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5&Vine’s Ultimate
Fractional CMO Guide

What is a
Fractional CMO?
What is a Fractional CMO?

A Fractional CMO – or Fractional Chief Marketing Officer – is an experienced marketing leader that can help a business craft their value proposition, develop their go to market, and accelerate growth. As they aren’t necessarily needed full-time, they’re ideal for businesses who don’t want to, or are unable to, pay the full salary of a seasoned CMO nor utilize to their full capacity if engaged on a full-time basis.

What does a CMO
do on a daily
What does a CMO do on a daily basis?

The CMO is responsible for growing a company’s customer base and increasing revenue; driving engagement and retention; and building cohesive brand, creative and communication strategies. The role is critical to a company’s success, and it’s often essential to hire an experienced executive that will give them a competitive edge.

They are engaged to identify barriers to growth and overcome them, leaving the organization better than they found it. These barriers vary by business but have involved: funnel optimization, market prioritization, paid and organic growth strategy, team design and hiring, value proposition development, rebranding, evaluating and rebuilding the marketing organization, new product development, pitch deck development, presenting to the board and VC’s, and the introduction and management of OKRs.

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What does 5&Vine believe?

5&Vine believes that crafting a Challenger Brand is a multi-year journey. As a full-service agency with fractional resources ranging from Fractional Marketing Director and Fractional Growth Lead, to Fractional Creative Direction to Fractional Social Media, we are the Fractional Marketing Team that can help to steward your brand from the very beginning. We’ll support you as you’re working to identify the Jobs To Be Done and value proposition, or further in the process when you’re trying to scale or revive growth.

For Challenger Brands to successfully take on their industry’s leaders, navigate uncertain times and find a secure foothold, they need a marketing plan with backbone, designed by someone who truly understands strategic marketing and the Go To Market process.

We start by asking the right questions – why does it have to be this way and how can it be better – to define the problem we’re trying to solve and guide the most powerful solution (economically and socially). We ask the hard questions with kindness and candor, even when those questions drive discomfort.

Then it requires ensuring authenticity and consistency across each point of the customer and employee journey. This is where our team comes in to fill in the gaps on your team and/or deliver websites, email journeys, store design, branding, etc.

What Is 5&Vine’s approach to Fractional Marketing services?

Bringing an outside perspective into your business can have a huge impact in effectively analyzing the challenges of your brand so you can figure out how to overcome them.

At 5&Vine, we help teams uncover meaningful competitive insights and industry trends that give you unfair advantages to win. At the core of our work, we understand that you’re not going to win by executing the same strategies as your competitors. More often than not, they can outspend you. We help you outsmart them instead.

We uncover and map competitive weaknesses and unmet customer needs to your capabilities, and this becomes the foundation of your marketing strategy. With our approach, we ensure that you are on a course where each department and team’s efforts are being channeled most effectively to get you to your next goal.

Our marketing planning process includes articulating your go-to-market, reframing your brand’s narrative, and producing tailor-made strategies that promote growth and customer acquisition.

Why should I hire 5&Vine’s approach as my

Fractional CMO & fully-integrated marketing team?

Hiring 5&Vine as your Fractional CMO and fully-integrated marketing team is akin to engaging the special forces – we are trained to take on all of your strategic marketing responsibilities as an extension of your team in a way that makes the most sense for you. Our expert team brings clarity and focus to your brand strategy, and the experience and commitment to execute with excellence.

5&Vine firmly embeds ourselves and manages your budgets and resources as if they were our own.

Our expert team fills in the gaps of existing client teams, or becomes the team, to effectively deliver results without wasting time or money. And we’re also happy to recruit, hire and onboard new full-time team members that we can pass the baton to.

Simply put, we’re the marketing resources you wish that you had in-house, but don’t.

Here are 5 most common scenarios where a 5&Vine is the best solution for teams:

Absence of a marketing team.

Brands sometimes focus so heavily on building a product or service that they haven’t yet hired a marketing team. In these instances, they need interim leadership and a marketing team while they staff up.

Teams lacking a seasoned marketing leader.

Brands often get by with a junior growth lead and marketing team, and could benefit from executive level guidance and mentorship to help them get to the next level. We have decades of experience managing and delivering on the expectations of your investors and board.

Marketing mentorship or second opinion.

The leadership, be that the CEO or CMO, would like an independent, outside perspective on their company and current marketing strategy.

Interim leadership.

The current marketing leader has decided to leave, or was let go, and interim leadership is required to ensure the company doesn’t miss a beat.

Growth acceleration.

A brand would like to accelerate growth to launch a new product, go-to-market, explore different revenue streams and pricing models, and win new customers.

