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  • Jeanel Carlson

Why Startup Founders Should Consider Fractional Marketing Experts

Updated: Jul 11

Group of people shaking hands
Building a network of experts to help you can reduce the risk of sacrificing the quality of your team.

As Venture Capital funding dries up, more and more startup founders are confronted with a double bind: they must make limited runway work without sacrificing the quality of talent and expertise within their team. Many savvy startups now turn to fractional experts to build cost-efficiency in leadership areas like marketing, communications, and product.

Here are the top five benefits of hiring experts from fractional marketing agencies:

1. Cost Efficiency

Hiring full-time in-house staff can be expensive, especially when considering salaries, benefits, and overhead costs. Fractional experts allow startups to pay only for the services they need, often resulting in significant cost savings. Fractional marketing, communications, or product leaders cost significantly less (approximately 50-75%) than the annual salary and benefits of a full-time Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Communications Officer, or Chief Product Officer, allowing businesses to access high-level strategic guidance without breaking the bank.

2. Flexibility and Scalability

Fractional marketing agencies offer the flexibility to scale services up or down based on current needs. This is particularly beneficial for startups that experience fluctuating workloads or are navigating periods of rapid growth. A study by Upwork revealed that 60% of businesses plan to leverage more independent talent in the future due to their ability to provide flexibility and on-demand skills. A Harvard Business Review study about managing the future of work found many leaders (60%) felt it was “highly” or “somewhat” possible that their core workforce would be much smaller in the future. Similarly, 60% expected they would increasingly prefer to “rent,” “borrow,” or “share” talent with other companies. McKinsey's 2018 research predicted workforce compositions will shift stating, “more work will be done by freelancers and other contractors, a shift that will boost the emerging “gig” or “sharing” economy. In our survey, greater use of various types of freelancers and temporary workers is one of the top organizational changes; 61 percent of respondents expect to hire more temporary employees.”

3. Access to Specialized Skills

Fractional marketing agencies are strategic marketing agencies. Fractional experts bring a wealth of specialized knowledge and a broad range of experiences that might be difficult to find in a single full-time employee. Finding one leader who is an expert at everything becomes even more unlikely if your startup is limited in the amount you can pay a more senior leader who can offer strategy over tactical execution. Fractional teams also provide diversity of expertise and are exposed to more ideas so they can offer clear third-party perspective to grow innovation and efficiency. More businesses are taking notice of these advantages and hiring trends show the shift to fractional or freelance continues to rise.

According to Forbes, “the freelance economy has seen rapid growth the past 3 years. Remote work. The great resignation. Even layoffs supported the shift to companies turning to freelancers as in Q4 of 2022, Resume Builder reported that 40% of companies are hiring contractors to replace laid-off workers and 53% moved full-time workers to contract positions.”

4. Faster Time to Market

With their extensive experience and ability to hit the ground running, fractional marketing agencies can expedite project timelines and reduce time to market. This agility is crucial for tech startups looking to stay ahead in a competitive landscape. In-house resources get pulled in many directions and leaning on external experts for support can help teams remain strategic while moving faster.

5. Reduced Risk

Hiring fractional experts reduces the challenges associated with long-term employment commitments. Startups can test out services and expertise on a project basis before deciding on longer-term engagements. This mitigates the risk of a bad hire, which can be costly and disruptive. A report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that the average cost of a bad hire “costs more than a quarter of a million dollars to find and hire a new employee. If that person turns out to be wrong for the role, add to that amount the toll that the bad hire takes on a manager's patience and on colleagues' morale, plus a myriad of other costs if the person needs to be replaced.”

How do I decide if I need a strategic fractional marketing leader or agency?

Fractional agencies, like OakBloom Marketing, become integral members of your team, working closely with your organization to develop and execute strategies. They build deep understanding across a more limited portfolio of clients to provide customized and dedicated, holistic guidance. In contrast, the traditional marketing agency business model involves a higher volume of clients and more junior-level staff. This structure translates to handling specific tasks or campaigns on an executional basis well but often lacks time to build the deep business knowledge required to be strategic for clients. For example, a digital marketing agency may offer a wide range of specialized services like search engine optimization, but remain tactical and won’t tell you what specific business objectives and campaign themes should be supported by digital marketing like a fractional agency. Choosing between the two depends on your business needs and goals.

For Bay Area and U.S. tech startups, hiring fractional marketing, communications, and product experts offers a strategic advantage by providing cost efficiency, flexibility, specialized skills, faster project completion, and reduced hiring risks. Embracing this model can position startups for sustainable growth and innovation in a competitive market.

Ready to improve your holistic marketing strategy and extend your team? OakBloom Marketing specializes in fractional leadership, strategic planning, and crafting magnetic branding and stories that influence. Contact us here  San Francisco Bay Area-based, OakBloom Marketing services startups in the Bay Area and throughout the U.S. Click to learn more.

Other resources for startups curious about fractional marketing:


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