How Does Fractional Marketing Work?

    For Start-Ups, Small Businesses, and Any Company with a Straightforward Growth Funnel, Fractional Marketing Services Can Provide a Great Balance Between Cost, Risk, and Results


    Figuring Out How Fractional Marketing May Work for You

    Fractional marketing strategies are limitless, and different providers come at it from all directions.  But in its simplest form, fractional marketing is essentially outsourcing all or part of your marketing function — including the Chief Marketing Officer (or CMO).

    Here are 3 common scenarios.  Maybe one of these is close to your situation?

    “marketing overhead costs can be reduced by half or more, so that more of your overall marketing spend goes toward creating actionable leads and growing revenue”

    Start-Up Businesses Who Need High Growth Rates on a Budget

    Start-ups almost always need to put the vast majority of their limited budgets into actual media that will drive actionable leads and revenue growth.  Often, they’re in a race to profitability.

    With the average salary for a CMO pacing in the range of $175,000+, that’s often more than most start-ups want to commit to managing the marketing function.  For far less, you can outsource your marketing function and get access to an entire team:

    • Marketing Manager (CMO)
    • Web Development
    • Graphic Design
    • Content Creation
    • Social Media
    • Media Planning & Execution
    • Metrics Tracking
    • Data Analysis

    And since the fractional CMO functions as a full member of your senior management team, the trade-off is a little less access in exchange for a lot more expertise.  The right fractional marketing partner will be just as accountable as in in-house employee, but more effective and efficient when you consider “bang for the marketing buck.”

    By comparison, overhead costs can be reduced by half or more from an in-house CMO so that more of your overall marketing spend goes toward executing media plans that drive actionable leads and grow revenue.

    And if it’s not working with your fractional marketing manager, it’s much easier to change course than if you’ve made a huge commitment to a dedicated employee.

    Small Businesses Too Big for DIY Marketing, But Too Small for a Whole Marketing Department

    Another common situation where fractional marketing can really take a business to the next level is when you’re in the “marketing no-man’s land” — too big for DIY marketing, but too small for the risk and commitment of a dedicated team.

    Some businesses try to hire an advertising agency in this situation.  And, honestly, that’s the core of what our business is — we’re a modern-day advertising agency.  But traditional agencies are increasingly ineffective unless they’ve made the commitment to evolve into digital expertise.

    We got into fractional marketing services because it’s a different way of looking at the traditional agency relationship.  It’s a higher level of commitment; we join your team and participate as one of your senior managers.  That’s far beyond the traditional agency relationship.

    And since, in our case, we have an in-house team of experts — instead of hiring a general contractor who brings all the pieces together, we are a one-stop shop.  Our fractional CMO is a member of your senior management team, but also works day to day with our in-house team of experts.  That makes for better communication than a typical agency-client relationship.

    Not every fractional marketing services provider works this way.  And that’s the beauty of fractional services, there’s something for everyone.

    Mature Businesses Moving into New Markets

    The disruption of the pandemic moved a lot of mature businesses into new markets they never planned to enter (voluntarily).  But opportunities presented themselves, and entrepreneurs often can’t resist!

    Mature businesses often have a “marketing light” kind of situation.  Maybe there is a Marketing Director, maybe not.  Often the marketing function is handled by someone who kind of inherited it over time.  And it’s not really “marketing;” it’s just some version of marketing that worked itself out over time.

    “Hey, we’ve got a trade show, can you handle the booth?”

    “Hey, we need business cards, can you get those printed?”

    Now your business has entered a new market, and you’re realizing your needs go far beyond that.  Now what?

    Fractional marketing services can be a great solution.  First of all, you get an outside-looking-in perspective that can be extremely valuable.  Consider that you’re moved an organization that was pretty set in its ways into new territory.  That needs new perspective.

    When you move into a new business category, you often need to overall and adapt your brand and your tactics to fit that opportunity.  And it represents a great time to update EVERYTHING.

    Fractional marketing services allow you to gain access to perspective, strategy-building, and an entire team that can execute quickly and efficiently to jump-start the big move you’ve made.  And since new ventures are inherently more risky, don’t make it even worse by adding massive marketing infrastructure costs to your overhead, too.

    We Can Help

    Whatever crossroads brought you here today, it’s the kind of thing we get excited about.  We love talking to businesses who are at decision points.  One of the underlying tenets of our business is to lead with education and share our experience.

    Schedule time with our experts at no cost and obligation to you.  We use that time to understand your business goals, what’s working, and what’s not.  We get at the challenge you’re facing and invest time in you before you ever invest in us.

    If you’re still kicking tires and that seems like too big of a step, just sign up for our free e-mail newsletter and keep reading more local marketing articles like this one until you’re ready.  Thanks for visiting today!

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    After 3 decades as a professional marketer, serial entrepreneur and business consultant Steven Ludwig shares his best practices for small business marketing for owners, managers, and marketers with limited time, money, and expertise. Steven started his professional marketing career in broadcasting in the early ‘90s in Chicago after attending Valparaiso University. After a brief stint at an advertising agency specializing in entertainment and sports marketing where he worked with radio and television stations, movie theatre companies, record labels, musicians, and professional sports teams, he moved to Nashville to form The Marketing Group with his long-time business partner, Jim Wood. Having worked with some of the largest brands in the world, in 2010 he returned to local marketing primarily out of an interest and excitement for working with small business owners to build stronger companies. That desire comes out of early days in radio, where he worked closely with everything from car dealerships to restaurants, insurance and real estate agents, banks, home services companies, and specialty retailers of all kinds. Over the past decade, he has been on the bleeding edge of digital marketing technology, constantly seeking to understand complex strategies employed by giant corporations and then translate those capabilities into tactics small businesses can execute at a local level. Today, in addition to other business ventures with his wife and other long-time business partners, he still lives outside Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee and currently serves as Executive Chairman of EmpowerLocal, a digital marketing company building a nationwide network of digital, hyperlocal news and lifestyle publishers to provide efficient advertising opportunities for local, regional, and national brands.


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