Frequently Asked Fractional CMO Questions

Everything about a Fractional CMO, the key questions.



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Fractional CMO Questions You Should Ask

Outsourced or Fractional Executives, including CMOs, have become common in the business world. This solution makes good business sense for small and mid-size businesses that need the leadership and strategic expertise of a high-caliber marketing executive, but do not have the demand or budget for a full-time CMO.

The fractional CMO concept is relatively new. There are many who are not aware of it or fully understand what it is and how it works.

We’ve put together this list of the most frequently asked questions about Fractional CMOs. They will provide valuable insight and a deeper understanding of the role, its benefits, and how it works.

What exactly does a Fractional CMO do?

The primary responsibility of a Fractional CMO is to develop and implement strategies that generate greater revenues and achieve profitable growth. Contrary to their title, a Fractional CMO does very little actual marketing activities, they develop and implement strategic plans, and oversee operations while monitoring performance.

In today’s buyer lead business environment, the Fractional CMO is responsible for developing growth strategies and generating revenues. Some larger corporations have actual changed the title from Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to Chief Growth Officer (CGO), Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Fractional CMOs

What is a Fractional CMO?

A Fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is an outsourced Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), an Executive-as-a-Service. A highly experienced senior marketing executive that offers their marketing expertise to help privately held businesses make the most of marketing to achieve their goals and generate profitable and sustainable growth. What makes an Astute Fractional CMO a better solution is that we are actually marketing executives with a minimum of 10 years of experience as Marketing VP or CMO in a mid-market business. That is why we focus on providing the four functions that drive results:
  • Strategic Planning
  • Execution
  • Leadership
  • Development
These four functions are what really move the needle to generate results that improve the bottom line and increase Return on Marketing Investment (RoMI) Learn more with our blog article – What is a Fractional CMO

What is the standard Hourly Rate for a Fractional CMO?

Fractional CMO hourly rates can vary greatly. Some of the former CMO’s from Fortune 500 companies can command as much $500 an hour and up. Keep in mind they are accustomed to big budgets and spend your money generously. On the opposite end of the spectrum, marketing firms claim to offer CMO services without having the experience or credentials, such as advanced education and certification. Their rates can get as low as $100 per hour, but they are not truly providing executive caliber leadership and strategic expertise. The average hourly rate for a Fractional CMO is around $250 to $300 per hour.

How to determine if a business would benefit from a Fractional CMO?

Below are some common situations where a Fractional CMO would be a wise choice, if multiple issues listed below apply to a business, the benefits received from a Fractional CMO increase exponentially.

Frankly, any business that wants to achieve its full growth potential and optimize its brand value would benefit from a Fractional CMO.

  • Have a marketing team, but do not have a high-caliber strategic leader that understands the company vision, and leads the charge to make it a reality
  • Operate without a documented strategic marketing plan that identifies goals and spells out how to achieve them
  • Lack strategies that drive reliable growth with consistency
  • Market by trial and error, executing random campaigns and returning inconsistent results
  • Operate focusing on immediate competitors, lacking big-picture perspective and an understanding of industry trends, market conditions, and an unbiased perspective from an external source
  • Do not realize marketing is an investment, not an expense. It generates a return on investment (ROI)

Qualifications to look for when retaining a Fractional CMO?

The term Fractional CMO is a popular “buzzword” in the industry. Fractional or Outsourced executives have gained popularity in the modern gig economy.

Unfortunately, there is no certification or standard for qualification as a Chief Marketing Officer. For example the CPA license for accountants. Hence, many advertising and marketing services providers label themselves as Fractional CMOs. They try to take advantage of the importance of the title to charge higher rates for tactical services. 

Therefore, we recommend verifying the following attributes:

1. At least five years of actual experience as a senior marketing executive (VP, Director, or CMO) at a prosperous company, not self-employment.

2. Advanced education such as an MBA or Master’s degree in Marketing. 

3. Verifiable track record of accomplishments. 

4. Knowledge of your specific industry.

Fractional CMO is a strategic leadership role, not a tactical marketing function. The primary responsibility of a CMO is to develop short and long-term strategies to drive profitable growth and generate greater revenue. The CMO commands higher rates by generating significant revenue growth. 

