16 May 2024

The Quiet Work of a Fractional CMO and Fractional Marketing Team

At Crisp, we think and write a lot about work: specifically, the work of fractional CMOs, marketers, entrepreneurs, and business owners and leaders. But one thing we haven’t talked a lot about, and that we wanted to spotlight, is the quiet work of a fractional CMO and fractional marketing team.

What do we mean by “quiet work”? Similar to “soft skills,” quiet work encompasses those non-task-specific aspects of our jobs that underpin the work itself. As fractional marketing is still a relatively new way of working, there are a few things we wanted to pull back the curtain on. 

As fractional marketers, we’re in an interesting position: hired as part of our clients’ marketing teams, but for just a “fraction” of the work week. In other words, we’re like an internal-external resource. When you bring on a fractional CMO or fractional marketing team, you get someone to do your marketing, yes; but there are other, quieter benefits to this way of working that you might not have realized. Things like acting as a true extension of your team, offering genuine leadership, and working for your business, not just on your marketing. 

Working as One Team

work of a fractional CMO

Unlike when you hire a contractor or agency, a fractional CMO and fractional marketing team aren’t simply there to receive requests and send back the work. At Crisp, we get to know you, your processes, and your systems. We adopt your platforms and tech ecosystem to integrate with how you’re already operating your business and might diagnose problems that you might not quite be able to pinpoint, like tools that are underperforming or inefficient project management processes. (We don’t know many marketing agencies or external contractors who do that!) 

All these things contribute to more efficient and streamlined workflows, of course, but they also make communication and working together a lot nicer. It’s hard to get to know someone solely over email, after all. A core measure of success for working with any of our clients is an invite to their summer barbecue or holiday party.

Communication and Trust

fractional marketing director working with clients

Any working relationship requires open communication to build trust over time. Using the same processes and tech is a good place to start, but of course, facilitating better communication goes deeper than that. 

One of our core values at Crisp is Thoughtful Candour, meaning that we aim to speak plainly, directly, and truthfully. So just like you’d expect of any colleague, we share drafts of our work and ask for feedback, get clarification when we need to, and commit to open and honest dialogue as a team. We always want to know what we can do differently or how we can work better together.

Another aspect of trust is recognizing each other’s expertise. The nature of our work means that we’re always learning new terminology, business practices, and industry specifics. We love being introduced to the ins and outs of a business, understanding how our marketing knowledge fits in with its particular context and challenges, and implementing strategies for success.

Solving the Right Problem

Christine Pilkington working on a laptop

Marketing is a noisy field, and it’s easy to wonder if you’re missing something or even focusing on the right things to begin with. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever had FOMO about not being on TikTok…) The overwhelming range of channels, approaches, information, and different philosophies means that focus is often an underutilized asset in marketing. 

That is why building a strong marketing program for a growing business doesn’t just mean hiring someone with a marketing skillset. It means hiring someone who will take the time to align with you, get clear on your big-picture business goals, and not jump straight into time- and budget-consuming tactics that might not perform. This is a fractional CMO’s mandate: to provide a strategic eye to business problems through the lens of marketing, and to translate that from the executive realm to the domain of execution.

“Getting the opportunity to tap into a CMO’s brain is something my business would not have the opportunity to do prior to Crisp’s unique business model. Having an entrepreneurially-minded and empathetic leader supporting and advising my business has been a beacon of light in my entrepreneurial journey.”

Sara Ward, Owner, The Village Community Acupuncture

Leadership and Ownership

work of a fractional cmo

Speaking of leadership, it’s obvious that in hiring a fractional CMO, you’re hiring a senior-level marketing leader. However, working with a fractional CMO goes a level deeper, offering both accountability and ownership.

Business owners and leaders often tell us that marketing is the hardest thing for them to delegate. Marketing is closely tied to business vision, so it’s easy to see why a business owner would be anxious or reluctant to trust someone else with this mode of expression and engagement. 

However, when you bring a fractional CMO on board, their job is to show up as a true partner for not just your marketing, but your business as a whole. It means taking ownership of results, not just executing campaigns. It means acting as a sounding board for marketing best practices in relation to what the business is trying to achieve. 

Want to learn more about the quiet (and not-so-quiet) work of a fractional CMO and fractional marketing team at Crisp? Book a free consult with us today.

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