How to Become a Fractional CMO

To become a fractional CMO, you must have years of experience as a marketing leader working at a managerial level. A fractional CMO must have a broad knowledge of current marketing strategies and tactics. This is so they can work with a variety of agencies, freelancers and employees to reach the organization’s marketing objectives. You must be organized and very results-oriented.

Casey Stanton - Fractional CMO

Casey Stanton
Fractional CMO & CMOx Founder

This post was written by Casey S. Stanton. 

Casey is a marketing strategy expert and founder of CMO Exponential (CMOx), the Fractional CMO company. For over 10 years Casey has been leading marketing strategy for 7 and 8 figure businesses in both digital and brick-and-mortar markets. 

See Casey’s Bio.

Who SHould Be a Fractional CMO?

Do you like a fast-paced environment with a lot of variation? While some professionals like the familiarity of working with one company, other professionals prefer to solve the problems of many clients. 

A fractional CMO can work with different organizations, in a variety of sectors. This can be working to fill in the gaps of their marketing department or bolster their marketing strategies through leadership and direction.

These high-level professionals are well-paid for their expertise and often charge companies on a retainer basis. Growth-focused companies are able to use the CMO as needed, rather than hiring a full-time CMO (which would often be slightly overkill based on the amount of work they have for someone in that role). This is a good way to explore various company niches without taking on a lesser role.

Are you interested in becoming a fractional CMO?

The fractional CMO should be confident in leading the entire marketing department and directing the marketing team to keep them on track of their KPIs. You need to have a firm grasp of digital marketing trends and tools.

What is a fractional CMO?

When startup companies or small businesses need support, they usually aren’t quite ready for a full-time position. Most of the time, companies with less than $50 million annual revenue have select jobs they need an on-demand CMO to help with, but not enough to fill 40 hours every week.

If they hire a full-time CMO, they end up paying top dollar for this highly qualified marketing executive to answer emails and work on data entry that could be done just as easily by a lower-tier marketing professional.

A fractional CMO typically spends their time working with more than one company.

Becoming a fractional CMO

How much does a fractional CMO cost?

We’ll be honest—fractional CMOs are not cheap. But, they are only a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time chief marketing officer.

For a company that is ready to really take its marketing game to the next level, a CMO is essential. However, there are many companies that just don’t completely have the workload to justify another full-time c-suite manager.

In these cases, a fractional CMO can be brought in to do the high-level work and manage the teams part-time for a fee.

Pricing typically starts at a few thousand dollars per month and can grow to over ten thousand. This depends on the level of engagement a client needs. Fractional CMOs can also help run audits and work on shorter-term solutions. This will most likely still come in under the cost of a full-time CMO salary.

What is a fractional CMO’s salary or hourly rate?

Payscale reports that the average CMO is making over $170k every year. In some industries with a higher skill level required and a more demanding role, the salaries are closer to $210k and can reach as high as $300k.

As a fractional CMO, you would spend time working with different clients. Your retainer fee may be different for different clients, based on what they are having you do. In some cases, you may be able to set your own rates, provide quotes and set your own hours.

How many hours a week does a CMO work?

A typical CMO works full-time. A fractional CMO is going to work as often as they want. As a fractional CMO, you may choose to turn down work if you get too many offers. You might mark out your schedule so you always have a certain part of the day off or certain days of the week free.

How to become a fractional CMO

Fractional CMO Training

Many marketing agency owners, marketing consultants, and in-house marketers have enough managerial experience and expertise to do a great job in most aspects of being a fractional CMO. 

What they need is specific fractional CMO training that sets them up for success.

Benefits of fractional CMO training: 

  • Avoid spending years learning the best practices, systems, and processes of a successful fractional CMO. 
  • Be led by someone who has achieved what you want to achieve 
  • Shortcut the long and arduous learning process
  • Know how to position yourself as a fractional CMO. 
  • Quickly understand what a successful sales pipeline looks like to get high-quality fractional CMO leads
  • Have confidence in a sales system that works consistently

Here at CMOx, we help you connect with other high-level fractional CMOs and the clients who want to hire you. Our fractional CMO training helps prepare experienced marketers to become world-class fractional CMOs.

Are you interested in becoming a fractional CMO?

If you are interested, head over to the CMOx Accelerator to find out more. You can watch the video to get a bit more insight into the career of a fractional CMO before booking a call with us.

Fractional CMO Certification

Becoming a certified fractional CMO demonstrates to colleagues and employers that you have invested in your commitment to be a world-class marketer. 

Benefits of a Fractional CMO Certification:

  • Shows potential clients your level of commitment to learning and practicing the highest standards of operating as a fractional CMO
  • Gives you the confidence that the systems and processes you deploy into a business are effective, predictable, and proven 
  • Being associated with one of the industry leaders 
  • Have access to CMOx’s leads 
  • Stand out from the mediocre marketers who can also call themselves a fractional CMO
  • Justifies a higher rate


To become a Certified CMOx Fractional CMO, head over to CMOx Accelerator and apply to see if you are what we are looking for.

Other Ways to Become a Fractional CMO

Are you ready to step into a more demanding role? The trends are showing just how important CMOs are as digital migration is in full swing for all companies spanning all industries. Take on a position of marketing leadership in a highly valuable spot as a marketing executive.

Go from being an in-house CMO to consulting

You are going to need experience working as a CMO. A CMO should have a firm grasp of SEO, social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing strategies, lead generation, metrics and more.

It helps to have a degree in marketing—or at least a lot of experience in the field with creating and implementing marketing plans. You will need to learn key soft skills, including the ability to lead marketing initiatives, build up team members, improve customer experience and understand marketing methodologies.

As an experienced marketing professional, you may be able to find an in-house spot that will value your skillset and decided to make you a full-time marketing executive. Work to enhance your knowledge of marketing and learn what a CMO should be doing. When the time comes to jump ship, you can start looking into options for becoming a fractional chief marketing officer.

Join a business offering fractional CMO services

Next, find a marketing agency or consultancy, like CMOx that hires fractional CMOs and helps connect them with clients. By using a company experienced in fractional CMO services, you will have more support at your fingertips. 

It’s possible to freelance as a marketer, but it can be tough. You have to find clients, bill clients and settle disputes all on your own. An agency is going to offer a lot of benefits that you won’t find if you just freelance.

Move from marketing consultant to fractional CMO

When you are ready to make the jump, it’s time to move towards a fractional CMO role. 

You need to be quick on your feet in this role—finding solutions for your clients’ business needs no matter what industry they are in. There is a huge benefit to the freedom and flexibility of working with multiple teams and companies. For example, if a company just isn’t able to thrive or decides to sell, you won’t be trapped by their decision.

There are a lot of similarities between a traditional CMO and a fractional CMO, so the changeover usually isn’t too difficult. However, it helps a lot if you can find an expert to share the wisdom they’ve learned by trial and error…

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Summary

There are different paths to becoming a fractional CMO. There is no ‘best way’ but whichever way a marketer goes should lean on their strengths. This can be their experience, their network, or their skillset. 

Each client will have different requirements for their executive-level marketer. The impact on marketing efforts the fractional CMO makes will depend on their unique ability. 

If you feel you are ready to shortcut the long and arduous process of going out alone, check out the CMOx Accelerator and get in touch with us to discuss things further.

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