There are advantages to being a fractional CMO, but that doesn’t mean everyone should choose this path.
There are parts of a fractional CMO that are incredible for some but extremely boring for others. You don’t want to quit your job, work as a fractional CMO and then realize it. You want to be prepared and know what to expect from your new role as Fractional CMO.
We have worked as marketers and with marketers for years and have learned that there is a big difference between fractional CMOs and full-time CMOs. They both have the same marketing expertise, but they like different parts of the marketing process better.
For example, a faction CMO loves to delve deep into a company’s past and current marketing strategies and spend time researching what went right and wrong in each campaign. A full-time CMO prefers to do this once and spend their time clicking publish and seeing conversions happen.
What type of CMO do you want to be?
Answer these 5 survey questions to find out if you’d like to become a part CMO or if you’d prefer a full-time CMO job.
Survey Question # 1: Would you like to work freelance instead of full-time?
To some marketers, this may seem like an obvious yes. But freelance work brings a lot of new tasks with it. As a full-time employee, your work schedule is set. They know how much money you make each year and what projects you will be working on.
As a fractional CMO, there is a lot more unpredictability in your life. Freelancers can create their own schedules, which can be a benefit and a challenge. You have to be responsible for filling your work schedule, which means learning how to market your services (though we assume you have a pretty good idea about it) and creating a pipeline of leads for yourself.
To find out if this part of the Fractional CMO business works best for you, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you like to market yourself and have sales pitches for your services?
- Are you satisfied with finding your own projects (and revenue)?
- What do you think of the learning curve that comes with running a freelance business?
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. Your answer will depend on you and what is best for the career you are aiming for.
Poll Question # 2: Do you feel comfortable jumping on new teams and working with unfamiliar faces on a regular basis?
Fractional CMOs don’t work long-term with their customers. They usually stay part-time until the company is ready to hire a full-time CMO. (The company can either hire its faction CMO or look for someone else). That means, as a fractional CMO, you jump from company to company. To some people this sounds great and to others it may sound overwhelming.
With each team come new personalities, politics and subtleties, which can take some time to learn. As a Fractional CMO, a big part of your job is working efficiently with new teams as quickly as possible. The faster you learn how a team works, the faster those marketing results will come in.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to find out if you want to be a fractional CMO:
- Do you mind having to learn new names, personalities and subtleties on a regular basis?
- Would you like to work with new team members all year round?
- Do you prefer to work long-term with people and build solid relationships with them?
Your answers will help you figure out if you want to be a fractional CMO, stay full-time, or if the grass appears greener (than it actually is) on the other side.
Survey Question # 3: Are you open to finding new client systems and bypassing them as much as possible so as not to disrupt the team’s workflow?
Get ready to break into new software tools on a regular basis. As a freelancer, you need to become familiar with the systems your customers use to track their marketing strategies and data. Sometimes you are familiar with the tools and sometimes you need to take the time to watch tutorials. This is a normal part of freelance work that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The last thing a team wants is for a faction CMO to step in and move the team to the systems that work best for the CMO. As a fractional CMO, your job is to find out what the team is using right now and how you can improve it without disrupting the workflow (to the best of your knowledge). We’ll talk more about moving teams to new systems, but first We need to make sure you like the idea of learning new systems consequent:
- Do you find it tempting to figure out how a company organizes their marketing strategies or are you feeling frustrated?
- Are you able to use systems that you are not used to because it is better for the rest of the team’s productivity (for now)?
- Ready to watch tutorial videos on using new software?
Some CMOs like to jump into a new client’s systems and find out what’s going on. Others will prefer to avoid the potential clutter that they will find. Knowing whether you are ready to do regular deep dives at the beginning of any project is a key indicator of whether you want to become a fractional CMO.
Survey Question # 4: Do you know how to move teams to new systems without disrupting their current workflow?
It’s time to move your client’s team to the software you know will help them succeed. The question is, are you ready for things to get messy? When it comes to transitioning from one software tool to another, leaders, managers, and supervisors all know that it will be a learning curve for their team.
It will bring a lot of questions, sometimes answered multiple times, and time for the system to run the way it should be. During the transition period, you can expect some fires and team members who may not be adopting the new software as quickly as you hoped.
This requires patience and perseverance. As a fractional CMO, you can create a template for yourself on how to incorporate this transition into any project. This will help you prepare the team and yourself for the software move while also making sure that all the boxes are checked and nothing is left behind.
Ask yourself these questions to see if you will enjoy these transitions:
- Are you patient when it comes to teaching people how to use new software?
- Could you put together a template on how best to move a team from one marketing system to another?
- Would you be ready to walk your team through tutorial videos and delve into the gritty, unsexy details of developing the best system for their strategies?
Full-time CMOs don’t have to deal with these transitions often. They may need to move their team to a different system or decide to add a new technology to their stack – but they will never move teams any more than a fractional CMO.
This will be a big part of your job as you organize and improve a company’s marketing strategy. Make sure you have the patience for these tiny details before becoming a fractional CMO.
Survey Question # 5: Do you like to delve deep into a company’s marketing strategies, past strategies, and future plans?
Here’s your bread and butter, the part of a fractional CMO that makes it so appealing. As you jump from company to company, you will get a lot of deep insight into what is going on behind the scenes. These deep dives are fun for some people but not as exciting for others.
Fractional CMOs love to see what a company is doing now, where it started, and what its plans are for the future. They’ll likely spend their first week or so just learning what the company is up to. Full-time CMOs only need to do this once. They spend their time implementing the strategies that they have already pulled together.
To make sure you want to be a fractional CMO, ask yourself a few questions here:
- Do you enjoy deep insights into the past, current and future marketing strategies of a company?
- Do you find it easy to spot mistakes and successes in past marketing campaigns?
- Would you like to do such a deep dive a couple of times a year?
Every time you work with a new client, you will get an in-depth look. For some marketers, these deep dives are incredibly interesting. They don’t require much action, however. For marketers who enjoy spending their time publishing, these deep dives may not have the same glitz.
The life of a faction CMO is not for everyone, just as it doesn’t make everyone happy to be a full-time CMO.
With the same skills, factional CMOs and full-time CMOs can have very different work schedules and experiences. The key is to understand what experience fulfills you and enables you to be successful during your working hours.
Use these questions to figure out which trail is best for you and remember – this is not a permanent decision. You can always go back to full-time CMO if you think the fractional CMO gig isn’t for you.