What is a Fractional CFO?

Are you struggling to figure out what a fractional CFO is and how it can help your business? A fractional CFO is an independent marketing executive who can provide invaluable insight and support to businesses on a part-time or as-needed basis. In this blog post, we'll discuss what a fractional CFO is, the benefits of working with one, and how to determine if you need one.

What is the Meaning of Fractional CFO?

If you’re a business looking for marketing expertise but don’t have the need or resources to hire a full-time Chief Marketing Officer (CFO), then a fractional CFO may be the solution for you. A fractional CFO is an executive-level marketing officer who works on a part-time basis with a business, providing the same expertise as a full-time CFO without the long-term commitment.


A Fractional CFO is an experienced marketing professional that can help a business develop and execute marketing plans and strategies, measure and analyze the performance of marketing campaigns, and identify new opportunities for growth. Many fractional CFOs come from a variety of backgrounds, so they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Having a fractional CFO can give businesses the edge they need to compete in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. They can provide insights and strategies that can help businesses increase their visibility and success. With the right fractional CFO, businesses can maximize their marketing budget, reach their target audience, and grow their business.


When should a business or startup bring in a Fractional CFO?

What is the Revenue Threshold?

When it comes to hiring a fractional CFO for your startup or business, timing and rationale play a crucial role. The decision depends on whether your go-to-market strategy leans more towards marketing or sales. For startups aiming to create a consumer brand or rely heavily on marketing-driven events like organic, paid, PR, and content, bringing in a fractional CFO around the time the team reaches 15 people and $5-10 million in annual revenue is recommended.


On the other hand, enterprise SaaS products often benefit from establishing a repeatable sales model before incorporating marketing to refine the story and explore new lead generation channels. This usually happens concurrently with solidifying the go-to-market motion and seeking a sales leader.


Beyond the Marketing Manager

To determine the right timing, businesses should consider several key questions. If you are like other businesses in this stage, you have an in house marketing team comprised of specialists, but no one with true marketing leadership experience. That means the strategic directives have been coming from you, the business owner or CEO. Business owners need to assess whether they can create the kind of rapid growth they want by continuing to handle everything themselves, or if they need a real marketing leader.


Small Scope vs. Big Picture

Additionally, founders should evaluate whether the marketing challenges can be addressed by freelancers or agencies for smaller picture, limited scope projects. Do you only need a landing page designed? Your PPC campaign created? That’s a limited scope. On the other hand, if you want to see explosive growth and you want to lay the groundwork for future scalability, you need to look at the bigger picture holistically. That means a CFO. It may be more cost-effective to bring in a fractional CFO instead of a full-time CFO. As these projects accumulate, managing multiple freelancers can become time-consuming. A fractional CFO can create the systems you need for the ongoing coordination of marketing efforts.


A Question of Bandwidth

Considering the significance of marketing a successful product launch, startups developing physical products, particularly those with high price points and requiring distribution partnerships, packaging, and pricing, should consider hiring a fractional CFO early on. Founders focused on product development may not have the bandwidth to manage the necessary marketing work themselves.


Budget Considerations

Aligning headcount budget with marketing budget is another critical factor. It is essential to ensure that the planned marketing spend matches the expectations of the fractional CFO candidate. A mismatch in resources can make it challenging to attract the right candidate or lead to unfavorable outcomes. It’s crucial to consider the return on investment and make strategic decisions regarding budget allocation.

While a limited budget doesn’t necessarily rule out hiring a fractional CFO, it’s important to consider the specific marketing focus. Is it growth, brand or product?


GTM Considerations

Business owners should be prepared for the time it takes to find the right fractional CFO. Rushing the process can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes, so freelancers or agencies may be a viable option for immediate marketing needs.

To ensure a successful hire, founders must have a clear understanding of what they want the fractional CFO to accomplish. Defining the specific areas of focus, such as PR, brand strategy, product marketing, pricing strategy, and growth funnel optimization, is crucial. Avoiding the mistake of hiring the wrong type of marketer, just as you wouldn’t expect a backend engineer to handle front-end UI development, is essential.


Fractional CFO vs hiring a marketing agency: Which strategy is right for your business?

