Over the years, marketing has increasingly become a discipline of specialties, as much a science as it is an art. It used to be that one person could do a little writing and graphic design, and then switch hats to plan events. That paradigm was often executed in a fragmented manner, without consideration for the long-term branding implications of individual advertisements and campaigns.
That approach worked well for companies in the days before the internet connected our economy and the digital transformation movement redefined how business is done. But today’s marketing landscape requires a far more strategic approach. So how can you avoid fragmented marketing—and can one marketing generalist really do it all?
The Shift to Digital Marketing Brings Increased Strategic Needs
As marketing has become more digitized, it has also become more complex and measurable. Management began asking questions like “Is our website under- or over-performing?” The same goes for email campaigns, social assets, and marketing content. Optimization of marketing programs has become as – or more – important than doing more stuff.
With this shift in methodology, firms began to hire more specialists to deliver the talent and experience needed to help them navigate a decidedly more crowded, competitive, digitally transformed marketplace. It makes sense. To frame the paradigm in medical terms, consider a professional athlete with a knee injury. If you were that individual, would you tap a generalist for your knee surgery or an orthopedic surgeon?
And if you are a CEO of a private-equity-backed company with five years to prove your business model and grow it to scale, would you choose an in-house generalist to run your marketing initiatives – or work to secure a little time from marketing professionals who specialize in content, SEO, website design, strategy, and other disciplines?
You’d be smart to choose the latter. The problem for most firms is finding the best specialists to construct and deliver cohesive, effective marketing programs at scale that move the business and brand forward.
Winning the Race to Mind Share
If you are running a company in a competitive industry like SaaS, for example, the bar is set high for your marketing initiatives. You have to cut through the noise to reach your target customers and consistently communicate at a pace and in a manner that keeps them engaged with your brand. You need to make the buying process as easy as possible, as if you are reading their minds and supplying exactly what they need at the moment they need it.
If you have a marketing generalist who can’t create a buyer’s journey map, make the website favorable to search engine algorithms, develop a full-funnel content marketing strategy, and write content that grabs attention and builds credibility – all over a long buying cycle – your firm will lose mind share and market share to others who excel at all of the above.
Trying to bring all the talent you need in-house to engage today’s digital-first consumers and B2B buyers – and maintain the agility you need to stay one step ahead of your competition – often takes greater financial and operational resources than companies can support. This is why fractional marketing is gaining so much traction as a best practice today.
What Is Fractional Marketing?
Fractional marketing in its simplest form is an outsourcing model, which just means that a company is employing outside contractors for assistance with some facet of their marketing programs.
As with any strategic initiative your company undertakes, deploying a fractional marketing model requires the right leadership at the helm. Accordingly, it is important to engage a fractional chief marketing officer (CMO) to set your strategy and put together your go-to-market team with the exact resources you need to execute, analyze, and optimize the plan.
Ideally, your fractional marketing team includes these and other professionals:
- Fractional CMO
- Fractional Director of Marketing
- Fractional Digital Marketing Manager
- Fractional Content Marketer
- Fractional Developer and SEO Specialist
- Fractional Designer
- Fractional Marketing Analyst
The fractional CMO you select should have decades of experience in building and positioning brands, and creating actionable go-to-market plans, preferably in industries that are similar to yours. The firm should have the breadth of capabilities to make the partnership seamless and effective as well. For example, there needs to be a cultural fit as the fractional marketing team will function like an in-house marketing department, and the partnership will ideally extend over time. If a company also prefers to have an in-house marketer, typically a marketing coordinator is the best fit for this model as that employee can serve on the marketing team as the eyes and ears inside the firm.
Finally, your fractional marketing team should be focused on delivering results – as opposed to checking off a list of tasks and deliverables to be created.
Selecting a Partner
As a best practice, it is important to do your due diligence when hiring a fractional marketing firm. Be sure to check references and Clutch.co for reviews. Ask for samples of previous work the team has completed. Many firms will not share their samples on their website due to confidentiality restrictions but can on a Zoom call, for example.
Once you select a firm that can service your company well, it is equally important to trust your partner. This partnership won’t work if you find yourself second guessing the decisions of the team you hired or the plan they are executing. Remember that you selected this model to invest in their expertise.
As you begin to execute on your plan, it is important to evaluate your team’s progress by a number of measures:
- Is your firm ranking on Google?
- Is your website clear and compelling?
- Is your content well written, original, and memorable?
- Is your brand memorable?
- Is your value proposition clearly stated and compelling in the marketplace?
- How effective is your go-to-market plan?
- Does the firm have you showcasing your points of differentiation?
- Are you embracing target marketing to build deep penetration?
A Journey, not a Sprint
Remember that realizing the benefits of this partnership can take time. Marketing is a journey and not a sprint, so we recommend giving your fractional marketing team a runway of at least a year to see the measurable, marked results your industry-leading brand and products deserve.
Ultimately, the benefits of fractional marketing are significant, as long as you have an A+ team of specialists working on your behalf to drive growth. While your fractional marketing team operates much like an in-house department, the reality is that you are leveraging an outsourced entity which enables you to scale your initiatives up or down based upon your business goals, marketing requirements, and resources.
For small businesses and middle-market companies looking to compete and grow along with other companies in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, fractional marketing offers the strongest value proposition. Reach out to Marketri to get started with a fractional team model that gets results.