Frequently Asked Questions – Fractional CMO FAQs

We answer the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Fractional CMOs. More than just hourly rate, we dig deep into the heart of the matter to help you understand the who, what, why and how about Fractional CMOs.

How to assess the performance of a Fractional CMO?

Because Fractional CMOs operate at the executive level, they should be assessed on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) rather than metrics that measure the volume of activity. There are two KPIs that we focus on to provide our clients with a quick and clear summary of the financial impact of our efforts,

  • Growth Rate
  • Marketing ROI

The growth rate is a top-line metric, while Marketing ROI helps evaluate the bottom line. Click here to learn more about analytics.

What's The Difference Between a Fractional CMO and a Marketing Consultant?

While both are external resources (rather than employees of the business) a Fractional CMO from Astute Group operates at the executive leadership level, developing coherent strategies that are integrated from end-to-end to augment the effectiveness of each strategy. The are formulated into a strategic marketing plan to provide clear guidance and align all resources.

Astute Fractional CMO’s incorporate a “Big-Picture” perspective bringing together external and internal factors, along with executive caliber marketing expertise, critical thinking, and extensive experience. They have a strategic understanding of all marketing disciplines.

A marketing consultant usually focuses on one key function of marketing such as branding, advertising, or digital marketing. Their primary strength tends to be tactical activities. Any strategies are limited to only one marketing function, and research is often limited to known competitors and obvious markets and segments. SEO, or content development.

The issue with that is for optimal performance and sustainable growth, strategies should be unified across all disciplines of marketing for all products and services. The same message must be delivered across various channels, at the right time.

An analogy of the difference between an Astute Fractional CMO and a Marketing Consultant can be made with race cars. A Fractional CMO understands every system within the race car, tires, suspension, brakes, engine, drivetrain, etc., and how they impact performance.

A Marketing Consultant may know tires, brakes, or suspension, at best. Only concentrating on those areas, lacking the ability to integrate them in with the rest of the vehicle. Resulting in some improvement, yet not enough to reach full potential.

What's The Difference Between a Fractional CMO and a Marketing Management?

In a nutshell, the Fractional CMO will manage and guide the internal marketing management staff of an organization. An Astute Fractional CMO will identify the goals and develop the strategic planning needed to achieve set goals. The CMO will manage the execution of the plan to ensure it is executed properly and kept in alignment with expectations.

The type of engagement will determine how much interaction and the channel(s) by which the Fractional CMO and the Marketing Director or Manager work together. Astute Groups Fractional CMOs are committed to working closely with their clients and providing the leadership needed to ensure goals are achieved.

How to Determine if a Fractional CMO is Needed?

An Astute Fractional CMO is ideal for organizations that want to generate reliable growth with consistency. Whether a startup or an organization that has existed for generations, we help gain market share, build great brands, optimize product value and generate sustainable growth. 

If these statements describe your organization and its marketing efforts, you will benefit greatly from an Astute Fractional CMO 

  • Have a marketing team, but do not have a high-caliber strategic leader that understands the company vision, and leads the charge to make it a reality
  • Operate without a documented strategic marketing plan that identifies goals and spells out how to achieve them
  • Lack strategies that drive reliable growth with consistency
  • Market by trial and error, executing random campaigns and returning inconsistent results
  • Operate focusing on immediate competitors, lacking big-picture perspective and an understanding of industry trends, market conditions, and an unbiased perspective from an external source
  • Do not realize marketing is an investment, not an expense, it generates a return on investment ROI 

What's are the Benefits of a Fractional CMO?

There are numerous benefits to engaging an Astute Group Fractional CMO into your organization,

  • Access to C level Marketing Executives expertise for a fraction of the cost of a full-time C Level executive on staff
  • Implementation of a structured methodology to drive growth and achieve marketing goals
  • Elimination of trial-and-error marketing activities that generate sporadic, if any results
  • A fresh big-picture perspective to identify new opportunities and optimize growth strategies
  • Dedicated focus and leadership of the only department in an organization that generates revenues. Marketing is an investment, not an expense because marketing drives revenues. 
  • A fractional CMO will accelerate growth and take the business to the next level.

