A fractional CMO who has scaled companies in your industry before can drive explosive growth. To find the right fractional CMO you might need to go to a fractional CMO agency, but how do you identify the right agency? In this blog post, we'll discuss what should drive your decision making process and provide some solid options.

Finding a Marketing Leader

Do you need seasoned marketing leadership in your marketing department? Maybe you have a marketing team of specialists, but you, the owner, have been the one driving the marketing strategy. Or maybe you have a marketing manager but not a true C-Level Chief Marketing Officer. Perhaps it’s time to consider hiring a fractional CMO (fractional Chief Marketing Officer). To find a good fractional CMO, you might need to contact a Fractional CMO Agency. A fractional CMO can help you put together a comprehensive marketing strategy and work with your existing marketing team. The services of a fractional CMO include brand strategy, growth marketing, lead generation, digital marketing and everything you need to accelerate growth.


Why Fractional CMOs

We’ve already written a good number of articles answering What is a Fractional CMO?,  What Are Fractional CMO Services?, as well as, What is a Good Fractional CMO Hourly Rate?  It makes sense to hire someone who has already successfully scaled businesses in your industry and can hand you the growth blueprint.  The ability to hire someone on a fractional basis, pay only a fraction of the cost, and build out a scalable growth engine in four months is amazing.  Imagine being able to 5x or 10x your business growth, hire world-class talent, and pay 75% less to get it, with no future obligation. 



The Rise of the Fractional CMO

Post pandemic, the concept of talent being remotely located has become far more common place. The idea of an outsourced marketing department or at least a temporarily outsourced marketing executive is no longer a new idea. It’s easy to understand then why there’s been a sudden explosion and interest in fractional executives.


Business Leaders are Busy

Finding someone, however, that’s a perfect fit with the required domain knowledge to help your company can become a full-time task. Business owners are busy and can’t add any more to their plate. Consequently, many turn to agencies for their marketing efforts. 


Graph of Google Trends Fractional CMO vs CFO, on the rise since 2021


Why Recruiting Agencies Don’t Work

Most recruiting agencies charge 20%, 30% or even 40% of an annual salary to find your candidate. Some charge this money upfront and some work more on contingency.  Truth be told, there’s not enough money in providing fractional CMO services to interest them. Some recruiting agencies have added “fractional CMO” to their services list post hoc, but this isn’t their wheel well.  They just don’t make enough money.


Fractional Agency Fee Structure

This has is triggered a rise in dedicated Fractional CMO Agencies to fill the need.  The amount of time required to identify and secure an opportunity for talent is just as intense for fractional roles as it is for full-time permanent hires. To make it worth their while, Fractional Agencies must increase their fees as a percentage. Instead of the 30% of an annual salary most recruiters charge, Fractional Agencies keep 50% of the money charged by their executives. Another way to state this is to say they literally double the cost of the executive.  Consequently, you might be paying closer to full-time prices and getting part-time help, but only temporarily, for a limited period of time.


The Unwanted Compromise

You have to wonder…what’s the quality of the talent you’re going to receive when these people are getting paid half of what they’re worth? You’re either paying double what you should or you’re getting talent that’s half as good as you require. Perhaps some combination thereof?


The Collective Knowledge Myth

To help cushion this blow, many fractional agencies try to sell the notion of their community and support system. “We have a collective 10,000 years of marketing experience at your disposal!” Having worked myself for big agencies, I know they like to sell the collective experience and knowledge of their global staff.  I can tell you from firsthand experience, the reality of this seldom goes beyond the pitch deck to the client. The “depth of resources” that are supposedly massive and global won’t go beyond the immediate team that was assigned to your account.


Unwanted Compromise #2

In the case of a fractional executive, the expertise you receive is going to be determined by the executive that has been assigned to your account, not the collective knowledge of the fractional agency you hire.  Imagine you’re working on an account for one of these agencies as a fractional executive collecting only 50% of what you should be getting paid. Then imagine you need some extra help on SEO. Should you choose to pay someone within your company’s network, you’re now going to make 40% of the total billing.  Ouch!  It’s just not economically feasible to do this.


Evaluate the Executive, Not the Agency

I’m not sure I can stress this point enough. Many articles have been written about evaluating Fractional Agencies based on their industry reputation, how long they’ve been around, etc.  SO MANY high-end fractional executives are not part of an agency and are stand alone operators.  One might even argue the best ones are stand alone operators.   They just can’t generate the same online footprint as a 100-person agency, so you haven’t heard of them.  So sure, having a big agency name is fine, but thinking that the agency’s reputation should be your sole evaluation criteria is just bunk. 


