Combining Marketing and Product Roles For the Fractional CMO

The corporate landscape has always revered multitaskers, but the modern business world, shaped by rapid digitization and agile methodologies, now demands versatile leaders. One such emerging leadership model is the fractional CMO who doubles up as the head of product or in a product management role. The merging of these two roles presents some challenges as well as significant opportunities, requiring a specialized approach to ensure success.

The Fusion of Vision and Execution

Traditionally, a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is responsible for crafting the vision for a product or service, framing its value proposition, and ensuring it resonates with the target market. On the other hand, a product manager is typically immersed in the execution of this vision, ensuring the product evolves as per market demands and stakeholder expectations.

When a single individual undertakes both roles, it essentially means that the visionary is also the executor. This fusion can lead to a more cohesive strategy, when both are executed with the necessary precision. For a fractional CMO functioning with an additional product role, the duality of strategic oversight and granular focus requires the ability to easily switch from the big picture to the details. As a CMO, one should maintain a helicopter view, understanding market trends, customer sentiments, and brand positioning. Strategic partnerships, competitive analyses, and long-term brand growth should be on the radar. As a product manager, it’s vital to focus on the specifics of product development, from feature prioritization to user experience design, and from stakeholder communication to sprint planning.

Effective Communication

Wearing these two hats demands effective communication skills and a high comfort level with every department within the organization. Engaging with stakeholders ranging from developers and designers to sales teams and executives, requires clarity and precision. As a fractional CMO and product manager, one needs to ensure that the marketing vision aligns seamlessly with product execution. Regular updates, clear documentation, and stakeholder meetings become crucial.

Agility in Decision-Making

Additionally, in a dual role, agility is not just a methodology but a necessity. The dynamic nature of the SaaS world, coupled with the responsibilities of both marketing and product management, demands quick decision-making. The ability to pivot based on real-time data, customer feedback, and market shifts is a valuable trait.

Continuous Learning

The realms of marketing and product management are in a state of constant evolution. New marketing technologies, evolving customer preferences, emerging product management tools, and methodologies all require ongoing education. A commitment to continuous learning ensures that both the marketing and product strategies remain current and effective.

Holistic Metrics Evaluation

Finally, success metrics should encompass both marketing and product facets. While lead generation, brand awareness, and customer engagement might be primary metrics on the marketing side, user retention, feature adoption rates, and product quality indicators become essential on the product management front. Some marketers will find it very easy to embrace product metrics – especially marketers who have experience focusing on customer retention versus customer acquisition, customer satisfaction (CSAT) scoring, and the like – while others will have more of a learning curve.


The confluence of marketing and product roles is a testament to the evolving nature of business leadership. For those embarking on this dual journey, it’s a blend of vision and execution, strategy and detail, oversight and immersion. With the right balance, continuous learning, and agile decision-making, a fractional CMO functioning with an additional product responsibility can play a pivotal role in steering the product to unparalleled success.

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