Something we get asked a lot here at Growth Street is — what is a fractional CMO, how does it work, and why do I need one? You ask, we answer.
A fractional CMO is basically a part-time Chief Marketing Officer. It’s someone who can come into your organization and really quickly get immersed, roll up their sleeves, and help you move the needle. A fractional CMO can help your business identify gaps, tighten and optimize your go-to-market, lead and/or mentor the team, and provide strategic growth leadership on everything from brand to marketing to experience. Most importantly, they make sure that you’re doing all of these efforts in the most efficient and effective way.
So, how does it work? Well, there are a few different flavors for fractional CMOs. Here at Growth Street, we work with clients at various stages of growth — from fast-growing startups to Fortune 500 brands. We can help out in three different capacities:
1- Early-stage companies:
These clients might have a very small in-house team, typically just one person with around three to five years of experience. They don’t have the level of expertise yet to really know how to build the machine, how to build a brand, grow their marketing capabilities, grow their demand gen machine, be thinking about when to pivot and when to shift … the list goes on! Or, in some cases, they don’t have any marketing at all. We can come in and provide that leadership and guidance, as well as mentor that junior person or team and really help them to grow.
The second flavor for those earlier stage companies allows us to bring our team along with us. For several of our clients right now, we are their marketing department. We are their fractional CMO, and members of our Growth Street A-Team execute on the plan that we built together and make it all happen.
2- Later-stage companies:
On the other end, we work with later-stage startups that are much further along in their strategy, along with enterprises who have been in business for decades. Of course, they have different needs. In more established businesses, their needs might be more about filling a gap — maybe they’ve made a CMO transition, or they have a CMO on a leave of absence. We can come in for a short-term gig (~6mo) to help them fill the gap, manage the team, and mentor everyone. We make sure that the train stays on the track. Oftentimes, we find ways to help our client become even more efficient just by having a new set of eyes on things.
3- CMO Strategic Support:
A third flavor that’s evolved over the past few years (which has been a lot of fun!) has been partnering with the CMO — almost as a “mini me”. We’ve been there and done that. We know how tough the CMO job is and we know how much they are asked to juggle to support growth. More and more CMOs are seeing value in having a strategic partner like us to help them by offloading some strategic projects or priorities so they can focus and not worry about it getting done.
For one of our clients, we’re currently doing just that. By helping them build out a specific new channel, they’ve been able to amp up their go-to-market strategy and take it in a new direction. The CMO can focus on what he needs to do and we can partner to move the ball down the field. We can own it, be strategic, lead the team, and make it happen.
The bottom line —there are a lot of different shapes and forms that a fractional CMO can take. If you’re interested, we would love to tell you more!