Everything You Need To Know About Fractional Marketing
The strength of your marketing campaigns is one of the most crucial factors in making your business successful. Especially in the B2C space, the battle for consumers’ attention can get pretty intense.
It takes a lot of skills and resources to launch a marketing campaign that rises above your competitors. To name a few crucial elements in marketing, you need strategy, content, and analytics. Not to mention the leadership skills that it takes to keep your marketing team running.
I mentioned above that most B2C products need strong marketing efforts to come out on top. But for some businesses in the B2B sector, that may not be the case.
Especially in B2B SaaS, most customers already know what they are looking for. So you don’t really need to skyrocket your brand awareness like the B2C products do. After all, especially in SaaS, sales is mostly where the real selling is.
Of course, you still need to communicate that your product is the best. But you don’t have to be viral. For these types of businesses, some marketing tasks like planning and reporting might not require a full-time role.
Another thing is that small businesses and startups may not have the resources to keep a world-class marketing team. At least not full-time.
Now that’s where fractional marketing comes in.
What Is Fractional Marketing?
Fractional marketing is outsourcing a part—in other words, a fraction—of your marketing department to part-time specialists. You still maintain some full-time in-house team members while filling the gaps with part-time professionals.
Notice that I keep using words like “specialists” and “professionals”.
For example, outsourcing needs for content marketing has been a common practice for a while now.
But I’m not just talking about graphic design, or content, or SEO, or any of the usual things businesses outsource.
For example, fractional marketing can also cover the leadership roles in your marketing department. In fact, that’s the reason why fractional marketing is gaining popularity.
Fractional marketing means you can have a veteran marketing leader. without hiring them full-time. You can even have a fractional chief marketing officer (CMO) working only a few hours per week. You would have world-class marketing strategies and campaigns, but only for a fraction of the cost.
The Fractional CMO
Any team needs a leader. In marketing, CMOs and marketing directors set the direction of your campaigns and make sure that the team stays on course. CMOs are crucial in planning, coming up with strategies, and executing your marketing campaigns.
Full-time CMOs can also be quite the strain on your wallet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that they are not worth the investment. They absolutely are.
But for small businesses, startups, or companies that have limited marketing needs, having an in-house CMO can be way beyond budget.
That’s one of the problems that fractional marketing seeks to solve. You don’t have a budget for an experienced CMO? Then hire a fractional CMO. You still get the services provided by a CMO, but only when you actually need them.
Notice again that I’m using words like “veterans” and “experienced”. Fractional CMOs are NOT beginners in the field.
These are marketing professionals who have had years of experience and are currently expanding their experience rapidly.
What’s more, if someone is working as a fractional CMO, they are probably handling multiple marketing teams at the same time.
This gives them a lot of knowledge and experience in handling different strategies, working with all sorts of people, and in various industries. Even just the diversity of their regular work gives them an advantage over those who stick to only one company.
What to Look For In a Fractional CMO
We have already established that a good fractional CMO must have experience. As with any hiring process, you can only look at your candidate’s background and track record. Unless you know them personally, of course.
If you’re vetting a fractional CMO, a good place to look would be their previous and current clients. Try looking at the following qualities:
A Strategic Mind
A good marketing leader is able to see the best ways to reach a target market. They know what type of content and marketing strategy would work. And they are able to adjust their decisions based on marketing reports.
If you see diverse industries and niches in a fractional CMO’s success stories, it may indicate strategic thinking.
One important leadership skill is delegation. It’s not just the ability to give orders around. Delegation is about empowering your team members and being on top of their tasks. A good CMO makes sure that the marketing team is on the right track and on the right pace.
Another leadership skill that fractional CMOs need to have is relational skills. Like they say, “Relationship is the foundation of accomplishment.”
Fractional CMOs need to build trust with key people. That includes your team AND stakeholders.
When you introduce a new fractional CMO, you can’t expect them to immediately synergize with your in-house people. They need to have the relational skills to build trust and rapport with your team.
Ability To Deliver ROI
It goes without saying that a good fractional marketing director or CMO must have a track record of bringing ROI to their clients. After all, you’re hiring them in order to maximize your financial resources.
A Clear Process
A good marketing officer must be able to explain their process clearly. If your candidate can do that, it means they know what they are doing. The clearer the process, the more predictable the results will be.
The Cost Of Getting a Fractional CMO
Full-time CMOs get paid somewhere between $170,000 to $200,000 per year, plus any benefits, bonuses, commissions, or profit shares that they may have. Those in highly competitive industries like e-commerce and SaaS could even earn more than that.
For smaller businesses and startups, that can be way off-budget. That’s why fractional marketing is a more reasonable and sustainable option.
Debra Andrews, a fractional CMO, wrote this article about how much fractional CMOs cost. According to her, hourly rates range from $200 to $350 per hour.
That’s still a pretty high rate. After all, we’re talking about veterans and proven professionals here. But you don’t have to hire them forty hours a week. Ten to fifteen hours weekly should be enough to bring significant value to your marketing operations.
Why Fractional Marketing Is Gaining Popularity
You may have picked up along the way that fractional marketing significantly cuts costs without compromising your campaigns’ quality.
But that’s not all.
