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Growth Roadmap
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Brand Positioning &Messaging
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Brand Positioning &Messaging
Conversion Rate Optimization
Board & Investor Reporting
Go-to-market Strategy
SEO & Paid Media Strategy
Growth Roadmap

FAQs / People Also Ask

We love honesty, maybe a bit too much. And so here are most common questions we have been asked about CMOs. We tried our best to answer them as directly as possible! :)

Can a chief marketing officer be an independent contractor?

By definition, an independent contractor is a person who provides services to another person or business under terms specified in a contract. And so yes, a chief marketing officer (CMO) can be an independent contractor.

As such, the CMO would be responsible for managing their own work schedule and completing the marketing tasks outlined in their contract. They would not be entitled to the same benefits as a full-time company employee, such as sick leave or vacation time as these are only exclusive to in-house CMOs.

How much equity should a chief marketing officer receive in a startup?

The amount of equity that a chief marketing officer (CMO) should receive in a startup will depend on a number of factors, including the size and stage of the company, the CMO's level of experience and expertise, the revenue growth/value that the CMO is expected to bring to the company, and the market conditions at the time of the equity grant.

In general, it is common for CMOs at startups to receive equity grants that are based on a percentage of the company's total equity. This percentage is typically negotiated between the CMO and the company's founders or Board.

It is important to keep in mind that the amount of equity that a CMO receives in a startup may not be the same as the amount of equity received by other executives or employees of said organization. Generally, the equity may vary between 1% to 5% with a large cliff, vested over 5 years.

What training is needed to become a chief marketing officer?

To be successful as a chief marketing officer (CMO), it is important to have a diverse set of marketing skills and expertise. Some specific skills that CMOs may need to possess include the following:

1. Strategic planning: CMOs should be able to develop long-term marketing strategies that align with the overall goals and objectives of the startup. This may involve conducting market research, analyzing competitors, and identifying key target markets across several marketing channels including organic (e.g., Bing search) or paid (e.g., Meta Ads).

2. Market analysis: CMOs should be skilled at analyzing market trends and consumer behavior, and be able to use this information to inform their marketing strategies effectively. This also includes competitive research to identify what key players in the market are doing, how they’re doing it and then copying/improving upon their tactics.

3. Brand management: CMOs should be able to develop and maintain a strong brand identity, and be able to effectively communicate the brand's value proposition to customers. The CMO is also expected to “unite” the sales, revenue operations and marketing teams together to unify their messaging across their work. This includes language used in marketing campaigns, sales calls, internal memos, informal customer conversations, etc.

4. Budgeting: CMOs should be able to develop and manage marketing budgets, and allocate resources effectively to achieve the greatest return on investment. This applies to short-term initiatives like testing marketing channels and long-term initiatives such as hiring an agency for SEO.

5. Customer relationship management: CMOs should be able to build and maintain strong relationships with customers, and be able to use this customer insight to inform marketing strategies.

6. Communication: CMOs should have excellent communication skills, and be able to effectively present ideas and recommendations to a variety of audiences, including senior management, clients, and external stakeholders both internally and externally to the organization.

7. Leadership: CMOs should be able to lead and motivate teams of people, and be able to work effectively with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We often forget this is a c-suite role and requires executive qualities!

8. Adaptability: CMOs should be able to adapt to changing market conditions and be comfortable working in a fast-paced, constantly evolving environment.

Overall, the most successful CMOs are strategic thinkers with strong analytical skills, excellent communication and leadership abilities, and the ability to adapt to change.

How do you become a chief marketing officer?

There is no one set path to becoming a chief marketing officer (CMO). However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to increase their chances of being considered for a CMO position. Here’s some activities you can take, in no particular sequence:

- Obtain a bachelor's degree in a field related to marketing, such as marketing, business administration, or advertising.

- Gain relevant work experience. This may include marketing positions at various levels within an organization to gain hands-on experience with digital marketing and product marketing.