In fact, it would be a dangerous mistake to do so.  Here is why:


Industry Knowledge Please

If you hire Jane Doe from that agency, the quality of work and knowledge you receive is going to be 90%+ (100%?) dependent on Jane Doe, not the other executives in different industries (that created the reputation you read about online or heard from your friend). What does Jane Doe know about YOUR needs and how can she help YOUR company grow? That is what matters. Let’s say an agency gets most of their business helping companies in cybersecurity and SaaS, but you own a local automotive parts store. How much value does that great reputation have now? Most fractional agencies brush over this by simply saying, “Oh we just have so many executives. We cover every industry.”  I’m gonna call B.S. on that.


A Rigorous Vetting Process

Your search needs to focus on the exact qualifications of the specific executive you hire, NOT the reputation of an overall agency alone, because the entire agency is NOT who’s working on your account.  If you eliminated all the testimonials, references and reputation built on case studies NOT from your industry, what would be left?  1% the total body of work? Less?


What Are Your Specific Needs?

Please bear in mind I’m not saying it’s a great idea to work with an agency who has a bad track record! Please don’t misunderstand! I’m simply saying that your evaluation process needs to go beyond an agency brand-name. You need to know the qualifications of the specific executive that’s going to be working for you and how they can meet YOUR specific needs.


Universally Applicable Knowledge

Now I’m going to flip the script. There is a good bit of general knowledge that is not industry specific. Best practices in marketing or FP&A, for example, are often universally applicable.  Not everything is, though. Let’s go back to my example above.  If most of the executives from a fractional agency specialize in selling cybersecurity B2B and you sell automotive parts locally B2C, that may not be a good fit. However, if they have an executive that has targeted a similar Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for say…hunting supplies…helping local brick and mortar companies achieve explosive growth, that might work.  So, what’s the right answer? As always, it depends.


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Ready to talk about how a Fractional CMO can help your business?  Click the button below and schedule a free strategy session.


Fractional Agency vs. Matchmaking

To my knowledge, Grokketship and FractionalCFOPros provide some of the few (only?) solutions to these problems. Instead of acting as an agency providing services, Grokketship acts as a matchmaking service.  We help about 50 fractional CFOs and 75 fractional CMOs find more work.  Because we are more like a matchmaking service, not an agency, we don’t take 50% of the profit!!!  Example: fractional executive charges $14K, we charge a temporary flat rate of $2K, client pays $16K/mo.  The client belongs to the executive, not us.  After 4 months, we are out of the picture.


See the difference?


Exclusivity Not Required

Unlike most fractional agencies, we don’t require exclusivity from the executives. That means they are free to continue running their own fractional executive practice the way they please. We’re not trying to control them or the client relationship. We are simply trying to make a referral and collect a fee for it.


Hand Picked: The Best

This is like the matchmaking method you would see on freelance platforms like UpWork or Fiverr, just without the automated platform.  The big difference however is that your chosen executive is carefully researched and hand-picked as specifically able to address your needs.  If (and I mean IF) we find a good match, you pay.  If not, you owe nothing.


Our Elite Organization

Money often attracts talent.  The executive doing the work keeps most of the money.  They don’t pay upfront fees either.  So as you can imagine, we have attracted the highest caliber talent on our roster.  In fact, our fractional executives have been Director, VP and C-level for the likes of Salesforce, Hootsuite, Cisco, Zipcar, UberEats, Walt Disney, PepsiCo, COMPASS, Whole Foods, Fox Interactive, Guitar Center and more. The most exciting news, however, is that because almost all of them have had their own fractional business for a number of years, they have an amazing number of case studies where they’ve helped lower middle market companies scale.



Helping the Lower / Middle Market

It’s great to know what your fractional CMO or CFO has done with a $500M budget, working at $10B company, but what have they done to help a $5M or $50M sized company?  Remember, it’s all about how they can help you in your specific situation, right?  Since nearly all of the fractional executives on our roster already run their own business helping the lower middle market, the case studies and examples we can provide are nearly endless.  Here is a small sample.


Success Stories from Our Fractional CMOs

Here are some example results from our 75 fractional CMOs:

