What does a fractional CMO do? Should I hire one for my startup?
Hiring a Fractional CMO can be a daunting task. Where can you find someone who understands the most effective way to grow your startup, is focused on delivering the KPIs your management team and board want to see, and will build your brand while doing right by your customers and team?
With over 25 years of startup and marketing experience, we know how to deliver, what works, and some of the common pitfalls to avoid along the way. To help you find the right fit, we’ve outlined 8 questions you should be asking yourself when hiring a Fractional CMO.
1. Do they have a proven track record?
The Fractional CMO you choose to work with should have a proven track record delivering impact for startups. Whether it’s working with startups to strengthen their value proposition, acquire customers and grow their business, engaging customers on social and building community, or delivering KPIs that venture funds care about, ask about their past experience and/or their portfolio that proves they can put their approach into practice.
2. Are they data-driven in their decision making?
The most successful Fractional CMOs are those that use data to prioritize and deliver results. They should help you identify and strengthen your North Star metric and align marketing efforts to ensure they yield results. As with any good strategy, what you choose not to do is as important as what you choose to do, and they’ll help you understand the tradeoffs of the investments they recommend. In short, a great Fractional CMO will make data-driven decisions to help you focus on what matters most.
3. Do you have a natural chemistry with them?
Chemistry matters. Not everyone can be successful in every environment, so it is important to assess their fit with you and your team. You can start to do this by workshopping a problem in real-time so that you can assess their thinking, determine if you like the way they approach problems, and whether you are better together. We suggest doing so with the key stakeholders that will be involved in the process – often the CEO and members of the marketing team. Hopefully your team respects their intellect, humanity and drive, and feels both empowered and inspired to do their best work.
4. Can they see around corners?
Being a Fractional CMO requires you to think two steps ahead – ensuring that you’re delivering the results needed today and while helping to set the organization up for future growth. In the case of value proposition development, they are thinking about an articulation that allows you to win a greater share of wallet with an expanded product and service offering over time. In the case of performance marketing, they are continually testing new campaigns and platforms to qualify the next growth horizon. The best Fractional CMOs are those that simultaneously think about growth today and tomorrow, so your startup can thrive.
5. Can they communicate effectively?
Given what we’ve already covered in this list, communication and the ability to translate ideas is key. Fractional CMOs need to be able to distill their thinking and analysis into comprehensible and convincing statements you can act on and share with the rest of the team. They also need to be able to understand and communicate your brand story (both the rational and emotional components of it) to your customers to facilitate an authentic connection with your brand, enable them to transact, and organically refer others in their network.
6. Are they in it for people and planet?
The Fractional CMO you choose should be passionate about building your business in a way that is beneficial to people and the planet. Particularly in today’s climate, brands have an important part to play, morally and environmentally, and commitment to those movements shouldn’t be dismissed. Ensuring you’re hiring for this will help build an enduring brand, and strengthen its connection to existing and prospective customers, your team and those considering joining your team.
7. Does their expertise span the marketing mix?
Successful Fractional CMOs can help you grow using the elements of the marketing mix relevant for your business, not just the ones they are most comfortable with. As such, it is important to find a Fractional CMO with experience building brands, and growing startups, through facebook and Google Ad campaigns, to Design, PR and SEO. They understand how to combine the right marketing elements into a recipe that is right for you.
8. Do they enable you to succeed without them?
Fractional CMOs are typically hired when the cost – in terms of time and money – of hiring an experienced full-time CMO, isn’t practical. But that doesn’t mean you want to be dependent on them long-term, as it is unlikely to be financially viable. Seek out a Fractional CMO that wants to help you strengthen your internal capabilities by mentoring your team, building systems that endure – in the form of high performing digital campaigns, relationships with the media, etc – and help you build out and hire a full-time team.
At 5&Vine, we understand the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses, and helping Challenger Brands not just navigate this situation as seamlessly as possible, but reboot with a new perspective. Though the above are steps to better your marketing planning process, we’re here to help. Whether it’s in a supportive role or as your performance lead, you can reach out to the 5&Vine team.