- Develop a strong foundation of skills in areas such as strategic planning, market analysis, brand management, budgeting, and customer relationship management. To fast-track your progress through this, you can also seek mentorship from marketing managers 3-5 years ahead of you. Alternatively, you can ask CMOs you admire to share with you how they reached the level they’re at today - it can be surprisingly benefiting.

- Build a network of professional contacts within the marketing industry. This may include joining professional organizations, attending conferences and events, and seeking out mentors or advisors. Using platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter may be very helpful.

- Demonstrate leadership abilities and a track record of success. This may include leading teams, developing and implementing successful marketing campaigns, and achieving measurable results. Whenever possible, ask your marketing managers for testimonials and reviews of your work on public platforms like LinkedIn - this allows you to showcase your skills to your future employers.

- Stay current on industry trends and best practices. This may include continuing education and professional development opportunities for some, but most CMOs stay updated by conducting deep research into marketing trends along with tactics which bring the highest levels of success for their interested industries.

It is also important to be aware that becoming a CMO typically requires a significant amount of time and effort. Many CMOs have spent years building their knowledge and expertise before being considered for a CMO position, typically 10-20 years.

How much does a chief marketing officer earn?

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for marketing managers (which includes CMOs) was $136,850 not long ago. However, some CMOs may earn significantly more or less than this amount, depending on the specific job and circumstances.

The salary of a chief marketing officer (CMO) can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the size and industry of the organization, the CMO's level of education and experience, and the location of the job.

Overall, the salary range for CMOs can be quite broad, and it is difficult to provide a definitive figure without more information about the specific job and the CMO's qualifications and experience.

However, based on the median wage data from the BLS, it is possible that a CMO's salary could fall anywhere within a range of approximately $75,000 to $200,000 or more per year.

In general, CMOs working for larger companies or in higher-paying industries are likely to earn more than those working for smaller firms or in lower-paying industries.

What are the responsibilities of a chief marketing officer?

Here is a list of the responsibilities of a chief marketing officer (CMO):

- Develop and implement marketing strategies that align with the overall goals of the organization.
- Conduct market research to identify trends and customer needs, and use this information to inform marketing efforts.

- Oversee the development and execution of marketing campaigns, including advertising, public relations, and digital marketing.

- Manage the budget for marketing activities and allocate resources effectively.

- Create and maintain relationships with key partners, including media outlets, industry organizations, and vendors.

- Work closely with sales teams to develop and execute strategies to drive sales growth.

- Measure and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and use this information to optimize future efforts.

- Lead and manage a team of marketing professionals, including hiring, training, and development.

- Communicate with senior management, board members, and other stakeholders to report on marketing progress and results.

- Stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices, and continuously seek out opportunities to improve marketing efforts.

What is a fractional CMO and what do they do?

A company may consider hiring a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) when they need a high-level marketing professional to lead their marketing strategy and execution, but do not have the resources (i.e., money usually) or need for a full-time CMO.

As seen with several startups over the years, this can be a cost-effective solution for teams that have limited budgets or need specific, short-term marketing support (but from an A+ pro).

For example, a small tech startup that raised a seed round of $2,000,000 may not have the budget or need for a full-time CMO (yet) - but need to launch their product with traction. They may hire a fractional CMO (sometimes called interim CMO) to develop and execute a launch plan, including market research, product positioning, and lead generation.

This fractional CMO would work on a part-time or project basis, allowing the team to leverage the expertise necessary, without committing to the cost of a full-time employee (or c-suite benefits whew..)

Who should hire a fractional CMO?

The following would benefit: (A) Early-stage startups with yearly revenues between $2M and $30M, (B) Companies needing immediate expertise in a specific growth domain and (C) Startups needing industry-specific experience.