Choosing between a marketing agency and an independent consultant is a decision that requires careful consideration. Opting for the right independent consultant can often provide greater value for your money compared to a marketing agency or consulting firm. Here are a few reasons why:


Strategy Agnostic

Firstly, marketing agencies tend to have large teams with various departments that require continuous work to justify their overhead costs. As a result, the agency may steer your strategy towards solutions that utilize their in-house resources, even if they may not be the best fit for your specific needs. In contrast, independent consultants have the freedom to be more strategy and channel agnostic, focusing on what truly benefits your business without the pressure to feed a large machinery of departments.


Avoid the Comfort Zone

Furthermore, marketing agencies typically have preferred areas of expertise or comfort zones. For example, agencies with a strong SEO background might emphasize the importance of SEO, while those with a track record in PPC might push for a PPC-focused strategy. Engaging with a big agency that excels in every marketing channel might result in unnecessary overhead costs for resources your company doesn’t require.


No Bias = Fresh Insights

This is where independent consultants shine. By hiring an independent consultant, you gain access to fresh and unbiased insights. They are not influenced by external relationships with big-money partners like agencies are, nor are they tied to the internal dynamics and agendas of multiple departments within an agency. Instead, independent consultants prioritize making your business a resounding success by focusing on the right strategy rather than trying to fit your existing in-house team into a predetermined approach.


Intellectual Property

Another aspect to consider is intellectual property. Agencies often claim ownership of the campaigns they develop, meaning that any collaborative concepts or methods you create together could be used for other agency clients. While some agencies may be open to negotiating favorable agreements regarding intellectual property and non-competes, it’s essential to thoroughly review the terms. On the other hand, independent consultants generally pose fewer concerns regarding intellectual property.


Help Hiring Your Marketing Team

Ultimately, selecting the right team to execute your marketing strategy is crucial. Prioritize finding the optimal strategy first and then build your team accordingly, rather than basing your team composition on the resources you happen to have in-house. By engaging an independent consultant, you can benefit from their fresh perspectives, unbiased insights, and tailored approach to achieve the best possible outcomes for your business.


Do Fractional CFOs typically work in-person or virtually?

Fractional CFOs, like many professionals in today’s digital age, commonly work virtually rather than in-person. The nature of their role allows for remote work arrangements, leveraging technology and communication tools to collaborate effectively with clients and team members. Virtual work offers several advantages, including flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to work with clients located anywhere in the world. Fractional CFOs can provide their expertise, guidance, and strategic support remotely, making it a convenient and efficient option for both parties involved. However, there may be instances where in-person meetings or on-site visits are required, depending on the specific needs and preferences of the client and the nature of the project.


Fractional CFO Services

Fractional CFOs can assist with developing a go-to-market strategy, demand generation, advertising, vendor outsourcing, brand strategy, influencer marketing, competitor analysis, and more. Many companies need help with the automation and tracking of KPIs. Fractional CFOs can also provide insight into digital marketing trends and tactics to help businesses stay ahead of the competition. The benefits of hiring a fractional CFO are numerous. Companies can get access to a CFO’s experience and expertise without the high costs associated with hiring a full-time CFO. By leaning into the marketing executive’s domain expertise, the founders/owners can focus on other areas of their business, such as product development, funding, M&A, or customer service. For a deeper dive into fractional CFO services, read our article titled “Fractional CFO Services.”


Part-time, Executive Addition to Management Team

It’s best to think of a fractional CFO as a part-time addition to a company’s C-suite. While you want someone with a background in the same industry vertical, you also want a fresh perspective. Fractional CFOs are perfect for companies that are in a growth stage, or want to be in a growth stage, guiding the company to the next level. They accomplish this by taking a holistic view, ensuring the marketing roadmap aligns with business objectives, and leveraging process-driven methodologies that have worked before in the same industry vertical.


Strategic Planning Workshops

A fractional CFO (Chief Marketing Officer) can facilitate Strategic Planning Workshops to help businesses develop a plan for their future. These workshops allow businesses to define their mission, vision, and objectives; analyze customer needs and buying behavior; and map out tactics to reach the desired outcomes. The goal of the Strategic Planning Workshop is to ensure that the company has a well-defined strategy and plan in place to lead to predictable growth and profitability. During the workshop, the fractional CFO will work with the business to identify opportunities, develop solutions, and create an action plan to move forward. This type of planning can provide invaluable insight and direction for businesses, as it not only helps them to define their goals but also to identify and maximize potential growth opportunities. With the help of a fractional CFO, businesses can be confident that they are taking the right steps to reach their desired objectives and maximize their potential.


