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The Rise of Fractional CMOs: Why Brands Outsource Brand Strategy and Marketing Expertise

Strategy, Branding, Market Research, Marketing 03.15.23Reading Time 4 minutes

Most business leaders would agree that marketing is the lifeblood to any organization, although only a fraction of entrepreneurs are classically trained marketers. Perhaps that is why Wall Street Journal recently reported that more companies are recognizing benefits from hiring Fractional CMOs. This statement, of course, prompts two questions: What is a Fractional CMO, and, Why would companies want one?

About Fractional CMOs and Outsourced Marketing

Just as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is chiefly responsible for developing and executing a marketing strategy that will meet the business goals, Fractional CMOs are responsible for managing a company’s brand strategy, defining marketing plans, growing the customer base and increasing revenue, all while working for the company only part time. 

An outsourced marketing executive provides the same level of marketing leadership, but only works for a company a fraction of the time. Similarly, outsourced marketing agencies take ownership of developing and driving brand strategy and go-to-market plans, not as an employee, but as vested partners, motivated by opportunities for mutual success.  

Benefits of Outsourced Marketing

In a recent survey of C-Suite executives, 86% of leaders said that a lack of sufficient capabilities and resources had resulted in missed opportunities in terms of revenue, growth or customer acquisition. Some of the most commonly cited needs were fresh perspectives and new thinking, experience with proven methodologies, and the skills needed to ramp-up performance.

With their outsiders’ perspective, outsourced marketing executives can bring fresh ideas to the table. Rather than iterating on what has already been done or tried, or what competitors are doing, these brand strategy and marketing professionals are able to apply best practices from a variety of verticals. It can be easier for people with a range of experiences in multiple industries to see opportunities to apply new and different principles and practices. 

With a tendency to work with many clients for shorter periods of time — anywhere from a few months to a few years — outsourced marketing professionals are also likely to stay current with trends in the industry. This helps companies avoid falling victim to the status quo. 

As attractive as these benefits are, perhaps the most obvious and beneficial benefit of outsourced marketing can be financial. Full time executives typically come with high price tags. The average CMO salary in the United States is $174k per year. That price tag can double in more expensive parts of the country, like the average CMO salary in Los Angeles of $382.6k. This, of course, does not even include the salaries for the rest of the marketing team. 

How Companies Decide on Outsourced Marketing

If a company is interested in outsourcing their marketing, one of the first decisions a company must make is whether or not they need one single professional, a true Fractional CMO, or a more diverse team of marketing professionals. This primarily comes down to understanding the size and capabilities of the existing marketing team.

In organizations with very capable creatives who can ideate campaigns, and experienced marketing coordinators, who can own the day to day operations such as creating assets to support the sales team, deploying campaign emails, managing social media, and reporting on the performance of marketing activities, a single Fractional CMO can be a very good fit. 

When a strong marketing department is in place, a Fractional CMO would take responsibility for defining campaign plans, identifying departmental processes and structures, and recommending any necessary upgrades to platforms and technology that will help the company meet its goals, then setting the team in motion.  

If companies are lacking in resources, two options remain. A single Fractional CMO can still define the strategy, then help to oversee additional agencies, such as creative and media buying agencies, to carry out the plan. This approach could still garner cost savings as compared to hiring a full team, though the savings may be smaller.

Alternatively, companies can consider hiring a strategic marketing agency with brand strategy and creative teams. In this type of agency relationship, clients would benefit from the agency’s marketing and brand strategy expertise, the creative development and project management of campaign executions from a single partner, while paying only for actual resources used. 

Gigasavvy is a creative agency with experience delivering results for brands through brand strategy, content creation and marketing support. Contact us to talk about how we can help you with your outsourced marketing needs.


Melissa Zarb

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