What Size Company Should Hire A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)?

A CMO, or Chief Marketing Officer, plays a crucial role in developing and implementing marketing strategies for businesses. However, not all companies may require a full-time CMO. A fractional CMO is an alternative option, where an outsourced marketing executive works on a part-time basis. This article will explore the factors to consider in determining whether a company needs a CMO, regardless of its size.

Key Takeaways:

  • Not all businesses require a full-time CMO, and hiring a fractional CMO can be a cost-effective alternative.
  • Fractional CMOs offer advantages such as cost-effectiveness, flexibility, expertise, objective perspective, and collaboration with existing teams.
  • Indicators that a business may need a fractional CMO include the lack of a marketing leader, inability to execute a marketing plan, complexity of marketing campaigns, and the need for business growth.
  • Collaborating with a fractional CMO provides benefits such as strategic guidance, enhanced marketing and sales alignment, access to a network of resources, efficient budget utilisation, and adaptability to changing needs.

Does Your Business Need A CMO?

Assessing Business Size and Complexity

The size and complexity of your business are primary indicators of the need for a CMO. As companies expand and their market presence grows, the demands of managing comprehensive marketing strategies and teams increase, necessitating experienced leadership.

Evaluating Marketing Goals and Strategies

Consider your marketing goals and the sophistication of your strategies. A CMO can provide the expertise needed to refine these strategies, ensuring they align with broader business objectives and market demands.

Analysing Market Competition and Growth Opportunities

A competitive market landscape and the pursuit of growth opportunities may warrant the leadership of a CMO. Their strategic vision can guide the company through competitive challenges and capitalise on new opportunities.

Key Considerations Before Hiring a CMO

Budget and Resources

Consider the financial implications and resource allocations required to support a CMO’s role effectively. The investment should align with expected returns in business growth and marketing performance.

Organisational Structure and Culture

The existing organisational structure and culture should be conducive to integrating a CMO’s leadership. Their role should complement, not disrupt, the current dynamics and contribute positively to the company’s culture.

Long-term Business Objectives

Align the decision to hire a CMO with your long-term business objectives. A CMO’s strategic vision should support these goals, driving marketing efforts that contribute to overall success.

Alternatives to Hiring a Full-Time Chief Marketing Officer

Part-Time CMOs and Consultants

For companies not ready for a full-time CMO, part-time CMOs or marketing consultants can provide strategic guidance and support without the commitment of a full-time executive.

Leveraging Marketing Agencies

Marketing agencies can also offer comprehensive services and expertise for companies at various growth stages, providing flexibility and specialised skills.

Advantages of Hiring a Fractional CMO

Hiring a fractional CMO can provide several advantages for businesses:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Hiring a fractional CMO allows businesses to access top-tier marketing expertise at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time CMO. This can significantly reduce marketing expenses while still benefiting from strategic guidance and industry knowledge.
  • Flexibility: A fractional CMO offers businesses the flexibility to scale their marketing resources according to their needs. Whether it’s a short-term project or ongoing support, businesses can adjust the level of engagement without any long-term commitments.
  • Strategic perspective: Fractional CMOs bring a fresh perspective to businesses, offering an objective view of their marketing strategies. They can evaluate the existing marketing function and recommend improvements to align marketing efforts with overall business goals.
  • Specialised expertise: Fractional CMOs have diverse industry experience and a deep understanding of marketing strategies across various sectors. Their specialised knowledge can help businesses develop targeted marketing plans and execute effective campaigns.
  • Collaboration with existing teams: Fractional CMOs can seamlessly integrate with existing marketing teams, providing guidance, leadership, and mentorship to enhance the collective marketing function. Their collaborative approach ensures strong alignment and maximises the potential of the company’s marketing efforts.
  • Holistic marketing strategies: A fractional CMO can help businesses develop comprehensive marketing strategies by considering various aspects, such as branding, digital marketing, traditional advertising, and customer experience. This holistic approach ensures a well-rounded marketing function and maximises results.
Advantages of Hiring a Fractional CMO
Strategic perspective
Specialised expertise
Collaboration with existing teams
Holistic marketing strategies

Signs You Need to Hire a Fractional CMO

When it comes to enhancing your marketing efforts and executing a successful marketing campaign, having the right leadership and expertise is crucial. Here are some signs that indicate you may need to hire a fractional CMO:

  • You lack a marketing leader: If your company does not have a designated marketing leader or a marketing department, it can be challenging to develop and execute a comprehensive marketing plan. Hiring a fractional CMO can provide the leadership and strategic guidance needed to drive your marketing efforts forward.
  • Your marketing initiatives lack direction: If your marketing efforts seem disjointed and lack a cohesive strategy, it may be time to bring in a fractional CMO. They can assess your current marketing activities, identify areas for improvement, and develop a clear roadmap to achieve your marketing goals.
  • You struggle to execute your marketing plan: Developing an effective marketing plan is one thing, but executing it successfully is another challenge altogether. A fractional CMO can help ensure that your marketing plan is executed efficiently and effectively, maximising the impact of your marketing efforts.
  • Your marketing campaigns are not yielding desired results: If your marketing campaigns are falling short of expectations and failing to generate the desired outcomes, it may be a sign that you need a fresh perspective. A fractional CMO can analyse your campaigns, identify areas for optimization, and implement strategies to boost your campaign performance.

By recognizing these signs and hiring a fractional CMO, you can elevate your marketing efforts, align your marketing activities with your business goals, and achieve greater success in the competitive marketplace.

