The Old Way
Many small-to-medium businesses have very similar origination stories. It may be a family business passed on to a child, or a tradesperson, professional, or industry expert going out on their own.
You find an attorney and an accountant to handle your business structure, banking, insurance, and taxes while you run the business. You get a [email protected] email address and try your hand with whichever website builder you saw in an ad. You order some business cards just to get started.
You tell everyone you know about your business and ask for referrals. Over time, business picks up to the point where you're confident in your decision to go out on your own.
Then something happens.
You decide you want to grow more. Your lease renewal is more than you anticipated. You want to bring on another employee so you can take a vacation. It doesn't matter what the circumstance is; there's just one thing you know:
You want more business.
The idea may come from an unsolicited email or phone call, your research from a book or an online search, or an ad you saw.
You need a better website, an email newsletter, search engine optimization, a Facebook Page, or any one of a variety of favorite "business building" tactics.
You select a professional to carry out the idea with mixed results. Each concept you try comes with a different freelancer of varying quality.
You continue to grow, but not as efficiently as you could.
Unless you also happen to be an up-to-date marketing strategist, you are chasing tactics without a comprehensive strategy. If you don't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy, that's a pretty good indicator that you aren't a marketing strategist.
Do you know where the term "freelance" originates? It's an old term for available (free) weapons (lance), also known as a mercenary. Just like medieval and modern mercenaries, the freelancer you hire is only as loyal to you as their agreement defines.
Freelancers are continually looking for the next client and project.
However, hiring an employee also comes with its own set of issues. Hiring and firing are time-consuming, and time is money. Tax issues increase your accounting and payroll expenses.
Most accomplished marketing strategists are looking for full-time employment, leading you to consider hiring a webmaster, social media guru, influencer, email marketing specialist, or ad manager. However, the problem remains: you are not a marketing strategist.
Hiring someone to handle a single tactic rarely works because you're merely trading the stress of managing one activity for the burden of maintaining an employee.
You want an expert marketing strategist but don't want to pay a six-figure salary. You want someone you can ask about that latest tactic you heard of who will discuss with you how it fits into your marketing mix. You want someone you know is going to be around when you have a specific project but is also capable of overseeing your entire marketing strategy without your constant oversight.
What you need is a fractional CMO.
A fractional CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is similar to having a part-time C-Suite professional. Typically compensated via a monthly retainer, your fractional CMO is loyal to you because they care more about the long-term success of your business and the relationship they maintain with you. They know that you intend to have them beyond just a single project; therefore they are not continually looking to replace you.
After discussing your goals for growth, specific pain points you are experiencing, and your budget, your fractional CMO will outline a recommended action plan that fits within the contracted hours. They then execute that plan, including sourcing tacticians for specific activities, and report back regularly regarding progress. Periodically, your fractional CMO will revisit the overall strategy and make recommendations based on current marketing trends.
You may contract with a fractional CMO for a certain number of hours per week or month. If you have an unexpected project, your fractional CMO will let you know how it impacts the timeline for your overall strategy for your approval.
Since your fractional CMO is a contractor, your payroll and taxes are much more straightforward. Part of the IRS definition of an independent contractor includes that you aren't overseeing the what or how of your strategy, which means you don't have to worry about marketing your business at all. Agreements exist for reporting of deliverables, but detailed accounts of every minute spent typically aren't – you're paying for results, not to micromanage an expert.
If you already have an established business that's looking to grow, but can't justify a full-time marketing strategist, you need a fractional CMO.
Contact us using the form below to see if you'd be a good fit.