In May 2023, Loic Jeanjean, Fractional CMO, joined us on the CMO Alliance Slack Community Channel for an AMA (ask-me-anything) on a topic we knew many of our members were super keen for: how to transition from an in-house position to the increasingly popular position of Fractional CMO.
Below, we’ve pulled together some of the best questions, along with Loic’s responses. If you’re considering a shift to that Fractional CMO life, have just gotten started, or even a veteran looking for new options, you should definitely read on. (some questions and answers may have been edited for clarity).
Loic is a seasoned marketing leader with an 18+ year track record of delivering predictable revenue growth with B2B companies at various stages of funding & growth (bootstrapped, seed to series C).
Currently, he works as a Fractional CMO with B2B startups, helping them level up their marketing capabilities & deliver on their pipeline/revenue goals.
Specifically, he builds, coaches, mentors, and equips marketing/growth teams with the skills needed to lead their company to hyper-growth. He also works directly with the C-suite as a marketing advisor and thought partner, translating their NorthStar goals into actionable marketing plans.
The big differences between working with fractional clients and in-house and the typical day of a fractional CMO
Questions from Anonymous:
- What’s the biggest difference in how you think about working with your fractional clients vs when you were in-house? Was there a mindset shift that had to happen?
- What does a typical day look like for you?
Loic: I definitely felt a change. As a fractional CMO, I didn´t really have to prove myself and play the internal politics game like you would when joining a new company as FTE (full-time employee). Immediately people I interact with as a fractional value my opinion, take my feedback into account, and want to hear how I would do things differently. They really think of me as a turbocharger and sounding board. It's just less BS, I don't know how else to explain it. It's really nice!
My typical day varies, based on the client's engagement. For those where I work half-days (or biweekly), it's mostly strategic sessions with founders, and 1:1 with the marketing lead. For clients with whom I work at least 1 full day per week, then I run weekly marketing meetings, have more 1:1s and coaching sessions, run workshops, get on calls with partners, meet with sales leadership, and more!
How to find clients early on as a Fractional CMO
Question from Brady Cohen, US-based Fractional CMO: I'm attempting to do what you're doing, and I'm about a month into the process. I'd love to learn from you what you've found has worked in terms of generating interest in your services. ie, How are you getting leads and closing engagements?
Loic: I’m fortunate to have been working at a handful of VC-funded companies and had maintained strong relationships with most of them. They were the first people I contacted when I went fractional. I knew they had a few seed and series-A startups in their portfolio and for them, hiring a full-time in-house CMO was out of the picture (too expensive).
They connected me directly with the founders and that’s how I got my first 3 clients. The other 2 came from tech recruiters I had also worked with in the past, following a similar process as with the VCs.
Question from Anonymous: I run a marketing agency, but the company is on autopilot with my co-founder managing. I want to get into working as an individual with companies as you have, but I am completely new to it.
What do you suggest for someone like me to go forward?
Loic: Network connections work the best for me. I have not done any prospecting, ads, or anything of that nature.
One thing I forgot to mention in my other answer: I’ve joined a start-up accelerator as a mentor and have been introduced to a few companies this way. They are quite early in their journey, so they don´t need my services... yet!
Question from Karen McNaughton, Canada-based B2B SaaS CMO
I’ve switched between fractional and FTE over the years. I’d love to learn how you’re building pipeline with fractional, thanks!
Loic: I don´t know how long I'll be able to run my business without having to do any cold outreach or paid ads.
One thing I’m exploring is partnering with other fractionals (e.g. fCOO, fCRO) to combine our efforts. It could be pitching new clients together, referring each other's services, that sort of thing.
Pricing and building trust as a fractional CMO
Question from Jennifer Harth, Spain-based Fractional CMO: I’ve been setting up my fractional CMO business for some weeks now and I'd be keen to get more insights into how to price and package your services as well as overcoming trust issues with potential customers.
Loic: Ah, that's a hard one!
In the beginning, I just did some quick searches on Slack groups (Fractionals United, Fractional Consulting Community), Quora, and asked a few people on Linkedin.
Most people with my level of experience were charging the equivalent of $300-$400 per hour, but were billing in days of work per month, with a 3/6/12 months minimum commitment.
I played a bit with these numbers and found a sweet spot that I made public on my website.
I took the route of being transparent and upfront with my fees, and so far, nobody has pushed back on the cost. (Which probably means I'm either charging too little or giving too much value for my price…)
Question from Bo Ekklund, Denmark-based Fractional CMO:
How did you land on your current pricing (found on your website)? And do you see a difference in what companies from different countries are willing to pay for your services?
Loic: For my first iteration, I spoke to a few fCMOs that I knew and asked them how much they were pricing their services.
All of them were in the US and were charging fees that I thought would be seen as too high for EU-based startups. So I adjusted the fee per hour down to 200 euros, at first.
That was for my first 2 clients. Then I slowly increased it with every single new client.
So far, I’ve only had pushback once or twice, typically with companies that had very little funding or were super early stage.
From a country pov, UK and Germany-based SaaS companies are my go-to, as well as web3 companies.
Bo: Nice. It is also my impression that fractional CMOs can charge US customers more than European customers.
