Category Archives: Management

The Fractional CMO

We’re hearing the term “fractional CIO” more often these days in business circles. For small organizations that can’t afford top-level IT talent but still need a strategic, long-term IT plan, it makes great sense to hire a consultant to fill that role. They’re getting expensive talent for a fraction of the cost, for a fraction of the time.

The same concept can be applied to marketing. Many of the companies we work with can’t spend $200,000 or more for a full time marketing executive. If they pay less than that they’re bringing in someone without the right experience or credentials to play a leadership role. But whether or not they already have an in-house marketing team, they need big-picture guidance: someone to create an integrated road map for media relations, communications, web presence, ad campaigns, trade shows and more. Someone to make sure the company’s following that plan and someone who’s adjusting it accordingly over time.

Another reason people go the fractional route is if their needs don’t require a full-time resource. It would be next to impossible to hire a marketing professional with a high level of talent for a part-time position. And even if you could, chances are that person would get bored with its limitations and move on within a year or so.

Hiring a fractional CMO allows you to engage marketing expertise on demand. It’s flexible. Maybe you need 20 hours a month. Maybe you need 50. You don’t have to sacrifice talent or bend to the whims of an outsider. Unlike one-time consultants, a fractional CMOs can truly immerse themselves in your company and its culture; they can embrace big challenges and think strategically about sales problems while keeping you on target year after year.

The best marketing professionals are visionary. They can go into a boardroom and persuade top level executives to examine their challenges and consider the most effective solutions. They hold everyone accountable. At the same time, they can see what new problems lie ahead, and can help the company adjust to a changing economic climate or shifting competitive landscape.

With a fractional CMO you can have that kind of leadership for a few thousand dollars a month—nearly a quarter of what you’d pay for a fulltime CMO. Just as a point of comparison, consider the PR agency that only focuses on media strategy and public relations: A reputable firm costs $10,000 a month.

In a world where more and more services are being outsourced, the fractional CMO can be an economically sound choice for companies that need executive-level support and guidance as well as visionary market perspective driving their growth strategy.

To learn more about our Fractional CMO services, contact us today.

In-House or Outsource: Finding Your Marketing Formula

Marketing tends to be a low priority for small businesses. You have fixed overhead and not a lot of flexibility in your budget. Why should you devote limited funds to marketing when you can give this work to someone on your payroll?

Yet in many situations this approach is too cavalier to be effective. Is it better than nothing? Possibly. Is it delivering the return you desire? Almost certainly not.

Typically marketing is not a core competency in your business model. You may, however, have some skillsets to draw from. Perhaps there’s someone who can manage organic social media accounts, or someone who can write snappy copy for the company website.

Where do your assets reside? Look at the employees you have, their total compensation, the time they spend on their given operational tasks and consider the cost of diverting them. Factor in any uncertainty about their ability to perform the job and the cost of lost opportunities and compare that to the hourly rate of a marketing firm.

No one wants to use the wrong resources for a job, whether that job is accounting, sales or IT. You wouldn’t throw unfamiliar work at a random employee, simply expect them to figure it out and hope for the best. The same should hold true for marketing.

A marketing firm with experience in your industry can either supplement or take on all of the marketing duties needed within your organization. Resources don’t need to be spent on training or managing payroll or vacation days. There’s no investment in equipment, and it’s quick to onboard a firm that already specializes in this type of work.

Outsourced work can also be much more efficient. An outsourced team has an eye to the bigger picture—messaging, branding, full-fledged marketing campaigns—and can keep the efforts consistent and coordinated. It’s also a flexible solution—you pay only for what you need.

In an ideal world, you’ll have a hybrid model, with some tasks handled internally and others handled outside. You might bring in a firm to help develop an overall plan and strategy, create effective and tested messaging and help delegate tactics to in-house staff. In this scenario, efforts should be expertly coordinated. You might be simultaneously running a blog, creating conference swag, running print ads and pitching stories to a newspaper—you want all of these activities to be integrated.

In most cases, management of a hybrid model is best left to the experienced consultant who can be held accountable for working to a plan. The firm can also be responsible for managing metrics and analytics and measuring your ROI.

At the end of the day, your marketing investment—whether in house, outsourced, or hybrid—should be worth the dollars spent.

For more information download our whitepaper or contact us at to learn how Lion’s Share can help you determine the right formula for your organization.

How Well Do You Know Your Market?

Chances are, if you’re a small business, you don’t know your market as well as you could, and should. You’re probably operating on instinct, based on conversations with a small number of clients. But you haven’t expended extensive time and resources researching existing and potential customers.

Finding out what your customers want is important for any business: How can you possibly provide a solution, if you don’t fully understand their unique pain? Why do they need this product or service? What have they used in the past? What are their expectations around working with your company?

Equally important is understanding what your customers really think of you. Why did they select your company’s service or product? What were their first impressions and how did they evolve through the sales process? How do they interpret your messaging and communications? How did you inspire confidence in the customer?

When you know exactly how your signals are received you can fine tune them accordingly. Maybe the tone of your social media is too strident; maybe customers are turned off by a particularly inept salesperson. Maybe they perceive the competition as much more established and professional. Maybe your proposal didn’t go far enough. A customer may have chosen not to buy your product simply because they didn’t like the way your slide presentation looked. If these types of issues are costing you sales, you’d want to know because they can easily be addressed.

Likewise, if a customer is going to give you a very positive testimonial, that, too, is useful information. What made your company stand out? How did your value proposition meet your customer’s needs? You’ll likely want to use some of this data in your marketing communications. Perhaps you could also ask the happy customer to participate in a case study. Regardless, you’ll know exactly what is working well so you can continue doing it.

Ultimately the best way to get these answers is by conducting a win/loss or post-decision interview, designed for onboarding customers or customers who have decided to find their product or service elsewhere. Ideally this interview is conducted by an independent party for the most unbiased assessment and most efficient analysis of data. People often mistake the win/loss interview as a customer survey but it’s a much more detailed and focused look at customer behavior. And the results are almost always incredibly illuminating. What you don’t know about your market really can hurt you.

Are you ready to know what your customers are thinking? It’s time to start asking these questions. We guarantee you’re in for some surprises.

For more information on how Lion’s Share can help you get in touch with your core audience, contact us today.