Finding the right marketing hire for your business can take time, especially when you’re an early stage startup struggling to decide what and where to focus your marketing efforts. While you may have had some early success with your marketing efforts we’re sorry to break it to you, but without an expert at the helm it’s unlikely you’ll maintain this same level of success long-term. Don’t worry though, in this article we’ll share everything you need to know about fractional marketing to help you grow your business from strength to strength.
What is Fractional Marketing?
Fractional Marketing involves outsourcing marketing roles and responsibilities to specialist marketers on a part-time basis. The idea being that you fill any knowledge gaps within your existing marketing team with an external specialists.
How popular is the trend?
Fractional Marketing has become more commonplace in recent years, as more and more startups tap up highly experienced marketing professionals to get a slice of their time and knowledge. This is especially true for mid-sized companies that need the strategic presence and mindset of a marketing leader but only on a part-time or interim basis. In fact, fractional marketing has gained traction in other fields for a number of years already; think of the rise in demand for fractional CFOs and COOs.
“The fractional CMO market shows no sign of slowing, and demand will almost certainly increase in case of a recession. It’s much easier to hire a fractional marketing expert on a part-time basis given the current cost-of-living crisis.” - Issah Abdul-Moomin, Co-Founder of Passionfruit
Why is Fractional Marketing becoming so popular?
World Class Talent
While it has become common practice to hire freelance marketers to support specific marketing functions from SEO to content marketing and product management, fractional hiring tends to focus on marketing leadership roles. In fact, that is one of the reasons it has become so popular. Fractional marketing means you can have a veteran marketing leader without hiring a full-time CMO. That means support from an experienced marketer who knows how to tackle the challenges you’re facing and drive the growth you crave. Think about it, with experience comes wisdom - experienced CMOs understand your target market allowing them to come up with the right marketing strategies for your business. So, if you want world-class marketing strategies and campaigns for a fraction of the cost, fractional marketing could be for you.
Adopting a fractional approach to your marketing team means letting your internal team focus on the task at hand. All too often marketers at early stage startups find themselves juggling multiple roles because the companies they work for don’t have the budget to fill the gaps or the work doesn't require the support of a full-time member of staff. In situations like this it’s not uncommon for copywriters to become part-time ad managers, for UX researchers to become social media managers and so on. If this sounds like your business, a fractional marketing team might be the right solution for you.
Fractional marketing teams allow you to get the services you require as and when you need them. Just need four blog posts a week? Hire a copywriter for four days a month. Outsourcing marketing tasks like this makes sense financially and allows your wider team to give their day-to-day their full attention, allowing them to do what they do best (and to the best of their ability). What’s more you’ll have the best people working filling the knowledge gaps ensuring top-quality work. In short, fractional marketing teams allow companies to put the right person on the job and constantly flex resources to fit the needs (and budget) of their marketing strategy.
A Discipline of Specialties
Through a fractional marketing model, brands can harness the expertise of specialist marketers meaning they have the support they need to execute specific marketing initiatives to a high standard. As fractional marketing specialists practice their chosen craft day in and day out, they bring exceptional levels of skill and expertise to the brands they serve. The flexibility and scale delivered through a fractional marketing framework benefit brands on many levels.
From the chief marketing officer role to creative directors, data analytics experts, P.Rs, product managers, copywriters, and graphic design experts, a fractional marketing model outsources these roles, allowing firms to quickly pull the right campaign team together for the task at hand. As fractional marketer serves multiple clients from similar industries and geographies, they bring a broad awareness of marketplace trends, opportunities and a level of objectivity that can be difficult to cultivate with in-house teams who tend to focus more on internal influences.
Not only does fractional marketing provide you with the insights and reporting you need, it allows you to focus your budget on particular aspects of the marketing-mix. If your budget only stretches so far, hiring a fractional marketer allows you to supercharge the most valuable marketing channels at any one time. The result? You’re not breaking the bank hiring a full-time CMO or supporting an entire marketing department.
Fractional CMO vs Fractional Marketing Director
A fractional CMO is the de facto head of a marketing department, while a fractional marketing director leads a particular part of the marketing team. Generally speaking, marketing directors tend to specialise in a specific area of marketing, like PPC, SEO, or even social media. This means that while fractional marketing directors are responsible for executing processes to achieve specific goals, factional CMOs focus on building out strategies and for the most part are typically not execution-oriented.
