5 Signs Your Company Needs a Fractional CMO in 2021
What are your marketing goals for 2021? Chances are they include at least one (if not several) of the following: make better marketing plans, execute plans more efficiently, track and analyze marketing budgets and results better, and get more ROI from your marketing dollars.
These are all important marketing goals that will surely benefit almost any organization. However, all the marketing goals in the world are only as good as the direction and leadership of the marketing efforts coming from the top.
Who is leading your company’s marketing efforts in 2021? Is it the owner/CEO? Is it the head of the sales department? Is it a lower-level marketing person? Do you have a full-time CMO? If you are like most small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the person leading your marketing efforts is most likely one of the first few positions mentioned and not a full-time CMO.
Adding a dedicated Chief Marketing Officer to your company isn’t feasible for many companies for many reasons. That doesn’t make the position any less important, though. That is why more and more companies are opting for a fractional CMO to help them achieve their marketing goals.
A fractional CMO is a marketing executive who divides time between multiple clients, working with each a “fraction” of the time. They also cost a fraction of what a full-time CMO does, making them a perfect solution to many SMBs marketing conundrums.
Would a fractional CMO make sense for your business in 2021? There are many factors to consider but some universal signs can point you in the direction of deciding that a fractional CMO could make a lot of sense. Here are five signs your company needs a fractional CMO in 2021.
What is a Fractional CMO? What do they do?
In theory, having a full-time CMO makes sense for almost every company in almost every industry. A CMO brings experience, expertise, and accountability to a company’s marketing program. The position also brings a pretty hefty price tag.
According to Glassdoor, CMOs in the U.S. make between $73,000 and $306,000 per year, with the average CMO making $174, 371. This is a fairly wide range and much depends on location, industry, experience, and other factors, but no matter where your company falls on the spectrum, a CMO is a big investment. Especially when you add in other expenses that accompany full-time employees such as benefits, perks, bonuses, 401ks, payroll taxes, and other costs.
A fractional CMO, who is not a full-time employee and can be hired as necessary for as many (or as few) hours as your company needs, generally costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $200-$250 an hour. This can represent huge savings which can be critical for SMBs.
The duties of a fractional CMO will be the same as a full-time CMO, but your business won’t have to make the same investment in them to carry out these duties. It is an ideal situation for smart companies that recognize the importance of well-done marketing but just can’t commit resources to bring in a full-time executive on a six-figure salary.
1. You’re Facing Budget Constraints or Uncertainty
Tight budgets and financial uncertainty are a relatively normal part of business for SMBs. This is especially true for new businesses, growing businesses, and boutique operations. When budgets get tight and the need to bring more money in the door grows, the natural instinct is to tighten the business belt and curb spending.
When it comes to marketing, though, investing less when the need for sales and new clients is greater is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Instead, you need to up your marketing efforts as much as you can, even if spending a lot more money isn’t an option.
Fractional CMOs can help your company get the most from its marketing when budgets are tight or your financial future is uncertain. There is no long-term commitment to a fractional CMO, they are cheaper than a full-time CMO, and they have the know-how to stretch your marketing budget as far as it can go to get the best ROI possible.
The goal should not be to spend less, it should be to become more efficient with your spending on all aspects of your business. A fractional CMO can help with this in a big way. They can create fully fleshed out marketing plans, hire and manage the marketing team efficiently, and track how well your marketing is working to bring in new business so you can assign a real ROI dollar figure to it.
Good marketing creates leads, attracts new customers, and ultimately leads to sales and profit. When times are tight, finding a way to do the absolute best marketing you can is critical; hiring a fractional CMO is a smart way to do that. In 2021, if you face uncertainty or budget constraints, hiring a fractional CMO might be the way to get more out of your marketing than you are able to put in.
2. You’re Trying to Figure Out How to Stretch Limited Marketing Resources
Even if you have a healthy operating budget and a sunny financial outlook for your company, there will still be a finite level of resources you can dedicate to marketing. Every marketing decision your company makes is a line item in the overall marketing budget, including the money you pay to your executive-level marketing staff.
Hiring a fractional CMO instead of a full-time one eats up much less of your total marketing budget. This can be a huge boon for a company that wants to make the absolute most of every dollar spent on marketing. The money you save on a marketing executive’s salary can be reinvested in other areas to make your marketing that much more robust and efficient.
The money you save with a fractional CMO’s services can be reallocated to any number of marketing initiatives that will have a much more direct effect on the success of your marketing. That money can help optimize your website to convert on your digital marketing efforts or to beef up the field team that delivers your experiential or guerilla marketing. It can be directed to bigger and better email or mail campaigns or to boost local SEO.