Personally (just starting out and being based in Denmark), I see the UK SaaS market as being very attractive for my fractional CMO services.
Loic: In the UK, 2000 GBP per day is fine.
Why become a Fractional CMO?
Question from Alberto Gerrin, Italy-based CMO: I’d love to go deeper on your journey, Loic, as it sounds really similar to what I'm experiencing right now.
I'll start with one (maybe not so) quick question: why?
Loic: Great question!
I’d thought about becoming my own boss for quite some time (at least 5 years). I even started a company with a couple of friends in 2018 and almost started one last year.
I’ve been working for other people for more than 20 years, and have created so much business/revenue for them while working crazy hours.
What started to bother me was the thought of not really having anything to show for all this work outside of a few stock options and the salary I got all these years.
It came down to:
- having more time for my family and myself (I only take enough clients to work 4 days a week, no more).
- having more flexibility with my work (I choose the clients, projects, and decide when I want to start and stop).
- financial freedom (I’m in control of my income, not other people).
Standing out in the increasingly busy Fractional CMO landscape
Question from Anonymous: Fractional seems to be all the craze lately. How does one stand out as a fractional CMO from all the others?
Loic: You're right! Covid and tech layoffs motivated a lot of people to go fractional. If you look you can read above why I decided to go this route after 20 years of 'normal' work.
When it comes to standing out, I think about it the same way as how you would stand out when you are interviewing for a role, or trying to differentiate your product from the competition.
For me, it's always been about values (my core values, the values of the companies I wanted to join, or the emotional value/benefits of the product I was marketing).
I preach transparency, honesty, and trust, all of which can be seen in my pricing, in the way I've packaged my services, and in how I approach my network when I need new clients.
The types of clients best suited for Fractional CMOs
Question from Shikha Pakhide, India-based CMO: Hi Loic, do you think that the concept of Fractional CMO is more relevant for startups, SMBs, or mid-market segment?
Loic: I can only answer based on my experience, but from the clients and prospects I’ve been talking to in the last 9 months: 90% are startups between seed and series-B stages. All are funded (VC, angels, hybrid). All already had a marketing function established (1-10 people).
From a segment perspective, it's appropriate for all. I have worked with B2C web3, B2B SaaS for SMB, and B2B SaaS for mid-market.
Networking and development as a Fractional CMO
Question from Anonymous: How do you handle professional development and networking as a fractional CMO? Are there any unique opportunities or challenges compared to when you were in-house?
Loic: Awesome question. I’m part of a great Slack group called Fractionals United, with approx 2000 fractionals (about 20% fCMO). Tons of great people to talk to, share best practices with, and ask for help.
For professional development, I subscribe to a few paid communities/newsletters (MKT1, Exit5), and follow a few industry leaders I really like (Elena Verna, Dave Gerhardt, Andrew Bolis, Sam Jacobs, Sam Blond, Gaetano Nino DiNardi, Amanda Natividad, Andrei Zinkevich, Emily Framer, Chris Walker).
Setting expectations as a Fractional CMO
Question from Anonymous: Hi, How have you been able to ensure that you can offer each of your clients the same level of commitment and results as a full-time, in-house CMO can offer?
Loic: The answer may disappoint, but I don't!
I would never tell my clients that by working with me as a Fractional CMO once or twice per week that they should expect the same impact/results/commitment as a full-time in-house CMO.
It's not realistic, and to be fair, that's not what they need/want.
I typically come in at a time when the business is going through a critical phase, such as:
- getting ready to raise the next round of funding (or recently completed one)/
- just hired a new VP of Marketing, or are about to let them go/
- marketing team not delivering or stagnating/
- pivot on business strategy/
- about to, or recently, expand internationally.
They need a person like me to help them get marketing focused on the most important priorities to navigate these critical phases.
Question from Anonymous: How do you handle it when a client isn't seeing the results they expected? How does this differ from managing these situations in-house?
Loic: Before starting 'officially' with a new client, we both sit down and agree on the activities, outcomes, results, and time horizon for everything they need from our collaboration. It's super important this is written down (I actually get it on the contract) and mutually agreed upon starting the actual collaboration.
To be fair, anyone should do that, whether fractional or in-house!
And in the unlikely event that things don't go as planned, then I always default to transparency, honesty, and have at least 1 or 2 ideas to course correct.
Understanding different clients as a Fractional CMO
Question from Anonymous: I wanted to ask: How do you quickly gain an in-depth understanding of a new client’s market, competitors, and customer base, which is usually an advantage of being an in-house CMO?
Loic: For now, it hasn´t been an issue, simply because I've only accepted to work with startups that were selling a product I already had an in-depth knowledge of.
I have worked 10+ years leading marketing for B2B SaaS Fintechs (compliance, expense, spend management), and 3 years for web3 (security and hardware wallets).
I know inside and out things like target personas, sales cycles, right GTM motions, how to open new markets, how to verticalize, etc.
Want more insights on being a Fractional CMO from experts like Loic? There's no better place than the global network of CMOs and marketing leaders you can find by joining the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel!
If you're interested in hosting an Ask Me Anything on a topic that marketing leaders need to know about, contact our Community Manager, Millie, today.