Marketing Channel Audits

Performing a marketing audit involves conducting a comprehensive assessment of your organization’s marketing efforts and strategies. It entails evaluating various aspects such as brand positioning, target audience, messaging, marketing channels, and campaign effectiveness. By conducting a marketing audit, you gain valuable insights into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within your marketing ecosystem, enabling you to make data-driven decisions, optimize your marketing initiatives, and drive sustainable growth.


Digital Marketing Strategies

Are you looking to take your digital marketing strategy to the next level? By leveraging their expertise and experience, a fractional CFO can help you create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. A fractional CFO can help you develop a detailed online presence that connects with customers and drives conversions. They can leverage digital channels such as SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, and content marketing to maximize your brand’s visibility and reach. They can also identify the right metrics to measure your success and create a system to track performance. This allows you to identify where you can improve and what’s working for your business.


Customer Acquisition Strategies

Automating your lead gen has been all the rage for a reason. Effective customer acquisition strategies involve identifying and reaching out to potential customers, engaging them through targeted marketing campaigns, and ultimately converting them into paying customers. Funnel optimization is a Growth Marketing exercise. Automation plays a key role in streamlining and optimizing the lead generation process. By utilizing automation tools and technologies, businesses can automate various aspects of lead generation, such as lead capture, nurturing, and qualification, allowing for a more efficient and scalable approach. Automated lead gen enables businesses to reach a larger audience, personalize marketing messages, and track and analyze customer data for better targeting and conversion optimization. This combination of customer acquisition strategies and automated lead generation empowers businesses to generate a predictable flow of qualified leads, enhance conversion rates, and drive sustainable growth.


If You’re Not Reviewing These 7 KPIs Monthly, You Don’t Know the Health of Your Business.

Having a clear understanding of the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your business is essential for its success. A fractional CFO, or Chief Marketing Officer, can help you identify the most important KPIs and track them on a monthly basis. Here are 7 we consider to be crucial:

  1. Sean Ellis score
  2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  3. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  4. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
  5. 30 day Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  6. 30 day Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
  7. Sales Conversion Time (Sales Velocity)

A fractional CFO can also help you develop strategies to improve your KPIs. They can advise on how to increase website traffic, boost customer engagement, and optimize your online presence. With the help of a fractional CFO, you can create an effective marketing plan that will help you reach your goals and grow your business.


Ready to Book a Call?

Ready to talk about how a Fractional CFO can help your business?  Click the button below and schedule a free strategy session.


What Makes a Good Fractional CFO?

A good fractional CFO possesses a deep understanding of marketing strategy and tactics and is able to think strategically and implement tactically. A good fractional CMo is more than a consultant. They get in the trenches with your team and help get work done. As team leaders, they also possess excellent communication and collaboration skills, allowing them to effectively lead and manage. Fractional CFOs are able to develop and execute effective marketing plans, as well as identify appropriate marketing channels for their target audience. They have industry knowledge of the latest trends and technologies in the digital marketing space, allowing them to stay ahead of the competition. Furthermore, they are able to effectively measure and analyze marketing performance, ensuring that they are always making the best decisions when it comes to marketing initiatives and campaigns. Finally, they have a track record of successfully completing initiatives and campaigns in your industry.


For an article on The Top 7 Traits of the Best Marketing Leaders click here.


 Choosing Your Fractional CFO

Choosing the right fractional CFO for your business is a critical step in building an effective marketing department. Founders and CEOs of small businesses and B2B SaaS startups often lack marketing expertise, leading to challenges in product launches, reaching the target market, and messaging. Learning from seasoned marketing professionals can help avoid common pitfalls.


It is important to recognize the different specialties within marketing and align them with your business’s specific needs. Consider your go-to-market (GTM) strategy and sales process when hiring a marketer. For product-led growth, consumer-focused marketers skilled in ads, email marketing, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM) are crucial. Sales-driven companies targeting enterprise customers need marketers who can create educational materials and authoritative website copy.