No matter how you ultimately spend the money you save with a fractional CMO, the fact that the money goes to block and tackle marketing programs instead of a salary (while still reaping the benefits that any type of CMO brings) is a big win for companies that want to stretch their marketing budget as far as it can go.
3. Your Marketing Strategy Needs High-Level Guidance
The signs that you should hire a fractional CMO don’t all come down to money, though. A strategic benefit comes from hiring someone in this position. Oftentimes, especially in small and growing businesses, marketing initiatives are scattershot and lack a cohesive plan. This is common when the marketing direction is steered by multiple people or by someone who is not solely focused on marketing.
A dedicated person guiding your marketing strategy at a high level can make a huge difference, whether they are full-time or not. Marketing is its own discipline that requires its own focus and skill set. A fractional CMO will know how to create a plan, allocate a budget, manage marketing staff, and do the backend work to figure out the ROI of the efforts.
If you have not had a full-time, CMO-level person directing your marketing efforts, you will be amazed at what a difference this type of directed effort has on your organization. Your employees will be able to deliver better results using the freshest and most fitting strategies for your business.
This is not a knock on the person running your marketing now, just an endorsement of bringing on someone with the focus and talent in this particular field. If you believe marketing is important to your company, you owe it to your organization to hire someone who specializes in getting marketing done well.
4. You’ve Been Wanting More Organizational and Financial Flexibility
Running an SMB takes an incredible amount of agility. You need to flex and change on the fly in order to capitalize on shifting situations or unforeseen opportunities or challenges. Locking your business into a huge, yearly salary commitment for a CMO is antithetical to the needs of many SMBs.
Hiring an on-demand fractional CMO allows you to use your marketing resources when you need them most. If you have a seasonal component to your business or find you need more or less guidance during the planning, executing, or reviewing phase of a marketing initiative, you can give more or fewer hours to a fractional CMO to meet your needs. When your marketing plan is humming along or your business is slow, you don’t have to pay them. It is a very flexible situation. During times you don’t need a full-time CMO, you can use your resources in other areas of the business or save them for a busier time.
Hiring a full-time CMO is a big commitment, so is firing one. If the relationship doesn’t work out with someone running your marketing efforts, separating from them can be an arduous and costly process. If a fractional CMO isn’t working out, it is much easier to just stop paying them and move on to someone else. The same is true as your business grows and your needs shift. A new voice with more experience may be needed. With a fractional CMO, that process is easy and painless.
5. You Feel Your Business Needs Fresh Perspective
Marketing plans and initiatives are dynamic things. Just because your marketing plan has been killing it for years doesn’t guarantee it will continue to deliver results in 2021. Marketing, especially the same marketing year after year, can get tired and eventually become ineffective over time. If you believe your marketing is on the verge of becoming stale (or has long passed its sell-by date) you may want a fresh perspective.
A full-time CMO can make changes but the changes will still be coming from the same place as the original plans. A fractional CMO brings a unique, outsider perspective to your organization. They can evaluate your marketing in a new light and bring in fresh ideas from their own perspective. The multiple companies and industries in which fractional CMOs work help shape this perspective keeping ideas on point and relevant.
One more advantage to the feedback from a fractional CMO versus a full-time one is that, as a contract employee, this feedback is less encumbered by internal politics, relationships, and considerations that feedback coming from a full-time employee delivers. A good fractional CMO won’t go out of their way to offend, but they often give more blunt, realistic feedback because they have no ownership over the original plans neither do they have an agenda within the company.
This type of honest assessment is invaluable to companies. The views of an outsider help bring things to light that may have never come up before. It allows for healthy debate and innovation from which any company can benefit, in marketing and throughout the organization.
How will your businesses’ marketing go in 2021? Will it be the same old thing you’ve been doing for a while now or will it be something that truly helps your business grow? Chances are, the answer to that question heavily depends on who will lead your marketing efforts in the coming year and how they will do it.
If in 2021, your business is facing budget constraints or uncertainty, you need to stretch your marketing resources, you want more high-level guidance, need greater financial and organizational flexibility, or could just use a fresh set of eyes on your marketing program, then all signs point to the fact that you could benefit from hiring a fractional CMO this year.
Any company showing any of these signs might be ready to seek fractional CMO services. If you would like to learn more about this topic and find out how this type of service can benefit you, check out the fractional CMO services provided by Digital Authority Partners.
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