In-House vs. Fractional Marketing Directors
The working landscape has changed. A worldwide pandemic brought lockdowns, travel restrictions, and the rapid uptake of remote working. As a consequence, many people have had the realization that they can have more freedom in their lives, choose their destiny, work for themselves, and pursue their dreams. The number of consultants and freelancers is on the rise, and the debate of in-house vs. outsource marketing rages on.
A position that also continues to attract a lot of debate is that of the fractional marketing director. Although not triggered by the pandemic, the events of the last two years are making more businesses open to the possibility of appointing a fractional CMO.
What is a fractional marketing director? We hear you ask. A fractional marketing director does the job of an in-house CMO without being directly employed by the company. This brings a great number of benefits and some challenges, which we will discuss below. Essentially, it’s outsourcing a senior position within your business.
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Situations Where a Business May Need a Fractional CMO
A common misconception is that only struggling businesses need to consider a fractional marketing director. While that would be one of the situations, it’s not the only one. Other scenarios include:
- A business has lost its in-house CMO and needs an interim CMO to fill the void until a permanent appointment is made
- A small to medium-sized business has seen great success and is growing beyond its control
- A marketing department is functioning, but not to its optimum level. Perhaps, they need a sense of direction and new ideas
Motivation, Knowledge, & Experience
A fractional marketing director is someone who’s seen success in their career. They have a proven track record of improving marketing performance, conversions, and revenue. Over the years, they’ve developed a vast skill set, impeccable knowledge, and have experience handling an array of situations.
Pair their knowledge and experience with their additional motivation, and you’ve got a recipe for success. The key reason they’re likely to be more motivated than an in-house employee is their desire to make their own business succeed. Their reputation relies on improving your business's marketing efforts – if they don’t, they’ll lose potential future clients.
The knowledge and experience that come with an in-house CMO will vary greatly, depending on the requirements you stipulate. You may be considering promoting a Marketing Director, appointing someone currently out of work, or headhunting your preferred candidate. However, these all raise questions. Why is this person out of work? Can they handle being promoted to a senior position? Can I trust a headhunter to find the best candidates?
While your appointment may end up being fruitful in the short run, it’s likely the motivation, commitment, and dedication of your new in-house CMO will dwindle. Employees get comfortable – rather than going the extra mile, they begin to do just enough for the quality of work to remain acceptable. Unless you believe yourself to be a master of motivation, you’ll likely experience this drop-off.
As you’d expect for any senior position, an in-house CMO would demand a high salary and handsome benefits such as a company car, cell phone, a healthy paid leave entitlement, health care, dental care, and much more. For any business, this is a heavy cost to commit to.
In addition to these costs, many will demand annual salary reviews and increasing paid leave entitlement, meaning they will cost you more as time goes on. However, they could repay these costs and more with the work they do, making it a balance of risk to reward.
The beauty of using an outsourced Marketing Director is the fact that they are flexible and work with your schedule. Whether you need someone on a short-term contract, permanently, part-time, or full-time – you can calculate their cost and hire them for the hours that suit your budget.
While their hourly pay will be more than that of an in-house CMO, you’ve got the additional cost savings of not having to fund employee benefits. No company car, no paid leave, and no health care. Overall, you are almost guaranteed to spend less money on a fractional CMO while getting a similar, if not better output of work.
Sourcing the right in-house CMO will mean you need to find someone who shares the same values as you and your business. Mismatching values at the top level of a company can cause great friction. On the other hand, they will be amongst the day-to-day operations of the business. They will be able to forge relationships, and if they’re a good leader, get everyone pulling in the same direction. The daily physical presence in the company could motivate other employees and keep them on their toes.
Absolved from office politics and detached from the day-to-day functioning of the business, a fractional CMO can operate with clarity and without bias. This puts them in the unique position to not be afraid to step on toes and create massive change for the benefit of the business. However, it can be challenging to get buy-in from other team members, but once the fractional CMO has proven its worth, there should be a solid and functional working relationship.
Overall, any business would benefit from implementing a hierarchy based around a fractional CMO. If you’re looking to improve the performance of your marketing department, reduce marketing spend, or need guidance through your next stage of growth, you should be considering a fractional Marketing Director. That’s not to say the position of an in-house CMO is no longer needed, but more businesses will turn to outsourcing – it’s inevitable.
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