What do you picture when you close your eyes and say, “marketing function?” If you’re like most, you picture people – whole human beings – working either alone or in a pod, likely in front of computers. This is why the concept of Fractional Marketing can be a bit challenging. How do companies obtain a piece of a marketer, and why would they want to?
First things first. Body parts remain fully intact.
Fractional Marketing is an approach to building a marketing team by tapping the minds and skillsets of subject matter experts on a part-time, as-needed basis. While this may seem unconventional, it’s actually more common than you think. Though Fractional CMOs were relatively unheard of five years ago, this concept now registers hundreds of keyword searches per month on Google.
Fractional Marketing will be mainstream in a few years because marketing is changing at the pace of technology. In fact, marketing is utilizing a lot of that technology! With so many powerful tools available and so many avenues for digital marketing, no one marketer can be expected to know it all. These days, it takes a village to power up marketing and turn it into a reliable company profit center.
A Discipline of Specialties
Since Y2K, marketing has become a discipline of specialties. Most companies will need / want the following skillsets in their marketing function:
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing planning
- Content marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Marketing technology
- Marketing analytics
- Public relations
- Creative design
- Website development
- Social media marketing
Middle market companies typically run their marketing departments lean by hiring a Marketing Manager or Marketing Director who has some of the skillsets above while dabbling in others. As these companies face larger competitors with big marketing departments and budgets, they’ll operate at a significant disadvantage. Fractional Marketing could be their solution to this dilemma.
Three Fractional Marketing Options
1. Freelance Network
The gig economy and websites like Upwork and MarketingHire provide easy access to Fractional Marketing talent. Here at Marketri, we’ve tapped Upwork to find subject matter experts from time to time with successful results. However, the associated fees can be high if working with multiple specialists on a longer-term basis. It can also be unwieldy to coordinate and manage those specialists.
2. Outsourced Marketing Departments
Then there are firms, like Marketri, that offer Outsourced Marketing Department services with a single point of contact for Fractional Marketing professionals operating under one umbrella. We’re of course big fans of this model and find it’s a great fit for many of our clients.
3. Part-Time Employees
Finally, companies can hire part-time employees. This can be a viable option, too, but finding top-performing part-time team members may present a challenge and odds are that not all specialties will be covered.
Pros and Cons of Fractional Marketing
No solution is perfect, and that includes Fractional Marketing. It can be tough to find and vet talented fractional marketers and effectively integrate their efforts. And, once secured, they might not be available exactly when you need them. Putting service-level agreements in place with contractors and working from a proactive strategic marketing plan will help to ensure alignment around priorities, on schedule turn-around time and steady progress that meets key deadlines.
The benefits of Fractional Marketing are many, even with the above limitations. Middle market companies are able to tap subject matter specialists while keeping their overall labor costs in check. This, in turn, leaves more money for technology and outreach.
Fractional Marketing also affords tremendous flexibility. As a company’s marketing needs change, new experts can easily be brought into the mix and others can be scaled back. This model works much like Just-in-Time manufacturing where inputs / supplies are purchased to arrive exactly when needed in the process. There’s no excess inventory or waste.
If you’re thinking of scaling up marketing and want to transform the function into a reliable profit center, you may want to consider Fractional Marketing. A fraction of some highly skilled subject matter experts could be just the right amount of knowledge and execution for your marketing program to take flight and compete with the heavy hitters.