Fractional Teams Solve Small Business Marketing Challenges

By Priscilla Koeckeritz

As a fractional CMO for several companies, I’ve discovered that the need to go beyond strategy exists across my clients. While they may need help clarifying their strategy and building a plan, they really want help driving customer engagement and sales efforts – which requires getting the actual work of marketing deployed. They want to get the work done!

Seldom is there a shortage of ideas on how to drive greater customer engagement. The gaps occur when it comes to developing the tactical deliverables – website content, email marketing, social media and more. Specifically challenging is the development of the content and visual assets required to execute good marketing. You need writers, designers, web production, and video skills, not to mention the focus on digital across dozens of tools and platforms. For sales and marketing leaders on the business side, developing and managing a team is daunting.

My personal career started in writing and design, so I have the skill set to drive traditional tactics. What I don’t have are enough hours in the day, nor can my clients afford to have their CMO writing blogs and designing infographics. The solution came to me as a result of my work with Marcomm and the impact of COVID on marketing budgets and requirements from my fractional CMO clientele. I needed a better solution to DELIVER for my clients within the budget they have available. The solution was to build capability across a team of production specialists that could be shared across multiple clients: a fractional marketing team.

The misconception in the marketplace is that hiring a general marketing manager is the right solve for a small business – we often refer to this role as a “marketing unicorn.” This is the magical and mythical expectation that one person will have the skill set to develop websites, write copy, manage social media, build sales assets, manage events … the list goes on and on. But one-person and small marketing teams always have skill gaps and getting the work done requires securing additional resources.

There are many options for outsourcing. The Minneapolis and St Paul design community provides one of the best talent pools when it comes to marketing. You can find a company to do absolutely anything here in the Twin Cities but hiring agencies and service companies brings its own challenges – primarily higher cost. The freelance community is also strong, but again the challenges of cost, time management and integrating individual freelancers with the work of marketing is difficult. 

What if the answer for smaller companies exists, just not in the way we have traditionally thought? What if you could get the skills you need from strategy to planning and from content development to asset creation in one team built uniquely to serve your needs? What if that team was managed for you and worked as an extension? And, what if you are in control of setting the priorities and the budget? Sounds too good to be true – right?

Companies have long used consultants to fill gaps for CFO, CMO, sales consulting, marketing consulting and more. The idea of bringing in tactical resources from a staffing agency to fill short term gaps is widely accepted. So why not have a “team” of professionals allocated fractionally to serve specific marketing functions, managed by professional marketing leaders who ensure consistent and quality delivery? Build a fractional marketing dream team – its possible, even on a small company budget.

 

Here’s a list of questions to help you determine the roles you need on your fractional marketing dream team. And you can learn more about fractional marketing services by contacting Marcomm.

 

  1. Do you need help defining and documenting your marketing strategy? Did it change due to COVID? Do you need strategic alignment or support at a leadership or sales level? If you answered yes to any of these, you likely need a CMO level resource on your team, someone to develop the high-level plan and put things in motion. You may not need this resource on-going, or if you do you probably won’t need a lot of hours once the strategy is defined. A CMO can be a great help evaluating trends and defining outcomes, so it’s often a good idea to keep this role in play year-round in a minimal way.
  2. Do you need a marketing plan written? Do you need your marketing distribution developed and refined? Do you need a content plan and calendar managed to consistently deliver marketing tactics? If you answered yes to these questions you should look for project management and content management skills for your team. This person will likely be with you on-going to lead your fractional team. This role will ensure outcomes are delivered on time and on budget and can even live on site with you part time to ensure marketing lives and breathes your culture.
  3. Does your website need updating? Do you struggle to develop and deliver content and sales assets consistently? Do you need help managing the right social channels to reach your target audience? If the answer to the above are yes, yes and yes, a digital marketing strategist is essential to delivering good content on a consistent basis. This individual gets deep in the weeds of web content, blogging, email marketing, social posting and other day-to-day deliverables that make up robust marketing. The digital marketing strategists works hand-in-hand with your project manager and interacts with sales and other resources who depend on content to connect with clients and prospects.
  4. And do you need the technical skills that are often costly to procure and time consuming to manage like web development and video production? A good fractional marketing team will have access to the right resources to deliver each project successfully, and without breaking your budget. Web and video projects often get outsourced at premium prices to specialists. A good fractional marketing team will have resources on the team to deliver these specialties at reasonable costs (because we aren’t “farming” it out).

No matter what you need, a company who offers fractional marketing services will have the people and skills needed to build your marketing dream team. And if you already have marketing resources on staff, a fractional team is a great complement to fill skill gaps, provide specialization and address overflow projects.

Not sure what to do next? Talk to Marcomm about building a fractional marketing team to meet your specific needs.

 

Final thoughts on getting your marketing done in new and creative ways

In October, I had the privilege of moderating a panel for a Minnesota American Marketing Association event called: Lean & Mean – Building Your Marketing Dream Team. We had some amazing marketing professionals discussing the opportunities to do more with less while executing good marketing. Here are some of the tips from Jamie Simpson, Jamie Gassmann, Stacey Kusnier, and Shannon Olson

Tips to Working Lean and Mean in 2020

Remove the bottlenecks. When lean teams get bogged down, it’s usually caused by one or two things that are in the way. Remove barriers by reallocating work, making sure the right resources are doing the right tasks and evaluating your options to outsource specific projects or tasks. 

Use fractional resources when you need specialized skills sets. The Twin Cities has one of the best markets for finding and using “fractional” talent. While you can source and manage your own freelancers, companies like Marcomm and Indee offer solutions that quickly allow you to fill gaps on your team in affordable and time saving ways.

Beware of creating marketing unicorns. While marketing superheroes may exist in myth, the reality is that all marketing professionals have strengths and weaknesses. A small marketing team may be able to manage most projects fluently, but when pressured to do things outside of skill set, productivity and job happiness are greatly impacted. Support your small team, or team of one, with the resources needed to ensure both strategy and tactical execution can coexist peacefully.

Use caution when reducing or reallocating your budget. COVID and remote work have changed the marketing landscape in dramatic ways. While many companies are cutting what they deem is unnecessary spending, they need to innovate to find new and interesting ways to connect with customers. Don’t let your tried and true marketing get lost. And test new content and distribution channels on a small scale, finding trusted partners to bring you new ideas.

Outsourcing doesn’t have to break the bank. In a time where marketers are doing more with less, the fear of going outside your organization to find help feels financially impossible. Innovation has bred new services – ones where fractional resources are available at a cost that won’t break your budget. Partners who offer fractional services can be a consistent partner and bring you skill sets that you’re missing to deliver on your innovated marketing objectives.

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