Jumping Elephant

What is a Fractional CMO?

{Fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)… Outsourced CMO… Same role, different SEO search term}

Simply put – A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a part time marketing executive who is brought on to strategize and lead the execution and implementation of marketing-driven company growth.

Fractional CMO’s become a part of your marketing team, fully hands-on and invested in the success of your company, while remaining completely unbiased and bringing a fresh perspective. They are marketing leaders who: 

  1. Oversee and mentor your existing in-house marketing team to focus marketing efforts and increase Return On Marketing Spend (ROMS). 
  2. Manage subcontractors and consolidate marketing efforts to reduce wastage.

Fractional CMO’s work on a set monthly retainer with only as many hours as is required by the company. This allows the company to tap into executive-level marketing expertise at a fraction of the cost (and without the commitment) of a full-time CMO or senior level marketer.

During their time with a company (generally between 6 months to a year), a Fractional CMO offers holistic marketing solutions via sustainable marketing automation strategies and sets the company up for long-term growth, while implementing sustainable marketing programs for in-house staff.  

… Well… That’s how we do it at Jumping Elephant anyway.

Want a sneak peak?

Download our Fractional CMO Guide for a look into the systems and marketing strategies we help businesses implement every day!

What is the difference between an Advertising Agency, a Marketing Consultant, a Marketing Freelancer/Contractor, an in-house Marketing Manager, and a Fractional CMO?

Consultants are similar to executive coaches in that they come in (usually for a premium) to give you an outsiders perspective of your company’s health, give you a list of things to improve, and leave you to make it happen. Most are brought in as experts for specific projects and once the solutions have been delivered their contract is complete. They don’t get the chance to see results or tune-up and optimize to improve them.

Freelancers and contractors are the ‘get-it-done’ people on a project. They are given a task for a specific project and they complete that task professionally and hand it back. They usually specialize in one thing, such as copywriting, graphic design, web design, etc. and are brought in for only that. It is not their job to see or care about the big picture or if their work led to the growth of your company.

Agencies are excellent executers. They have a number of specialists on staff to complete almost any marketing initiative. They bill out for the creation of individual campaigns and marketing materials, which may not always be conducive to the bigger picture. They are not ‘hands-on’ as much as they are at arms-length, so making sure everything is on-brand and relevant your business goals falls onto your in-house marketing manager or the owner.

In-house marketing managers are mid-level marketing professionals who work full-time for your business, often as your primary marketing support. They are often tasked with executing a number of different marketing initiatives (read: ‘random acts of marketing’) and need to be a ‘jack/jill of all trades’ to do so. They do not specialize in any one thing and ‘big picture strategies’ are generally not in their wheelhouse. They are excellent tacticians, but need leadership for growth and marketing optimization.

Your Fractional CMO is a member of your in-house marketing team (we could even have a company email and join in for team bonding events) – but we are not employees. We act as your personal executive marketing concierge and organize and oversee all marketing initiatives in your company. From strategy through execution, to management and result analytics, we are invested in your success and get our hands dirty to get you there. We mentor your existing team and leverage their tactical skills for execution, or can come with our own team of specialists to fill in the gaps.

Who Needs a Fractional CMO

Businesses with 6+ employees and $1.5M-$6M in revenue whose marketing has plateaued even though their marketing budget has increased and their in-house marketing team has been trying new tactics to reach their business growth goals.


Note: If your business has fewer than 6 employees, or your revenue falls below $1.5M, our CMO Advisor service offers strategic support, guidance, and accountability for you or your marketing manager. These calls keep you on track and re-inspire your team so they can implement your strategy and manage daily marketing initiatives.

And out of those, companies:
  • that need executive-level marketing support and leadership for their marketing efforts, but who are not ready to bring one on full time
  • who are at least 5 years into business but who have never had any senior-level marketer lead their marketing
  • whose sales team are creating their OWN marketing materials
  • who do in fact have an in-house marketing team, but are seeing the need for a fresh perspective and guidance for their team

Why Hire a Fractional CMO?

Increase ROMS

To increase your Return On Marketing Spend (ROMS)

It is recommended that a company spend 10% of their revenue on marketing – and this is just to maintain their current status. For a growth strategy this either needs to be increased or needs to be so very finely tuned that not a penny is wasted. 

  • Fractional CMO’s not only know how to plan and manage a marketing budget, they are also experts in trimming fat, reducing financial waste, and allocating money where it has the best ROI.

Your marketing returns must outweigh your marketing expenses, and that includes the salaries of your marketing team (and any support you bring in). By increasing ROMS, you’ll regain control of your budget and be able to implement more of your marketing strategy to make a bigger impact. 

  • We do this by creating automated systems focused on lead generation, and refocusing on customer loyalty, repeat business, referrals, and profit maximization.

