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In-House or Consultancy — How To Optimize Marketing Leadership

As your company grows, you’ll find that your marketing needs grow with it. What could initially be handled by a few people internally has grown into a significant chunk of your budget, requiring real expertise for both strategy and execution.

Eventually, you’ll need marketing leadership. When that time comes, you have a few options. You can completely outsource your marketing to an external agency, trusting them to do what’s right for your organization with little to no input from you. Most executives don’t like handing over the reins to quite such a degree. You can also do all your marketing in-house, hiring half a dozen or more people responsible for the ideation and execution of your marketing needs. This keeps the control in your court, but it’s an expensive solution — the salaries of ten marketing experts, leaders, and a chief marketing officer (CMO) can add up.

Many companies are choosing a middle ground between the two solutions, bringing in expert content creators and marketers but opting to outsource their marketing strategy and leadership to an external consultancy and fractional CMO. Is a fractional CMO right for your situation? Let’s talk about the pros and cons.

Advantages of a Fractional CMO

A fractional CMO is often brought into the company on an ongoing basis to handle some of the strategic marketing responsibilities. This CMO won’t be fully integrated into your company, which brings several potential advantages.

First, you can limit the scope of their involvement to only a specific campaign or channel. If you’re satisfied with your marketing strategy as a whole and don’t want to overturn the entire process, a fractional CMO or consultant can focus on one particular area that you don’t have the bandwidth or expertise to execute properly.

Since you’re not hiring this person full-time, you can also test them out without the same level of commitment. If they don’t deliver the results you’re looking for or simply don’t fit with your culture and brand, you can cut ties at the end of the contract and look for someone else.

Finally, your cost savings will be significant. An internal CMO requires an executive’s salary — ranging from $136,000 to $255,000 in Denver right now — and you may not have the budget for that kind of expenditure. Of course, if the fractional CMO does a great job, you might bring in enough growth that you can afford to hire them for other projects or a full-time role!

Disadvantages of a Fractional CMO

The primary disadvantage of a fractional CMO is that their attention is split — they’re almost certain to have other clients who also need their time and expertise, so they can’t guarantee you the same level of focus and dedication that an internal executive would. This doesn’t mean you’ll be getting sub-par work, but it does mean that you’ll have to be patient. You won’t have access 40 hours a week; you’ll have to bring up your concerns and ideas at set meeting times that fit their schedule.

You might also find that you need more involvement from a fractional CMO than you’re getting. If you brought them in to handle a particular campaign or channel, then decide that your entire marketing approach needs new leadership, it might make sense to just hire someone full-time.

Pros and Cons of an Internal CMO

An internal CMO is fully committed to your company for the foreseeable future. They’ll learn the ins and outs of how you operate and establish broad strategies that unify all of your marketing and communications efforts.

For better or worse, they’ll work on your entire funnel. You might have a paid ads funnel generating excellent returns that you don’t want to change, but a CMO will likely have their own preferences for how things are run. If you just need help with one aspect of your marketing, a fractional CMO or consultant might be a more efficient option.

Consultancy: the Best of Both Worlds

An excellent middle ground for many companies is a full-service marketing agency with consultancy capabilities. Rather than signing on for a single, short-term contract, a marketing agency can be hired on an ongoing retainer basis. That includes the marketing expertise of the executives at the agency, who can provide the same leadership and strategic advice that a fractional CMO would provide, but with an eye to your medium- and long-term goals rather than a single campaign or project.

You’ll also save money by hiring an agency, paying a flat monthly fee that’s significantly less than the combined salaries of the people working there. Of course, you won’t receive the full attention of the agency, since they have other clients to consider, but you’ll be able to reap the benefits of their expertise and knowledgeability without hiring an entire internal team yourself.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that you’re not locking yourself into a decision, whichever way you go. If you hire a fractional CMO today, you can still hire a full-time CMO in a year. Or you might go the other direction and hire an internal CMO, then realize you don’t need that level of hands-on involvement and decide to outsource instead.

You could even hire a full-time CMO to handle your baseline marketing needs, then bring in someone with special expertise to run a particular campaign, product launch, or new channel. There are plenty of options to blend the two strategies, so don’t worry too much about committing one way or the other.

Every company is different, and your needs will vary accordingly. If you’re ready to start taking your marketing seriously and would like to learn more about what a full-service marketing agency and consultancy can do for you, get in touch with Madison Taylor Marketing today.

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