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The Hidden Costs of Hiring a Full-Time CMO

by Loic Jeanjean on
Dear startup founder.
Let's play a game of myth buster together.
¨Hiring a full-time CMO is the best option when it's time to take your marketing strategy to the next level¨
While this may be true for some, I would beg to differ. And I'm going to burst this myth wide open in this article.
But let's start from the beginning.
Why are you even considering a CMO in the first place?
Is it because with a CMO, you are bringing in-house a marketer who’s experienced, motivated, and knows how to execute a marketing strategy?
That's debatable.
Is having an in-house seasoned marketing leader, who will focus all her time and energy on marketing your startup a smart investment?
Let's assume for one minute that it is, and let's explore what it really takes to hire a CMO.
Because I think that there is a thing or two you should know about full-time CMOs that might change your mind.
I've talked to dozen of founders about their CMO hiring experience, and this is what I hear most often:
  1. I was shocked by the actual time it took to hire our CMO, and how much it cost us
  2. I was hoping to get an operator and ended up with a people manager
Let's take a deep dive into both points and introduce an alternative.
Full-Time CMOs can be very expensive
It’s true that some full-time CMOs are worth their weight in gold. But many founders don’t realize the amount of time and work required to find the right person for their team.
And when you've finally found your gem, you may have to move heaven and earth to convince her to your company instead of going somewhere else.
Enter the 'dreaded' notice period. If you are in North America, we're talking weeks. But if your startup is based in Europe, it could take months before you have an actual CMO on board.
And then you have to worry about paying them!
A full-time CMO comes with a high six-figure salary, benefits, bonuses, and other costs associated with being a full-time employee. estimates the median CMO salary to be $350k
And that's not even considering the cost of hiring (if you used a talent agency) and training.
But the financial costs are just the tip of the iceberg.
Hiring a full-time CMO can also lead to logistical challenges.
For instance, what happens if the CMO leaves the company? Will the company be able to find a replacement quickly and effectively?
And what if the CMO's marketing strategy isn't aligned with the company's goals or doesn't produce the desired results? Lots of time wasted for (almost) nothing.
That coveted CMO may not even be the right fit for your needs
Let's take the example of an early-stage startup that needs help getting off the ground and doesn’t have much capital to spend on marketing.
Hiring a CMO with extensive experience, even if they are from your industry, might not be the best use of your limited resources.
And let's not forget one tiny little detail... No matter how deeply you grill the candidate during the interview, or how many references you call... You won’t know if she/he can do what they said they would until you see them in action.
Talk about a costly mishap!
Okay. Now you are probably wondering what's the alternative... Drum roll please

Enter Fractional CMOs and Fractional Marketing Directors.

A fractional marketer gets you the same expertise and guidance as a full-time CMO, but without the price tag or logistical headaches.
One neat aspect about these plug & play marketers is that they usually work on a project-by-project or retainer basis. And that's a good thing because it means that you only pay for the services when you need them.
You gain the flexibility to adjust your marketing efforts as your business evolves. And that's huge.
But that's not all.
Fractional marketers have been around the block, and built a career as a marketing operator, before becoming a marketing leader, a coach, and now a CMO as a service. This wide array of experience and skills covers everything from strategic planning to coaching.
This is super helpful when what you really need is someone to come in and mentor your existing marketing lead. Or challenge your existing marketing plan. And everything in between.
It's my humble opinion that Fractional CMOs and Fractional Marketing Directors are an amazing alternative to in-house CMOs
So, if you're ready to take your marketing to the next level, consider booking a free consultation with LH2 Consulting. We'll talk about your current challenges, review your goals, and see if our fractional marketing services are the right option for you and your business.
Mic drop :)