Marketing you can afford

Many companies understand the need to have a dedicated marketing person on their team if they want to see business growth. They hire a mid-level marketing manager to help them launch a series of marketing pieces. The problem, though, is that while this people can tackle many projects, they become a Jack/Jill of all trades and… you guessed it… they master none. This marketing manager often needs to outsource work to specialists, meaning that the company has the burden of contractor costs on top of a full-time salary. 

  • A Fractional CMO acts as your strategist and project manager, building an expert team to roll out and maintain your strategy. Keeping your in-house team smaller is cost effective and gives the structure and labour required for the various tasks. This allows us to bring in experts for projects that require specialization. 
  • Using a mix of in-House and outsourced labour gives the flexibility to manage budget as workload changes. When work demand rises, Fractional CMO’s have the resources to scale as needed while not overloading your staff. When things quiet down, a multi-faceted team can be easily scaled back and work can be allocated to your full time employees, keeping a loyal and hard working team on board.

Small to medium-sized businesses inevitably hit a point where they know they need a senior marketing expert to get them to the next level. But hiring a full-time CMO comes with a huge commitment, including a salary exceeding $80,000 (not including benefits, paid vacation, sick leave, overhead, equipment, additional office space – the list goes on!). This leaves you you with a huge dent in your actual marketing spend and, you guessed it, sets your ROMS back again.

  •  Fractional CMO’s are not employees. By hiring a Fractional CMO you save all the headache and expense of adding a full-time staff member without sacrificing executive-level expertise and support for your business – at a fraction of the cost. This leaves the majority of your budget for execution and strategy implementation.

Marketing Specialists

Having access to multiple experts in a variety of specialties can cost a fortune, especially when trying to bring them all on board. Not only that, but having so many points of contact can increase your own project management workload to a point where your ROMS starts to decrease again.

  • Having a Fractional CMO gives you that perfect balance of tapping into expertise from a number of marketing specialists only as required, and only having to work directly with one person who manages it all for you.
  • Fractional CMO’s are your access to a strategic marketing leader with multi-faceted marketing experience. Enabling you to benefit from comprehensive strategies and effective reporting on which you can base business decisions.
  • Fractional CMO’s have the experience to streamline various marketing efforts to ensure they all work together as a part of the bigger picture, reducing financial wastage.


It isn’t uncommon for client-side marketing teams to get tunnel vision for tactics that are only relevant for their specific industry. In order to open yourself up to larger growth potential, it is important to look through a broader lense to see what is working in a number of industries and understand how those could be translated to yours. 

  •  Fractional CMO’s work with a number of industries and are constantly sharpening their skills and looking for what is working across the board, pulling those in tie work with industry best practices for your company.

Build capabililities in-house

You’ve hired a few staff members that you adore. They are loyal and hard working and really fit in with your company culture. But lately, you’ve noticed a plateau in your marketing and are starting to realize that your team needs re-inspiration, guidance and leadership to really take that next step in their careers – something that you just don’t have the time or knowledge to offer.

  • Fractional CMO’s bring out new and refreshing big ideas from within the room, inspiring and empowering your staff to take ownership of their marketing efforts, while offering guidance, leadership, and direct mentorship with key players.
  • Rather than wasting valuable execution time having your team ‘trial and error’ through marketing, we will oversee and assess each person’s skills and delegate tasks that make the most sense for them, engaging them and allowing them to thrive where they work best. This job satisfaction not only leads to better work for your growth, but keeps them with the company longer to replace me when everything is set up and running!

As mentioned above, many internal team members fall into roles that require them to be a ‘jack/jill of all trades’ and they often need to seek support from freelancers or larger agencies to complete more specialized projects. This can very quickly kill any momentum your team had for the project and blow through a marketing budget with due haste.

  • We work to develop the skills of your staff, expanding your in-house capacity to complete projects without relying on costly third-party contractors and giving them the opportunity to grow within your business.

Fresh Perspective & Unbiased

As you have probably experienced yourself, it is very easy to sucked into the business and not be able to understand what it looks like from the outside. A fresh perspective is worth its weight in gold when it comes to re-evaluating where your company sits and strategizing ways to push to forward. Often the solutions are simple ones, but you are too close to see the bigger picture.

  • Fractional CMO’s can often deliver immediate results with their fresh set of eyes. By reviewing your existing challenges, they can see what may have been glossed over by those who stare at it all day long. They can bring a fresh perspective and laser-focus on key aspects of your marketing strategy that may have gotten muddled over time. 


You trust your team and know that their intentions for your company are honourable, but sometimes company politics, as much as we hate to admit we have them, can put a damper on growth efforts.

  • Although Fractional CMO’s become a part of your team, they still are still far enough removed to bring unbiased opinions and ideas to the table without history or baggage.
  • We become your trusted advisor. We are on-demand objective professionals with whom you can brainstorm new ideas, as marketing efforts are not tied to our employment or other vested interests.