  • For a $25M home services business coming out of bankruptcy, created 20-30% growth YoY for the 3-year engagement, 50% close rate on all leads
  • For a middle market healthcare company, increased the close rate from 30% to 60% generating over $10M in wins
  • For a B2B Fintech SaaS startup, deal size increase 7.5x due to customer segmentation pivot and win rate increase 15%+
  • Took VC backed startup from $25M ARR to $75M in 18 months by increasing marketing sourced revenue by 38% and doubling qualified pipeline.
  • For a new AI platform, grew leads 20x, revenue 10x in 18 months
  • For online dating app, increased sales 60% ($35M) YoY in less than 2 years
  • Took financial success coaching company from $1m to $170M with 4M outbound calls, 5,000 events, 156K service tickets, 6M organic site visits
  • Took $12M real estate company and increased sales by over 50% in 1 year with $1M budget.
  • Scaled a brick-and-mortar business an additional 47%+ ($800M), Improved marketing driven sales on average 45% annually, increase CLV +48%, ROAS YoY improvement of 38% annually
  • For a web 2 agency, created $25M digital pipeline, +10M new user sessions, 35% increase in total form conversions, 26% increase in pageviews, 23% increase in revenue
  • For a DeFi SaaS infrastructure provider, in 7 months created 700k MAU and $1B p.a. trading fees, onboarded 15% of the blockchain ecosystem, growing a trader audience of over 100K
  • Took managed cloud services provider’s global revenue growth >2X, from $70M to >$150M; Americas growth >4x, from $12M to >$50M.
  • For a $45M ARR digital customer engagement loyalty software platform, 30% increase in new business pipeline in 8 weeks
  • For an 8 figure D2C fashion brand, 59% increase in installs from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022.
  • For DTC e-commerce brand, grew revenue over 500% in 2-years, reduced cart abandonment by 30%, shifted revenue mix from outbound to inbound by adding +30% from email automation
  • For an e-health records company, created +400% YoY growth on a B2B partnership model

Success Stories from Our Fractional CFOs

Here are some example results from our 50 CFOs:

  • For a local medical practice, drove 45% increase in billed charges from prior year grew billed charges by 20% quarter over quarter, increase in patient re-schedule rate 25% within 60 days.
  • For energy affordability non-profit, installed efficiencies/automation to save millions of dollars. Achieved $11M through savings and income
  • For a small mortgage banking company, increased revenue by $600k by identifying unaccrued interest income. 
  • For 3 supermarkets, increased gross margin from 28% to 33% on new pricing strategy, increased net margin from 6% to 12% by implementing expense controls, produced annual tax savings >$500k
  • For software and computer components manufacturer, overhauled ops driving revenue growth from $100M to $1B in revenue in 4-years.
  • Venture capital backed CFO four times raising in excess of $50M, scaling revenue, headcount, and operations 5x in 18 months, with M&A due diligence and integration, 5 buy side, 2 sell side transactions
  • For a biosciences technology company, grew the organization from 16 to 92+, expanded the facility 400%, fully automated all manufacturing and operational steps; resulted in a reduction of 34% in the company’s COGS. 
  • Managed 2 exits by founding owners, 1 private equity exit, M&A due diligence for private equity, over $500M raised in successful exits and growth acquisitions
  • Managed due diligence to close over $200MM of financing for 12 shopping centers, achieved multi-million savings in operations, tax, and insurance, raised over $100M in debt and equity offerings
  • For family office commercial real estate, $150M AUM, cash, real estate, jets, bonds, and securities; upgraded to Yardi software for 20 shopping centers, implemented cost segregation studies that saved over $500k of federal income tax
  • Assisted sale of $20M health care company, review and cleanup of financial records: recovery of $300,000 of duplicate vendor payments and $750,000 of old receivables.
  • For private equity portfolio company, reduced expenses by 10% and increased EBITDA by 20% or $6M.
  • For private equity owned IT data company, 200% return after 3 year hold period, assisted in development of strategies resulting in 2x EBITDA to $8M.
  • For a VC/PE backed SaaS risk management tech company, led $85M recapitalization, led $30M acquisitions, grew accounting team from 1 to 20
  • Scaled home services company from $0 to $100M+ per year, participated in $250M+ transactions (capital raised, exits, etc), DOUBLED Net Profit for 6 different home service companies in <180 days
  • Grew technology startup from $0 – $60M in revenue in 3 years, raising $14M in series A/B equity financing, $5.4M in SBA/PPP/ERC tax credits, $562k in R&D credits, grew lines of credit from $250K to $30M.
  • In 12 months, raised $8M seed financing for D2C wine technology start up, executed fast launch, and ramped to first-quarter $300K monthly recurring revenue ($36M value)

Why it Works for Fractional CMOs and CFOs

For the executive, we do the “yucky stuff.”  We find the client, screen them, negotiate the Scope Of Work (SOW), manage payments through escrow, and the CMO is left with a new client.  Given the size of these contracts, $2K is a nominal cost to temporarily absorb.


Why it Works for Clients

As the client, you’re getting recruiter level attention and assistance, but only paying “UpWork” level fees, all on contingency, with no upfront money. You tell us what kind of experience you want, tell us your pain points, the domain knowledge you need and we bring it to the table.  A buffet of the highest end talent in the world, hand picked for you at a fraction of the cost.  Fractional CMOs.


What’s not to like?!


Ready to Book a Call?

Ready to talk about how a Fractional CMO can help your business?  Click the button below and schedule a free strategy session.

Author Bio

Picture of Benjamin Arritt

Benjamin Arritt

Global B2B sales & marketing executive that loves a fast-paced, customer-centric, high tech entrepreneurial environment. We help 50+ fractional CFOs and 93+ fractional CMOs find more work. Hire someone who has already done what you are trying to do. Follow me on X: @grokketship
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