Why a Fractional Marketing Director Might Be the Best Option
Certain scenarios need the brilliance of a fractional marketing director. These include the following:
- Scaling startups, especially during their high-growth phases
- Filling in executive gaps
- Scaling the business operations at the right time
- Broadening the company’s niches and markets
- Revamping or overhauling stale, inefficient, and outdated marketing tactics
Whether you are a high-growth startup, an established enterprise, or something in between, understanding when a fractional marketing director can supplement your team’s skills and bandwidth takes your marketing capabilities to the next level.
Read below to learn more about their skills and expertise. Let’s go!
At Digital Authority Partners, our fractional marketing directors have helped hundreds of companies improve their marketing return on investment. Watch this video to see what we can do for you!
1. Fractional Marketing Directors Provide Strategy During High-Growth Phases
For startups that have secured initial funding and are experiencing rapid growth, hiring a full-time marketing director or chief marketing officer (CMO) feels premature and too costly.
- A full-time chief marketing officer’s salary, benefits, and equity can be $250k+ annually. It is a major fixed expense for an early-stage startup still finding product-market fit.
- Startup growth and marketing needs can change rapidly.
- An additional C-suite leader may not deliver sufficient value to justify the high salary this early in the startup’s founding.
However, many founders experience a high burn rate and fail because they do not know their market or users’ needs. A fractional marketing director offers strategic marketing guidance without the excessive costs of a full-time CMO.
Suppose an ecommerce startup secures a $2 million Series A funding round after achieving solid early traction. Its customer base is growing by 15% month over month. Although the founding team has sales and technology expertise, they lack experience in scaling a marketing function.
They bring in a fractional marketing director, Michael, three days per week to guide their marketing. He:
- Helps the startup evolve its positioning and messaging as it targets larger enterprise customers
- Develops pricing tiers for different customer segments
- Creates a marketing operations blueprint and budget to cost-effectively scale the company’s digital marketing and social media footprint
Within a year, the startup’s marketing infrastructure drives and supports 10x growth. Michael’s strategic expertise is instrumental in setting up the startup for scalable success during a critical, high-growth period. The three-day-per-week salary is minimal compared to the value gained.
2. They Fill Empty CMO Seats
When a chief marketing officer unexpectedly resigns, it often leaves a major void in strategic leadership. Conducting a full executive search to fill the role can take months. Bringing in a fractional marketing director as an interim solution helps to fill the gap.
For example, a SaaS company’s CMO resigns unexpectedly to join a competitor. Worse, HR learns that finding a replacement can take up to six months. It does not paint a great picture for all stakeholders, especially investors and consumers.
They hire a fractional marketing director who has worked at similar software companies to fill the immediate gap and avert a PR crisis.
The expert, Jane, steps in three to four days per week to keep the marketing momentum going. She reviews the marketing budget and strategy. She also optimizes the automation systems and oversees a product launch that has been in progress since the CMO’s departure.
Hiring this interim marketing director results in many intangible benefits. It:
- Gives the company CMO-level marketing strategy and leadership
- Lets them buy time to thoughtfully fill the role long-term
- Prevents marketing stagnation during this transition
- Assures stakeholders of stability, buoying the company’s morale and support
- Avoids placing an inexperienced, mismatched employee to oversee marketing
An experienced interim marketing director stabilizes marketing operations until the company hires the right full-time CMO.
3. Seasoned Fractional Marketing Directors Scale the Business at the Right Time
Marketing needs to rapidly scale up and down for companies with major seasonal peaks. Hiring a full-time headcount for short seasonal spikes is often impractical.
Besides the unjustifiable costs,
- The role’s short window and temporary nature make it hard to recruit qualified candidates
- By the time the business has trained the new hire, the critical need is over
- Morale might suffer if the newly hired person has little to do for the rest of the year
A fractional marketing director provides the flexibility to increase marketing bandwidth when needed. Consider a large retailer, The Game Box. This business sells toys, so their sales volume usually jumps over 30% during the holidays.
Their core marketing team has always struggled to keep up with annual holiday campaigns and promotional needs. To solve this, the business brings in a fractional marketing director, Mark, every holiday season, from October through December.
Mark ramps up high-impact seasonal campaigns. He oversees holiday promotions, social media advertising, email campaigns, and national TV commercial spots. This allows the in-house team to focus on foundational marketing operations. These include website revamping, branding, and market research.
When the holiday sales period ends, Mark’s role concludes. Game Box pays him only for the three months he is onboard instead of a year-round salary. The fractional CMO improves the bottom line by optimizing marketing returns and continuity during peak season.
4. Their Expertise Helps Businesses Expand Into New Markets
Every product launch and new-niche capture is both exhilarating and frightening. It always comes with a lot of uncertainties, including the possibility of failure. This is especially true when expanding into new international markets.
Companies must understand cultural nuances and localize campaigns. A fractional marketing director with global experience can make expansion smoother.
For example, a US-based B2B company wants to expand its European market by opening a London office. The US marketing team has strong domestic experience. However, they lack expertise in adapting campaigns for European audiences.
They decide to hire George, a fractional marketing director. He has facilitated European market entry for technology companies over the past decade. His plan includes the following:
- Conducting market research to shape messaging that resonates with European customers
- Determining the best media channels
- Working with the legal team to build strategies that abide by GDPR and other regulations
- Managing the retention of European PR and social media firms to build local brand awareness
Within the first year, the company sees a 15% increase in European customers through the fractional chief marketing officer’s (FCMO’s) strategic leadership.
Bringing in a fractional CMO flexibly bridges knowledge gaps for new market entry and then builds processes for ongoing localization.
5. They Tackle Time-Bound Redesigns and Refreshes
Major marketing projects such as website redesigns, brand refreshes, and campaign overhauls require strategy and hands-on execution. Rather than exhausting internal teams, fractional CMOs can own these time-bound initiatives.
For example, a national restaurant chain realizes its brand and website feel dated compared to its newer competitors. They want to overhaul the website's design, user experience, photography, and SEO strategy within 90 days.
Usually, they assign projects to the marketing team. However, their calendars and to-do lists are already full. Adding a huge, time-sensitive undertaking will likely result in burnout and poor outcomes.
The restaurant hires a fractional marketing director, Diana, instead. For the business, she does the following:
- Conducts user research to inform the website redesign
- Manages the web development agency to execute the new site on a budget in 90 days
- Oversees a photo shoot and refreshed logo designs
The result is a totally refreshed web presence and brand aesthetic completed within the allotted timeline and budget. Meanwhile, the internal marketing department focuses on day-to-day operations without major distractions.
Short-term marketing projects requiring high-level oversight and hands-on work are well-suited for fractional CMOs. Their fixed duration and focused scope align well with revamps, redesigns, relaunches, or other time-bound initiatives.
Fractional marketing leadership provides immense strategic value in many critical scenarios. This is because the model offers enormous flexibility. You can scale marketing horsepower and expertise as your business needs change. You can pay only for their time and expertise.
At Digital Authority Partners (DAP), we provide seasoned fractional marketing directors when you need them the most. A Fortune 1,000 company increased its sales by 140% in only one year with our support.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you succeed.
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