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The top 5% of fractional CMOs freelance here

Adam oversaw the entire marketing org at Rhone, including teams dedicated to branding, performance marketing, analytics and growth, and community marketing efforts.

Under his leadership, Rhone has achieved triple-digit YoY growth since inception.
Adam b.
Sarah was one of the first 100 employees at Uber and stayed for almost 7 years. She’s launched and scaled hundreds of products and campaigns, including some of Uber’s more fun projects like their pop-up at Sundance, roses on demand for Valentine's Day, and their influencer program.

She also was on their IPO team and led the build of their investor relations site.
Sarah V.
Patrick redefined the Lumin brand story to compete in untapped consumer segments, growing revenue by 120% and profit by 150%.

He strategically expanded the company's product offering from six SKUs to 15, nearly doubling average order value (AOV).
Patrick P.

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How we define the fractional CMO role and vet for high-quality fractional CMOs

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Types of skills social media managers

Not all founders have a senior-level marketing expert on their team, and not all teams have members ready to move into a CMO role when someone leaves or goes on parental leave.

Fractional CMO services patch these gaps in a marketing organization in a flexible, reasonably-priced way. A fractional CMO will work on a freelance basis to keep your team and strategy on track — and even thriving.

The chief marketing officer (CMO) is the chief executive marketing leader in most orgs — and one of their core responsibilities is long-term strategy.

But as launching an e-commerce startup becomes increasingly frictionless, thanks to 3PLs and no-code digital storefronts, early-stage companies have become increasingly common. Still struggling to hit on product-market fit, their futures are uncertain — and they’re not ready for a full-time marketing executive focused on plans for the future. 

Enter the fractional CMO, an emerging marketing role that solves for long-time pain points — like C-suite executives going on parental leave, sick leave, or simply departing abruptly.

With a fractional CMO on speed dial, your org won’t be left in the lurch. Better yet, you can hire them for short-term projects, go-to-market strategy, or even team building sessions.

Scale up their hours at crunch time, and scale them down based on your business needs.

Fractional CMOs are a flexible fix for headless, modern marketing teams.

There are innumerable marketing functions your company could be focusing on to drive growth. With so many strategies, tactics, and channels to consider, coming up with a holistic marketing plan that takes a business’s stage and industry into account is a complex job, to say the least. 

That’s precisely why companies hire CMOs or marketing directors: to craft and execute these intricate marketing strategies across a marketing department.

Understanding your market, your pricing, your customers, and how to position your business effectively is all part of an expertly orchestrated go-to-market strategy that will pay dividends for months and years to come. 

Why? Because marketing takes time. You can’t plant the seeds today and expect to reap the fruit tomorrow. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be. But many companies hold off on hiring a marketing executive or director of marketing until things reach a frantic state. 

There’s a significant opportunity cost associated with waiting to bring on a marketing leader. If you’re not a marketing expert yourself, the truth is you’re probably missing out on a lot of opportunities a new CMO or director of marketing would spot.

The most common excuses for waiting? Concerns about the expense and the commitment involved in a full-time C-suite hire. 

Fractional CMOs offer you the proper guidance, direction, marketing initiatives and strategies to meet your goals and boost the return on your marketing spend — but they’re also flexible hires, whose hours (and fees) you can scale up and down as needed.

Fractional CMOs need these five skills.

There’s no one-size-fits-all CMO. The ideal candidate differs across industries and business stages.

Someone who’s been a great CMO at a B2B martech company is rarely the right fit for a B2C company, because the marketing challenges in those verticals are so different. Senior marketing professionals like CMOs are typically niched within an industry vertical. 

Nevertheless, here’s a breakdown of the key capabilities you should look for in any CMO — and MarketerHire vets for all of them.

  • Lead generation: Understanding user acquisition across multiple channels — like paid search, SEO and content marketing —  is a critical skill and a big part of the chief marketing officer job. Even if the fractional CMO doesn’t have hands-on experience, they will need experience managing team members focused on lead-generation marketing programs.
  • Retention and engagement: CMOs should know how to evaluate your overall customer experience — and figure out new ways to keep the customers you already have through creative engagement strategies built on solid messaging, automation and retargeting campaigns.
  • Marketing communications: CMO candidates should have experience with storytelling, setting the company narrative, and working with media or a public relations strategist to raise brand awareness.
  • Brand positioning: Strong CMOs or directors of marketing should be able to define what a brand is and isn’t. This involves some competitive analysis and market research, and continually refining the company’s marketing and messaging based on customer and market feedback. Ideally, fractional CMOs have a brand methodology they follow.
  • Research and analytics: Good marketing is built on data, so a chief marketing officer needs to work with other corporate executives to spot patterns in data and develop hypotheses about what they mean. They also need experience researching trends, forecasting, and executing strategies to hit target KPIs.

When your marketing isn't moving the needle, hire a fractional CMO.

Deciding when to bring on a CMO or director of marketing is a decision many businesses struggle with, but there are a few scenarios in which a company might be looking to make this key hire. 

If you’re just starting out and have no idea where to begin, a CMO or c-suite marketing hire can really take strategic initial — and critical — steps towards acquiring users and growing your business.

They can help build out your brand positioning, messaging, target audience, and user acquisition strategies and tactics grounded in research — to name a few.

On the other hand, if you’ve tried to handle marketing on your own and you’re not  moving the needle, bringing in a marketing leader can help you change that. This person can assess your lead generation tactics to date and provide new ways to acquire target customers and retain them.

Or, if your problem lies in the realm of marketing communication and storytelling, a chief marketing officer can update your company’s narrative, and work with the media to get the word out to prospects. 

Finally, if your company is mature but struggles with issues around retention and engagement, hiring a CMO will bring fresh eyes to your problems. They can help you figure out how to keep the customers you already have through creative email campaigns, in-app messages, retargeting campaigns and events.

Better yet, they can do this across an existing marketing team, helping the entire organization work better together — while only working part-time!

Hiring a fractional CMO is smarter.

Hiring a CMO or director of marketing is a tricky business. These are very important roles that can make or break a company —  especially when you factor in not just their salary, but the equity you may have to hand over. 

Another cost of hiring a CMO: recruiting. Looking for the right person takes a lot of time and energy, all of which young businesses don’t have in excess. 

To invest all this in finding a CMO when you can’t guarantee will be a fit is a massive risk to take on. If you’re not a marketing expert, you shouldn’t be sourcing or vetting executive-level marketing talent on your own.

Many businesses understand this, so they outsource marketing activities to agencies. They know their time is better spent focusing on what they do best, so they hand off part of their business. 

The trouble with this option is, agencies are juggling a slew of clients with overworked account managers. Especially if you’re not a massive client, the odds of your needs being front and center are slim. This leads to lackluster results with hefty retainers. 

If you only consider full-time hires and agencies, you’re in a bit of a tight spot. But what about freelancers?

Historically, freelancers have been the dark horse of marketing. Business leaders have been wary of them because of the low-grade freelance platforms that take all comers. Finding high-quality, reliable talent on those sites is almost as hard as finding a full-time hire.

Luckily, MarketerHire solves this problem with an expert network of experienced marketers that go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure they have the skills and experience to execute swiftly and effectively — yes, even in the C-suite.

That means businesses get quality talent, but with the budget flexibility that freelance work provides.

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