Fractional CMO Versus an Internal CMO: Which One Do You Really Need?

It’s time to bring in the big dogs.

Your business has grown to the point that it’s time to consider bringing in some marketing expertise.

When you first started your business, you probably thought this was an easy hire.

You find someone that’s a marketing smarty and you give them green paper in return for more green paper coming your way.

Unfortunately, hiring isn’t that simple.

When it comes to hiring your Chief Marketing Officer, you have the choice between two types of hires.

You can bring on a fractional Chief Marketing Officer or an internal Chief Marketing Officer.

Because word count doesn’t matter, we’re going to use CMO in place of writing Chief Marketing Officer moving forward. 🙂


A Fractional CMO

A fractional CMO works part-time.

They might work with just your company or have a few other marketing clients.

Fractional CMOs work as contractors and freelancers who don’t go on your normal employee payroll.

Together you’ll decide how many months you’ll work together and what results in you expect (a.k.a when does the green paper flow in?).

Fractional CMO

An Internal CMO

An internal CMO works full-time.

They’ll work exclusively with your company and their LinkedIn page will promote the work they do with you (because by now we know that employee-generated content gets conversions).

Internal CMOs will get health benefits and all the other fun incentives you give to your employees.

They will plan to work with you long-term (we’re talking years here) to grow your brand and create a predictable selling system.

How do you know which type of CMO to hire?

Someone get the chalkboard…it’s time for the pro/con list.

Team work

Fractional CMO versus an Internal CMO

Aside from rocks, paper, scissors, the best way to figure out what type of CMO you need is through a pro/con list.

We’ll outline the pros and cons of each type of CMO so you can figure out which option works best for your business.

Before we get into that list though, we have to go over something.

Just because you hire a fractional CMO today doesn’t mean you can’t hire a full-time CMO down the line.

You’re not stuck with the option you choose.

Yes, we’re talking to those of you who feel analysis paralysis when making this decision.

Working with any marketers is a great idea.

Alright, someone hands us the chalk.

Fractional vs. Internal CMO

Pros of a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs will work with your business for a set amount of months with a specific result in mind.

This means that they won’t be as integrated as a full-time CMO would be and this comes with a lot of pros.

You can hire them for a specific campaign or channel instead of your entire marketing strategy:

With a fractional CMO, you can pick and choose what strategies they work on and hire an expert at paid ads, email marketing, content marketing, etc.

You can test out working with them for a few months without having a full-time commitment:

If your fractional CMO doesn’t fit your company culture or isn’t able to hit their required results in due time, your contract ends and you’ll be able to work with somebody else.

They’re not as expensive as an internal CMO:

If you want to take your business to the next level but you don’t have the budget for a full-time executive yet—hiring a fractional CMO can help you get to a point where you can afford an internal CMO.

(P.S. You also have the option of hiring your fractional CMO as your internal CMO!)

Of course, there are cons to hiring a fractional CMO.

Working Executive

Cons of a Fractional CMO

The cons to hiring a fractional CMO all come from their temporary work with your company.

Unlike an internal CMO, fractional CMOs can see their way out once their contract is up.

Sometimes this is a good thing, but other times it doesn’t benefit the company.

They won’t be as available as an internal CMO:

Fractional CMOs have other clients to focus on which means you’ll only have a portion of their time each week.

You’ll have to bring on another CMO after them:

Training can be the hardest part of hiring new employees and with a fractional CMO, you could end up training a full-time CMO in a few months (right after training your fractional CMO) which can set your profits back.

They might not see your new marketing strategy through:

Once your contract is up, a fractional CMO can choose to continue working with you or to prioritize another client.

This means that you might have a marketing strategy built by them that you need to hire another marketer to help run (and chances are that marketer wants to do things their way).

Before you decide if a fractional CMO is right or wrong for your company, we have to give internal CMOs a chance or their fair share of cons.

HR Outsourcing

Pros of an Internal CMO

Internal CMOs will work closely with your team and be one of the main points of contact for your employees.

You’re going to need someone that fits your company culture and makes your employees feel empowered and excited to do their work—which can lead to a lot of pros in your business.

Their only focus is your company:

Having a CMO that’s entirely focused on your marketing strategy is massively beneficial in creating a predictable selling system.

(How much better do you work when you’re only focused on one business?)

You don’t have to train anyone for this role anytime soon:

Once you’ve brought on your internal CMO, you can expect to work with them for years to come, saving you the time it takes to retrain for the same position in the future.

They can build out your entire marketing funnel:

Building a marketing funnel takes time and expertise.

With an internal CMO, you can create a funnel with lead magnets, entry-point offers, and challenges that lead to sales.

Fair is fair, so we have to cover the cons of working with an internal CMO now…

Team meeting

Cons of an Internal CMO

Hiring a full-time employee comes with a list of cons.

Internal CMOs are great for some reason (see above) but also have their 2-star ratings…

They’re more expensive:

An internal CMO is not only a full-time employee but an executive as well.

This makes them more expensive than a fractional CMO brought on part-time for a few months.

You have a longer commitment to them:

If you bring on an internal CMO and realize a few months in they might not be a great fit, it can be hard to let them go.

You spent a lot of time and effort teaching them about your customers and products and building their version of your marketing strategy—this can sting.

They’ll work on your entire funnel:

Sometimes this is a great thing, and other times it’s not necessary.

If you have a great paid ads funnel running and you just need help with content marketing, you might not need a full-time marketer.

A fractional CMO with expertise in content marketing could do the trick.

Team Leader

At the End

At the end of the day, we can’t recommend an internal CMO or a fractional CMO for your business.

(We do wish we could though because we live to make your marketing life easier).

We can only lay out the pros and cons of each type of CMO and let you decide which makes the most sense for your business today.

Go get that green paper friend.

The post Fractional CMO Versus an Internal CMO: Which One Do You Really Need? appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


About the Author Amel

I'm a Digital Marketing Strategist passionate about SEO and Digital Analytics. I also teach Digital Marketing and offer customized private coaching to entrepreneurs and in-house marketers to help them take their revenue or skills to the next level. Follow me on Twitter where I offer advice and share high quality content on marketing, tech and productivity.

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