Hiring a marketing team, hiring a marketing agency, or fractional CMO?

Christoph Trappe 5 minute read

Every company needs marketing. How else will people know about them? But how a company gets its marketing to drive growth can depend on a variety of factors – including size, industry, budget, and more. Regardless, the question will be asked at some point: Should we be hiring a marketing team, an agency, or perhaps a fractional CMO is the way to go. No matter which route is taken, it’s essential to be data-driven!

In this article, I discuss all these topics:

When does a company need marketing?

A case could be made that marketing needs to be added to the mix earlier than later. After all, how will buyers know about the product without marketing? Realistically, the initial brand positioning work is often done by founders or a small team made up of employees of different backgrounds.

But once the product and services are making their way to market, and definitely once they’ve been in the market, it’s time to formalize marketing strategies and roles – if you haven’t.

Especially today, with the ever-growing complexities of marketing, it’s important to have the right people help with the right strategies and tactics to make marketing a success. Usually, that includes:

  • Strategy development and alignment with the product market fit and strategies that have already worked.
  • To reach buyers more efficiently and effectively through streamlined tactics, message testing, and marketing automation.
  • Ongoing measurement of key performance indicators to continuously evolve the implementation based on what’s working and what’s not working.

Understanding the purpose of marketing

Standing up a marketing function is easier said than done and needs to start with strategy. Understanding the purpose of marketing is essential here. What role does marketing play in the overall progress to drive growth at the company? To think about that in a simplistic way, good marketing comes down to the following:

  • Raising awareness of the problem and solution the company can help with for the target buyer.
  • Making it easy for the buyer to understand what a company can offer specifically to help them be more successful.
  • Guiding the buyer through the decision-making process and moving them forward as a qualified and interested buyer.

That process doesn’t happen on its own and needs somebody who can run it – which could be a team, an agency, or a mix of tactics – including hiring a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to help get the strategy done correctly.

Mistakes in standing up a growth-driven marketing function can present issues. For example, hiring the wrong agency or team can lead to less-than-stellar marketing results, leading to leadership questioning the value of marketing as a whole. But, we know marketing – when done correctly – does drive company growth. For that to work, hiring the right people and/or partnering with the right external partners is important.

Read next: Defining Marketing Job Roles and Objectives

What goes into the decision to hire a marketing team?

The decision to hire a marketing team can come down to a variety of reasons, including:

  • The realization that share of voice and awareness could be better in the market
  • Stalled business growth
  • Funding for new roles is now available

Hiring a marketing team usually involves prioritizing needs, and that usually includes hiring roles in these areas:

  • Strategy
  • Implementation
  • Measurement

But all of those can be broken down further when hiring a marketing team. For example, there are different tasks in the implementation bucket of skills needed, and that can include:

  • Campaign setup: Email campaigns, social media campaigns, etc.
  • Copywriting for the website, social media, email campaigns, whitepapers, etc.
  • Targeting the right buyers and distribution strategies to get in front of them

The different skill sets needed can create a real issue when you are trying to hire a marketing team successfully. To get started, the options that come to mind include:

Hiring a marketing team also involves a certain level of onboarding, a ramp-up time, and learning the industry and the company’s brand positioning.

Read next: Why Cutting Marketing Budget Costs More Than You Save

How about hiring a marketing agency?

Hiring a marketing agency can be an option to either get started or supplement a marketing team. For example, the company might have one marketing person who is a good copywriter who needs creative design help. So, they may hire a marketing agency to complement them in those specific areas.

How to choose a marketing agency

Like building a team, hiring a marketing agency includes considering a few questions:

  • What’s the goal of the marketing agency?
  • Who will own the relationship internally?
  • Consider the things important to you in a marketing agency:
    • Do they have domain expertise? For example, the growth marketing agency Growgetter team has years of experience in the market research industry in growth marketing.
    • Can they run certain technical aspects of what the company needs help with?

It’s also important that personalities mesh. Be wary if you never talk to the people who actually will run your project. Are they responsive? Do conversations flow easily with them? Are they collaborative? As you are choosing your marketing agency, ensure to meet the account team.

What does a fractional CMO do?

For some companies, it makes more sense to hire a fractional chief marketing officer as the first step when looking into hiring a marketing team. In a nutshell, fractional CMOs are experienced marketing leaders who give a certain amount of their time to the company. Usually, a fractional CMO spends a set number of hours per week or month with the company and helps them with the following:

  • Strategic decision-making
  • Oversight and leadership of marketing ops and creators – internal or external
  • Analysis of results and next steps based on results and market trends.

A fractional CMO can be an effective way to get a company’s marketing on the right track. They draw on their experience of having started successful marketing teams for companies similar to yours. Their partnership can accelerate your successful implementation of a marketing function to drive business growth because they’ve been there.

The best fractional CMOs apply their vast knowledge to your specific situation. They are partners in collaboration, brainstorming, and efficient implementation. Hiring a fractional CMO is a great way to develop and implement a marketing strategy without incurring the cost of a full-time hire.

Let’s talk about experienced marketing and revenue leader Jenn Mancusi becoming your next fractional CMO now.

How to know if the marketing is working?

No matter which route or combination of options you take, setting the right objectives and key performance results is important. Strategies vary based on goal, and to guide buyers down the funnel, we need to make sure we are measuring the different stages correctly. That can include:

  • Top-of-the-funnel metrics: Search interest in related topics that buyers care about.
  • Middle of the funnel metrics: Comparison shopping. How easily do your content and campaigns make it for buyers to compare your offerings and expertise to competitors and alternatives?
  • Bottom-of-the-funnel: Good marketing helps companies understand

At the end of the day, marketing does work when it’s done correctly and strategically. And companies have to start somewhere. It might as well be here. 

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