Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Fractional CMO Insights Survey: Why Businesses Hire Them & How to Become One

Fractional CMO Insights Survey: Why Businesses Hire Them & How to Become One written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

What is a fractional CMO? What does it take to be one? 

And what is the benefit of a part-time marketing leader to companies? To the CMO? 

What is a Fractional CMO?

Think of a fractional CMO (fCMO) as a highly experienced marketing strategist on a part-time basis. They bring the expertise of a full-time CMO without the full-time cost commitment. But how does this model benefit businesses and marketers? 

In this post is hot-off-the-presses survey data from strategic marketing agency, Duct Tape Marketing,   Databox, and ActiveCampaign shows why fractions of a CMO’s time may be worth more than the whole.

For more information on what a fractional CMO does check out the Ultimate Guide to Scaling a Fractional CMO Business.

First of its Kind Fractional CMO Survey - Key Findings

Our survey polled over 260 respondents, including fractional CMOs, agencies using the model, and businesses who hire them. This gave us unique insights into the reasons behind its popularity and the potential benefits for all involved.

  • Adoption is booming. Almost half (48.6%) of respondents said they are currently working as fractional CMOs. Survey results show that most fractional CMOs are in demand for their strategic guidance and cost-effectiveness.
  • Experienced marketers thrive.  Over 70% of fractional CMOs indicated having more than 10 years of marketing experience.
  • Strategic services are key. Services like strategic planning (92.67%), marketing strategy development (88.67%), and content strategy (82.67%) ranked as top fCMO services.
  • Professional Services and SaaS industries lead. These industries see the biggest benefits from an fCMO, with SaaS/Software/Tech (65.33%) and Professional Services (55.33%) being  the top client industries.
Key Discovery: Businesses aren't just saving money with fCMOs – they're gaining access to top-tier strategic guidance that can transform their marketing results.

The Ideal Fractional CMO Profile

Our survey reveals the skills and experience that set top performers apart. While a solid marketing background is important, strategic thinking and adaptability are just as crucial. To thrive as a fractional CMO, be ready to offer in-demand services like strategic planning and digital marketing, while excelling at communication.

The 2024 Fractional CMO Insights Survey shows the ideal fractional CMO profile:

  • Most have 10+ years marketing experience
  • Balanced to busy workloads reflect healthy demand
  • Provide strategic planning, marketing strategy, content strategy, digital marketing, and other marketing services
  • Strong communication skills and ability to develop strategies are crucial
  • Clients are mainly in SaaS/tech and professional services

Market Opportunities for Companies and Fractional CMOs

Businesses are increasingly choosing fCMOs for their strategic expertise and specialized skills, particularly in digital marketing. This model offers cost-effective access to senior-level guidance and an unbiased perspective on marketing challenges. While finding the right fCMO takes some effort, the benefits make this a highly attractive option for many companies.

Why are businesses turning to the fractional CMO model?

  • Strategic Guidance: Companies seek fCMOs for their expertise in developing winning marketing strategies.
  • Specialized Skills: In-house teams often lack the niche knowledge fCMOs offer, especially in digital marketing.
  • Cost Savings: Fractional CMOs provide senior-level guidance at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire.
  • Unbiased Perspective: Businesses value the fresh, objective insights an fCMO brings.

Implications: A Thriving Market for Strategic Marketers

Our survey highlights a significant demand for experienced marketers willing to work on a fractional basis. This presents several opportunities:

  • High-Value Services: Fractional CMOs can provide strategic guidance and specialized marketing expertise, becoming invaluable extensions of their clients' teams.
  • Skill Development: This model encourages continued growth in strategic planning, digital marketing, and other high-demand skills.
  • Essential Soft Skills: Emphasizing flexibility, communication, and strategy development are crucial for success in the fCMO role.
  • Industry Specialization: Focusing on clients in SaaS/tech and professional services will maximize your impact and streamline your client acquisition efforts.

The 2024 Fractional CMO Survey Results

The survey reveals a growing trend in adopting the fractional CMO model, driven by its strategic benefits, above everything else - for all parties.

The demand for these roles is reflected in the balanced to busy workloads of current fractional CMOs. Success in this model requires a blend of extensive marketing experience, strategic and digital marketing skills, and strong soft skills like communication and adaptability.

Who Did We Survey?

Of 261 respondents who took the survey, almost half (48.66%) are currently fractional CMOs. 17.62% are agencies currently offering fractional CMO services, 14.56% are considering becoming a fractional CMO, 6.13% are companies that hired a fractional CMO, 4.60% are agencies considering offering fractional CMO services and 2.68% are companies considering hiring a fractional CMO. 5.75% didn’t fit in any of the offered options. 

Fractional CMO Perspective

There are 128 Current fCMOs and 38 who are considering becoming a Fractional CMO.

The Workload of a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs mostly describe their workload as balanced (26.49%) or busy (25.83%), indicating a healthy service demand. The majority have substantial experience in marketing roles before becoming a fractional CMO, with over 70% reporting having more than 10 years of experience.

How Fractional CMOs Work with their Clients

Respondents have top-ranked Strategic planning.

