Your next Chief Marketing Officer might be a Fractional CMO

The term’ Fractional CMO’ is still new in the market. Still, it’s becoming increasingly popular, especially with CMOs possessing longevity as permanent employees who feel ‘burnt out’ in great numbers.


The startup/scaleup world is not always for the faint-hearted, and many CMOs know what they’re getting involved in when joining an early-stage business.


Yet, young founders with multi-million pounds of investment are putting some off in favour of more seasoned founders with multiple exits to their name.


Since Covid, there are CMOs who have taken on rapidly growing team sizes but feel they need more support from Founders/CEOs who initially give them full reigns over the Marketing department as it’s their expertise but then retract this as they seem to know best.


This shift in permanent CMOs moving into Fractional positions isn’t solely down to the Founders/CEOs. Many are sympathetic to their leaders, knowing how lonely it can be at the top. Due to this, some have found that leading founder conversations with a ‘coaching hat on’ has resulted in better outcomes and subsequent relationships.


The issue with Marketing, as opposed to Finance or Operations, is that Finance, for example, creates forecasts based on historical data, yet marketing always looks at the future. “It’s a game of placing many unknown bets, ” as one CMO describes it, which Founders and those across the C-suite find harder to appreciate fully. Another issue is that everyone can see an ad and has an opinion. All of a sudden, everyone is a marketer.


Those moving to Fractional CMO work are feeling refreshed and re-born. Working on multiple projects allows for varied work and insight into numerous businesses and the opportunity to experience more founder/CEO relationships than they would by working for just one company.


It also provides continuous learning by being more hands-on than they ever would. With fewer barriers and less internal politics, it’s enabled some to do their best work, ultimately creating tremendous work satisfaction and far better results for the company.


The current market we find ourselves in is one of trepidation. Yet, Fractional CMOs are providing many startups/scaleups that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such talent to tap into many years of experience without the long-term financial burden of large annual salaries. Many of these CMOs have enjoyed the opportunity to come in and fix marketing problems, build teams, or build solid foundations for future marketing success.


Of course, sometimes these projects go so well that it turns into a longer-term partnership by way of permanent hiring, yet initially, it offers less risk to both parties and a ‘try before you buy’ approach.


So does your next CMO need to be a permanent hire, or would you gain even more incredible senior marketing experience by exploring the fractional route?

The CMO & Marketing Director Forum is home to many Fractional CMOs and even more permanent CMOs keen to embark on this way of working.


If you’d like to learn more about them, contact Alex Marriner, Director & Leadership Search Consultant at Acquire Digital Talent.



Alex Marriner is the Director & Leadership Search Consultant at Acquire Digital Talent. 


Acquire Digital Talent is a people-first Leadership Search Firm that exclusively partners with Technology companies and Consumer brands to build Digital & Growth Marketing Leadership teams. Our expertise and reputation ensure successful delivery across niche, critical and executive appointments from Seed to Series A and beyond.