What is an Interim CMO? Why should you hire one?

Marketing strategy is central to a strong online presence. As you push for a more robust and effective marketing approach, you will need the expertise and leadership of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). However, most businesses reaching this crossroads find themselves at a point where they really need a CMO to lead their marketing team, but they can’t justify bringing on another full-time c-suite executive.

An interim CMO is a Chief Marketing Officer brought in for a limited amount of time. This position can be a full-time position for a short amount of time or work on a part-time basis for an indefinite amount of time. The interim CMO will help give your team direction without expecting a full-time, long-term position at your company.

This blog will cover why you may need to hire a fractional or interim CMO to outsource your leadership needs.

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.

What is an Interim CMO?

The role of the interim CMO is to guide your marketing team. An interim CMO is a fractional or full-time CMO for a set period of time. In many cases, this is done during a period of transition as your company grows into needing a full-time CMO or is in the process of hiring one and wants to bridge the gap with an interim CMO.

Why You Might Need an Interim CMO...

Here are just a few of the reasons you might need to hire an interim CMO:

  • The current CMO leaves, either from being fired or moves on, retires, etc. 
  • For a specific project or campaign that requires oversight and experience
  • A period of transition for the business, like a growth stage or merger
  • You want to “try before you buy” to see if a CMO would make a difference
  • Your team is suddenly overwhelmed and needs immediate marketing leadership

If there is any reason you need the support of a CMO but don’t have the ability to hire one, then an interim or fractional CMO may be the right option.

Interim CMO

Leadership to Manage Smaller Marketing Workloads

The fractional CMO will be able to do everything a full-time CMO does, but won’t require a full workload. You can work out how much support you need to get your marketing team moving in the right direction and only pay your interim CMO for that time. 

If you aren’t quite ready for a full-time CMO, then the interim will help you out until you feel as if it’s worth bringing someone in for full-time. If you brought in a full-time CMO right now, you would be paying them a serious salary to do some of the basic tasks, like input data or write emails.

Leadership to Manage Full Workloads for Short Overlaps

An interim CMO could also carry a full workload for a short period of time. As you search for the perfect CMO to bring into your company, the interim CMO will fill the role. Many employees aren’t going to want to just hop into that position and aren’t qualified to lead your marketing team until you find the right leader.

However, you typically can rush hiring or hire in someone for a short period of the overlap time—unless you bring in a CMO who does exactly that. A fractional CMO expects to work odd hours or fill short gaps during these periods of transition.

What is Meant by CMO?

Your marketing team has experience in various marketing strategies and content creation. A CMO offers a higher level of knowledge and skill than the average marketer. The CMO will be in charge of planning, developing and overseeing marketing plans.

A CMO should come in ready to go and able to make an immediate impact. The main goal of the CMO is to increase company revenues by establishing an effective marketing plan that attracts customers. A secondary part of the CMO’s job is to ensure the company has a solid reputation put forth by the marketing plan.

A CMO should have the insight to see how marketing will benefit the company. As a high-level company leader, the CMO will help align the marketing strategy with the company’s overarching goals.

What Does a Chief Marketing Officer Get Paid?

Most CMOs make the same kind of salary as your other executive managers. Nationally, this is somewhere around $175,000 (Payscale) to $247,350 (Salary.com).

An interim or fractional CMO will only cost a fraction of that since they aren’t working full-time or are only working for a set period of time.

Interim CMO Marketing Strategy

What Are the Skills of a CMO?

A solid CMO is going to offer the following capabilities:

  • Deep understanding of strategy and industry trends
  • Brand creation and online reputation management
  • Leadership that inspires and motivates the marketing department
  • Software proficiencies to seamlessly integrate products 
  • Research to support long- and short-term brand equity
  • Ability to assess metrics and formulate strategy adjustments

An interim CMO should have some additional qualities to help bridge the gap:

  • Ready-for-market strategy development that targets customers
  • Experience with transition dynamics
  • Exceptional people skills for a quick and easy fit into leadership
  • An agile approach to marketing that is tailor-fit to each client’s company
  • Deep understanding of various markets and target audiences
  • Knowledge of your industry standards, challenges, and compliance issues

How Do you Become a CMO?

Not just anyone can fill the role of a CMO—especially an interim CMO. A marketing leader needs to have the experience and skills to fill this role. Part-time marketing leadership requires the additional ability to be flexible and insightful for different companies.

If you are interested in a career as a CMO, you can read more about how to become a CMO here:

How to Become a Fractional CMO

The CMO needs to have more know-how with things like customer experience, digital advertising, social media marketing, content product development, SEO, campaigns and other CMO services. As an executive, the CMO needs to excel in leadership and team building. A CMO also has to know how to use software, like a CRM, analytics software, social media platforms, digital marketing automation software and more.

You need years of experience in marketing to fully understand what you are doing as a CMO. You can’t just have good concepts, you need to be able to come up with realistic strategies that work.

For some industries, like healthcare or tech, CMOs have to have a deep knowledge of the expectations and rules of that industry. The wrong approach could lead to disastrous data breaches or marketing faux pas.

Interim CMO vs Fractional CMO: What's the Difference?

There is really no difference between a fractional CMO and an interim CMO. They perform the same role and have the same skillsets. They will both be ready to hit the ground running. While the titles can be interchangeable, the biggest difference is how your company plans to use them to fill your need:

Fractional CMOs typically fill a part-time role for companies that don’t have enough executive-level marketing work to justify a full-time CMO. A fractional CMO may work for multiple companies as their part-time marketing exec.

Interim CMOs are full-time or part-time CMOs that are hired to work for a short period of time. These CMOs come in with the understanding that they will be filling the gap until a full-time CMO is found. They may be brought in to see how a full-time CMO would work out for the company before the decision to hire is made.

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Do you need a marketing expert to lead your company?

If you are in a position where you need marketing leadership but a full-time position isn’t quite right, we can help. We offer fractional CMOs and interim CMOs to companies that need those professionals to fill gaps in their leadership. This allows your team to focus on what they do best and get direction from a marketing expert.

Talk to us today about our interim marketing services to find the right interim executive for your company. We will work with you to find the right marketing executive to fill a senior-level role in your business.

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Schedule a call with us so we can see how we can help you.