Don't Skip the Strategy: How a Fractional Chief Marketing Officer Can Save You Money and Help Your Business Win (Kate Gilbert)

Throughout my marketing career, I have met many people who are experts at developing a solid marketing strategy. They are founders, engineers, architects, physicians, restauranteurs, and when I talk to them about their commercial strategy, they can wax lyrical for hours. Of course, I am being facetious—they are not marketing experts, they just think they are. 

So many business leaders I have met throughout my career mistake plans or actions for strategy. They possess in-depth knowledge about their product, industry, and maybe their customers but all too often they dive headfirst into planning and execution before addressing key strategic questions.
What are we trying to achieve? 
Why will my customer care? 
What will make them choose me over my competition?

As a strategic marketer, I often get brought into companies to help them grow their business, launch their product or to turnaround a stagnant business. Often, they have hired a junior person to manage their social media or organize events, or they have spent money on a digital agency to build a website or buy some digital ads. But they struggle when I ask them to define their overall commercial strategy, they just know they need to “do marketing”—so that’s what they’re doing. 

But advertising does not equal marketing, just like building a wall is not architecture. While your business may not be ready to bring in a full-time Chief Marketing Officer, a fractional marketing leader can transform your business. They can make sure that you are not just spending money on advertising but that you are setting your business up for long-term success. 


Clarify Objectives
One of the first tasks of a fractional marketing leader is to help you to define what success looks like? You can’t create effective plans without knowing where you are going and when you want to arrive. Vague goals like ”selling more services” or “launching a product” won’t cut it. Clear, universally understood objectives make decisions much easier down the road. Every initiative and investment should align with these goals.

Help You Understand Your Customer Better
As a business owner, it’s often tempting to believe that if your product fulfills a customer’s need, you just need connect with them and let them know you exist. However, buying behavior is complex and often more emotional than rational. Earning a customer’s trust is not easy. You need to understand the who, what, when, how and, most importantly the why? A fractional marketing executive will define the customer's journey ensuring that every marketing investment moves them closer to buying your product.

Define What You Are Selling 
Many business owners can describe what they do: “we make widgets”, “we sell wallpaper”, “we offer beauty treatments”. But it’s crucial to understand exactly how your business genuinely benefits customers. For example, Apple makes laptops, but the real value is helping me deliver strategic marketing plans to my clients. This may seem obvious, but I often meet business leaders who can’t succinctly articulate their company's promise. If you can’t do that but you are still spending money on social media ads, you are likely wasting your budget. A marketing leader will adopt a customer-centric approach to defining your business and develop messaging that resonates and engages your audience. 

Differentiate You from Your Competition
You may be in a highly competitive market, or you may have a unique product that stands out from the crowd. Either way, businesses are always competing for customers money, time, and attention. A marketing leader will identify what matters most to customers in terms of features and value. They will study the landscape and establish where your offering fits. 

Ensure Marketing Is an Investment Not an Expense
The ultimate goal of all this groundwork is to create a well-defined customer-centric message, that is delivered to your customers when and where they are most receptive, setting you apart from the noise and encouraging them to take action. By engaging a fractional marketing leader, rather than an agency or a short-term advisor, you will have an executive on your team who will constantly ensure that every dollar spent on marketing contributes to building your business for the future.


With the rise of fractional leadership, as a small business, you can harness the power that a truly professional commercial strategy can bring to your business without the cost of hiring a full-time senior marketer. They will ensure that you are investing in the right activities with the right message to truly deliver the results your business needs to thrive. Now that sounds a lot better than “doing some marketing” to me. 


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