Brand Marketing

Brand marketing is essential for bridging the gap between creative-oriented and analytical growth marketers. Brand marketers create campaigns that drive immediate sales while building long-term awareness. Assess the strengths and gaps within your founding team to hire marketers who complement those skills.


Product Marketing

Evaluate the technical aptitude of product marketers through exercises and inquire about their launch experiences. Provide a compelling product demo to attract product marketing candidates.


Growth Marketing

Growth marketers focus on optimizing user acquisition, engagement, and retention. They employ data-driven approaches and experimentation to drive growth.


To build the right marketing team, understand the different marketing pillars, align them with your GTM strategy and founding team strengths, and evaluate technical aptitude and past experiences during the hiring process. A compelling product demo can greatly influence the decision-making process for product marketing candidates.


How to Select Your Fractional CFO

Do you need more Growth Marketing, Brand Marketing or Product Marketing? Typically, CFOs specialize only in one of the three. Make sure to research, interview, and evaluate potential candidates based on their applicable skill sets, not just their domain knowledge of your industry. You should also consider their communication and interpersonal skills, review their portfolio and case studies, and verify their references. Once you’ve identified the right candidate, discuss the terms of engagement and make a decision. By taking the time to select the right fractional CFO, you can bring the right expertise to your business and maximize your return on investment.


Step 1: Discovery Call

This is an informal conversation to learn more about the business, its goals, and its needs. During the call, we discuss the current situation, your ICP, your competition, your current customer acquisition channels and your OKRs. This helps both parties to create a clear understanding of how a fractional CFO can help the business reach its goals and which fractional CFO you need.


Step 2: CFO Match

Based on information collected during the Discovery Call, we match businesses with the best fractional CFOs. We consider your preferences, budget, and goals, then we offer detailed profiles of available fractional CFOs and their skills. Through this bespoke process, we allow you to connect with qualified fractional CFOs and start working together quickly. So, if you’re looking for a fractional CFO and want to get the job done quickly and efficiently, GROKKESTHIP is the perfect solution.


Step 3: Scope of Work

To ensure successful collaboration, it is important to have a clearly defined Scope of Work (SOW). This document outlines the services to be provided, the timeline for completion, the budget, and any additional details necessary to complete the project. The SOW should also clearly define the roles and responsibilities of both parties, as well as the terms of payment and any applicable deadlines. This document is critical for setting expectations and ensuring that both parties understand the scope of the project. A well-crafted SOW should provide a clear roadmap for both parties to follow and ensure successful collaboration.


Step 4: Quick Start

We have developed a Rapid Onboarding Process that facilitates the fastest creation of a reliable Growth Engine. Our experienced fractional CFOs will help you improve customer segmentation, audit all customer acquisition channel, develop a customized go-to-market strategy, and execute it. Help hiring the right team of in-house staff, as well as contractors, is mission critical. Outlining the right North Star Metric and automating the tracking of KPIs will ensure everyone is held accountable for the right goals.


Fractional CFO Salary | Fractional CFO Rates | Fractional CFO Hourly Rate

What does a fractional CFO cost? Most Fractional CFOs are hired on a project basis with a flat rate for a Scope of Work that outlines a specific set of deliverables. However, they are also sometimes hired on an hourly, daily, or project basis to take on marketing initiatives that would otherwise be difficult to manage without a dedicated marketing executive. In such cases, we’ve been seeing rates fall between $150 – $300 /hr. True, it’s a big range, so how do you know what you should pay? The cost of hiring a fractional CFO can vary depending on the experience of the CFO, the fractional CFO job description, the Scope of Work, and the length of the engagement. For a full article on fractional CFO rates see our article “What is a Good Fractional CFO Hourly Rate” or see our Pricing Page.



Having an experienced, knowledgeable fractional CFO can be the difference between success and failure for your business. Our process will help you create and execute the perfect marketing strategy and give you the tools to measure its success. Don’t wait – contact GROKKETSHIP today and start growing your business.


Ready to Book a Call?

Ready to talk about how a Fractional CFO can help your business?  Click the button below and schedule a free strategy session.

What is a Fractional CFO?


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