25 January 2023

Marketing consultancy vs the benefits of a Portfolio or Fractional CMO

Julie Brook
Written by Julie Brook

Julie Brook is Regional Director for The Marketing Centre. She specialises in growth activation in small-to mid-size businesses. She has more than 30 years of strategic marketing and growth coaching experience in sectors from food and drink, retail and on-line gifting, to manufacturing, technology, business support, and growth funding. Her marketing expertise and innovative approach has driven growth initiatives with large corporates, mid-sized, early stage, turnaround businesses and brands, including Grand Met, Bass, RHM Foods, Bisto, Greenall’s, Scrumpy Jack, Yates Wine Lodges, Link-it, Kids Allowed, Snap-a-Jack, Envestors and The NorthWest Fund. She now leads a team of highly experienced Marketing Directors with the aim of impacting growth in small to midsized businesses in the North West of England.

Selling ice cream on the beach in the summer is easy. Raising people’s expectations, engaging in their hopes and dreams, helping them see further—that’s the difficult work we signed up for.’ - Seth Godin, This is Marketing

When Seth Godin says ‘we’, he means the strategic thinkers; the growth drivers; the experienced marketers. However, for many businesses, ‘we’ are hard to find.

In the immediate post-pandemic boom, many businesses invested in marketing. This exacerbated an existing skills shortage so that marketing specialists are now, in Marketing Week’s terms, like ‘gold dust’. And this means they demand higher salaries.

Junior marketers and agencies can be great for execution, but they still depend on you for direction. You need someone with the experience to lead your marketing. You don’t have time and, with experienced directors’ salary unaffordable, you may think a marketing consultant is the answer.

It isn’t. Marketing consultants come in for specific projects. They create a plan, but rarely roll up their sleeves to help you get the work done.

What if there was another way? What about a marketing leader who will be there from strategy creation to implementation? A leader who will develop your team, review the metrics and guide your future marketing efforts?

Our marketing directors build teams, mentor staff (and owners), use our networks, manage agencies and report to your board. This approach is known as fractional because:

a) it’s part time and

b) you get a wealth of experience and support for a fraction of the cost of hiring someone of a similar level of expertise in-house.

Marketing resource: do you need and agency, junior hire, or consultant?

Marketing isn’t like other industries where there are standard qualifications or a defined set of hard skills to test. Successful marketing performance is often reliant on the execution of soft skills. And a lot of ability comes with experience.

Some see agencies as the answer. However, they remain external. For true growth leadership you need someone embedded in the day-to-day of your business.

An alternative is that you may already have a junior marketer in-house. And they may be brilliant at updating the website or posting on social, but are they thinking about why they are doing it? Are they aligning their activities with the sales team? Do they know how to convert customer insights into activities that drive growth?

The answer is likely: no.

Junior marketers, like agencies, need direction and supervision from someone who understands strategic marketing. This often leads business owners to see marketing as a cost rather than an investment.

But this can all change when you get access to a portfolio CMO. An experienced marketing director who works for, in and with your business on a part-time basis. They consult on strategy at the start of the engagement, but they stay with you beyond that. They join your team, roll up their sleeves and plan, execute and measure. They lead your marketing.

The portfolio or fractional marketing director: the more impactful alternative to a marketing consultancy

‘I’ve ditched the marketing as a cost drain to marketing as a must!’ - Michele Dematteis, CEO, Joloda Hydraroll - The Marketing Centre client

A proven, experienced marketing director will take the lead on your marketing strategy and strategic positioning. They will also get involved in the implementation. This gives you cost-effective, scalable access to real marketing expertise, value, and talent.

The Marketing Centre gives you access to marketing directors with proven track records of delivering significant impact. And they become as much a part of your team as any hire. Since our inception over a decade ago, we’ve helped over 1400 businesses implement marketing strategies that resulted in tangible business growth.

If you’d like to find out how you can transform your marketing and your business, take our ten-minute marketing maturity score assessment. Or, get in touch.

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So if you’re tired of switching from one thing to the next hoping one will stick, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.