How are Fractional CMO engagements structured?

Astute Group offers two types of engagements for a Fractional CMO.

 1. Outsourced CMO which is essentially a part-time or temporary member of your team


2. Advisory CMO which provides advisory services, training, development and On-Demand support.


Isn't a CMO only used by Corporations and Large Enterprises?

A Fractional CMO provides the benefits of a staff CMO for a fraction of the price. Thus, providing a viable solution for small and mid-market businesses. 

Every organization should have a dedicated marketing executive to lead its strategic planning, keep the team focused, and ensure goals are attained. A visionary that can identify the path to prosperity and lead the charge.

Regardless of the size of the organization, it needs the right marketing strategies. The one thing that almost all prosperous enterprises have in common is the right marketing strategy.

Why does Astute Group quote Projects vs Hourly Rate for a Fractional CMO?

If you are concerned with the hourly rate of a Fractional CMO, then you probably do not fully understand why your business needs a Fractional CMO. That is the wrong question because a Fractional CMO should be able to quote a price based on the project and goals.

Hourly rates are for production work, such as designing graphics, posting on social media, or writing emails. You do not want a CMO to do that tactical work.  

The value of a Fractional CMO is based on the ROI gained from the strategies and leadership they provide. 

Of course, it is not an exact science and would require an hourly rate for additional or unexpected work. However, quoting projects by the hour leaves the client open to big surprises, especially if the CMO lacks the experience or knowledge to effectively implement the project.

We have developed Outsourced CMO marketing packages that provide a great example for greater clarification.

What is meant by the term Fractional?

Fractional in Fractional CMO refers to the amount of time spent working for a client. A traditional CMO is a full-time employee of a single organization. They dedicate all of their working hours and efforts to their employer.

A Fractional CMO engages with several organizations splitting up his or her working hours between those clients. Engagements can be structured in various ways, and time can be split on a daily, weekly, or in some cases monthly basis. 

What is a CMO

CMO is an acronym for Chief Marketing Officer. One of the four common Chief level executives in a corporation (the others are CEO, COO, CFO). CMOs are big-picture strategic visionaries. It is this vision and strategic mindset that drives growth and success for any size business.

When is a Fractional CMO needed?

  • Need a new perspective with deep insight to guide expansion
  • Lack of strategic marketing planning or leadership
  • Declining revenues and loss of market share
  • Growth rates below industry averages
  • Still using antiquated sales processes
  • Launching or growing a Startup
  • Seeking funding from venture capital or private equity
  • Reducing cost or minimizing commitment during downturns
  • Unexpected senior marketing executive vacancy

Fractional CMO Scope of Work

  • Identify new opportunties and improve existing programs
  • Provide cost effective access to executive leadership and innovative marketing strategies
  • Implement proven fundamental marketing principles used by prosperous companies
  • Convert marketing from an expense into a high-yield investement
  • Relieve the stress caused by the complexities of marketing to generate reliable revenue growth
  • Develop your highly effective, extremely efficient marketing system for sustained growth
  • Turn around declines and seize new opportunities revive revenue generation
  • Provide as needed services for special projects, advising, or annual planning

Why Hire A Fractional CMO?

What’s your why factor?

Your competitive advantage, the reason(s) why your brand is a better choice, the right choice. Clients are often surprised to hear why their customers buy from them. The greatest value driver that differentiates your brand or products may not be what you think it is.

In today’s extremely competitive global marketplace, a strong competitive advantage is critical. However, markets are dynamic and competitors are aggressive, if that advantage can be duplicated, it will be. Therefore, your why factor needs to evolve.

