5 Tips on How to Setup Your Fractional CMO for Success


In Economics, we learn the theory of rational behavior, that individuals make decisions based on options that provide them with the highest amount of personal utility. As marketers, we realize that people make decisions emotionally. And as growth-focused executives, we strive to bring the rational and emotional together in a way that drives marketing performance.

Getting this balance right is difficult to achieve and is perhaps why Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are so disillusioned with their investments in marketing. According to Harvard Business Reviews Spotlight Series/The Trouble with CMOs, 80 percent of CEOs don’t trust their Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). Compared to just 10 percent of CEOs who feel the same about their Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers.

As a result, the average tenure of a CMO is the shortest among C-level executives. Agencies don’t fare any better, with agency-client relationships lasting, on average, less than three years. This marketing churn chips away at the store of insight about an organization’s most important stakeholders: its clients, customers, users, consumers, shoppers, Etc. With the growing emphasis on audience-driven insights, user experience, and data-derived decision making, how can marketers be set up for success? Businesses can turn to Fractional Leadership, and, in this case, hire a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer.

Here are five tips that will make working with a fractional marketing executive more successful.

    1. Align the Fundamentals: Marketing fundamentals are only as strong as your business fundamentals. The underlying pillars of your marketing strategy must be derived from root issues (or strengths) thwarting (or propelling) your business growth. Failure to identify these drivers earlier in the process will only result in superficial tactics that are not designed or intended for growth.
    1. Focus on Meaningful Audience Insights: Insights about your audience don’t just come from demographic markers, such as age, income, location, title, and gender. These data may be easier to identify, but behavioral and psychographic information adds a dimension that results in a deeper understanding of a person’s intrinsic and aspirational motivations.If the ultimate objective of marketing activity is to build relationships that lead to sales, demographic data alone doesn’t get you there. Customer panels, qualitative research, and discussion groups with the sole purpose of listening to your customers, with no sales agenda, are a good investment for any client-centric leadership team.
    1. Create Campaign Frameworks: The exponential growth of digital platforms has made it easier to connect with audiences faster and cheaper than the monolithic media landscape of yesteryear. However, it has also made the task of execution much more complex. Creating frameworks that provide the latitude to A/B test variables within a loosely aligned structure can help bring order to chaos. A great example of this is the 5 “W” approach: Who? Why? What? Where? Which? Before launching a campaign, thinking through your frameworks collaboratively and cross-functionally helps form thoughtful hypotheses, identify variables that require interrogation, and prevent analysis paralysis.
    1. Rally Around Metrics That Matter: The ultimate objectives of any marketing team are to build brand equity and drive sales. Metrics that provide insight into how to deliver these outcomes matter. Therefore, map out the “path to conversion” from audience insight to sale. In navigating through all the vanity metrics, ask yourself the following questions to stay focused on what is important.-Is your NPS score strengthening or declining?

      Is your message clear, relevant, and distinct?
      Do you have clear benchmarks to evaluate your performance?
      How are you measuring the quality of your acquisition activity?
      Can you measure your yield, percent of interest that converts to sales?

  1. Wholeheartedly Commit: Jeff Bezos is known to have said, “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” Too often, the steps that are most important for success — deep audience insights, design, and milestone-driven, iterative planning — are the ones most often skipped or dismissed. The consequence is often a “rush to fail,” which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in marketing.

The truth is that a lot can go wrong before it goes right. These five ideas can help create an environment where the entire marketing team — internal and external — can collaborate openly, resolve conflict swiftly, and continuously optimize performance results, setting up marketing and your business for sustainable success. Learn more about the Fractional CMO role.

About the Author

Fran Biderman-Gross is the CEO and founder of Advantages, an Inc. 500 global digital branding and marketing agency whose firm assembles strategically lead, full-service teams for companies. Fran is a master at helping others translate their vision and values into a consistent and authentic brand experience. Fran is also the developer of the 3 Keys Workshop, co-author of 3 Keys Book, and an in-demand speaker and consultant who has empowered countless leaders to form the emotional connections that drive revenue growth.