Here's a bit more detail on who can benefit from fractional CMO:

1. Emerging companies: Hiring a part-time CMO can add strategic value by providing added experience and perspective at a lower cost because you're only paying them on a monthly basis, and half of what you'd pay a full-time CMO

2. Early-stage startups: Startups can speed up their execution for go-to-market. A good interim CMO is mix of a doer (tactical/getting hands dirty) and a thinker (strategy/big picture). HireCMO's marketers have 23+ years of experience on average and those 2+ decades of experience can save your team hundreds of hours that you'd otherwise waste on ad spend, "growth work" that didn't result in more revenue, etc.

3. Teams with Limited Budget / not ready for a full-time CMO: Last I checked, a full-time CMO's annual salary is $250K+. Isn't that 10% of what you raised at your pre / seed round? The math works out when you want to bring on a fractional CMO. Depending on where you are in your growth journey, quite frankly, you may not need to bring a gun (full-time) to a knife fight (road to $5M annual revenue) - you may just need a very well-sharpened knife (fractional CMO).

4. Startups needing immediate expertise: It could be that you're pivoting or attacking a new market, and you need someone with the know-how and experience to come into your company, stand up systems from scratch and get to work from Day 1. Why dish out health insurance and a $250K paycheck, when you can bring on a part-time person first from HireCMO? Keep your health insurance.

5. Teams with an OOO CMO: You don't control your team's OOO rights. That's fine. Just give us a call if your CMO goes to the Bahamas and forgets to let you know. We'll fill in for them in the time being.

What are fractional CMO use cases?

The most common use cases include (1) budget -constrained startups (2) transitioning from founder-led sales to marketing-led sales (3) entering a new niche/market (4) launching never-tried-before projects and (4) filling in temporarily for a vacant marketing leader.

Here's a bit more detail on the scenarios mentioned above:

1. A growth hack for startups on a budget
: Small startups or companies that are looking to establish a strong brand and marketing strategy, but do not have the resources or budget to hire a full-time CMO. CMOs who have good experience in their relative fields charge anywhere from $175,000 to $300,000 a year for a full-time position. And don’t forget the C-suite executive benefits that must be added, in addition to health benefits and other insurance yadi yadi yada.
2. Move past "word of mouth" growth: Companies that are in the process of scaling up and need help building a marketing team and developing the necessary processes and systems to support growth. A lot of times, a technical founding team will build out a product and reach 5-6 figures in revenue and plateau. The reason is that a good product can only grow so much via word of mouth and other non-scalable marketing channels in 2023. And so this is where a startup can benefit the most by bringing in an interim CMO to help them.
3. Scaling in a new market: Companies entering a new market and needing expertise and experience to navigate the challenge. This is a common case. When you first learned to drive your car, did you just behind a wheel, hit the pedal and hope for the best? No. You went to someone who’s been doing this for X years and learned from them. Scaling a company in a new industry is the exact same - although some growth principles may be agnostic, the best tactics for your product must be adopted from someone who’s done it multiple times before i.e., an experienced interim CMO (or fractional CMO) whatever you want to call them.
4. Launch new projects: Companies that need a marketing leader to manage a specific project or campaign, such as a website redesign or a product launch. There have been multiple cases where a startup will build and launch a channel, only for it to plateau/underperform. This is where you bring in an expert to manage and scale said campaign while your other team members focus on doing what they do best - product & sales.

5. Temporary replacements: Companies that are need to fill a temporary marketing leadership gap, such as during a transition period between CMOs or when finding your first CMO. It’s tough to emphasize how important of a growth hack this. Imagine you’re able to bring in an ex-CEO who scaled a startup from $0 to 8-figures in revenue. And you can do this without the risk of him taking up equity, starting a political war with your investors and a 12-month commitment.. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t say yes to this? lol

Should I hire a fractional CMO?

Whether or not you should hire one depends on your startup's growth milestones for this year, the expertise of your current team to reach those goals realistically and your budget and runway. Typically, founders hire a fractional CMO when they require specialized marketing expertise and leadership on a flexible basis.

Another way to look at this is, if you are 100% opposed to bringing on a full-time marketer but are 100% confident that your team doesn't have the training/direction needed to grow faster - you need a fractional CMO :)

How do I choose a fractional CMO to hire?

