What Is a Fractional CMO and How Can They Bring Value to Your Business? – with Karen Hayward


Imagine an experienced Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) that could become part of your company without the high costs. Fractional CMOs are executive-level marketing leaders who help companies grow by providing services that integrate their full skill set and expertise to a specific company without incurring the costs of hiring a full-time executive.

Karen Hayward, Managing Partner & CMO at Chief Outsiders, explains: “Mid-market companies have a need for marketing talent, sometimes they cannot afford it but they need it at the same level as large companies”. This is where fractional CMOs come into play.

The reality is that mid-market companies often don’t need a full-time CMO. These are companies whose pain points are one or a combination of the following:

  • They want to step up their game and grow their business to the next level.  
  • They want to expand internationally.
  • They want to launch a new product but they do not have the market infrastructure.
  • They do not have the payroll budget for a full-time employee 

How can a fractional CMO help a company overcome these challenges?

Fractional CMOs know which rocks to lift

As experienced senior marketing executives, they have the ability to recognize patterns. Sometimes all they need is to take a key metric for a given business and figure out how to move the needle.

“I talked to a cybersecurity company and asked about their close rates on proposals. The client mentioned it was only about 35%. And I know that it really should be somewhere north of 50%; the benchmark is 70%. There is a lot of potential to unlock.” – Karen Hayward, Manager Partner & CMO, Chief Outsiders

Fractional CMOs will close the gap between sales & marketing

Is sales a subset of marketing or the other way around? This is a question that will always generate a degree of controversy between mid-market executive teams. But by definition, good marketing will lead salespeople to fish in the right pond with the lures they need to catch the right fish. 

This is especially true during a global pandemic. A recent McKinsey study shows B2B sales have shifted towards digital-enabled sales interactions; websites can no longer serve as an online brochure for companies. When equipped with the right tools and insights, digital marketing departments will help sales teams get the job done in a much shorter time frame.

Fractional CMOs will help companies go from strategy to execution

Factional CMOs must act as operational leaders. Hayward insists on the importance of helping companies go from high-level planning to detailed execution. These services include: 

  • Selecting an agency
  • Hiring the right people
  • Training and onboarding new hires 
  • Coaching the CEO in marketing strategy 
  • Gathering the metrics to stay on budget
  • Collaborating with sales leaders to implement strategy

After realizing the value that a fractional CMO can bring to any company, it comes as no surprise that more and more companies are willing to use this model to embed the highest value part of a CMO job into their businesses. Would this be the right model for your company?