Fractional Marketing: Explanation and Overview

5 minute read

Companies intent on growth know that a well-planned and -executed fractional marketing strategy can skyrocket their business by generating reliable revenue. But, it’s not so easy these days, especially for small to medium-sized businesses.

Traditionally, to reach or exceed your revenue and growth goals, you needed a full-time marketing team with the complete array of abilities, skills, expertise, and experience necessary. Yet, small to medium-sized companies don’t have the luxury of hiring such a team.

That’s where a fractional marketing team comes in.

What Does Fractional Mean in Business?

A fractional employee is a highly-skilled professional who works part-time sharing their time, expertise, and services, often doing this for more than one company. A fractional employee may work in-house but for a fraction of the time that a full-time, in-house employee puts in.

What Is Fractional Marketing?

Fractional Marketing Team

Fractional marketing is the practice of outsourcing specific marketing tasks or responsibilities to expert specialists or agencies instead of having a dedicated in-house marketing team. Simply put, each part of the marketing process is separated into various components or fractions, and then an expert individual, team, or agency is assigned jobs that match their particular specialty.

**In traditional marketing setups, companies often have a complete in-house marketing team responsible for all aspects of marketing, including market research, strategy development, creative design, content creation, advertising, social media management, and more. However, fractional marketing allows companies to tap into the expertise of external specialists on a part-time or project basis, rather than maintaining a full-time team for each function.

For example, a company might hire a fractional marketing agency to handle their social media campaigns, another agency to create and manage their digital advertising, and a freelance copywriter to produce content for their blog. This approach allows businesses to access specialized skills and knowledge while optimizing costs and maintaining flexibility.

Read More: What is a Small Business Marketing Consultant? Get everything you need to know in this guide (including why you need one).

How Does Fractional Marketing Work?

Fractional marketing is an effective way to build your team without tying up a lot of salary dollars, leaving you with more budget for marketing execution and infrastructure.

Let’s say you don’t have the marketing automation tools it takes to meet your leads where they are at, every stage of the buying journey. You’re going to need a resource with the knowledge and skills to help you choose and set up the technology it takes to do effective growth marketing. But once you have the right technology in place, configured to your business, with workflows built to support campaigns, you probably need a lot less martech help ongoing.

That’s one of many examples where the ability to flex your fractional marketing resources to match your needs at that time is a huge win for middle market B2B companies.

Why You Need a Fractional CMO at the Helm

While any marketing discipline can fit the fractional model, one role that many middle market companies take a fractional approach to fill is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

A CMO is an experienced, senior-level leader who develops a sound marketing strategy and comprehensive marketing plan, gets buy-in for those foundational elements, and directs the effective execution of your marketing. But, with the average in-house CMO commanding upwards of $250k a year, it’s a full-time salary you probably can’t afford (not if you expect to have a sufficient budget left to fund a growth marketing effort). On top of that, most middle-market companies rarely need a CMO full-time.

To fill the CMO role effectively and affordably, many companies hire a Fractional CMO instead of a full-time in-house employee. A Fractional CMO steps in and owns your marketing function, applying significant marketing know-how and leadership capabilities. They’re well equipped to develop a solid marketing strategy and strategic marketing plan…and equally adept at leading a team of marketers (whether outsourced or in-house) to execute on that plan successfully.

A Fractional CMO is integral to effective fractional marketing…but shouldn’t be the sum total of your team. The best fractional marketing approach is to focus the CMO’s time and energy on high value-add efforts like strategy development and direction, then use tactical specialists for execution (content development, paid search, social media marketing, and so on).

When It’s Time to Hire a Fractional CMO

Many flags can signal the need for a Fractional CMO specifically and fractional marketing generally. But in our experience, these are the most common triggers:

  • Your company has a growth mindset and aggressive goals, but you’re not making much headway in achieving them.
  • You’re seeing a poor ROI on your marketing efforts.
  • You lack a comprehensive, proactive, strategic marketing plan.
  • Your brand isn’t well-defined, consistent, compelling, and relevant to your audience.
  • Your outbound sales efforts are no longer enough to fuel your growth.
  • You’re not generating a predictable stream of leads that represent your ideal buyer.

These triggers are just a select few indicators that a Fractional CMO would be needed and beneficial to your business to ensure running a successful company.

What to Look for in a Fractional CMO (and Supporting Team)

Finding the right Fractional CMO, or other fractional team members, for your organization goes beyond reviewing resumes and checking all the job description boxes. While a strong marketing background and experience at the senior/strategic level are must-haves for the CMO role, there’s more you should expect to ensure a good outcome.

