FCMO vs FCMD: What the Differences Are and Why They Matter
Do your marketing strategies need an overhaul? Are you a tech startup with no marketing leader? Do you want your business to run like a well-oiled machine? Hire a fractional marketing director (FCMD), a fractional chief marketing officer (FCMO), or both, in these situations.
This article compares these two roles on the basis of several factors. These include scope, leadership, executive position and reporting, and experience requirements. It also covers the following:
- Their differences according to workloads and hiring costs
- When to hire an FCMO or an FCMD
- When to consider getting both for your business
Read below to find the better part-time effective partner between the two!
At Digital Authority Partners, our fractional marketing directors have helped hundreds of companies improve their marketing return on investment. Watch this video to see what we can do for you!
What Are the Differences Between FCMOs and FCMDs?
FCMOs and FCMDs are fractional executives, which means they divide their time across multiple companies rather than working full time for one organization. They provide on-demand marketing leadership talent.
Over the years, more companies have preferred them over filling marketing positions permanently. This is especially true among startups.
One of the biggest benefits of fractional CMOs and CMDs is significant cost savings. Instead of paying hundreds of thousands annually for one person, these new market players have better control over their finances. For example, they can allocate a bigger budget for another top-tier software developer or spend more on high-return advertising strategies.
Additionally, both FCMDs and FCMOs offer a marketing masterclass to their clients. The lessons and guidance equip them better to handle even the most unnerving, uncertain situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite their similarities, these two positions have major differences:
1. Strategic Roles and Responsibilities
FCMOs focus more on the company’s overall marketing strategy and vision. They analyze markets to identify growth opportunities. On the basis of those insights, they develop or modify plans to align with core business goals and brand positioning.
These part-time market experts also do the following:
- Oversee the content’s messaging across several digital touchpoints, ensuring it is clear and consistent.
- Define or improve the business’s value proposition.
- Identify customer segments, break them down when needed, and craft more accurate consumer personas.
- Optimize budget allocation by activity.
- Set performance benchmarks.
In contrast, FCMDs have a much more tactical, execution-based role. They oversee specific marketing functions. They are also responsible for implementing marketing campaigns and initiatives defined by the internal marketing team or FCMO.
In fact, you can hire fractional chief marketing directors for only specific campaigns, such as social media or paid ads.
Bottom line: Although both are marketing roles, FCMOs have a wider, deeper organizational coverage and responsibility than FCMDs.
2. Marketing Leadership
FCMOs use their extensive marketing experience and industry knowledge to organize and even lead departments, whether in house or outsourced. Examples are sales, communications or PR, and marketing. Sometimes they collaborate with or supervise other marketing executives, such as FCMDs.
Often hired to strengthen a business’s marketing capability, fractional chief marketing officers also work indirectly with HR or founders. They evaluate the organizational structure, effectiveness, and culture. They identify gaps in skills or resources and guide talent development through coaching and mentoring.
Meanwhile, FCMDs usually oversee only specific marketing functions or campaigns. They still mentor or guide marketers but only those working in their domain. Furthermore, these professionals do the following:
- Ensure their facilitated activities stay on budget.
- Deliver results against target performance metrics.
- Handle the day-to-day tasks based on an established strategy.
Bottom line: FCMOs provide strategic marketing leadership, while FCMDs focus on executing tactical marketing campaigns.
3. Executive Position and Reporting
FCMOs often serve on the executive leadership team. They report directly to the CEO or COO. This reflects their strategic role in setting the overall vision and direction for the marketing function.
These experts also regularly collaborate with other C-level leaders. For example, they provide marketing strategy input on a new product development plan headed by the chief technology officer (CTO). Some even serve as advisory board members.
Fractional marketing directors have a more junior role than CMOs. They report to the fractional or full-time CMO or department heads, such as the VP of Marketing.
Bottom line: FCMOs usually occupy a seat at the executive leadership table. FCMDs rarely do.
4. Experience Requirements
The experience required to achieve FCMO status is significant given the strategic executive expectations. Generally, they should have at least ten to 15 years of overall marketing leadership experience. This typically includes prior full-time CMO or VP Marketing roles.
They must also showcase extensive knowledge and expertise in the following areas:
- Marketing strategy development
- Brand positioning
- Collaboration of multi-disciplinary teams
In comparison, fractional marketing directors often have approximately five to ten years of experience. This includes managing marketing campaigns, budgets, and teams at a director or manager level. Some coordinator experience can also suffice based on the specific skills required.
Bottom line: Both should have sufficient marketing experience and leadership. However, an FCMO must hit the ground running as the executive visionary. An FCMD does not need the same comprehensive level of oversight experience.
5. Workload and Number of Clients
The strategic nature of the FCMO role also affects their workload capacity. They typically take on three to five major clients simultaneously. This allows them to dedicate 15 to 25 hours monthly per client to provide high-level strategy and vision.
FCMDs can usually handle more clients, ranging from 6 to 8. They often spend ten to 15 hours monthly with each.
However, they can take on a larger number of businesses because the scope of work is more limited and specialized for each one. For example, they manage email marketing for one client, social media for another, and digital ads for a third.
Bottom line: FCMOs take on fewer clients, so they can deeply focus on developing comprehensive marketing visions and long-term plans. FCMDs handle more clients but provide specialized support on specific marketing tactics.
6. Hiring Costs
Because of their extensive senior-level experience and strategic role, FCMOs charge significantly higher fees than FCMDs. Their average monthly retainer fees range from $8,000 at the low end up to $20,000 or more on the high end.
Fortunately, these numbers are usually lower than full-time CMO salaries at major corporations, which typically exceed $200,000.
In contrast, FCMD monthly fees are usually between $5,000 and $10,000 per month. This still represents a significant investment. However, these professionals are more affordable than FCMOs for companies with lighter marketing needs.
Bottom line: FCMOs have a higher price tag, reflecting their executive experience. FCMDs are worthwhile investments if you need specific marketing help.
When Each Role Makes Sense
Can businesses hire both? Yes. Consider these scenarios:
- A company needs strategic high-level marketing leadership from an FCMO and specialized execution from an FCMD. The former develops plans while the latter implements them.
- A business grows quickly and needs an FCMO to guide the overall strategy and vision. However, it also requires an FCMD to manage specific marketing channels and campaigns.
- A startup needs better coordination between big-picture planning (FCMO) and tactical execution (FCMD).
Most businesses, though, have tight resources and can only choose one. Generally, an FCMD is ideal for startups and small businesses with specific or limited marketing needs.
Fractional CMOs are often attractive to mid-size businesses, especially those beginning to scale or hit major roadblocks for growth.
If you worry about budget but need excellent marketing support, an FCMD allows you to maximize funds on execution rather than strategy development.
For short-term marketing projects, an FCMD helps drive execution. For ongoing marketing growth, an FCMO provides long-term leadership and alignment with business objectives.
The FCMO and FCMD roles have some commonalities in marketing leadership but also key differences. FCMOs provide high-level strategy, while FCMDs focus on marketing execution.
Understanding where they overlap and differ allows you to choose the best fit based on your needs and budget. Contact Digital Marketing Partners (DAP) to schedule a free consultation if you need more ideas.
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