We can help with annual planning to keep you ahead of the curve. An Astute Fractional CMO will assess current marketing conditions and your competitive landscape to identify value drivers and new opportunities. Then provide a strategic plan to seize those opportunities and keep it clear why your brand is the right choice.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Our Fractional CMOs don’t stop with seizing your advantage, they keep you ahead of the curve. Our exclusive STOMP™ Method is the framework we use to help your business grow. It begins with scalable strategies, and integrates agile practices, along with periodic analysis and constant monitoring of external factors, to ensure your lead is not lost.

What does a Fractional CMO do?

Strategic Differentiation

Develop and implement marketing strategies that create a strong competitive advantage. Then seize that advantage to generate demand and drive sales.

Demand Generation

Create strategies to drive demand through highly effective awareness and promotion campaigns that increase sales revenues.

Brand Perception

Create a brand identity that increases perceived value and connects with target audiences and drives loyalty.

Product Market Alignment

Identify opportunities in markets that fit best with your products and services to make it clear why this is the right choice.

Leadership and Mentoring

Oversee all aspect of marketing, provide clear direction to align focus. Source, mentor, and inspire marketing team.

Analytical Assessment

Develop and manage budgets, regularly measure performance with KPI focused analytics to verify results.

Operational Excellence

Identify and implement the right marketing resources (budget, people, technology, and process) to gain the best balance between efficiency and effectiveness.

Continuous Improvement

Evolve to keep your competitive edge with scalable plans and agile practices.

What are the various Fractional CMO engagement types

How does a Fractional CMO work?

Outsourced CMO Services

Part-Time CMO

A Continual Chief Marketing Officer available for as long as you need them

Temporary CMO

An Interim Chief Marketing Officer to fill the gaps

Advisory CMO

A Chief Marketing Officer on-call, available as needed

Turnaround CMO

The emergency responder that revitalizes growth

Virtual CMO

Eliminate physical barriers and get the CMO services your business needs

CMO Coach

A marketing blackbelt to train, develop, and mentor management and executives

Insight on Fractional CMO Services

Are CMOs responsible for more than marketing?

A study conducted by Deloitte in conjunction with the CMO Council discovered that “Now more than ever, CMOs believe they are the business-drivers of the organization and that senior leadership has high expectations for them to own growth strategies and revenue generation,”


In addition, technology has significantly changed the responsibilities of the Chief Marketing Officer and hence those of the Fractional CMO.  According to Forbes, what was once a creativity driven role focused on brand awareness, has become a strategic role focused on driving business and generating revenue growth.

The role of marketing in the sales process used to end at generation of marketing qualified leads that are passed on to the sales department. Now marketing completes most of, if not the entire selling process, especially after the pandemic of 2020. Essentially forcing the CMO to become the Chief Growth Officer (CGO).

The customer experience has surpassed product quality and price as the leading driver of purchasing decisions. It drives customer acquisition and customer retention, two critical marketing KPIs. So the CMO is also the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) or Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

New digital marketing channels such as Mobile Applications and Online Communities in addition to social media, websites, and other digital properties are critical to marketing. Which means the CMO is now the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).

As you can see, the CMO must take on additional responsibilities that go well beyond traditional marketing to achieve their objectives, and add value. Your Astute Fractional CMO is highly experienced and well versed in these additional roles.




Why Fractional CMO Hourly Rate is Irrelevant?

If you are looking to hire an actual Chief Marketing Officer, then you are looking for someone that is going to develop long term solutions to ensure your businesses prosperity and stability. A Fractional CMO is operates at the strategic level, focusing on strategic planning, sustainability, brand value, leadership, to generate growth and optimize Return on Marketing Investment. Can you tell me how many hours this takes?

When working at the strategic level, there is no such thing as a Fractional CMO hourly rate. How compensation is calculated, is by the project. A true professional will provide a comprehensive proposal that includes a detailed Scope of Work and well defined deliverables. See when you have years of experience and are truly an expert at your craft, you are well aware of just about every situation and how to handle it. Markets are dynamic, conditions change, and adjustments may be needed. So true CMO’s will quote an hourly rate if additional needs occur that go beyond the Scope of Work in the proposal.