  • A strong strategic mindset. You want a CMO who has lived and breathed strategy. They need to be able to analyze your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (through a SWOT analysis), assess your competitive landscape, and develop a strategic marketing plan that sets you up for success.
  • Established processes. Growth marketing that generates revenue is methodical and repeatable, so it demands processes that are efficient and effective. A strong Fractional CMO will come to the table with established processes that are proven best practices.
  • Willingness to work with your systems or recommend new ones. An experienced marketer is always going to bring along preferences for certain systems, especially when it comes to the technology that growth marketing requires. But if you already have a tool that’s working well, your Fractional CMO should be willing to use it and recommend ways to optimize it. Perhaps your marketers use Asana for project management, but your CMO normally uses Teamwork. In that case, your CMO shouldn’t require you to adopt their preferred tool.  
  • Solid relationship-building skills. The CMO role demands an ability to relate well cross-functionally within your organization to achieve buy-in for marketing plans that touch multiple operating groups. At the same time, a good CMO will reach across their own network of resources to build on-site or virtual teams that work together effectively.  
  • Proven track record of results. In this age of data and analytics, expect your Fractional CMO candidates to be able to share metrics that demonstrate they can get relevant results. You’re looking for more leads that convert to more sales that generate more revenue…not fluffy numbers like how many people liked your last social media post. 
Fractional CMO

If you’re leading a growth-minded company and you’re not seeing the results you want from your marketing, a fractional approach may be the solution. You’ll gain the expertise and capabilities you can’t easily attract in-house, so you can fund marketing efforts that generate revenue growth. 

Market offers Fractional CMO services that enable you to realize predictable lead generation and revenue growth, through a proven approach that generates measurable ROI on your marketing investment. Contact our CEO Deb Andrews for a free consultation on our Fractional CMO services!

Enter: The Fractional Marketing Director

A fractional leadership role, be it director or c-level, should have a key focus on marketing operations. It won’t be at the same scope of work every time, but an fCMO should create KPIs and processes at the holistic marketing level.

The fractional Marketing Director (fMD) could be responsible for setting the strategy and execution for a specific marketing function (e.g. content marketing, event marketing, or demand generation), while displaying proficiency in other areas, and thus, being able to pinch-hit for intermediate-level tasks like blog writing or setting up a segmented email campaign.

In this type of fractional role, execution is key. The fMD is a tactical strategist, not someone you hire for the grand, chief-level vision.

These are the people on the front lines, rolling up their sleeves to do the work, and doing it well. Little oversight from senior leadership is required. Like any role, at any level, an orientation and onboarding period is necessary. But you’re going to be more likely to see an immediate impact from a high-level doer than from a highest-level thinker.

Here are some situations in which the fMD could be right for you:

You’re an early-stage startup without a marketing team.

Early Startup

Maybe you or your co-founder have enough marketing proficiency that’s taken you to your first 500 customers. You have some hypotheses for how to build the foundation of your marketing team, but you aren’t sure where to start. A fractional CMO might come in with their pivot tables, offering strategies and asking for a budget to hire their favorite agencies to do the work. 

Or, you could hire a fractional marketing director to get a few plates spinning on product and email. They could build out some workflows with the customer support team and bring some of the help documentation further up the funnel through product-led content and improved onboarding campaigns. Meanwhile, they can set up a monthly newsletter or design a free course to nurture the leads on your email list. They can see this through for six months, giving you enough time to see what’s working and what isn’t.

By going through these motions, you might know whether they should receive a full-time offer, or whether it’s a higher priority to hire a product marketing manager to focus on the customer experience.

You have a sophisticated channel but also don’t know what to do with it.

Your beloved content marketing manager has moved onto an exciting new role, and behind them, they leave a high-ranking blog that drives tens of thousands of new users to your website every month. Reflexively, you want to hire someone to fill their shoes. But you also wonder if it’s time for a new direction. 

Now that the blog is in a healthy place, should you find a charismatic personality to host your company podcast? Should you hire a passionate data storyteller to double down on your reports and white papers? Or maybe it’s neither and you wonder, should you hire a lifecycle marketing manager to use that content to deepen relationships with customers? So you hire an fMD to flesh out where your content program might go next.

It might not end up being the perfect long-term strategy, but you have a solid chance of getting a talented person to make headway in a short amount of time.

There are certain seasons in which a different marketing function is high priority.

Maybe it’s only July through November that’s especially chaotic as the marketing team ramps up for holiday shopping. Or, you sell to accountants who are most receptive to new business three months prior to the April and October tax deadlines. Your busy season is fairly predictable, but they’re pivotal moments for your business so you want to ensure you’re hiring top talent.

Enter: the fMD with a specialty in event marketing who knows exactly which booth vendors to hire, what swag to order for the best price, and who can work in lockstep with your demand generation manager to schedule all the promotional campaigns.

