The impact of a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (Fractional-CMO)

Why Leading Companies Increasingly Choose the Fractional CMO Model

Businesses are rapidly changing how they work, and the “gig economy” has undoubtedly been one of the key shifts over the last decade. What started as an idea for Uber drivers and delivery services, though, has now scaled all the way up to the C-suite of leading companies.

From venture-backed, early-stage start-ups to well-established brands, CEOs across various industries are increasingly seeing the benefits of fractional executives – particularly the fractional CMO.

Fractional CMOs are quickly gaining traction

With the highest turnover rate among executives, the Chief Marketing Officer position has long been a headache for CEOs. The average CMO only lasts 20 to 30 months, and astonishingly, 80% of CEOs don’t trust or are unimpressed with their CMOs (compared to just 10% of their CFOs and CIOs), according to Harvard Business Review.

All these challenges lead to companies having frequent CMO vacancies, choosing to eliminate the role or not even creating it in the first place. But no marketing leadership certainly isn’t the answer in an age when marketing + tech has grown infinitely more complex while also providing tremendous opportunities for growth and ROI.

A fractional CMO program is becoming the perfect match for many companies

As a contractor rather than a full-time employee, the fractional CMO can seamlessly plug and play into your marketing needs. Companies still gain access to a senior marketing leader, with the fractional CMO providing world-class strategy and driving day-to-day execution. But they are not fully burdened with the costs of recruiting, hiring and retaining an executive-level position that is already plagued with high turnover rates.

When to consider hiring a fractional CMO

A fractional CMO program is designed for high-growth companies lacking senior marketing leadership. Some of the most common situations where a fractional CMO is an ideal fit are:

  • Established companies without a sophisticated marketing function. Companies sometimes decide to forego a CMO, especially if they already have an established brand built long before the arrival of today’s intricate marketing + tech landscape. Forward-thinking companies who want to build for sustainable, long-term growth can tap a fractional CMO to guide them into marketing transformation.


  • Companies who need interim leadership or strategic marketing insights. A fractional CMO can be fast relief for a company in need, whether that’s because they require an expert to step into a vacated position or an external player to audit the existing marketing operations and advise on new directions. One of the most effective ways a fractional CMO can help a company is if they lack a strategic plan or visibility over marketing efforts. The CMO brings the expertise to craft a strategy and implement the systems to enact and track marketing initiatives, allowing CEOs to make better-informed executive decisions.


  • Pre-and Post-Acquisition for Private Equity and Venture Capital. Private equity and venture capital firms need a strategic marketing executive who can make pivotal decisions, quickly build a team and move forward on various multi-channel growth initiatives. Before signing a letter of intent, a fractional CMO can help private equity, and venture capital firms evaluate a potential acquisition target’s marketing readiness, programs, systems and personnel. Post-acquisition, a fractional CMO can develop and implement the organisation’s go-to-market strategy. Additionally, a fractional CMO can lead the orchestration and execution of a fractional marketing team to scale growth rapidly and increase the company’s valuation for the exit horizon.


With a fractional CMO involved at the very outset of an acquisition, the opportunity cost of waiting to hire a full-time marketing executive and an internal department of full-time marketing professionals is eliminated. By outsourcing the CMO function, you more rapidly improve critical financial metrics such as revenue per employee, marketing headcount ratio and total revenue per marketing employee. At the same time, you reduce costs associated with FTE, including healthcare and benefits, recruiting, training, retention and attrition expenses, and other headcount-related costs.

The scope of work included in a fractional CMO program

A fractional CMO’s breadth and depth of work will depend on each company’s unique needs. At Sangiovanni Partners, we work closely with each client to determine their required mar+tech expertise and execution.

Serving as fractional CMO, we collaborate with the executive team to identify and capitalise upon growth opportunities and ensure the company’s marketing strategies, programs, investments and tactics are aligned to deliver sustainable, long-term growth. Sangiovanni Partners also provides the knowledge and tools to drive a client’s marketing initiatives daily.

The span of consultation, expertise and execution we deliver as fractional CMO includes:

  • Marketing & Growth Strategy: We thoroughly evaluate the client’s current marketing infrastructure; develop a comprehensive marketing strategy; and assemble, lead and direct the necessary resources to execute a tactical version of the plan on an ongoing basis.


  • Branding & Messaging: Provide strategic marketing leadership and art direction to ensure all marketing deliverables map to the organisation’s desired image, as well as positioning that resonates with key markets.


  • Integrated Marketing Plans, Budget & Media Mix: Review campaigns already underway to ascertain the proper measurements are in place and recommend any changes to existing marketing spend, channels and mix to improve performance.


  • Marketing Communications: Develop a suite of marketing communications materials, content and deliverables to improve the organisations’ brand perception and understanding of key programs, including collateral and sales toolkits.


  • Business Development: Evaluate, design and implement business and referral development strategies and tactics to drive growth.


  • Digital Marketing, e-Commerce & PPC / SEO: We provide recommendations to build a web presence that will create a sustainable organic search position over time, plus assist in the creation and management of digital ad programs, such as display, social media and keyword-related pay-per-click media buys.


  • Marketing Infrastructure & Tools: Assess existing marketing and sales systems and provide guidance, as well as the implementation of new systems for sales, marketing, lead management, advertising, public relations, automation and more.


The key to success is not just strategy, but also action

We believe the success of a fractional CMO model is based on the ability of the marketing expert to not only create a high-level strategy for your company but also execute that strategy using internal and external resources as needed.

A fractional CMO who doesn’t execute is no different from a strategy or management consulting firm. They perform an in-depth evaluation of your business operations, opportunities and Martech + Sales mix and leave you with a high-level strategic plan for your team to implement.

Unfortunately, the playbook they provide is more likely to become an expensive doorstop than the guiding plan for marketing and sales initiatives. Your overwhelmed team will quickly move to meeting the next big deadline or putting out fires.

Thanks for the strategy, Now what?

Here’s the difference with an action-oriented fractional CMO: your company receives the same world-class insights as the big consulting firms, plus the knowledge, drive and talent to turn that plan into reality.

Corporate inertia is replaced with an on-demand marketing partner driving growth. At Sangiovanni Partners, our fractional marketing executives bring decades of CMO-level experience to create your strategy, while also assembling a comprehensive marketing budget, go-to-market strategy and the multi-channel team of experts to execute ongoing marketing programs and tactics.

Rather than disparate marketing agencies, contractors and freelancers, you have a fractional CMO leading a single team, one that will help you outpace the competition via both online and offline channels and realise a significantly higher return on your marketing budget.