The core industries that we specialize in are:

FashionFintechFood & BeverageMedtechProptechRetailSaaSSmarthomeSubscriptionSustainability

Challenger Brand FAQ’s
with 5&Vine’s Founder
& CMO Rahul Raj

  1. Track record of success.Past success is a solid indicator of future success. Make sure they have a history of winning. Consider this in two regards. First, the depth of experience in your industry, be that sustainable brands, Fintech, D2C or B2B SAAS. Second, breadth of experience across industries, enabling them to bring best practices and innovative strategies to your challenger brand and sector, not just the standard textbook responses.
  2. ChemistryContext matters and contributes to success, be that an organization’s culture, the dynamics of the management team, or their stage of growth. Make sure you and your team have great chemistry with your Fractional CMO.
  3. Team and/or network.As your Fractional CMO understands your business and identifies barriers to growth, they’ll work to resolve them. This will often require a team. If you don’t have those individuals in place, you’ll need to hire them, and this can be very time consuming. And, even when they’re in place, the team will need time to build chemistry. Engaging a Fractional CMO that comes with their own team helps deliver results, fast.
  4. Strategy.Marketing doesn’t exist in a silo. It needs to work in collaboration with product, sales, customer support, finance and operations. A great Fractional CMO gets that, and is eager to be integrated into the team to both lend support and ensure that the solutions advanced are feasible.

Discover more in our blog: Q&A with 5&Vine Founder and Fractional CMO Rahul Raj

It’s important to note that a Fractional CMO is a career executive, not a career consultant. They understand what it is like to be part of a team (startup or established company) because they’ve done it. They have experience delivering measurable results with limited resources. They immerse themselves in the company culture and become part of the team. Not only does the CMO build the overall marketing and growth strategy, they then roll up their sleeves and make it come to life – with or without the marketing resources that the startup currently has. After all, an idea is only as good as its execution.

Read further in our blog: Why Venture-Funded Startups are Hiring Fractional CMOs

If you’ve ever built a business you’ll know the hiring process is time-consuming, costly, and there’s a risk you might end up hiring someone who’s not quite right for you and your brand. Especially when it comes to hiring a CMO, the process can typically take up to a year. Hiring a trusted team alleviates that risk by bringing in the expertise you need to propel your brand forward.

Discover more in our blog: 5 Reasons You Should Consider Hiring a Fractional CMO

You can engage a Fractional CMO based on time or project. In the case of time, this typically ranges from ½ day a week to 3 days per week. To make best use of their expertise, you’ll need a team to execute. If you have an in-house team, part of their time will be in coaching and supporting that team to execute – including 1:on:1’s and team meetings. If you don’t have every capability needed (eg. you don’t have an in-house performance marketing team or graphic design) you can engage experts from your Fractional CMO’s team – ranging from ½ day to 3 days per week.

Additionally, you can engage a Fractional CMO to lead a project (e.g. new branding or a new website). The benefit of doing so is that the way that project is realized is through the strategic lens of a CMO. In the case of a website, it will be SEO optimized and conversion focused.

Learn more about our Services.

Financial experts and forecasters speculate that another recession is on the horizon. Whether this downturn will eclipse the Great Recession of 2008-2009 is yet to be determined, but there’s no denying the impact will be felt far and wide across the business world.

As one of the first to suffer from reduced budgets during downturns, the role of marketing will invariably shift over the coming months and years.

In 2023, the role of the CMO will evolve to require more agility than years prior, taking more pages from the startup playbook to squeeze value out of every last marketing dollar. This could be alternative pricing, acquisition models or reinvesting from paid acquisition to organic or referral.

A CMO in 2023 must be especially strong in:

  • Data-driven decision making
  • Customer experience and engagement
  • Omni-channel marketing
  • Application of emerging technologies into marketing strategies (i.e. AI, AR, VR, blockchain)
  • Collaboration with IT and data teams
  • Content strategy and storytelling
  • Global marketing expansion
  • ROI and attribution

Read more in our blog: The Role of Challenger Brand Marketing During an Economic Downturn

  1. You’re without a marketing leader
  2. You’re on a tight budget and a tight deadline
  3. Your marketing strategies are falling short

Discover more in our blog: When is it Time to Bring a Fractional CMO on Board?

Greenlight, a fintech Challenger helping parents raise financially-smart kids, is a definite standout. We helped position them to be the modern tool to reach that goal, developing a strategy that was as inspirational to young people as it was credible with parents, as well as position them for a Series A. By the end of our engagement, we had grown their customer base 3x, helped author their pitch deck and close a $20M series A led by Amazon, land an impressive range of Tier 1 press, launch an affiliate program, an advocacy and referral program, and built an in-house marketing team. Greenlight now has 5M daily active users and is valued at $2.3Bn.

Read more in the Greenlight case study.

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?

To help you find the right fit, we’ve outlined 7 questions you should be asking yourself when hiring a Fractional CMO:

  1. Do they have a proven track record?
  2. Are they data-driven in their decision making?
  3. Do you have a natural chemistry with them?
  4. Can they think two steps ahead?
  5. Can they communicate effectively?
  6. Are they in it for people and the planet?
  7. Does their expertise span the marketing mix?

Read more in our blog: Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Fractional CMO

“5&Vine are amazing marketing strategists. They led marketing for Greenlight during our early days, and it was one of the best decisions we made.”

– Tim Sheehan, Founder