How to Hire a Fractional CMO A Complete 101 Guide (2024)

By Rebecca Meyer · March 9, 2024

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role has rapidly grown in recent years, especially for startups competing for market share.

Are you looking to hire a fractional CMO but confused about the following:

  • What is a fractional CMO?
  • How can hiring a part-time CMO benefit you?
  • How do you know if you need a CMO?
  • When is the right time to hire a chief marketing officer?
  • What are the factors to consider when hiring a fractional CMO?
  • How much do CMO consultants charge per hour?
  • How to find the right one?

This guide will give you expert direction about utilizing your investment to transform your marketing strategies without the burden of a full-time hire.

Let’s get started.

What is a Fractional CMO, and Why Hire One?

A fractional Chief Marketing Officer is a highly qualified and experienced marketing professional who works part-time or on a contract basis for one or more companies.

Finding a Fractional CMO for your company can give you access to their expertise and guidance without the commitment and cost of a full-time CMO.

You can get the following benefits:

  • Strategic growth for startups.
  • Increase your company’s revenue more quickly with a limited budget and resources.
  • You can scale their involvement up or down based on your company’s needs and time.
  • You can get a fresh perspective on your marketing strategy with expert insights.
  • Get customized marketing plans for your business goals.

How do you know if your company needs a fractional CMO?

For startups, investing in such talent comes down to ambition and desire for growth.

Fractional CMOs offer flexibility and access to senior marketing expertise.

It can appeal to startups, small to medium-sized businesses, or companies needing strategic marketing guidance.

  • Smaller companies or startups find a fractional marketer financially suitable, while larger organizations benefit more from a full-time CMO due to the scale of their operations.
  • For project-based marketing operations it is a better option.
  • For ongoing, comprehensive marketing leadership, a full-time CMO is required.

When is the right time to hire a chief marketing officer?

Right time to Hire a fractional CMO.png

The right time to hire a fractional chief marketing officer for your company depends on the following factors:

  • Your company needs marketing leadership to oversee your team.
  • Your SaaS start to have good activation rate and low churn rates.
  • You need to scale your marketing efforts to reach new customers or launch new products or services.
  • Your marketing team lacks certain skills, such as digital marketing, branding, or analytics.
  • Your user acquisition is mainly sales-driven, and you are unsure that inbound marketing is relevant to your business.
  • You cannot afford a full-time CMO because of limited resources.

Tip: For really early-stage startups, we recommend using growth mentoring instead of fractional CMO. That allows the founder to lead the marketing effort with the supervision of a growth expert when needed.

Factors to Consider When Hiring a Fractional CMO

Factors to Consider When Hiring a Fractional CMO.png

Here are some factors you should consider before you hire a fractional CMO for your company:


Look for a marketing officer with a proven track record of success in the marketing department and experience implementing various marketing strategies.

They should have experience working with companies similar to yours so they can develop and execute a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals.

For example, a SaaS company should look for an expert with the necessary domain expertise to align with the specific B2B marketing goals at the lowest possible cost.

When looking for a service provider, it is important to read testimonials and online reviews relevant to your industry to understand their strengths and accomplishments.

Strategic Thinking

A good CMO should be able to think strategically and develop new and innovative marketing plans that are up-to-date with current marketing trends.

They should have a deep understanding of your industry so they can:

  • Identify your company’s target market.
  • Provide strategic guidance.
  • Be able to create growth opportunities.
  • Evaluate the potential impact and ROI of marketing activities.
  • Prioritize marketing initiatives and allocate resources effectively.


A fractional CMO should be able to think outside the box and develop innovative marketing ideas that will set you apart from your competitors.

Required skills that are necessary for the role of a marketing leader, such as:

  • Effectively communicate with marketing executives, employees, and customers.
  • Ability to adapt to changes in the industry.
  • They should proactively use new technologies and tools to optimize their marketing efforts.
  • Analytical thinking to interpret data and analytics to make informed decisions about marketing campaigns.
  • Technical skills include marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM), and lead generation.


A CMO should be able to work effectively with other members of your marketing team and external partners.

Consider a person who can:

  • Build strong relationships and networks effectively.
  • Encourage a collaborative work environment.
  • Establish important industry connections.
  • Use effective team management strategies.


The right CMO for your business should focus on delivering results.

They should be able to set measurable goals and benchmarks for success and be accountable for achieving them.

Look for a fractional CMO who can deliver timely results and ROI for your marketing initiatives.

You can set this based on social proof of past successful projects, like logos of companies they’ve worked with previously, to help provide solid evidence of their result-driven approach.

Hourly Rate vs. Full-Time CMO Salary

So, how much does this expertise cost?

The hourly rate for CMO varies based on their experience, expertise, and the company’s specific needs.

For example, a CMO for hire working for a pharmaceutical company will charge differently from a B2B SaaS company.

Fractional CMOs charge hourly rates ranging from $150 to $500 based on industry, company size, and location.

As reported by Glassdoor, the average salary of a full-time CMO is $340k per year.

Including a performance bonus on the CMO’s salary is also common.

CMO can be directly responsible for the revenue generated by activities like PPC and SEO.

We recommend keeping the CMO salary below 20% of your total marketing budget.

Your CMO will need a marketing budget to deliver results. You don’t want to buy a Lamborghini if you cannot fill the tank with fuel.

How to Find the Right Fractional CMO for Your Business?

How to Find the Right Fractional CMO.png

To find the right fractional CMO for your company, follow these steps:

Identify your Business Goals

Setting clear goals and objectives for what you want to achieve is important.

  • Is it to refine your marketing strategy?
  • Enter new markets?
  • Increase your digital marketing efforts.
  • Improve ROI on marketing spend?

Once you have identified the key metrics you need to achieve, you can easily hire an outsourced CMO with the specific skills, qualifications, and expertise your business needs.

Leverage your Network

You can reach out to your professional network for recommendations.

It involves asking for referrals from industry contacts who might know someone who fits your criteria.

  • LinkedIn can be a valuable resource for finding talent.
  • Look at profiles of marketing experts for endorsements, recommendations, and career achievements.

Conduct Interviews

Once you have short-listed candidates, conduct interviews to evaluate their ability to think strategically and solve complex marketing challenges.

Ensure their working style, qualifications, and values fit your company culture.

Ask for examples of how they’ve driven growth results in the past, such as case studies, their website, or portfolio.

Negotiate Terms and Conditions

Once you have selected your ideal candidate, negotiate the terms and conditions of the working arrangement, such as:

  • Scope of work
  • Deliverables
  • Contract duration
  • Confidentiality
  • Payment
  • Communication channels

Sign a contractual agreement to ensure all the terms are clearly defined to protect both parties.


Hiring a suitable fractional CMO can significantly impact your company’s growth.

Following this guide can increase your chances of securing an experienced marketing talent that will lead your business to new heights.


How many hours does a fractional CMO work?

Fractional CMOs work anywhere from 10 to 40 hours per month, with some flexibility to adjust their workload based on the client’s needs and project scope.

What services can a fractional CMO provide?

A fractional CMO offers marketing services such as content strategy development, trend analysis, team training, and temporary/part-time executive roles.

Do you need a full-time CMO?

This is a common question, and we have a detailed article on the topic. In short, we don’t recommend hiring a full-time CMO in the early stages to have more marketing budget for experimentation. Fractional CMOs often offer the option to shift to full-time as your business grows.

Are there specific certifications to vet CMO?

PCM, CMMP, Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate, and HubSpot Inbound marketing certification are the top five certifications for CMOs.

Get in touch with us

The first 30 minutes of consultation is on the house.