To truly know the cost of a Fractional CMO, measure Return on Investment. The amount of increased profitability the Fractional CMO has generated for your business. What good is revenue growth if expenses are increasing at the same rate or greater?

If your being quoted hourly rates you are dealing with an impostor. An operational level service provider that does not have actual senior level marketing executive experience, nor the vast expertise needed to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to make the most of your businesses marketing.

Having been in this industry for so many years we have identified the following average rates (Actual CMOs quote these rates for add on hours to handle unexpected needs that go beyond the Scope of Work)

A Fractional CMO who has actually held the Chief Marketing Officer title for at least 5 years  – $500 an hour and up

A Fractional CMO who has served as a Vice President of a $100 million or larger business – $250 an hour and up

This is where the impostors come in, that includes, college professors with no actual marketing executive experience, consultants, temp agencies,  and the many other service providers that are great at one function of marketing, such as advertising agencies and digital marketing firms.

These rates vary from $100 to $250 an hour.







Can we afford a Fractional CMO?

The simple answer is, Yes you can afford our Fractional CMO services because they are an investment that generates profitable returns. We validate our worth with two key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide a financial summary of your marketing function. We will provide your leadership with a monthly analysis that we call Astute Analytics™, an executive dashboard that summarizes the marketing function.

Revenue Growth – Top line revenue generated in a give period

Return on Marketing Investment (RoMI) – A comparison of marketing costs to revenue growth in a given period

We approach marketing as an investment, and just like any other investment, performance is measured by Return on Marketing Investment (RoMI). A critical metric that gauges the entire marketing function. Revenue Growth coupled with RoMI provide tremendous insight about the financial aspect of marketing, by assessing both the top and bottom line. Its how we prove the value of our marketing expertise and convert marketing from an expense to a profitable investment.

What is CMO as a Service?

CMO as a Service is derived from the Software as a Service (SaaS) model which minimizes cost, resources necessary, and committments while providing full access and functionality of a software application. Hence, the CMO as a Service provides on demand Chief Marketing Officer services without the commitments of a full-time employee or the contractual obligations often required by consultants or outsourced CMOs. 

What are Fractional CMO Services?

Fractional CMO Services provide an on-demand marketing executive on a “only pay for what you need” basis. This Marketing Executive-as-a-Service provides small and mid-tier businesses with executive-caliber marketing expertise and focused leadership. The type of executive marketing leadership used by popular brands and prosperous enterprises.

Engagements are tailored to fit your businesses goals, budget, and resources. Which makes Fractional CMO services an extremely efficient and cost effective solution to growth challenges.

Why Do I need a Fractional CMO?

Your company needs a fractional CMO to conquer the complications of marketing and guide your company to the next level.

A Fractional CMO is ideal for organizations that

  • Are experiencing flat or declining annual revenues
  • Do not have a strategic marketing plan with objectives, budget, and, clear guidance to achieving growth and long-term sustainability
  • Lack of executive-caliber strategic marketing expertise
  • Conduct Trial-and-Error marketing which generates sporadic results, and minimal, if any, growth
  • Have shrinking profit margins, and constant discounting to close sales
  • View marketing as an expense, failing to realize Return on Marketing Investment (RoMI)
  • Lack of a clear direction for future growth

How we solve one of the greatest challenges for CEOs

Generating growth is one of the greatest challenges CEOs face. We take that challenge on with innovative strategies and proven tactics, that result in consistent growth. An Astute Fractional CMO is not an outsider, we integrate into your organization and become an intrinsic part of the team. Essentially functioning as a part-time CMO, while providing the full array of benefits. Engagements are custom-tailored to your challenges, goals, and resources.

Our Fractional CMO services provide an “on-demand” or “part-time CMO”. Contributing the strategic marketing expertise and executive caliber leadership needed to achieve goals. Our holistic approach integrates the entire marketing function, which improves the performance of each marketing activity exponentially greater than executing individually. Consistently executing with this approach will optimize KPIs and growth rate, to eventually reach full potential.

