Growth-minded businesses know that modern marketing is the key to building a steady pipeline of qualified sales leads. Recruiting a marketing team from scratch is a costly and time-consuming process, but hiring a fractional CMO offers an attractive alternative for businesses that want to get started with marketing without the lift (and for a fraction of the cost).
But no business decision comes easily. With your growth on the line, it’s important to find a fractional CMO agency or team that’s the right fit for your business. Here are four things to keep in mind when you’re in the market for a fractional CMO. But first things first:
What Is a Fractional CMO Agency?
A fractional CMO agency provides an outsourcing model in which you partner with a marketing leader who essentially joins your team to provide marketing strategy, leadership, and follow-through. Fractional CMOs sometimes operate independently. You might find one on Linkedin or connect with them via a referral. They tend to work with multiple clients at any given time, dedicating a portion of their working hours to each.
A fractional CMO agency is a more collaborative way to find fractional marketing support. The agency model may operate in one of two ways.
- Some fractional CMO firms are placement agencies, essentially matching you with a single person to oversee your marketing strategy and find contractors to execute activities.
- Other fractional CMO firms are fully staffed with entire teams to ensure strategic and tactical consistency.
LEARN MORE: What is a fractional CMO? Two models explained
So how do you pick the right one for you?
1. Assess your goals
If you’re considering hiring a fractional CMO agency, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, what is your budget? How much can you afford to spend on marketing each month?
- Second, what are your marketing goals? What do you hope to achieve by working with a fractional agency?
- Finally, what is your timeline? When do you need results by?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start looking for agencies that fit your needs. There are a number of fractional CMO agencies out there, so take your time and find one that you feel confident about working with. Ask for referrals from friends or colleagues who have worked with fractional agencies in the past, and read online reviews.
2. Understand their processes and team
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what services the fractional marketing agency you are considering working with offers. Ask about their process and how they will work with you to achieve your marketing goals.
Here are a few questions to ask when considering a fractional CMO agency:
- What size companies do they typically work with?
- What industries do they have experience with?
- What’s their team structure? How many people will be working on my account?
That final question is key. Do they have an in-house team to handle all aspects of your account, or do they outsource to other agencies and freelancers?
Marketing is a discipline of specialties. But with a placement agency model, you only get a single marketing contact. This person will not have the time or expertise to both build a strategy and carry out on all of the many aspects of marketing, from demand generation to content marketing to customer success.
The benefit of a fractional marketing team model, is that you know they already work well together and that they will be able to provide a seamless experience. A fractional team structure provides you with a team of experts, along with a fractional CMO, who specialize in different areas. This can give you more peace of mind knowing that each area of marketing is being handled by someone who knows what they’re doing.
3. Compare pricing structures
When considering a fractional agency, it is important to compare pricing structures. Some agencies charge an hourly rate, while others charge a monthly retainer.
The benefit of an hourly rate is that you only pay for the time you use. The downside is that you may end up paying more in the long run if your marketing needs are complex. However, the fractional CMO can adjust your scope to ensure hours are used towards tactics that match your goals.
This fractional, or part-time, status is what allows fractional CMOs to offer their services for a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire—usually around $5-20k per month. If you are looking to ramp up growth quickly, you may need to spend more for both marketing strategy and executing on quick wins.
4. Involve key decision makers in the decision
Finally, no matter how great a fractional CMO agency may be, they are not going to be a good fit for everyone. As with any consultant, you need to make sure that their values, working style and personality are compatible with your company. Additionally, marketing should not operate in a vacuum. The more people on board with this external hire (or hires), the greater likelihood for success.
The best way to do this is to involve as many key decision makers in the selection process as possible. This could include other members of the executive team, your head of sales (if you have one) and even some members of your target audience. By getting input from all of these different stakeholders, you can be sure that you are making the best decision for your company.