You'll want to look for a fractional CMO with a proven track record of success in marketing, specific expertise relevant to your business, strong communication and leadership skills, adaptability to your company's needs and budget, availability aligned with your expectations, and a good cultural fit, ensuring honest communication and expectation alignment - I know, that's a mouthful. So lets break it down.

1. Experience and expertise: Look for a fractional CMO with a proven track record of success in marketing, and expertise in the areas that are most relevant to your business. This can include experience in your industry, expertise in specific marketing channels, and knowledge of marketing technologies. “Success leaves traces.” And so when you do get in touch with a CMO, ask detailed questions about their past work and clients to gauge what they did and how good they truly are at it.

2. Communication and leadership skills: A fractional CMO should ideally have strong interpersonal/soft skills to effectively manage a team and work with stakeholders across the organization, especially C-suite folks. Very underrated skillset and a lot of the times, a company doesn’t appreciate this until they’ve had a terrible experience or two with someone who doesn’t fit the right profile.

3. Flexibility and adaptability: A fractional CMO should be able to adapt to the unique needs and challenges of your business, and be able to work effectively within the constraints of your budget and resources. Pretty standard. You want to work with someone who morphs a bit to fit how your company’s environment operates. Obviously, there must be a compromise from both ends at times.

What’s important to note here, is that the variables (such as budget, project scope, etc.) must be communicated ahead of time as much as possible by your company to your CMO. Don’t let facts hit your CMO from left field after they join - do your best to proactively let them know ahead of time.

4. Availability and responsiveness: A fractional CMO should be available and responsive to your needs, and able to work with you to establish a schedule that meets the needs of your business. One thing to bear in mind however, is that if you’re working with an interim CMO, there’s a good chance they’re also working with other clients, along with your company. And so aligning on time commitments proactively is extremely important. Don’t allow yourself (or your CMO) to be disappointed. Just be honest about expectations and expect the same from your CMO.

5. Cultural fit: A fractional CMO should be a good fit for your company culture and values, and be able to work effectively with your team and stakeholders. This goes without saying - don’t hire someone who doesn’t identify with your executive/management/founding team thinks. But this applies more to 3-6-9 month commitments with a CMO. If you’re only looking to bring someone on for 4-8 weeks, then the cultural fit may not be the #1 criteria to look out for. It’s a good thing to gauge regardless.

How can a fractional CMO benefit a startup or small business?

A fractional CMO  can help your startup or small business establish a strong brand identity and reliably hit your growth goals/milestones. For instance, they can work with your team to find out exactly why your leads don't convert, how exactly to increase your conversion rates across your inbound/outbound channels and where to prioritize your marketing dollars so you can grow at the rate you want.

Ultimately you're bringing in a fractional CMO to (1) figure out what's wrong (2) fix it and (3) build out a system that works when they're not with you. Anyone who sells you anything else is a fraud.

How to hire a fractional CMO?

When hiring a fractional CMO, prioritize their experience and expertise in marketing, ensure they possess strong communication and leadership skills, and consider their availability and responsiveness to align with your business needs effectively.

Let's get into more detail below:

1. Specific experience: Consider the experience and expertise of the fractional CMO, and look for someone with a proven track record of success in marketing. This means looking for someone with a solid background in the industry you're in, someone who has worked with organizations in your industry. They must also have a strong understanding of the marketing channels to be utilized for your company’s traction.

2. Strong interpersonal skills: Look for a fractional CMO with strong communication and leadership skills. This means looking for the person who can effectively communicate with your team, manage marketing operators and lead a team. This also means someone who can effectively present your company's marketing strategy to your Board and investors as well. You’d be surprised by how many founders find this skillset important, as they prefer to not be too involved in communicating marketing updates / growth roadmaps up the chain.

3. Proactiveness: Consider their availability and responsiveness. This means looking for someone who is willing and able to work with you to establish a schedule that meets the needs of your business. A fractional CMO may have other clients on their radar/schedule. It’s always recommended to proactively communicate the time commitments necessary ahead of time. Align, align, align. Very important.

