Are you ready to be a Fractional CMO?
First of all, let's clarify what a Fractional CMO is. A Fractional CMO is a Part-time Chief Marketing Officer. As a marketing leader, it is when you're hired by a company to be its Chief Marketing Officer but only a fraction of your time as a consultant. As I've been a Fractional CMO for the past 4 years and probably the first in my Silicon Valley and European network, I've decided to share some of my learnings with you. Spoiler alert: Not everybody is ready to be a Fractional CMO. And, there must be solid reasons why you choose to be a Fractional CMO. If you dream of becoming a Fractional CMO, please make sure you assess the following parameters before starting your journey.
1. Is your resume convincing enough?
Have you already been a CMO before? Have you worked at companies that everybody knows? Is your expertise unique or truly specialized? Before you're able to sell a consulting gig, you must be able to get a full-time CMO job in the first place. If you can't get CMO, Head of Marketing jobs, VP of Marketing jobs, you won't get Fractional CMO gigs. If you don't feel ready, my best advice for you is to continue to build your resume.
2. Do you really need flexibility?
I've started being a Fractional CMO because I needed time to reach my artistic objectives. I'm also a DJ and a music producer. I would have probably never started being a Fractional CMO without my strong need for flexibility. This flexibility allowed me to produce music that is now signed by record labels. I also got the chance to play at major US Nightclubs in front of thousands of people. If you're planning on combining part-time gigs, I just want to let you know that it requires a specific type of skillset. If you want to make it a growing business, I'll write more post about this soon.
3. Do you enjoy zooming in and out of topics?
I would say that the number one quality of a good Fractional CMO is their ability to add value fast without having been there the whole time. Their ability to jump deep into a topic where they left off and be relevant and helpful as if they were with the team and the other execs the whole time. Remember that you won't be there full-time. So, you need to be able to catch up quickly and jump from one topic to the other in an accelerated fashion. I personally find a lot of joy in multi-tasking, but some people don't. I also have no problem catching up where I left off even weeks later and I barely use notes. If that's something you're struggling with, this Fractional CMO path is doable but might be more challenging for you at the beginning.
4. Can you build trust?
Imagine being an Exec but you're not there full-time. It's kind of weird for your peers. Imagine managing a large org, but you're not there full-time. Try to picture what can happen when you're not there - your team members commenting on your absence, some team members not happy about it. So, you need to be very good at building trust and finding people you can trust. If your colleagues, your boss, or your peers naturally trust you or if you're known as someone who brings stability to a group, you can be great as a fractional CMO.
5. Are you a good salesperson?
You're selling a service and the money you're making might replace your current salary. Logically, your hourly rate or your monthly retainer needs to be higher than your hourly rate or your monthly salary (because of taxes, health insurance, etc). While people and VCs might know you, you also need to be great at managing clients and closing deals. There won't be clients without a strong network and an excellent reputation. Finally, your ability to close sustainable deals is crucial.
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