Exploring Outsourcing vs. Internal Hiring For Marketing Leadership Roles

Are you starting to think about your marketing plans for 2024? With budgets typically due at the beginning of Q4 2023, most staffing companies are shifting their marketing planning into high gear.

Maybe your company is growing rapidly, expanding to new geographies or has plans to launch several campaigns. As you consider the resources and personnel required to support and amplify growth, do you see a marketing leadership gap?

There are several signs that it’s time to hire a marketing leader, and it might be just what you need to take your organization to the next level. But should you hire a full-time employee or leverage an outsourced marketing leader, like a fractional CMO?

What Is a Fractional CMO?

Companies that only need or can only financially support a contract marketing leader often engage a fractional CMO. A fractional CMO is a senior marketing executive who works with an organization for a finite period of time to oversee many, or all, aspects of marketing. A fractional CMO can assist with everything from strategy and demand generation to content creation and brand management.

Outsourcing vs. Hiring a Marketing Leader

The decision to outsource a marketing leader or hire one in-house isn’t about pros and cons. Both options serve important purposes. Depending on your budget, your needs, the size of your organization and the number of initiatives planned, one option usually stands out over the other.

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Fractional marketing leader. Engaging a fractional CMO is a great way for companies to quickly receive expert support and fresh perspectives without committing to a full-time hire. For these arrangements, the fractional CMO will typically charge an hourly/monthly rate or a project-based fee.

Because a fractional resource doesn’t work full-time for your organization, it is likely that they have other clients. This doesn’t mean they’re not dedicated to you — it simply means their availability could be somewhat limited. Iron out expectations at the beginning of a partnership to ensure you have clarity on your fractional marketing leader’s availability.

Because fractional CMOs can be incredibly effective and drive business results quickly, you may be tempted to offer them full-time employment. Some fractional CMOs are interested in moving to full-time roles, which can be an incredible opportunity for both parties. Other fractional CMOs prefer project-based work. When engaging a fractional CMO, it can be useful to identify their long-term intentions in advance to ensure everyone is on the same page.

In-house marketing leader. An in-house marketing leader works full-time for your organization, earns a salary and is offered the full benefits of being employed by your company. While both fractional and in-house CMOs are deeply immersed in the culture and the business goals, in-house professionals are 100% dedicated to your organization. All their professional time is yours.

A full-time leader is often more deeply integrated into the everyday operations and tactical realities of your marketing operation. While a fractional CMO will likely only have the hours and budget to work at a strategic level, in-house team members will be exposed to both strategy and tactics.

Is Speed a Factor?

Speed is an area of differentiation to consider when choosing between an in-house or fractional solution. Fractional CMOs tend to hit the ground running for several reasons.

First, they don’t have the full employee onboarding process. Second, many fractional CMOs have done project-based consulting before and have a system in place for coming in with ready-made and proven processes. With a full-time hire, onboarding and setting team expectations can take a little more time as teams get to know their leader and leaders learn the organization and its people.

Options Are a Good Thing

Bringing in a marketing leader can create real velocity and excitement for your business, your brand, and your sales team. Be open to the possibilities and consider what your business needs today versus three years from now. Knowing your appetite for growth today and tomorrow will help you find the right marketing solution.

Lesly Cardec

Lesly Cardec
Lesly Cardec is senior VP, recruiting and marketing, at ClearEdge Marketing.

Lesly Cardec

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