Main Services Offered by Fractional CMOs

Key services provided by fCMOs include strategic planning (92.67%), marketing strategy development (88.67%), content strategy and development (82.67%), digital marketing (78.67%), brand positioning and messaging (78.67%), Customer Segmentation and Targeting (72%), Brand Development (68.67%), Marketing Operations (67.33%), Lead Generation Strategies (67.33%), Product Launches (58%), and Marketing Technology (tech stack) Consulting (50.67%). This diverse range of services highlights the broad skill set required for the role.

Crucial success factors for most of them are client communication skills, comprehensive strategy development and flexibility to adapt to client needs.

Main Industries for Fractional CMO Work

Fractional CMOs primarily work with clients in SaaS, Software or Technology (65.33%) and Professional Services (55.33%), highlighting these industries' need for marketing expertise.

Find the Right Fractional CMO for Your Business - Ideal Fractional CMO Profile

10+ years of expertise; strong foundation in various marketing disciplines (hard skills) with focus on Strategy development and Digital marketing, while also possessing excellent soft skills like communication and adaptability. Targeting industries like SaaS, Software or Technology and Professional Services could be a wise initial focus.

Marketing Agencies: The Benefits of Adding Fractional CMO Services

Agencies are getting into the fractional CMO game too! Here's why:

  • More strategic positioning: Offering fCMO services boosts an agency's strategic value. This was reflected in survey responses, where 'Makes us more strategic as an agency' was a top benefit for agencies.
  • Stronger client relationships: Clients get more personalized marketing leadership.  'Enhanced client relationships' was another highly ranked benefit for agencies offering fCMO services.
  • Adapting is easy: Most agencies find the shift to offering fCMO services smooth.  [Insert the percentage of agencies who found adapting their model easy].

There are 46 agencies currently offering fCMO services and 12 agencies that are considering offering Fractional CMO services.

More Agencies are Adapting the Fractional CMO Model and Services

Most of the agencies stated that they are engaged in the fCMO concept in some way: 17.65% are Actively engaged, with numerous ongoing engagements, 47.06% are Moderately engaged, with a few ongoing projects, 21.57% are exploring the model and considering future engagements.

More Strategic Positioning

Main areas in which they help clients: main areas in which agencies most often provide (or plan to provide) assistance with Fractional CMO services are Strategic planning, followed by Digital Marketing.

Adoption is Easy

Adapting to the model: Most agencies experienced slight to no challenges adapting agency services to fit the fCMO model. No agency found it very challenging.

Strong Client Relationships

Benefits: As the primary benefits for agencies offering Fractional CMO services, Agencies mostly stated that it Makes them more strategic as an agency and Enhanced client relationships.

Success Factors: For most agencies, the Ability to develop comprehensive strategies, Client communication skills and Flexibility to adapt to client needs are crucial for success.

Client Industries: Agencies offering fCMO services primarily work with clients in SaaS, Software or Technology (57.69%) and Professional Services (51.92%), highlighting these industries' need for marketing expertise.

Adapting to the model isn’t challenging for most agencies. On the other hand, the benefits of including the model are substantial - it’s about positioning own business as more strategic and enhancing relationships with clients. The industries they work with are, as for fCMOs - SaaS and Professional Services. Also, agencies rank soft skills are crucial for the success.

Business Owners: Find the Right Fractional CMO for Your Business

There are 16 companies that hired a Fractional CMO and 7 that are considering hiring a Fractional CMO

Top-ranked factors influencing companies’ decision to hire are the Need for specialized expertise, cost-effectiveness (compared to a full-time CMO), and desire for unbiased guidance, and the need for specialized expertise.

What drives businesses to hire fCMOs? It's about:

  • Top-tier expertise: Specialized knowledge is harder to find in-house. 'Need for specialized expertise' was a top factor influencing companies' decision to hire an fCMO.
  • Cost savings: Get senior-level guidance without the full-time salary. 'Cost-effectiveness' also ranked as a major reason for hiring.
  • Outside perspective: fCMOs offer unbiased advice for better decision-making. The 'Need for unbiased guidance' was another significant hiring factor identified in the survey.

Main areas they in which fCMO helps them: Respondents top-ranked Digital marketing and Strategic planning.

Companies reported encountering slight challenges in finding a suitable fractional CMO.

When it comes to the greatest benefits attributed to hiring a fractional CMO, companies have top-ranked Strategic expertise. Cost savings come as second.

When it comes to the importance of the factors when choosing a Fractional CMO to hire, the companies have top-ranked Ability to develop comprehensive strategies and Depth of industry knowledge, closely followed by Flexibility to adapt to client needs and Understanding and navigating market Trends. Pricing is at the bottom.

Ready to Hire an Part-Time CMO or Become One?

Our survey shows significant demand for experienced marketers to fill fractional CMO roles. This model offers high-value services while fitting seamlessly into the way clients operate.

At Duct Tape Marketing we help business owners find the right fractional CMO to help them scale and for agencies we help them transition to the Fractional CMO model themselves.

Download our free growth tools to help get you started.

Free Marketing Strategy and Fractional CMO growth tools

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