Delegation with Support

You don’t earn revenues in the millions by doing everything yourself. You likely even delegated your marketing to a marketing manager you hired full-time. But with that marketer came another person to manage, and because you do not currently have a full-time executive CMO the strategizing and planning falls on you, and you don’t want to have to worry about marketing strategy. If you’ve trusted this to your internal team you may be noticing a plateau right now.

  •  A fractional CMO will give expert support and drive the strategy forward, requiring only approvals from you.
  • We make sure all day-to-day marketing projects are being managed efficiently. By delegating project and staff management you greatly reduce your ROMS as it pertains to your own hourly wage and time spent.


Most marketing strategies include specialist contractors who fill the gaps of the in-house marketing team. The number of contractors depends on the number of projects on the go, and there are often an outstanding number of moving parts to stay on top of and check up on. This can be a huge drain on mental real estate when you have the rest of your business to worry about.

  • Fractional CMO’s are professional project managers and have a thorough understanding of the efficiencies required to keep costs down and productivity high. With so many pieces that work together (eg: sales info being updated on social media, websites, emails, etc.), projects need to be overseen and rolled out properly so that pieces don’t fall behind and the machine stops functioning (eg: a broken funnel)
  • We juggle all of the conversations and technical support and timelines for the various service providers brought on for each project, as well as collaborate with your in-house team.
  • We provide an ongoing personal-support relationship that is flexible depending on your needs. We create a personalized experience surrounding where you need us most (and where we can see you need us most).

When to Hire a Fractional CMO

When you still don’t have a consistent flow of leads and are hemorrhaging money into random acts of marketing trying to connect the dots between marketing ‘trends’ and ‘tactics’ and actual cold-hard revenue!

Let’s unpackage that…

The answer is “NOW” if:

Your sales are slow or have plateaued.

Hello! We are here! Can you see us? What you have been doing is becoming less effective and your audience is becoming numb to the strategy. It is time to re-evaluate your leads generation process and refocus on another path.

You’ve never had senior marketing support.

If you’ve been trucking along on a ‘maintenance’ plan without any big growth strategies or guidance to reach that next milestone.

You need someone to assist with a growth spurt.

You have huge plans for your business and know that marketing-led growth will be the best way to reach your goals. You need someone to quarterback your long-term marketing initiatives and offer that extra executive bandwidth to deliver results.

You’ve acquired a new company.

Congrats! Now what? You are strapped for cash when it comes to looking at a full-time CMO, but you need the benefits of a senior marketing executive to get this new company to really fly.

You’re seeking improved budget flexibility.

Tying your company down to a full-time employee just isn’t in the cards, and you need some of that salary to spend on multiple specialists that will execute that will be generating quality leads, on demand and only when needed.

You need specialized marketing skills, ASAP!

Yikes! Things have really slowed down and you need to kickstart this engine YESTERDAY. You need specialized marketing skills packaged into an ‘occasional’ offering that can bring a broad range of tactics and tools you can implement right NOW.

You’re in the middle of a transition.

Until now, your one in-house junior marketer and handful of contractors have gotten the jobs done. But now you are ‘on the move’ and you need to tap into some seriously ‘expert-level’ support to lead your herd. But your marketing resources are limited and in lieu of a full-time salary, you want a streamlined process that guides your in-house team and focuses outsourced specialists towards a clear cohesive strategy.

You see the need for leadership and project management.

You need a ‘general contractor’ to oversee your marketing initiatives and keep the projects on track. Your in-house team doesn’t have executive or senior level strategic experience and you worry there is money being left on the table, or worse, falling through the cracks. 
You also have a few big changes coming up and need support communicating them successfully to your team and clients.

You need that fresh perspective.

Your marketing doesn’t seem to be tied to revenue in any way. You need a fresh set of eyes to take a look at the areas you’ve been struggling with and turn insight into strategy, connecting the dots and prioritizing your bottom line.

You’re caught up in stop-and-start marketing.

You’re a visionary – it is why you own a business. And like all great visionaries you have a marketing calendar filled with great ideas that never got off the ground. Some may have been started and never finished, and some may have never seen the light of day. Regardless of the reason, your team just can’t seem to fit these into their plans.

There is a lack of accountability.

Between your in-house team, the agency, and the freelancers you bring on, nobody is really accountable for the results. Whether it is timelines or deliverables, people are confused about the priorities and who should be doing what. All you know is, it shouldn’t be you.

You’re just tired of so many mistakes!

For the last time, my last name is ‘KIRKpatrick’, not ‘FITZpatrick’, and who edited this blog anyway? You just need to be able to step away from the nitty gritty and trust that someone is editing everything that goes out before you get an email about it.

So… Do you need a Fractional CMO?