Growing Companies and the Need for a Fractional CMO

Growing companies often reach a point where they need to define their business goals and strategy more clearly. However, hiring a full-time CMO may not be financially viable or necessary at this stage. This is where a fractional CMO comes in – providing the expertise and guidance needed to develop a marketing strategy at a fraction of the cost.

A fractional CMO can help businesses align their marketing efforts with their overall business goals, enabling them to grow more efficiently. With their industry knowledge and experience, they can assist in identifying target markets, refining messaging, and implementing effective marketing tactics.

CMO vs Fractional CMO Cost

Choosing between a fractional CMO and a full-time CMO involves weighing the costs and strategic needs of your business. Fractional CMOs offer a cost-effective solution for small to mid-sized businesses or those with limited marketing budgets, with an average salary in the UK of £61,376, allowing access to senior marketing expertise without the full-time expense. In contrast, full-time CMOs demand a higher salary, often around £115,922 annually, plus additional benefits and compensation, justified for larger companies or those with complex, ongoing marketing needs. The decision should be based on the company’s marketing strategy requirements, budget, and long-term objectives, determining whether the continuous oversight and management provided by a full-time CMO or the flexibility and lower cost of a fractional CMO best align with the company’s goals, ensuring efficient use of the marketing budget.

Benefits of Working with a Fractional CMO

Collaborating with a fractional CMO offers several benefits for businesses. By working with a fractional CMO, you can tap into their expertise and experience in developing and implementing effective marketing strategies. The fractional CMO allows you to access high-level marketing talent without the cost and commitment of hiring a full-time chief marketing officer.

Increased Marketing and Sales Alignment

A fractional CMO is responsible for aligning marketing and sales efforts to drive business growth. They can help bridge the gap between marketing and sales by developing integrated strategies that target key customer segments, improve lead generation, and nurture prospects throughout the sales cycle. By working together, marketing and sales can achieve better outcomes and increase revenue.

Strategic Guidance and Direction

A fractional CMO brings a fresh perspective to your marketing function. They can provide strategic guidance and direction, helping you set clear goals, define your target audience, and identify the best channels and tactics to reach them. With their industry knowledge and market insights, a fractional CMO can help you stay ahead of the competition and adapt your marketing strategies to changing trends and customer needs.

Cost-Effective Solution

Hiring a fractional CMO is a cost-effective solution compared to hiring a full-time CMO or building an in-house marketing team. With a fractional CMO, you only pay for the services and expertise you need, without the overhead costs associated with permanent employees. This allows you to allocate your marketing budget more efficiently and invest in other areas of your business.

Flexible Engagement

A fractional CMO offers flexibility in terms of engagement. Whether you need ongoing support or project-specific assistance, they can tailor their services to match your business requirements. This flexibility allows you to scale your marketing efforts up or down as needed, depending on your current priorities and budget constraints.

Benefits Description
Increased Marketing and Sales Alignment A fractional CMO can help align marketing and sales efforts, improving lead generation and revenue.
Strategic Guidance and Direction A fractional CMO can provide insights and guidance to help you set goals and adapt to market trends.
Cost-Effective Solution Hiring a fractional CMO is more cost-effective than having a full-time CMO or in-house team.
Flexible Engagement A fractional CMO offers flexibility in engagement, allowing you to scale your marketing efforts as needed.


In conclusion, not all businesses necessarily require a full-time CMO, but a fractional CMO can be a valuable and cost-effective solution. By thoroughly evaluating your marketing needs, budget constraints, and growth stage, you can determine whether hiring a fractional CMO is the right move to enhance your marketing strategies and achieve your business goals. Fractional CMOs offer the flexibility, expertise, and targeted guidance required to thrive in the ever-evolving marketing landscape. Ultimately, leveraging the services of a fractional CMO can give your business a competitive edge and position you for long-term success in today’s dynamic business environment.

For further guidance finding the right marketing expert for your business, get in touch via the contact form to see how Boardroom Advisors can help you.


What is the difference between a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer?

A CMO is a full-time executive responsible for all marketing efforts of a company, while a fractional CMO provides part-time or project-based marketing services to businesses.

When should a company consider hiring a Chief Marketing Officer?

Companies should consider hiring a CMO when they need strategic marketing leadership, expertise in developing marketing strategies, and guidance in managing and growing their marketing team.

What are the main responsibilities of a Chief Marketing Officer?

A CMO is typically responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of marketing strategies, managing the marketing budget, supervising the marketing team, and ensuring the success of marketing campaigns.

How does a Fractional CMO differ from an outsourced CMO?

A fractional CMO works part-time with a company, providing ongoing strategic marketing support, while an outsourced CMO is usually hired for specific projects or time-bound tasks.

What are the benefits of hiring a Fractional CMO over a full-time CMO?

Hiring a fractional CMO can be more cost-effective for smaller companies, provides access to specialised marketing expertise, and allows for flexibility in adjusting the level of marketing support as needed.

How can a Chief Marketing Officer help improve a company’s marketing function?

A CMO can help enhance marketing strategies, optimise marketing channels, streamline marketing operations, improve the marketing ROI, and lead the development of innovative marketing campaigns.

What factors should a mid-size company consider when deciding whether to hire a full-time CMO or a fractional CMO?

Mid-size companies should consider factors such as their marketing budget, the level of expertise needed, the scalability of marketing efforts, and the flexibility required in marketing leadership when deciding between a full-time CMO and a fractional CMO.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.