Edge International


The rise of the fractional CMO

The rise of the fractional CMO

(This article originally appeared in PM Magazine. For further details go to www.pmforum.co.uk)

The time has passed when legal marketing teams were viewed only as a cost. Now they are correctly understood as revenue generators in their own right,  and as such the need to engage experienced staff in these important roles Is increasingly evident.

But what happens when a firm cannot afford to employ a full time Chief Marketing Officer? A Fractional Chief Marketing Officer is one potential solution.

The FCMO concept originated in the US but is gaining popularity in the UK. An FCMO is a part-time Chief Marketing Officer who works strategically with multiple firms simultaneously.

In the current uncertain economic environment, more and more firms are turning to FCMOs to access cost effective, high-level marketing expertise without the long-term commitment.

Doing so allows firms to scale their marketing efforts up or down as needed, avoiding the risks of over-hiring or under-utilising talent.

Advantages of an FCMO for the law firms

Fractional CMOs are seasoned professionals with real-world experience, and can hit the ground running, making an impact fast.

Unlike freelancers or agencies, a Fractional CMO is integrated into the internal team taking ownership of marketing efforts and becoming fully invested in the success of the firm.

They are also well equipped to manage and train team members, spearhead hiring efforts for the marketing department, and bring industry knowledge specific to the legal sector.

In a crowded market, with an overwhelming number of options for marketing services, their trusted ‘Little Black Book’ of tried and tested providers can prove invaluable. Furthermore, they can use their comparative knowledge to negotiate supplier rates from a position of strength. This tactic has been known to reduce costs by up to 20% for advertising in the legal directories.

Their useful insights garnered from other clients can benefit everyone’s experience. For example, introducing a new marketing technology, can benefit from the FCMO having seen it in play, and knowing the potential issues of its implementation.  

Benefits for the FCMO

FCMOs have freedom of self-management whilst the satisfaction of driving change from within as part of a larger team. Often external consultants have more gravitas, more respect, and clearer routes to the management team than inhouse peers.

Whilst working from their office and attending work socials makes it easier to build relationships and understand the internal landscape than external agencies.

Working with more than one firm at a time adds variety and helps build knowledge faster, knowledge which then benefit your clients. Over time, as a FCMO becomes an increasingly trusted team member their remit may get broader and more interesting, finding themselves in other areas of the business such as the latest ESG initiatives or recruitment campaigns.

Making the Relationship Work

Successful integration of Fractional CMOs involves clear communication of goals and expectations. Regular check-ins and collaborative planning sessions ensure alignment with the firm’s objectives. However, challenges such as team attachment and the need for a full-time replacement in the long term should not be overlooked.

(This article was first published in PM Forum Magazine, March 2024. For further details go to www.pmforum.co.uk)

Vikki Bentwood

Edge Principal is an accomplished consultant with 25 years of experience in strategic marketing and business development for independent law firms worldwide. She has held senior positions in British and international law firms, successfully growing departments and implementing new marketing technologies.