Given this difference you may find yourself drawn to hiring a fractional marketing director especially if you’re an early stage startup without a marketing department. For example, hiring a fractional CMO can help offer up strategies, leadership skills and processes for you to implement and achieve your goals while a fractional marketing director will get the plates spinning for you - implementing (not just hypothesising) the strategies you need to achieve the success you crave. The biggest benefit? Working with a fractional marketer is part-time, meaning their efforts provide you with enough time to decide what is and isn’t working, leaving you free to decide what you should be focusing on and maybe even hiring a permanent member of staff to support the specific workstream.
“Fractional roles differ from full-time hires as they tend to focus on performance-based marketing to drive growth. Fractional CMOs are differ to generalist consultants as they are expected to develop strategic marketing plans while working to earn the trust of permanent employees who may be threatened by them.” - Raffi Salama, Co-Founder of Passionfruit
Should you hire a Fractional CMO?
Deciding whether you should hire a fractional CMO depends on a number of different factors from budgets to specific business goals and the capabilities of your existing marketing team. We’ve broken down the most common reasons startups (like yours) choose to hire a fractional CMO.
- Leadership Skills: You have the right growth mindset and aggressive goals but require the support of a professional to achieve them. Why? Because your team don’t have the time or skill set to deliver marketing campaigns that will move the needle on revenue growth
- Strategy: You need to analyse your business’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to develop a strategic marketing plan that drives conversion but no one in your existing team has the experience to develop and lead its execution
- Experience: You require support of a marketer to execute marketing campaigns, predicting any obvious challenges and obstacles - generating a stream of leads that represent your ideal buyer
- Reporting & KPIs: You need to monitor the progress of new and existing campaigns. Namely, so your team is more accountable and results-focused
- Marketing Needs Are Not Full-Time: You lack the amount of work or the budget to support a permanent role. Maybe you just need some support for a few hours a week to support existing marketing efforts. For example, you’re getting fantastic results from your PPC advertising and require some help to manage your ad spend or dissect your analytical tools
If you found yourself thinking ‘that sounds like my company’ chances are it’s time for you to employ a fractional CMO - not an entire marketing department. You’re probably now wondering ‘how do I hire a fractional CMO’? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered - just keep reading.
“If you hire a fractional CMO and set them the task of running your CRM or social media you’re doing your company a disservice. Why? The expert you’ve hired won’t have the chance to demonstrate their expertise. Plus you mighty signal to your team that you don’t know what you want from your marketing team. And, you may even end up overpaying for deliverables because you’ve hired an overly experienced marketer.” - Hannah Jackson, Communications Specialist
How to Hire a Fractional CMO
Told you so! When it comes to hiring a fractional CMO there are a few things to look for starting with a strong strategic mindset. A top-notch fractional marketer will be able to identify the best ways to reach your target market. How? They know exactly what marketing strategy will drive sustainable growth. To make sure you hire fractional marketers that meet this criteria, make sure you ask them for examples of their work as part of the interview process. Remember strong ROI is a key indicator of their success to date.
As well as being a strategic thinker it’s important any fractional marketing hire is a strong business leader. That means they must have the ability to delegate work efficiently, empower your team to complete their day-to-day to the best of their ability and gain the trust of key stakeholders. A good marketing officer will also be able to explain the processes they wish to implement clearly and succinctly. Afterall, anyone looking to introduce a tried and tested process should be able to do that. Why? They know what they’re doing - the clearer the process, the more predictable the results.
When it comes to the hiring process, we’ve summarised it in seven clear steps to help you get started.
- Identify where the gaps are in your marketing team
- Decide whether a permanent hire or fractional hire is right for your business. Making this decision might require input from key stakeholders (not just the immediate leadership team)
- Start searching for the right candidate. Passionfruit makes it easier than ever to find the right marketing talent to support your business achieve its aggressive growth goals
- It’s time to get an interview. Remember to think carefully about the questions you want to ask - asking the right questions is the key to determining whether the qualified candidate is the right person for the job.
- Offer the best candidate the role. Just make sure to cover off all the necessary admin and legal requirements
- Take time to onboard your new team member. It’s important to ensure they understand everything expected of them
- Make sure to check in regularly with your new employee. This will not help to make you feel comfortable with your hiring choice but prove to the wider team that your growth goals are being met
And, if you want some more tips on hiring marketers as a start-up give this article on How to Hire a Freelancer a read.
Whatever the right structure for your business’s marketing team, implementing a fractional model could help to drastically drive growth. Whether you choose to hire a fractional CMO or fractional marketing director, we’re confident your business will benefit from their strategic thinking. Just make sure to take the time to work out where you should be focusing your marketing efforts. You don’t want to waste time trying to drive conversion via the wrong marketing channel. Good luck!