What to expect from Fractional CMO Services

The primary objective of an Astute Fractional CMO is to facilitate growth, while generating a Return on Marketing Investment (RoMI). To do so, we develop our Fractional CMO services to develop a strong competitive advantage for your brand. One that clearly differentiates the brand from competitors and position it where it adds the greatest value. Generating profitable growth that yields a strong return on your marketing investment. Your Fractional CMO will devise an innovative and powerful marketing plan that offers scalable strategies to develop a strong competitive advantage. Tactical implementation is coupled with agile practices to maintain an advantage and stay ahead of competitors. They will steer clear of the traps set by trending fads and tempting gimmicks, to eliminate uncertainty and the accompanying stress that so many businesses experience.

Visit our Fractional CMO Services page to see how we can help your business.

Beware of the Fractional CMO Impostor

A Fractional CMO impostor is any service provider claiming to offer Fractional CMO services without having actual experience working as a Chief Marketing Officer or Marketing Vice President for a mid-market business or larger. Be wary of service providers that do not have real-world experience as senior marketing executives and label themselves as a CMO, a self-assigned title in their own firm, or a firm that brokers out their services.

The outsourcing trend created by the gig economy has made “Fractional CMO”  a very popular marketing industry buzz-word. One that has been adopted by advertising agencies, consultants, digital marketing firms, temporary employment agencies, and many other service providers that have never been responsible for managing every aspect of marketing in a profitable and growing enterprise.

These impostors ultimately create a losing scenario for clients by providing,

Underperforming Strategies

Impostors strength is in one function of marketing, which may generate some level of growth. Achieving optimal growth and Marketing ROI requires a  big-picture perspective, vast marketing expertise, and executive level experience to devise integrated strategies that help your business realize full potential.

Overpriced Services

Paying a CMO to perform day-to-day marketing functions like creating ads or posting on social media should be a crime.

If your paying CMO rates for marketing administrator level work, your being overcharged. The CMO devises the strategies and manages execution, thats where they provide the greatest ROI.

Fractional CMO services for strategic business development, marketing, and sales enablement.

What We Do

Our Fractional CMO services are developed on the premise that marketing, business development, and sales are one team whose ultimate objective is generating profitable revenue growth.  Savvy CEOs look to the CMO to lead that team in today's business environment.


  • Competitive intelligence
  • Growth and expansion strategies
  • Market development strategy
  • Market penetration strategy
  • Product development strategy
  • Marketing strategies
  • Segment and Target strategy
  • Positioning strategy (competitive differentiation)
  • Channel strategy
  • Unique value proposition


  • Competitive advantage
  • Go To Market Strategy
  • Marketing Plan
  • Lead generation and nurturing
  • Business development plan
  • Sales enablement tools
  • Objectives, metrics, and KPIs
  • Content plan
  • Product requirements
  • Product marketing plan
  • Product launch plan


  • Go To Market Plan
  • Marketing programs
  • Business development initiatives
  • Sales and marketing collaboration
  • Annual, semi-annual, or quarterly planning
  • Product Marketing
  • Special projects
  • Coaching
  • Workshops
  • Digital sales transformation


Tampa, FL office will provide a Fractional CMO in any city within the following states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee,  Texas.
    • Austin, TX
    • Atlanta, GA
    • Birmingham, AL
    • Charlotte, NC
    • Charleston, SC
    • Dallas, TX
    • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    • Houston, TX
    • Memphis, TN
    • New Orleans, LA
Detroit, MI office will provide a Fractional CMO in any city within the following states: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.
  • Chicago, IL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Columbus, OH
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Washington DC

Fractional CMO Services -  Strategic Marketing Expertise

Brand Strategy

Product Marketing

Strategic Marketing

Digital Strategy

Outsourced CMO

Fractional CMO Services are available in:















Ft. Wayne

Grand Rapids





Jersey City


Los Angeles





New Orleans

New York








San Diego

St. Petersburg


Traverse City

Washington DC





Virtual CMO Services available throughout the entire United States and Canada

Strategic Business Development

Go-To-Market Strategy

Sales Enablement

Growth Strategy

Innovation Enablement

Digital Transformation