth.
- Training Initiatives: Implementing training programs to enhance the team’s technical skills, industry knowledge and marketing competencies.
- Leadership Development: Investing in leadership development for team members with leadership potential.
- Promote Diversity and Inclusion: Advocate for diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, ensuring a well-rounded and inclusive team.
- Eliminate Bias: Implement measures to minimize unconscious biases in the hiring process.
Building a structure of fast, useful reporting that keeps everyone focused on the same long term goals and aware of their specific contribution to the OKR missions of the moment. Keeping every team member on a learning path.
- Regular Reporting: Establishing a regular reporting cadence for team members to provide updates on key metrics and achievements.
- Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Collaborate with team members to define measurable KPIs aligned with overall marketing objectives.
- Performance Metrics: Establish metrics for individual and team performance evaluation.
- Quarterly and Annual Reviews: Conduct strategic reviews with team members to assess progress against goals and discuss strategic priorities.
- Individual Development Plans: Use performance reviews as an opportunity to discuss individual career goals and development plans.
Agile Project Management and Adaptability
Building energy and results with agile project management tools and a focus on keeping all the trains running on time.
- Encouraging Agility: Foster an agile mindset within the team, allowing for quick adaptation to changing market conditions and 90-day action plans.
- Iterative Improvement: Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and iteration based on data and insights.
- Project Management Tools: Provide structure, leadership and training in use of Asana, Trello, Clickup or other project management tools.
A fractional CMO actively participates in team hiring, training and reporting processes. With this expertise in hand, a founder can be sure that the marketing team is equipped with the right skills, motivated to achieve strategic goals, and aligned with the company’s OKRs.
This fractional leadership boosts the marketing team’s effectiveness and overall success of all marketing initiatives.
A Wealth of Experience, A Fraction of Cost
Fractional CMOs bring a wealth of experience and expertise to organizations seeking strategic marketing leadership without the commitment of a full-time executive.
The fractional services offered can be tailored to the exact needs and goals of each business. This drives growth, enhances brand visibility and improves marketing effectiveness and keeps costs low.