How to manage and work effectively with a fractional CMO?

To ensure successful collaboration with a fractional CMO, meticulously outline project scopes and expectations from the start, establish a consistent communication cadence, provide regular feedback, furnish necessary resources for their success, and balance autonomy with necessary approvals to foster a fruitful long-term relationship.

That's a mouthful, so let's get into detail!

1. Scope and set expectations: Scope out the work like your life depends on it. Because this is how you keep projects and budgets from blowing up. One way of doing this is by setting clear expectations and goals for your fractional CMO, outlining the specific tasks and responsibilities that they would be responsible for, as well as the goals and objectives that you hope to achieve. You don’t have to have all the answers, but it’s important to try to be as thorough as possible with your expectations from Day 0.

2. Set up a cadence: Before you sign up your CMO, and especially in the first week, begin setting up a meeting/communication cadence. Communicate regularly and effectively with your interim CMO. Some may prefer email updates, others may be comfortable with Slack messages. Align on what works for you both as soon as you can.

3. Over communicate: In addition to setting up regular meetings or check-ins between your team(s) and the CMO, you must provide clear and timely feedback on their performance. For longer term engagements (e.g., quarterly) this is important as it avoids a meltdown 4-6 weeks into a project and both parties realizing they expected totally different things from each other. Careful!

4. Set them up for success: Provide your CMO with the resources and support they need to succeed - this might mean approving their budget on a timely manner, assigning the right marketer to implement the CMO’s marketing plan, acquiring that analytics tool so your team gets the A/B testing data on time, etc. Help them help you! It’s that simple.

5. Autonomy (where needed): Give your CMO the autonomy to make decisions and take action if it fits the overall narrative you’re looking to achieve. Careful though if you’re a large organization - without consulting with the right stakeholders first, giving the newly onboarded person too much “liberty” might end up doing more damage than good in the short run. My advice? Take approvals wherever needed. Better to be safe than sorry, as you’re building a longer term relationship here with a CMO who might just change the game altogether for your startup’s growth! :)

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Why pick HireCMO?

Hirecmo vs. in-house marketers :
Does not nag you for any of that and goes straight to work from Day 1
Steps in to save the day (doesn’t take any days off for some reason)
Rapid access to senior experts around the clock for any industry, channel or niche
Objectively suggests what’s best for your revenue growth without the management/political overhead
Scale your CMO's hours up or down based on your current budget (transparent pricing too!)
Hirecmo vs. freelance marketers :
Curated CMOs with 20+ years experience in all industries
Quick and honest replacements if you’re unsatisfied with your CMO
One-stop-shop for all payments so your time isn't wasted with paperwork
Manual check-in every 2 weeks from the HireCMO team with you for quality assurance
Hirecmo vs. marketing agencies :
Handpick specialized CMOs who excel at marketing on all channels
Gain more control by speaking directly with your matched CMO
Ability to hire for short-term projects or monthly goals as desired
Individual focus on your startup’s specific needs
the others
your in-house marketers :
Spend 5-figures a year on their dental benefits and insurance
May go on spontaneous OOO trips leaving a vacuum in your team
They may not have the right depth or type of expertise needed to grow your revenue today
They may be politically inclined to say and do things that protect their job and keep you (as CEO) happy
You may not always need them full-time but you can't reduce their hours as they are paid for 40 hours a week
Freelancer marketers :
1-2 weeks needed to find qualified freelancers fit for your role
Finding replacements by yourself can be time-consuming
Dealing with multiple contracts and payment schedules for different freelancers takes too much time
Individual freelancers may lack structured accountability leaving you to manage them and waste time
marketing agencies :
Rely on a single team’s narrow expertise on one channel
Communication filtered through agency bureaucracy
Contracts are often artificially long to meet their agency pipeline goals
Attention divided among several clients, might forget your name
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