Fractional marketing opens you up to a whole bunch of benefits that impact your business and your marketing team. Here are some of them:
Fractional CMOs Are Experienced
We’ve already touched on this topic, but fractional CMOs bring years of extensive experience to the table. They have experienced many different challenges in helping a company grow and they came out on top.
If they are going to experience problems with your marketing campaigns, it won’t be new to them. They’ll know what to do.
With experience also comes sound strategies. Experienced CMOs already have foresight on how the market will behave or what can go wrong with your campaigns. That allows them to come up with the best decisions and contingencies if and when things don’t go as planned.
Team Members Can Focus
For this one, I’m not just talking about CMOs. I’m also talking about the other roles you can fill with fractional marketing.
Sometimes, there are tasks in the marketing process that are too small to create a new job for. Sometimes, businesses also don’t have the budget to fill in those gaps.
In situations like that, team members end up filling up the gaps themselves.
Copywriters become graphic designers on the side. Web designers become ad managers. You pick out an interim CMO from the team.
There’s nothing wrong with empowering your team members and expanding their skillset. Those are good things. But too much “wearing multiple hats” can spread your team too thin.
Or worse, it can burn out your team members and cause them to hate their job. You probably can guess what happens to your performance if your teammates are demoralized.
That’s the beauty of fractional marketing. You can get the services you need only at how much you need them.
You only need a few thousand words of copy per week? Then hire a part-time copywriter.
You only need one or two videos every month? Then find a project-based video editor.
Outsourcing people to fill in those gaps doesn’t just prevent burnout for your in-house team. It allows them to focus on what they do best. It lets them shine in their own arena.
What’s more, you also have the best people working on those gaps. It’s a win-win.
You Can Scale As Needed
Fractional marketing gives you the kind of flexibility that makes it easier for you to scale up or down according to your needs.
Imagine a scenario where your business grows as a result of fractional marketing. Then it’s time to expand your operations. You need more content. You’re running more marketing campaigns than before. You need more people.
Simple. Just do what you’ve been doing and fill in the new gaps.
Now imagine that you’re in an economic breakdown and your revenue takes a hit. Your forecasts say that you’ll lose a lot of money unless you downsize.
Of course, we don’t want a scenario like that. But if you’re left without a choice, fractional marketing also gives you the flexibility to scale down as needed.
When To Get a Fractional CMO
With all these facts that you’re reading about fractional marketing, do you think it’s time to shift gears?
Hold your horses for a minute and evaluate your marketing efforts. Fractional marketing may be gaining popularity, but it’s not a silver bullet to all marketing problems. It’s still possible that having an in-house marketing team is the best setup for your marketing operations.
Before you decide to switch to fractional marketing, ask yourself these questions:
Do my marketing needs require a full-time role?
We’ve already discussed a bit about this topic, but it’s a good question to ask yourself.
If you have a small business or a startup, your answer is probably no. Especially for smaller marketing operations, the different tasks might only require a few hours per week. Some jobs might even need to be on a per-project basis.
Remember that fractional marketing fills the gaps that are not big enough for a full-time workload.
Am I making data-driven decisions?
Data and insights into your target market are the keys to making the right marketing strategy. They tell you what marketing channels would best reach them, what type of content would appeal to them, and a whole lot more.
Making data-driven decisions takes a lot of research and expertise in market data.
Without it, you’re left wondering why your marketing performance is the way it is.
If you are indeed left wondering, fractional CMOs can help you with that. They know how to gain reports and consequently optimize your marketing campaigns.
How effective is the leadership right now?
If your marketing team members don’t know what to do or are struggling to meet deadlines, it may be a leadership issue. A fractional CMO or marketing director can set the direction and stay on top of each team member’s tasks.
Is our branding consistent in every department?
You need your branding to be consistent all throughout your marketing, sales, and customer support departments. Otherwise, it can confuse your customers and cause churn.
If you’re sending different messages for each department, you may need someone to make them more cohesive. Part of a fractional CMO’s responsibility is to own brand-building all throughout the customer journey.
Am I satisfied with my ROI?
It’s important to assess your ROI for each cost or investment you put into your business. It’s also crucial to note that marketing is one of the key factors to your customer acquisition cost.
Fractional marketing services bring more expertise into your marketing efforts for lower costs. It can be a good way to significantly improve your ROI.
Potential Drawbacks of Fractional Marketing
Fractional marketing is still a new trend and has its limitations. As you consider or even prepare to dive into it, consider how to mitigate these risks.
This is a pro and a con in itself. The flexibility in commitment benefits you financially. But it would mean that you don’t always have access to your CMO.
Moreover, if you are hiring a fractional CMO per project, your relationship with them might end along with the project.
Onboarding the next one would take time and resources.
Lack of Team Cohesion
Like I said earlier, you can’t expect a new fractional CMO to get along with your in-house team right away. It will take some time to build trust and relationships with your team.
That’s why you need a fractional CMO who is good at building trust and rapport.
Final Thoughts About Fractional Marketing
With its access to marketing experts and potential to cut costs, fractional marketing is a rising trend in many companies today. Startups and small businesses can leverage this practice in order to grow rapidly and become competitive players in their industry.
For more SaaS tips to help you grow your business, click here.