Advantages of Fractional Marketing

Expertise and Cost-effectiveness

Companies can leverage the expertise of professionals who specialize in specific areas of marketing, benefiting from their specialized knowledge and experience.

Hiring fractional marketing resources can be more cost-effective than maintaining a full-time in-house team, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. By leveraging fractional marketing, businesses can save money on hiring a full-time marketing specialist. This allows businesses to save on payroll costs and other associated costs. 

Fractional Marketing Team

Flexibility

Businesses can scale their marketing efforts up or down easily by engaging or disengaging with fractional marketers based on their needs, without the commitment of long-term contracts.

With fractional marketing, businesses have the flexibility to hire marketing professionals on a project-by-project basis or as needed. This allows businesses to be more responsive to changing market conditions and customer needs. 

Access to diverse perspectives

Engaging with multiple fractional marketers or agencies brings in a variety of viewpoints, strategies, and creative ideas.

Focus on core competencies = Efficiency

By outsourcing marketing functions, companies can focus on their core competencies and allocate their resources more efficiently.

Fractional marketing is more efficient than hiring a full-time marketing specialist. This allows businesses to get more done in less time and with fewer resources.

Scalability

Fractional marketing allows businesses to scale up or down quickly and easily. This makes it easy for businesses to adjust their marketing efforts to meet changing customer needs and market conditions.

Tips on Implementing Fractional Marketing for Your Company

With fractional marketing, businesses can save money by only having to pay for the services they need, when they need them. If you’re considering implementing fractional marketing for your company, here are some tips to help you get started:

Fractional Marketing Goals

1. Define Your Goals

Before you begin outsourcing marketing activities, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of your goals. What do you want to achieve with fractional marketing? Are you looking to increase brand awareness, reach new customers, or boost sales? Defining your goals will help you decide which marketing activities to outsource and what type of help you need.

2. Research Your Options

Once you’ve identified your goals, you can begin researching potential vendors.

Look for agencies or professionals that specialize in the type of marketing activities you need help with. Consider their past experience and customer reviews to determine which option is best for your company.

3. Set a Budget

Before you commit to any fractional marketing services, make sure you set a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on outsourcing and then look for vendors that offer services within that range.

4. Develop a Plan

Once you’ve decided on a vendor, it’s time to develop a plan. Work with the vendor to develop an outline of the specific services they will provide and how they will be implemented. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the services are delivered as promised.

5. Monitor Results

Make sure you keep an eye on the results of your fractional marketing efforts. Have regular check-ins with your vendor to review the progress and make modifications if needed. This will help ensure that you are getting the most out of your investment.

Fractional marketing has gained popularity due to the growing number of specialized marketing agencies and freelancers offering expertise in specific areas of marketing. It allows companies to assemble a flexible and dynamic marketing team tailored to their specific needs, ensuring that they have access to the right skills and resources without the burden of maintaining a large in-house team.

What Is Fractional Marketing Leadership

Fractional Marketing Leadership consists of most of what you need to lead a successful and thriving business. Having the correct style of leadership in your fractional marketing team will ensure that you and your team members are achieving an accurate level of production to continue to put out the level of services you advertise for.

The type of leadership you might see from an fCMO vs. a fractional marketing director is going to vary, however, their duties and responsibilities can be relatively similar. Both are part-time, and both are there to help you build, and continue to develop, a strong Marketing strategy.

A fCMO is going to assist more with the high-level responsibilities, while the director will be more in the weeds of the work, helping more with other elements of marketing strategy.

Both roles are imperative to complement each other and to make sure every aspect of the marketing strategy is being met and carried through.

What Does a Fractional CMO Do?

Fractional CMO duties

A Fractional CMO, like any other CMO, is responsible for all Marketing needs in an organization. Included in the list of what the Fractional CMO does, they also manage many moving parts such as third-party contractors, stakeholders, and the marketing team in its entirety.

Other duties of a Fractional CMO include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Hiring
  2. Directing the Marketing Team
  3. Taking charge of clients and their online presence
  4. Content Marketing
  5. PR & Branding

These are all moving parts of being a Fractional CMO and one way to remain effective in this role is to delegate some of these tasks to a reliable team who you can oversee.

What Sets Dia Creative Apart from Other Fractional Marketing Services?

Fractional marketing is an effective way to reach a larger audience with a smaller budget. By fractioning your marketing efforts, you can focus your energies on a smaller group of people who are more likely to be interested in your product or service. This approach can be especially useful for small businesses or Startups who may not have the resources to reach a wider audience.

If you are looking for an outsourced sales team, you can contact us at the Sales Group. Approach your sales strategy with a more convenient and cost-effective manner. Get in touch with us at the Sales Group to learn more about what we can do for you.

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