6 Signs You Need a Fractional CMO

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I’m Crystal, Chief Marketer and Co-Founder here at CNV Creative where we help you grow your online business by strategizing and implementing profitable, wholistic and data-driven marketing plans – so you can start loving your business again.

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How do you know if you need a Fractional CMO?

If you are like most founders, you started your business because you wanted to create your own freedom, have more time with your family, enjoy life and make an impact.

But if you’re still running the marketing department, chances are that’s not how it’s going right now.

As long as you keep working in your business, in your marketing department, making day-to-day marketing decisions… the further away that vision is.

I’m willing to bet that if you are looking for a Fractional (or Outsourced) CMO and are a growing founder-led business, you find yourself spending more time directing marketing activities and less time doing the things you’d LOVE to do.

And if we get really honest, you are probably creating more bottlenecks than positive outcomes. At best you are leaving revenue on the table. At worst, you are costing yourself money and slowing down your growth trajectory.

But how do you really know when you are ready for a Fractional CMO?

Most of our clients find us when they feel overwhelmed by their business and their marketing efforts don’t seem to be working.

Typically, most founder-led companies are running cost-center marketing departments and they feel like they have been throwing random darts at the wall with no clear direction and poor results. Pretty frustrating, huh?

So if that sounds like you, but you’re not quite sure yet, let’s explore 6 ways to know if you are ready to transition from your (somewhat organized) system of chaos to a model of true leadership via a Fractional CMO…

1. You can’t afford a full-time Chief Marketing Officer, yet…

…but you know you need someone with expertise to help lead your growth team if you’re going to scale to the next level.

A good Chief Marketing Officer is going to cost a significant amount of money. It’s probably WAY more than your scaling business can afford.

According to the folks at PayScale, the breakdown for average costs of a Traditional CMO are:

  • Base salary: $172,292
  • Bonus: $37,351
  • Commission: $21,000
  • Profit Sharing: $15,357
  • Health Benefits: $20,576
  • Retirement: $20,502

That brings your grand total to a whopping $287,069 a year.

It’s OK if you need some time to pick your jaw up from the floor.

Even if you take into consideration just the base salary, it’s still a significant amount of capital. There are not too many scaling businesses that can really afford that outlay of cash.

That is the biggest reason most people go the Fractional CMO route. It’s not that Fractional CMOS are necessarily cheaper per hour. It’s that:

  • You’re not paying benefits
  • They are not full time/salary
  • You’re not paying taxes
  • You’re not paying bonuses or commissions
  • You’re not paying for office space to house them
  • Etc.

2. “I Thought You Were Doing That!”

Have you been hearing that around your office lately? Chances are you have, and it’s because there is no one there to lead your marketing team.

Here’s a great example: Everyone knows there’s a big sales pitch coming up next week and the marketing team needs to get the collateral ready.

The problem? Julie and Greg aren’t doing it because they thought Marlee was doing it. Marlee isn’t doing it, because she thought Greg was handling it.

Or maybe worse? Three people are working on the same exact project – wasting precious time and money.

And sure, there are some great tools, like Clickup, that could help make communication a bit easier on your staff, but ultimately the lack of consistency is because there is no one leading.

Guess what else? You, as CEO/Founder/President, shouldn’t be the one doing it either. This job belongs to the head of marketing, and at some point it’s a hat you need to take off your head.

So when you get to the point that marketing tasks are falling through the cracks because of YOU, then it’s time to pass it to someone else who can get results.

3. No Innovation (Static Marketing Methods)

If there is one thing that tends to be an issue in companies without a marketing lead, it is that so many of the decisions are based on outdated methods.

Many founders believe that they know their industry and this might be true (it should be!) but it’s also likely that as a founder:
1.  You wear rose-colored glasses about your business and
2.  You don’t fully understand the needs of your market and the ever-changing marketing tactics your competitors are using

When your employees can barely keep up, innovation simply doesn’t have a place at the table. We’ve all been in meetings where a problem is presented and the marketing reps say something like, “this is how we’ve handled it in the past so this is what we will do.”

But have you actually looked at the data of that last campaign? And can you really find the best marketing strategies if you aren’t trying and testing new things?

Look, I am all about not spending time and money fixing something if it’s not broken. But marketing is a big game of A/B testing, analyzing and adjusting. And assuming you can keep doing the same old things is enough to put your business six feet under.

I’m also willing to bet that BECAUSE you are short on time and don’t have a marketing lead, you weren’t able to take the time to analyze how things ACTUALLY worked out last time.

