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Fractional Consultants Community (FCC) Podcast: How a Skilled FCMO Can Propel Your Business Forward

by Andreas Voniatis Founder. Fractional SEO Consultant.

The Fractional Consultants Community is a community geared up to help people in need or planning to become a fractional consultant. In this session, ‘The difference a good FCMO can make’ on June 7th 2023, two of the top Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (FCMO) experts were brought together to discuss how getting an FCMO can positively impact your business. 

On the podcast, Amy a Fractional CMO that works directly with businesses who want to boost conversions. Amy started her career in search marketing, which eventually went on to be sold to Adobe. Amy became a consultant after the sale, working in network agencies, which then led to her creating her own agency and working directly as an FCMO. 

The next guest, Andreas, is the founder and SEO consultant of Artios. Andreas has also written a book – Data-Driven SEO – which can be found on Amazon. Explaining where his expertise lies, Andreas said:

“I got into SEO 20 years ago. I was actually an accountant, working as a financial controller for an industrial company, but I grew fascinated, so how can you get that all that lovely free traffic from the internet and that’s where my journey started. And since then, obviously, things have changed quite a lot in terms of the web. You know, we have mobile, social media, and all kinds of things that have moved on since then, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with and still work with companies like Amazon Europe.”

Let’s delve into all the juicy tips these two experts went through during this one-hour session streamed through the Fractional Consultants Community youtube page.

What is a FCMO?

A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer (FCMO) is a marketing expert who works on a freelance basis, providing expertise and guidance to businesses for a fixed amount of time each month. 

Unlike a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO offers their services for a fraction of the cost, making it an attractive option for startups and businesses that may not have the resources to hire a full-time executive. 

Why Hire an FCMO?

Andreas explains that at the start of his Artios business venture, he was getting high traffic yet few conversions. He went on to say: 

“It really turned my business around {hiring an FCMO} because, from that point on, I started and still continue to get more business from the website. It’s actually working for the business or for the brand it is, and it’s been invaluable really; it’s really given me the confidence to step up and ramp up the channel Outreach Programme.”

How Andreas Found an FCMO?

Andreas decided to send a message to around 100 FCMOs on Linkedin. Having spoken to many people over messages, he whittled it down to just 3 candidates for an interview. 

A good FCMO can make a significant impact on a business by bringing marketing expertise and strategic guidance. They take ownership of marketing campaigns, allowing other C-suite executives to focus on their respective roles. 

“I decided – being quite data-driven – to get an oversized sample, and then I just went on LinkedIn and contacted over 100 fractional FCMOs. I managed to get meetings with 50 of them in a week. And it was really, really interesting. I ended up with a shortlist of three, and I hired one”

During the interviews, Andreas got a sense of the different styles FCMOs bring to the table. They had varying ideas about the role and job requirements. 

“So what I learned from speaking to the CMOs is that different functional CMOs have different ideas on what being a CMO means. Some of them call themselves a fractional CMO, but actually, they are really digital marketing managers. What I would say performance media directors or managers, you know, that’s their real specialism is. if it’s being given the chunk of budget or money and then getting the highest ROI. 

I didn’t go with those types because I kind of felt that there was something a lot more fundamentals missing like: what do we stand for? What is our position? What do we sound like as a brand? Who should we be talking to? Who are our ideal customers? 

Yeah, those were the fundamental questions that were missing.”

How do you choose the right CMO?

Andreas was asked how he chose the right person. 

“It was just based on the questions they were asking, the way they charge via their pricing models, what they were willing to provide, and, ultimately, it was really down to the ones that I was most interested in and ended up shortlisting [people] asking the right questions.”

During the selection process pay attention to candidates who ask insightful questions rather than simply telling you what they can do. This indicates their understanding of your business and their ability to identify your specific needs and value proposition. Andreas advised against going with people who didn’t ask the right questions. 

“I decided against people that were telling me what they would do for me but actually hadn’t quite established what I needed. They were so much more in the kind of solutions conversation rather than trying to establish what the issue was.”

A crucial aspect of marketing is identifying and targeting the right customers for your brand Andreas said. Discuss with potential FCMOs their strategies for finding customer profiles and how they align with your goals. Look for a candidate who demonstrates an understanding of customer segmentation, market research, and effective targeting techniques.

Amy came into the conversation to draw on her experience, explaining that you must evaluate how well candidates communicate their ideas and strategies during the interview process. Consider whether they can effectively lead a team of specialised roles, such as ads specialists, content writers, and social media managers, to support your marketing efforts.

How Do You Know What Kind of CMO to Hire?

From prior experience, Amy told us that larger companies may require FCMOs who can build systems and provide strategic guidance, while smaller startups may benefit from FCMOs who are more hands-on and execution-oriented. “It depends a lot on the size of the organisation. A really good leader should be doing nothing. You have the whole team, and the role of a CMO is to organise people”. 

Choose an FCMO whose working style aligns well with your company’s structure and values. Amy goes on to say, “If you’re a CMO, you shouldn’t be executing. Of course, you can do that, but you should be trying to put the infrastructure together for everybody else to do that”.

“Not enough start-ups are hiring CMOs. There are lots of job descriptions out there looking for an all-encompassing person for £40k per year – these are nonsense job descriptions.” Amy says. People should look for an FCMO when pursuing a startup to be a safe pair of hands and a kind of insurance policy. Amy further explained, “If you have a person qualified to do all of that work, they will be a lot more than £40k per year. Otherwise, it’ll be a team of probably 5 people.”

What Does the Work Look Like for an FCMO?

An FCMO is different from a full-time CMO in that they are only available for a fraction of the time. Amy eluded to the fact of making sure clear boundaries are set between both parties prior to the work commencing. Most FCMOs will charge a per-hour or per-day rate, so if you plan to speak with them once per week, make sure to stick to these boundaries (obviously within reason).

In most cases, 3-4 days per month or once per week is enough for an excellent FCMO to work their magic, explained Amy. If you are a smaller company/startup, then you may require less time. If you are a larger company that expects lots of meetings to be attended, it’s worth bringing this time into your consideration when putting their contract together. 

What Andreas’ FCMO Did to Boost Conversions

Andreas’ FCMO looked intently at the three main factors that would push someone in the market to work with Artios; unique selling points, flexibility and budget. 

“Drucker once said in the 80s, or the 90s. The goal of marketing is to prevent a business failure. I think it was about PMF, and she looked for the position, and she looked at the three main factors that would prevent or push a person in the market or company in the market to work with me.”

These factors were used to position Artios in the market. His FCMO created customer profiles and positioned these factors uniquely against their main competitors. Andreas says that “doing all this homework right at the beginning allowed us to correct the course quickly” without huge consequences later down the line.

When you hire an FCMO, don’t expect things to change drastically overnight. Yes, they can bring quick wins by implementing strategies you haven’t considered before, says Amy. But, in most cases, it’ll take time for them to understand your business fully and find the nuance you as a brand bring. 

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