Having an outside expert at your disposal can give you an unbiased opinion and experienced guidance that can lead to innovation and growth.
A HUGE benefit of your Fractional CMO is that they specifically do not feel like they have to keep the status-quo. They are there because the status-quo needs some shaking-up!

They won’t tell you what you want to hear. Their job is to guide you towards long-term success, not band-aid solutions.

Of all the traits I look for in business partners, the ability to cut the bullshit and talk to me honestly is the most valuable. In the past, I’ve poked fun at Crystal for telling clients they wouldn’t get a “Yes Girl” when you work with her, but it’s true. We are going to push back to get to the best solution. And it’s so valuable.

4. Culture Shock

Admittedly, I tend to focus a lot on the negative side of business, because honestly, we can all relate with the frustrations we face everyday.

But often times, things aren’t dire. In fact, things are fine. 🤷🏻

But to me? Fine is just another word for mediocre. Sure, you and your sales team might be producing a minimally viable product to get things done, but does getting things done actually move things ahead?

One of the biggest benefits of a Fractional CMO is that they bring in a fresh energy, giving new life to your organization.

I’m sure you’ve worked around that one Steve Ballmer-esque person who just has that energy and spirit that just makes you want to be the BEST you can be.

Aside from expertise, that’s what a Fractional CMO can bring to the table.

  • The ideas to get the table thinking and talking.
  • The motivation to have a plan and execute on it.
  • The determination to push everyone to the common goal.

THAT is what you get out of a good CMO.

5. Missing deadlines (and opportunities)

Let me take a wild guess, everyone on your team is taking things on that they have no business adding to their plate, overextending themselves. You guys are coming up with great ideas, jumping on the newest bandwagon, trying a million things to get to the next step. But…

Then something else comes up.

And the project we were just laser focused on (not really… it’s hard to be laser focused on 100 things at once) is now on the back-burner….


It gets added to the endless pile of things that get started and never finished.

Because no one is leading initiatives and setting priorities. No one is actually laying out campaigns and proactively planning for what’s coming up.

Bringing a Fractional CMO into the mix ensures that someone is setting the pace (and knows how much you can realistically take on), leading the team and are focused on getting projects across the finish line.

Guess what that does? Suddenly:
* Your team isn’t feeling as stressed, drained and burnt out.
* Instead they feel accomplished and proud.
* Your morale goes up.
* People are happier and more fun to be around.
* You get more leads.
* You have more data to analyze.
* Your revenue increases.

Look, at the end of the day, it comes down to this: do you want your company to run functionally and GROW, or do you just want to continue with the status quo?
If you look at business through the decades, the companies that make waves (and oddly enough, money) don’t settle: they move the ball forward. They innovate.

6. Not enough leads

We are going to round things out with one of the biggest reasons you might need to hire a Fractional CMO:
Drumroll please…. Your sales team consistently struggles to find and convert quality leads.

Referrals are wonderful but they are not consistent or reliable. They aren’t scalable.

When you align your sales and marketing team with a system of interconnected marketing tactics that align with the goals of an ROI-driven strategy, the entire business grows and thrives. We call this profit-center marketing.

With profit-center marketing, since your data-driven, ROI-focused marketing tactics have already educated leads and delivered them to the pipeline,  the sales team is able to have more meaningful conversations, and spend more time turning warm prospects into loyal customers.

The outcome: a positive and measurable impact on the bottom line with reliable data that shows us exactly where to invest the marketing and advertising budgets for the biggest return on investment.


Predictable and consistent leads so your sales team can close more deals.

Are you sick of taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back? That’s when you really know that it’s time to make the change and contract a FCMO. I’ll also tell you that:

Founders who are typically ready for a Fractional CMO:
1. Understand the value of a strategic marketing leader
2. Are ready to allocate significant budget to marketing
3. See marketing as the way your business will grow
4. Are ready to invest in a marketing team and resources
5. Recognize that building a marketing foundation for long-term success requires time, commitment, and experienced leadership
6. Are eager to step back from the marketing role, empowering our team to do our best work

If you want to talk about whether a Fractional CMO help can help you grow, book your free audit call.

What is a Fractional CMO + Team?

By taking full responsibility for your KPIs, we systematically help your business scale through our profit-center marketing strategies, making a quicker impact with lower risk than a full-time marketing hire.

Every decision we make is based on data, not just theory or what the competition is doing: we aim to scale only the strategies and systems that data shows will return a positive investment.

With a CNV Fractional CMO+ Team, you have one assigned Fractional CMO to communicate and strategize with and you get access to a team of MBA-level Marketing Executives who each have an average of 15 years of proven marketing experience working with big businesses like Daymond John and founder-led start-ups.


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